The 2015 #shoplocal Recap

Well, there you had it.  The 2015 #25days of #shoplocal feature was full of fun, beauty, home decor and so much more.  I truly hope you enjoyed all the posts and found them useful, I very much enjoyed researching and sharing them with all my readers.  Below are the links to each post from the past 25 days, use it as a reference tool this holiday season and throughout the year!

Day 1, Wordplay Designs – Vinyl wall decor from Okotoks, AB
Day 2, Table Top Cafe – Edmonton’s first licensed board game cafe
Day 3, Kozy Komforts – Knit and crocheted anything you can think of
Day 4, Brickbubble – Graphic design and laser engraved home decor and gifts
Day 5, Bashaw Sports – The local gun and outdoor shop that’s been open since 1984 in Bashaw, AB
Day 6, Lokahi Healing Arts – Your travelling, in-home massage therapist
Day 7, Fabutan Studios – The go-to for Vitamin D, Redlight therapy and sunless tanning
Day 8, Alberta Flyboard & Canadian Jetpack Adventures – Fun on the water at lakes all across the prairies (with a discount coupon!)
Day 9, Love & Laugh Photography – Premiere maternity, baby/children and family photographer in the Edmonton area
Day 10, One More Day – A campaign against cancer with a wonderful and creative mission
Day 11, FaBLOOMosity – Edmonton’s downtown floral powerhouse
Day 12, Madenu Dolls – Taking trashy looking, ill-advised children’s dolls and turning them into something positive
Day 13, Urban Oasis Spa – A relaxing spa that can be experienced in studio or brought to your home
Day 14, Days with Gray – Wood signs, chalkboards, wine glasses and glitter
Day 15, Farm Wife Style – simply stated, classic jewelry that’s affordable and stylish
Day 16, Tickled Floral – Flowers, gift baskets, moccasins, candles and more all under one roof in Sherwood Park, AB
Day 17, Axehole Indoor Axe Throwing – A new and exciting way to spend a Saturday night
Day 18, Coal and Canary Candle Company – Hand poured, small batch soy candles with crackling wooden wicks straight outta Manitoba
Day 19, Justine Ma Design & Hand Lettering – Beautiful hand drawn graphics adorn greeting cards and home decor
Day 20, Couture Lashes – No time for makeup?  No problem.
Day 21, Spinunity – The best place to get your sweat on in Sherwood Park, AB
Day 22, Creme Catering – The foodie that travels to you, dinner parties and cooking lessons available here
Day 23, Twig Boutique – The GORGEOUS get-everything apparel and accessories shop on main street Camrose, AB
Day 24, Younique by Riki – Beautifully made up with great cosmetics
Day 25, Leduc Artisan Market –  an array of different artisans and authors on main street Leduc, AB

ShopLocalI’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, we love having your business so when you’re thinking of wish lists, please #shoplocal this holiday season but in the same breath, I want to remind you that this is not what the month of December is all about.  There’s a 4-letter word that the holidays represent and it’s not SHOP.  Merry Christmas, Kim.

A NOTE TO MY READERS: I want to reiterate that every one of these shops and artists have been selected by me to participate in my #shoplocal campaign.  I received NO GRATUITIES OR FREEBIES for these shout outs, I love all these places and what they offer and am sharing them to make my readers lives easier and promote local shopping in my area. 


Creativity: What Inspires You?

Because my work/life situation isn’t as conventional as most, I have the opportunity to use my surroundings a lot more than the majority of the population.  Although I have an office that I love to work in every day, I’m not chained to it and can shuffle between a few different spaces to maximize my grey cells.  Being able to have the freedom to choose where I’m working (even if it is just my bedroom, my garage, or my office) helps my creativity a great deal.  And since I work out of my home I can have my friends and family over whenever I’d like to host workshops for or bounce ideas off of.  Freedom – it’s an amazing catalyst for creativity.

For us, everything we need is right here because we’re a family unit of four; we all work together to achieve our goals.  For organizations with more employees, it’s a little more difficult to harbour a family-like environment in an office with walls of separation dividing everyone.  Until now.  In the early fall I was introduced to a company called WeWork, they’re huge proponents of “do what you love” and the basis of their company is to promote flexible, enriching environments for small and large businesses so resources are better utilized for entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and advancement.  They’re creating the family unit environment in offices in major cities all over the United States and Europe and organizations are knocking down their doors to get in on the action.

For entrepreneurs or freelancers that are only required to be in one place temporarily and don’t want to tie up funds with permanent office spaces, WeWork is the perfect solution.  They’re offices are accessible 24/7, they have a range of desk options to choose from as well as health benefit offers, and they co-brand with companies like Zipcar (the world’s largest car sharing company) and offer it to their customers at a reduced rate.  In a world where e-commuters are steadily on the rise, WeWork is an ideal solution for any business that requires flexibility.

