House, Renos

Dishwasher Dramz (but ultimate success)

Our dishwasher has been getting progressively more broken for the past few months. I think it all started when a glass broken in the dishwasher and some of the shards of glass lodged themselves in some of the spinning parts that floosh the water around. Whatever the reason, the dishwasher has been on the fritz and getting fritzier by the minute. I took it apart numerous times and tried to clean out/repair what I could, but ultimately all I managed to do was delay the inevitable. Last week the electrical panel started acting up and we had to constantly reset the panel (using a weird button press pattern) but eventually it just wouldn’t finish a cycle no matter what we did.

In the parking lot of Costco, awaiting rescue…

Yesterday my husband declared enough was enough and that it was time to buy a new dishwasher. He saw one at Costco for a good price and went and bought it. After a bit of drama around trying to get it home (turns out it would NOT fit into my hatchback, which forced us to impose upon Noah’s biomom/stepfather who have a truck…) it was time for me to install it.

Except it wasn’t because I am still recovering from a back injury.

After taking a couple muscle relaxers and a nap it was time. We turned off the breaker for the dishwasher, confirmed it was in fact off, and I got to work.

Getting the old broken one out was a huge pain in the ass.

First I’d like to say that I consider myself a fairly handy, DIY-capable person and I generally take the Top Gear stance of “How hard can it be?”, but holy crap donkies, this was way more fuss than I anticipated. To start with, getting the old one out was a flipping pain in the ass. The waterline hose was so snug that it just wouldn’t come out far enough for me to be able to detach it. Plus, it was an old stiff copper tube so it wasn’t like it had much give.

Secondly, while I THOUGHT I had turned off the water I apparently hadn’t which meant when I did manage to detach the waterline I ended up spraying water EVERYWHERE and utterly soaking myself. My husband quickly ran over when he heard my shouts of “PROBLEM! PROBLEM!!!!” and got the water turned off correctly, and then every towel in the house was used to sop up the mess I made.

“What did I get myself in to?”

Minor disaster, but it was deeply frustrating. It also served to instill some doubt in my husband as to whether I could actually do this. Normally he is relatively trusting that I can successfully pull off whatever renovation or project I have in mind and just lets me do my thing, but the flooding water all over our hardwood floor gave him pause.

Thirdly, after I finally got the old dishwasher out I realized I was missing a key bit of plumbing. I figured I’d be able to cannibalize whatever parts I needed off of the old one, but nope, not this one piece. It didn’t have an equivalent on the old one, so I had to trudge out to Home Depot to get it. While I was there I also got new flexible hosing to replace the old stiff copper pipe to hopefully make the installation of the new one a little easier on myself.

And finally, of COURSE the drain tube and the water supply pipe were now just thaaaaaaaaat much bigger and would no longer fit through the existing hole drilled through the cabinets. AAAAND of course I couldn’t find my hole punch drill bits anywhere to make the hole bigger (or make a second smaller hole for the water supply pipe) so I had to use a flipping hammer and chisel to widen the existing hole a wee bit to be able to get the pipes through. That felt like an unnecessary slap to the face in an already frustrating project, but if I’m going to be honest it didn’t take long to correct.

Far too much time and effort later, I actually managed to do it, and holy crap it works. And it works really well. The cycle is much shorter than our old one, and it is MUCH quieter than our old one as well.


There are a few lessons to be learned here, though.

  1. Don’t do appliance repair when you have a back injury.
  2. Copper tubing is evil. The flexible metal woven kind is MUCH better and it was well worth the bit of cost to make that switch.
  3. Turn off every water shut off valve you see, not just the one you are “sure” is the one for the dishwasher.
  4. Keep many many towels at the ready.

Dishwasher replacement, while a pain in the ass, is definitely doable. I think I could do this a lot more quickly and easily if I had to do this again, but holy crap I hope that isn’t any time soon. And my husband is very appreciative that I did it (since it saved the cost of having to hire someone else to do it). And my kid is extremely impressed as well.


