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Oct 27, 2013

Some Halloween Fun

This is just a little bonus post because Halloween is almost upon us. I didn't make new costumes for the dogs this year as the time just got away from me completely. So instead, I want to share my favourite costume ever, the one I made for Chloe last year.

This post first appeared on the blog in October 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~~

How far are you willing to go to embarrass your dog? 
I'm willing to go pretty far as it turns out. 

This is Miss Chloe showing off her primary function in life.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

We've been dressing our dogs up for Halloween for years. I'm pretty sure they enjoy it as much as we do. They would say something, wouldn't they? Of course they would.

This particular costume idea has been floating around the internet for a couple of months and I kept it in the back of my mind (and pinned on Pinterest) for when I finally got my butt in gear to make something.

Thank goodness the fall edition of the Pinterest Challenge showed up to force me into action. (Not like October 31st was a deadline or anything.) 



The Pinterest Challenge is a fun project thought up by Sherry from Young House Love and Katie from Bower Power (with co-hosting assistance from Carmel from Our Fifth House and Sarah from Ugly Duckling House). So often we just pin and pin and pin - this challenge makes us stop pinning and start doing.

love Pinterest, and I love showing what I've made after being inspired, so you know that if someone flat-out ASKS if I want to show off I'm not going to say no. For past challenges I've made yarn-covered easter eggsvacation photo bottles, a fold-up patio bar, and the ever-popular pinecone map ornament.

easter eggs photo bottles pinecone map ornament - turtlesandtails.blogspot.com

Now to be completely honest, I missed the deadline for the map ornament, and it was really inspired by something Sherry was inspired by on Pinterest. But I think that counts, doesn't it?

This time, my inspiration comes from this picture I pinned from an internet photo site. I've looked around and found other versions - here and here - but none of them link to an original source. If you own one of the adorable dogs in the pictures - thank you.

The poop factory costume itself is pretty straightforward - a cut up cardboard box decorated to look like a building. I decided on red brick (red construction paper) to provide a contrast to Chloe's colouring. This turned out to be Chloe's costume because Sasha ran away every time the box came near her. So much for being our brave little toaster.

I used 3 sides of a squarish box, with the sides that hang down shortened to a length that didn't bump the dog's legs when she walked. The perpendicular flap edges were taped to each other with packing tape, and then I covered the sides in red and the top in black paper using craft glue.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

While I made windows and doors out of more construction paper, Tom drew in the bricks for me. I added a bit of scalloping along the roof edge with black poster paint, to blend the seam between the top and the side.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

Poop Factory Dog Costume

Each of those twelve window frames is made from one piece of black paper - I cut out each of the window panes using an x-acto knife and then put white paper behind them. By the third one I was so over it. Until I realized I could cut multiple windows at the same time just by stacking them. Duh.

The font I used for the factory name is called Quentin Caps - found on PicMonkey. It's fun - sort of carnival-like - even though the outlined letters tend to look out of focus from far away. That's what I'm blaming it on anyway.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

The smoke stacks are toilet paper tubes covered in more black paper. I fanned out the bottom of each tube and glued it to the roof, and then cut a ring out of black paper and slid it down over the tube to cover the fanned out part. The "smoke" is some polyester stuffing I usually use for pillows.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

Poop Factory Dog Costume

I was going to use some stuffing from one of the dog toys, but I looked around the house and all I could find were toy carcasses - no innards anywhere. It all kind of circles back you know, because Sasha likes to eat the stuffing and then it gets pooped out. And the factory is a poop factory with stuffing coming out of the smoke stacks. Get it? Get it? Ahaaaaaa-haaaaaa!

I used black grosgrain ribbon for straps. There is one strap that loops across Chloe's chest to keep the box from sliding backwards and then two straps that tie underneath her stomach in a bow to keep the box upright. I used hot glue to attach them to the box (not to the dog) as I didn't think craft glue would hold for long and I didn't want staples to show through.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

She looks pretty awesome, right?

And it's a fully functioning factory. 
Unfortunately you never know when they're going to make a delivery.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

(She didn't really poop, she was just sitting down.)

And sometimes your employees go on strike and refuse to work any longer.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

So you convince replacement workers to step in.

Poop Factory Dog Costume

But not for long (one picture only) because they run all over the building and tear their safety harnesses right off the factory wall. Yes, thanks to our moose-ance the straps have to be glued back on.

(She looks like a stubby little corgi from this angle. Please don't think I overfeed ma dawg. She's a skinny little butterpants under there.)