All of my employees are four-legged so right now I’m not in need of these services but when I heard about it I loved the idea so much I had to share.   Just look around, maybe four walls isn’t what’s good for your business anymore.  Do you want to be inspired?  Maybe it’s time for you to leave it behind too.

Since I’ve been home and really embraced my role as the Farmer’s Wife, I’ve been working more and more towards my goals of live to work and not work to live just like WeWork does.  Living to work means loving what I’m doing and what I love is being creative.  And I’ve been told I don’t suck at it either.  I think it comes partly from genetics but partly from being able to look around and come up with more than one purpose in everything I see.

Example.  In the spring, I came across this old house.  It was abandoned but still had so much character.  The siding was painted red and all the doors and windows were intact (for the most part).  I’d guess it was built in the 1940’s or 1950’s, small a-frame with a quaint front stoop and 45 degree ceilings upstairs; I could just see a Farmer’s Wife from bygone days ringing a dinner bell on the porch.  I’ve always loved anything with character and antiquity that’s well-crafted so I wanted to save a little bit of this farm history.

We live in a small community so it wasn’t hard to track down the owner.  I found out the little house was scheduled to be demolished.  I would have loved to save it all but that was impossible so I asked if I could at least have the window frames and doors to repurpose and the owner agreed.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them yet but I just knew they had potential and I wanted to save them; there were many years left on their lives and I didn’t want a backhoe to cut them short.

The Farmer, Papa and I went there in June with crowbars and hammers and took them all out.  I brought them home and put them away because I wasn’t quite sure what projects I was going to make with them yet.  I spent most of the summer in the tractor but also was able to take in a lot of things in Alberta and BC on vacation.  I took in a lot of beauty and learned a lot of tricks that this fall I was ready to try out.

Antique Door

With mild difficulty, I brought the old door up to my garage workshop.  It’s solid wood and weighs around 80 pounds so it was a loooooong walk up here with it.  The backside of the door was discoloured from cigarette smoke and the outside was chipping, splintering and cracking from sun damage.  There was one broken window from an obvious “I forgot my key” incident, there were three extra holes drilled in it to house deadbolts and handles that were more burglar proof than the ones originally installed and both the escutcheon and original doorknob were MIA but I could not look past how beautiful the door was and just wanted to display it somewhere; I decided to turn it into a welcome sign and showcase it on our porch.

Welcome Door

 When I was in Radium for the car show this year, I stopped into a quaint, inviting shop in Invermere called The Painted Porch and met the owner, Teresa.  She was incredibly helpful and obliging and told me all about her secrets, techniques and tips for using chalk-style paint.  She repurposes and creates with anything and everything and also retails The FAT Paint Company – a Canadian born company out of New Westminster, BC that’s perfected chalk-style paint and come up with an amazing brand of their own.

I asked Teresa about shipping because I’d never seen or heard of FAT Paint in my area and although she does ship, she told me about Twila from Marmie’s Empty Nest in Camrose, AB.  I called her up when I got home and my BFF and I took a workshop from her at the beginning of October.  I came out of there with all the supplies I needed to transform my door into the vision I had in my head for it.

I started by sanding down the door and then washing it with hot water and vinegar.  I had to scrape a lot of old paint off the windows that had been there from any one of the white, blue, green, or grey paint jobs the door had gone through over time and when that was done I washed it all again.  I puttied the extra holes up so it looked as close as possible to it’s original condition and then I sanded once more.

After that, the fun part began.  I dry brushed the door in FAT Paint Bitter Chocolate and let it dry.  Then I sporadically added FAT Paint Tuscan Sun as an accent and finally, I painted the entire door in FAT Paint Parchment.  Once the last coat was dry, I started to sand it all back and expose the different colours.  FAT Paint is so versatile.  It can be painted onto virtually anything to give it a facelift and there’s a lot less prep work required than with regular paints and stains.  I didn’t need to strip the door of it’s many colourful layers, just sand it smooth and start painting!  The best part was that once I started to sand back the layers, the original white layer came through too adding one more dimension.

FAT Paint - Bitter Chocolate, Tuscan Sun and Parchment

Final touch was the doorknob and, of course, vinyl decals; I don’t do many projects that exclude WordPlay Designs.  I’ve been a consultant for almost 7 years now and I love it because it’s so versatile and can take any project from beautiful to AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL.  I added a custom “Home Sweet Home” graphic to the centre window and a personalized welcome greeting to the panel below the window.  The doorknob was a cool find from Winners a few months ago and adds a great finishing touch and then the entire piece was waxed with FAT Paint Natural.  