How to get a huge pile of gorgeous frameable prints for 5$

My tastes are ever changing, and I frequently rearrange the framed items on the walls. I also like to have a large variety of different styles and colours to choose from when I’m changing things up. Add to that the fact that I’m cheap as dirt, and, well… this was a problem I needed to solve.

I went to Chapters and saw Over and Over: A Catalogue of Hand Drawn Patterns by Mike Perry and it was just 5$. Inside I found page after page of GORGEOUS, unique, and incredibly varied designs, all just waiting to be put on display. And 5 dollars?! I would be hard pressed to find ONE nice print for 5$, let alone about 50. So I bought my book and then took out my exacto knife…


I felt a bit bad for destroying the book, there is something deeply uncomfortable about taking a book apart, but the end result is truly phenominal. I have a huge folio of all sorts of prints to frame, now, and already I have put up about 15 of them in various locations around my house. Because the book featured numerous different artists I have a whack of different styles to pull from. Some are quirky while others are classic, some are very abstract while others are incredibly detailed and specific, some are richly coloured but others are more subdued. It just worked out SO WELL.

And again, just 5$.

Moving forward, whenever I get a hankering to change up the look of things or just want to add more prints to my folio of frameable pages I am absolutely going to be heading to the books. Art books, as it turns out, are a genius way to get cheap art for your house.


Appearance, Transition to grey, Uncategorized

Transition to grey… (?)

I have long been fighting reality, namely the reality that I have inherited my father’s hair genes. I have curly/frizzy hair thanks to him, but I ALSO have his gene for premature grey hair. Yay. 😦

It has probably been 20 years since I first started dying my hair. Originally it started just for fun. Changing my hair colour was for the sake of fashion and variety. But over time it has become for reasons of “necessity”. The necessity of concealing my grey hair. I generally keep my hair a dark brown, which I THINK is what my hair colour should be or would be if they grey wasn’t there, but it is getting harder and harder to keep on top of it. My temples in particular are probably 80% grey/white hair, but over all my hair is probably at least 50-60% grey/white. I’m only 35 years old, it doesn’t seem right to have so much grey hair at this age, but hey.. life isn’t fair.

On top of all the effort I invest trying to keep the grey at bay, I also have the reality of having scalp psoriasis, and hair dye is NOT good for that. I use the “natural” stuff that is more gentle on my scalp but it still isn’t good. I very often end up with very sore bleeding patches after dying my hair, and seriously, that is effed up.

So I think it is time to transition to grey. The question is, do I go to the salon and get them to speed the process along and strip out some of the colour from my length?

FWIW, My husband is not super impressed with the idea. I think he is concerned over how old I may look with the grey hair, but whatever, he’ll deal and adapt.

Step parenting, Uncategorized

My kid, the future NASA scientist?

It is my kid’s birthday tomorrow, turning 10. I’m having one of those “When did my kid get so old?!” moments, but I’m also just proud of who he is and who he is growing up to be. He’s a cool kid and I’m pretty confident he’s going to be a cool adult too. Right now he is BIG into space and is hell bent on working for NASA when he grows up. Hey, I’m not going to discourage that for one second! That is a pretty cool goal for a kid to have if you ask me. Not “I want to be a rockstar” but “I want to work for NASA and discover new planets!”.

As I said, my kid is cool.

For his birthday what he wanted with NASA stuff, especially a NASA t-shirt. I managed to find a NASA tshirt and a NASA baseball cap on, but I wanted to up the ante a bit. He already has Rubik’s Cubes on his wall, but there is still lots of blank space. I put some feelers out and a maker friend of mine knew of another local maker who does custom decals. 50$ and three days later I have these…




SO COOL! I can’t wait for him to get home from school today and see them!!