Do you dress up your dog for Halloween? Or for any other occasions? We also have headbands for Easter, Canada Day, and Christmas. 

Poop Factory Dog Costume

Poop Factory Dog Costume

Poop Factory Dog Costume

Poop Factory Dog Costume

Poop Factory Dog Costume

Poop Factory Dog Costume

This is one happy dog. 
I've come to the conclusion that she can't read.




Oct 24, 2013

Smooth as Silk (Refinished Table)

I got bored with the tables in my craft room again. Remember when I did this? Those diamonds were fun, but the white table showed every little mark, every little cut, every little hot glue drip. The room was feeling too white anyway, what with the white shelves and the white wrapping paper centre (and for a little while the white bookcase, though that got sent to the garage).

refinished table - paint and stain

During my vacation I dragged the tables out to the garage and started stripping. Yep, I'm a stripper. I may have to change my name to Crystal Chandelier (That's a Friends reference). Or maybe not. Especially if you've ever seen me dance.

Sooooo, this is the stripper I used. It's called Circa 1850 and it's awesome stuff. I actually bought it years and years ago, recently found it in the back of the paint closet, and it still worked perfectly.

Circa 1850 furniture stripper

The paint came off of one table easier than the other. I think it was because that one had varnish on it, so the white paint wasn't able to soak into the wood the same way it did on the raw pine table. Look at those diamonds just peeling away.


After I had stripped off as much paint and varnish as I could, I used the palm sander and took it down to the bare wood - a clean slate if you will.


I wanted the finished table to be a dark shade, but one with a hint of colour. I started with a layer of Minwax's Jacobean, wiped on with a cloth. I like applying stain with a cloth rather than with a paint brush as you get even coverage and you can build up the layers until you get the depth that you want.

Jacobean brown stain

Once the stain was dry, I applied a coat of watered down paint, again using a cloth. I've used this method many times - you can see it on this dresser, these nightstands, and this sofa table. The walls in my craft room are a greenish-grey, so I dug through my bin of sample paints and came up with Behr's Toasted Walnut. I know it doesn't sound very green, but trust me, it was. This definitely isn't an exact science - you just pour some paint into an old dish and add water until you get the desired consistency. You can make the paint as sheer or as opaque as you like.

applying paint wash over stain

Once the paint was dry, I gave the entire table two coats of Minwax furniture wax and buffed it with a clean cloth. The final step is to scrub it all down with steel wool. This may sound crazy, like you're going to scrape everything off, but all it does is give you a silky smooth finish. It's like using high grit sandpaper, but you don't lose any of the colour or the wax finish.

refinished table - paint and stain

Here she is back in her home. The room looks a little sparse with only one table, but I think it was crowded before. I'm debating whether or not to cut the other table in half lengthwise and make two smaller tables that can be mounted to the wall. We'll see.

refinished table - paint and stain

And a panoramic view of the entire room (I've been practising with my phone). The different dark wood tones are low, with the white accents keeping it light above. You can see that the storage bench hasn't made it out yet either. Where's that going to go?


And finally, a quick review of the steps to go from painted and grubby to stained and polished.

how to strip and refinish a table

Easy, right?

refinished table - paint and stain

waxed table

refinished table - paint and stain


Oct 21, 2013

Furry Bones



Chloe bone dog toy

I got a little crafty last weekend and made new dog toys.

We go through toys quickly around here - Rottweilers are notorious chewers and not many toys last for long. We especially have a hard time with stuffed animals that have squeakers in them - which is nearly all store-bought toys.

Upon receiving a new toy, our dogs perform what we call a "squeak-ectomy" - they must remove that squeaker at all costs. And once there's a hole in the toy, it isn't long before the stuffing is all over the place too. This is one of my favourite pictures of Sasha when she was a puppy. Even then you could see the attitude.


Since we were going through toys so quickly, I started buying them at the dollar store - cheap and no squeakers. But the fabric quality is rarely good so they don't last long either.

We were at the natural foods store a few weeks ago and saw some dog toys in the shapes of foxes and moose. They were kind of flat - more like the silhouette of the animal - and firmer than regular toys. I made a guess that they had foam inside instead of poly stuffing. I also figured that I could duplicate them myself.

I have some double-sided plush material left over from the giant dog bed I made to go in the truck. I think I make dog beds more than anything else these days. I found a silhouette of a bear and a fox on line and printed them out. I thought the bear would be easier than the moose I saw in the store, with all those antlers to go around - in addition to the legs.