Welcome to the Ducherers'

After all that, all that was left was to get it onto the porch and set up the rest of my outdoor decorations.  There is no such thing as too many Christmas decorations at our house.  I love the spirit of this season so much, it warms my heart immensely.  The time I spend with our family and friends, the giving, the decorations, the music, the magic.

Christmas Porch

So there you have it.  An incredibly long post about creativity and how you can increase your creative juice flow.  I hope I’ve been able to inspire you a little bit whether it’s through DIY, upcycling or even corporately.  If any of this interests you, please check out the links embedded in the post.  They’re products I recommend and love to work with and I hope you will too!

Welcome Door

Christmas is upon us and what better time of year to take what’s around you and turn it into something meaningful and festive for the season?!  I wish you all happy creating and hope I’ve left you inspired.  Cheers!  Kim.

Festive Vinyl Boards and Canvases

Last weekend we had a badass craft day at my house.  I love crafting.  LOVE IT.  I put in a monster order of vinyl from that super cool business I represent, Wordplay Designs, for everyone and they all came with their project pieces and game faces on.  Minus my SIL, she came with her scared face on.  She dislikes crafting but she’s coming over to the sparkly, embossed, bedazzled side of the fence.  Slowly but surely she will be a crafter.

Crafty stress

So so so many fun projects going on – ornaments, flower vases, mugs, picture frames and glass blocks.   Look at the intense concentration.  No one even wanted to look up and smile for the camera!

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Festive Vinyl Crafts  Festive Vinyl Crafts

And some really cute wee babies were there playing with us too!

Cute Christmas Baby  Cute Christmas Baby

I did my crafting the night before so I could be available for teaching the day of since there were lots of different projects happening.  I did some Christmas gifts for the Daughters’ Teachers that day (which turned out amazing) but I had a special request for the instructions on how to make these festive wood Christmas blocks so I’ll start with those.

Craft Day24_new

I started out with a long decal from the Christmas collection that was 5″ high x 28″ long.  I cut the three pieces out separately and Papa cut me the perfect pieces to mount them to.  Truthfully, I’m somewhat afraid of power tools and wood.  It’s something I am gradually working up to but haven’t got the nerve to work with yet.  For these times, I call Papa because he’s THE BEST.  He had some spare cedar that was 5.5″ across that worked perfectly for my project since my decal was 5″ tall.  I asked him to cut me three pieces, 8″, 9″ and 11″, to apply the vinyl to.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

He sanded it for me too but if your Dad doesn’t do that for you, you should grab a block and sand it lightly until it’s smooth.

Then grab the type of paper you’d like to use, I used regular scrapbook paper from my Christmas pack, measure it out and cut it to size.  Nothing fancy here either, I just laid it over the blocks and marked the edges with a pencil then cut with my straight cutter.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Apply a layer of Mod Podge to the first block and apply the paper overtop right after.  I use my vinyl applicator (you can also use a credit card) to smooth the paper down and work out any wrinkles.  If you apply it too thick the paper will saturate and the wrinkles will stick around so don’t lay it on too thick.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

After you’ve got the paper down and it’s semi-dry, you can peel the backing off the vinyl and apply the tape layer overtop.  I usually just eyeball my projects but I do really like to make sure they’re centered so if it’s a tougher one, I will get out a tape measure before I lay it down.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Once the tape layer is down, start from the centre and smooth out the whole graphic lightly to ensure there’s no bubbles or wrinkles in the decal.  After it’s down flat you can press firmly with a ruler, credit card or scraper and carefully peel back the tape.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Voila.  Perfection.  Repeat two more times for the other two blocks and you have a simple and affordable gift or decoration for your home.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

The same process can be used on canvases too.  I did this one using the exact same techniques and added a frame at the end.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Step 1: Select and cut your paper.  This was a 16×20 canvas so I used three 12×12 sheets of paper to cover it.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Step 2: Mod Podge your canvas.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Step 3: Apply the paper and smooth it down with a scraper or ruler.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Step 4: Center the vinyl, peel off the backing and apply to the paper.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Step 5: Slowly peel off the masking tape and make sure all the letters are secured down.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

After it’s done, you can hang it as is or you can add a frame as well.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

I got this frame from Michaels on sale and I just set the canvas inside it and used some finishing nails to nail the wooden canvas frame to the frame corners.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

I strung some wire through the hooks on the frame and it was ready to hang on my wall.  I love it so much I’m going to make one for all year long to hang there too!

Some quick and simple projects to give as gifts or transform your home this holiday season.

Festive Vinyl Blocks and Canvases

Merry Merry Christmas and happy crafting!  Kim.