Appearance, Uncategorized

Bad choices abound

I cut my hair off in december and loved it. I was feeling like a sassy bitch, unstoppable. Now I’m just… what the hell was I thinking? I miss my long hair so hard, you have no idea. I miss having a bouncy pony tail. I miss being able to pull ALL of my hair up in ONE elastic. I miss giant sock buns (much to the hatred of my husband, who loathes buns). I miss feeling my long hair floop and swish across my back and shoulders while I walk. I miss having strangers compliment me on my hair. I miss fun braids and pigtails. I miss all the endless options I had for doing my hair. I miss it so haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard.

Granted, my hair looks fine now. It isn’t that it looks bad, because it really doesn’t. Some people think I look even better now than I do with long hair, and hell, maybe they’re right.


Me, right now. Very very shoulder length hair.

The problem isn’t that it looks bad now, the problem is how limiting it is. I have so few options for how I can style my hair. I mean, yes, now that it is this short I am able to rock my natural curls much more easily, so there’s that I guess. And yes, it dries a lot more quickly now that it is so short. So I guess it isn’t all bad.

However, I do have the following complaints with my hair at the moment:

  1. There is no easy way to get all my hair up out of my face and off my neck. One ponytail gets about 73% of my hair, which is just annoying.
  2. My hair is too short to stay in any sort of pony at night, so I wake up at night with my hair EVERYWHERE which is uncomfortable.
  3. I don’t have any truly wash and go styles. Even wearing my hair in its natural curly state requires an inordinate amount of fussing and products and frigging about to get it to look good.
  4. I don’t feel young with my hair like this. Dried normally (ie. straight with some volume) I feel like I look like Sally Field or something.


Needless to say, I’m growing it back out. I hate knowing how long it is going to take to get it back to a “fun” length but such is the price I must pay for my hasty decision to chop all my hair off.

2016 projects, Completed (with project notes), General, Uncategorized

Spats Complete


What a weird little project but honestly? I love them. They are a bit funny and my husband “doesn’t understand” but I think they are great. I also know I’ll be using them because I have some shoes, two pairs in fact, that are extremely comfortable and fine but are slip-ons/backless. That doesn’t work for me because I basically exist in leggings and skirts all fall, winter, and spring. I need booties, not backless shoes. These little spats make those shoes totally wearable with leggings now. I actually think they make the shoes look better in general.


As always, I have some notes:

A poorly photographed heel loop
  • I used Red Heart Super Saver in black. I used this for two reasons. 1) it is cheap acrylic I had kicking around and would have no problem tossing them in the bin if they didn’t work out 2) it is cheap, hard wearing acrylic that I can toss in the washer when they inevitably get dirty.
  • I knit them in a 2×2 rib. When I did my increases I added to the first knit ridge until I added 4 (on each side), which then allowed me to break it off into 2×2 ribbing again.
  • They JUUUUUUST fit to the top of my ankle but frankly I should have knit them to be longer. What can I say, I was impatient. Future spats (of which there shall be many) will be taller, perhaps even with enough length for a folded over cuff.
  • I had heels in mind when I knit these, especially my two pairs of slip on heels, and I wanted to make sure the spats would stay in place. I crocheted a loop into the back of each spat large enough to slip over the heel and slide (snugly) to the top of the heel. This works brilliantly.


General, Sewing, Uncategorized

Wool Coat Repair

My unflattering but entirely toasty “Super Cold Weather” winter coat, saved for playing in the snow and days of excessive windchill. 

I live in Atlantic Canada, and it gets super cold and snowy here. A proper winter coat (or two or three) is key to survival. I have a big multi-layer water proof wind proof snow proof movement proof coat that I use for REALLY cold days (-30 and below) but for just normal cold days I generally wear my wool coat.

Oh how uninspiring this coat is. I got it at the Gap maybe 3 years ago for maybe 40$, which is NOTHING for a winter coat, but I guess you get what you pay for…


Such a snore! And totally unflattering! Where is my waist?!