I was left with this once the bear was cut out of the material. I think it looks more like a porcupine.


But I pinned two together and got to sewing. Until I got to the first turn. It is incredibly hard to sew double-sided plush, especially making tight corners. I gave up on the animals pretty quickly but i really wanted to make them toys, so I thought, "How about a bone? They love bones."

I quickly cut two rectangular pieces of material, sketched a bone shape onto one, and sewed them together, leaving about 3 inches open along one side to turn it right side out. I didn't cut out the shape first, to give me more material to hang on to as it went through the sewing machine.

bone dog toy

bone dog toy

Once it was sewn, I cut off the excess material and turned the bone right side out. I grabbed my left over foam from this bench project and cut out a bone shape, slightly smaller than the material. I forced the foam inside the bone shape; it's not as easy as polyfill, but it's definitely gives a firmer toy. And I figured, even if they did rip it open, there wouldn't be stuffing spilling all over the place.  A few hidden stitches to close up the opening and it was done. The second one was just as easy. I let Chloe choose which one she wanted first.

Chloe bone dog toy

Check out the happy dogs. It wasn't easy to get a shot of Sasha with hers - she hides because she thinks you're going to take it from her - but Chloe was quite willing to show hers off.

Chloe bone dog toy

Chloe bone dog toy

Sasha bone dog toy

Chloe bone dog toy

Chloe bone dog toy

So far they've held up really well. I have lots of leftover foam so there might be a whole pile of toys in their futures!

bone dog toy

bone dog toy








Oct 17, 2013

Perfect Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)

I have a new toy. And it makes preparing dinner fun. Yes, F-U-N. It's this little guy - the spiral vegetable slicer - also known as the spiralizer.

spiralizer vegetable slicer - zoodles

It's pretty simple to use - you just insert the blade you want to use, press the zucchini between the prongs on the handle and the corer on the blade, and start turning. There are suction cups on the feet that keep it in place as you work.

spiralizer vegetable slicer - zoodles

Look at the gorgeous, perfect noodles you get. I used to use a hand julienne tool and it mostly just made shredded vegetables that would turn to mush in the pan because they were so thin. These "zoodles" are more like spaghetti, thick and sturdy. And you can slice an entire zucchini in less than a minute.

zucchini noodles zoodles

Okay, enough with sounding like an infomercial, how about a recipe for dinner? These are zucchini noodles in a garlic & oil sauce.

zucchini noodles in oil and garlic zoodles

You'll need:

A medium-sized zucchini - one should feed two people
Cooking oil - I used coconut oil
Minced garlic
Chili flakes
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt

First you'll want to make your spiral noodles. Zucchini contains a lot of water so you'll want to get rid of as much as possible. Wet noodles can result in mushy pasta. No one wants mushy pasta. Grab a colander and put your noodles in it.

Sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the noodles to draw out the water. I like to layer the noodles and salt so that they all get covered - 1/3 of the noodles, sprinkle your salt, 1/3 more, sprinkle again, etc. Leave the noodles to sit for at least 30 minutes. Make sure your colander is in the sink or has a paper towel under it to catch the liquid.

Once they have drained enough (or you can't wait any longer because you're hungry), take the noodles out and press them between some paper towels or a clean dish towel to remove the last of the water. Be gentle though, they can squish easily!

zucchini noodles zoodles

Now for the sauce. Heat up some oil in a frying pan - I'd estimate about 2 tablespoons per zucchini. Add minced garlic, and chili flakes if you like it hot. You don't want the garlic to burn - keep the temperature low, just lightly sautéing it, stirring often. Add your zucchini noodles and stir them gently, making sure they are completely covered with the oil & garlic mixture. I only cook them long enough to get warm - barely more than a minute, because I like them to retain a bit of "crunch". Judge for yourself how long you'd like them to cook. Sprinkle on your parmesan and stir again.

Plate up your noodles and add a bit more parmesan on top if you'd like. I used a parmesan and herb blend, hence the darker colour.

zucchini noodles in oil and garlic zoodles

See how easy that was? If you'd like a heartier meal you could add bacon or ground beef (cook them separately), and some garlic toast to sop up the leftover garlic and oil.

This is one of my favourite meals.

zucchini noodles in oil and garlic zoodles

Since getting the spiralizer we've also made butterfly chips (spiral home fries), and shredded sweet potatoes for grain-free hamburger "buns". I'll share that recipe with you soon. Go get yourself a spiralizer!

zucchini noodles zoodles

zucchini noodles in oil and garlic zoodles






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