It is outstandingly boring and not very flattering. It has always been a bit big on me (not generally a bad thing for a winter coat because that allows you to layer under it) but the main problem is the utter lack of any sort of tailoring/shaping. Believe it or not, I have a waist but damned if you can see it when I’m wearing this coat!!!
At the end of last winter this coat finally gave up the ghost. The lining had been in tatters for a while, and the pockets had holes and I had to reattach most of the buttons at one time or another, but when the entire shoulder seam split open I declared it dead. “FINALLY!” I thought to myself, because I am much too cheap to buy a new winter coat unless it is truly necessary. Also, plus size winter coats are just… ugly. And unflattering. I’m sorry, but no plus size woman wants to wear big giant shapeless puffy coats with tacky faux fur lined hoods, and yet that seems to be the majority of what stores offer.
M6800_aSince I’m getting into sewing my own clothes, my genius plan was to make my own winter coat. This coat specifically (McCall’s M6800). I had a brilliant plan to make the version with the hi-low bottom and have a truly fabulous lining that would show, making the coat spectacular in its eye-catching-ness and general beauty. But I’m cautious. Wool coat material is pretty expensive and I didn’t want to spend the money only to have it turn out awful, so I asked my sew talented mother if I was being nuts to think this was a good idea.

Long story short, yes, my mother thought I was nuts.

Heartbroken doesn’t quite capture my sadness, but I trust my mother’s judgement on this. I’m sure in time it will be a task I could take on, but maybe not yet.

So what to do about a winter coat! I refuse to be saddled with an ugly coat all winter (again), but I also hate spending money needlessly, so I have come up with the following solution:

I am going to fix my old coat. I’m going to take it all apart, do a bit of tailoring to bring in the waist a bit to give me some shape, I’m going to remove the annoying button tabs on the shoulders that my purse gets stuck on every single time, and I’m going to re-line it. I got the lining fabric today, and it is FAAAAAAAAAAAABULOUS. Or ugly. Can’t decide, but either way I love it. It is bright purple with red blood splatters! Shockingly, it was in the clearance section of my local Fabricville, but it is appropriately slippery for a lining, and just stupid enough of a pattern to crack me up and make this whole endeavor a lot more appealing. Plus, only 6$.

The way I see it, if I screw this project up the worst I am out is 6$ and some time because if I don’t fix the coat I’ll have to buy a new one regardless, right?

This weekend is going to be fairly sew-heavy it seems. I want to at least get a start on my coat, but I also have to sew a shirt dress for myself. It is a test run before my “Sew Spectacular” weekend with my cousin next weekend where we’re both going to sew up a storm.

DIY Projects, General, Redecorating, Step parenting, Uncategorized

Redeco: Rubik’s Cube Room Murals

Rubik's Cube wall mural
My giant Rubik’s Cube mural. So proud of it!

I have been a busy step-mom. My kid is off camping with his bio-mom so I took the opportunity to redo his room. First step, obviously, was painting the walls, banishing the horrid bright yellow from my home. His room is now the same colour as my sanctuary, which is a nice soothing grey (Sherwin Williams Serious Grey). I love this grey so much, to me it is the perfect grey. Not too dark, but still dark enough to feel cosy. Very neutral undertone – not overly warm or overly cool, though I would say if anything it edges towards a slightly cooler undertone. It is a wonderful colour.

Anyway, with the walls painted I then started working on phase two, which was the main event.

My large hand painted murals of Rubik’s Cubes.

Yes, I am insane. And yes, they were fussy and a lot of work, but frankly not as much work as I was expecting.

Here are the steps I took to get this done:

  1. Located and purchased an overhead projector. I was able to get mine second hand off of Kijiji for 40$.
  2. Printed off black and white pictures of Rubik’s cubes.
  3. Traced the pictures on to transparent sheets. (I actually couldn’t find proper transparency sheets, so I just used those clear sheet protectors instead. Made tracing really easy. Just put the page I was tracing in the sleeve, traced it using a Sharpie, and then took the page back out.
  4. Projected the image on to the wall using my projector and traced sheet.
  5. OPTIONAL: Trace the outline in pencil. I only did this for the first one but frankly didn’t feel it helped, so for the second one I just painted from the projection rather than the tracing. Worked well.
  6. Paint the projection on to the wall. I used a matte black paint that we had left over from when I painted our movie theatre room. I found I did need to do a second coat.


Rubik's Cube wall mural
Only 2.5 feet high, but glow in the dark too!

The “exploding” smaller one was the first one I did and is about 2 and a half feet high. I think my projector was at a bit of an angle because the cube is sliiiiiiiiiiiiiightly distorted but it still looks good. Doesn’t hurt that I have also painted the inside of the squares in glow in the dark paint. FUN!

The larger one is about 4 and a half feet high and looks way better, in part because it is bigger and therefore the lines and curves were way easier to paint. Small mistakes aren’t so apparent.

And let me be clear, these are NOT perfect. But they are hand painted with love. He’ll always know that I, his loving step mom, painted them using her own two hands. Every imperfect corner and squiggly line just speaks to my having done it myself. Anyone could have purchased a peel-and-stick wall decal. I HAND PAINTED mine, so clearly I win. 😉

Rubik's Cube Curtain Tie-backSo with the murals done I just have final details to finish up. I hung some new curtains and made Rubik’s Cube curtain holder-backer things using some inexpensive slightly broken cubes given to me by a friend/co-worker. Same friend is 3D printing me some glow-in-the-dark cube stands as well, which is extremely awesome. I still have to suspend some Star Wars models we have from the ceiling. And I have some more things to make glow in the dark, like the ceiling fan blades. Small details. The room looks awesome though. I’m really pleased.


Ideas and Inspiration, Uncategorized


Spick and Spats by Madelaine Pippa Bartlett
Spick and Spats by Madelaine Pippa Bartlett

During the cold months (which is most of the year where I live) my wardrobe is entirely based around leggings with pencil skirts. I own about a dozen pairs of leggings (mostly black) and about a dozen different pencil skirts and mini-skirts (many of which I made myself), so it is very easy to toss together an outfit. Just add a neutral sweater and bam! Fancy outfit!

Grey- grey legwarmers by Katya Gorbacheva
Grey- grey legwarmers by Katya Gorbacheva

My extreme laziness loves it. Maybe some would argue that because I am overweight I shouldn’t be wearing pencil skirts, but they’d be wrong. I look fabulous. And more to the point, I feel fabulous in them. And I apparently have a reputation at work for looking spiffy and well put together, so I must be doing something right.

My problem comes with the shoes.

I don’t own a huge number of shoes that work with leggings. Ankle booties are the style I favour with my leggings and I own 2 pairs, but I get tired of wearing the same two pairs of booties all fall, winter, and spring. It gets boring. And, in all honesty, none of them are quite high enough or warm enough for the crazy snow that we get. It hasn’t been a huge deal because the walk from my car into my office is about 9 feet, but my office is moving and our parking is no longer going to be 9 feet away, it is going to be almost two blocks away. Suddenly my less-than-toasty leggings and booties are more of a problem.

So guess what I’m knitting!


No, seriously, just go with me on this for a minute. This is a brilliant idea.

  • Quick knitting project, so I can fairly easy get a few pairs in different colours/designs hammered out.
  • Spats will allow me to change up the look of my shoes/outfit with very little effort.
  • I can make them with a foldable cuff. On super cold days I can extend the cuff to create a sort of leg warmer.
  • Warm feet!
  • Keeps up with my whole retro look (…though I will admit the era of spats isn’t in alignment with my retro 50’s look I’m rocking these days)

I’ve already started a pair. Just a super basic 2×2 rib in black Redheart Super Saver I had kicking around. Mostly just a proof of concept, but honestly I can’t see why I wouldn’t love some spats. If these work out (and I can’t see why they wouldn’t) I will start experimenting with different design elements like ruffles, lace, buttons, cables, etc. as well as bright colours.