Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Life of Carpet

I subscribe to a page called "Vancouver - Then" on Facebook, which regularly posts photographs of our fair city from days gone by.  This photograph of a swimwear fashion show at the Vancouver Hudson's Bay Co. in 1932 caught my eye the other day, not just because post-baby me would be so excited to buy a bathing suit like those ones, instead of the bare-all suits that are ubiquitous now, but because of the carpet on the floor (not the carpet on the catwalk).

I grew up in the house where my Mom grew up, and where my parents still live. My parents bought the house from my grandparents the year my parents were married, and my grandparents and uncle, who also got married that summer, both built new houses right next door. I recall being told that the carpet in our basement came from a department store in downtown Vancouver that was getting rid of it. My great-uncle worked there, and thriftiness must run pretty far back in the family because he scooped it up for my grandmother, his sister.  I checked the high-resolution photograph in the Vancouver archives, and, sure enough, it is the exact carpet we had in our basement.

Here it is in my mom's early days:

And, from my childhood days, you can see a bit of the carpet peeking out underneath the piano. This is my "saying goodbye to the piano" picture. My parents saved up to buy a brand new, beautiful piano for us, but I was terribly attached to our old ugly piano, and cried pitifully for days about having to give it away. Sidenote: I am also rocking the early 80's plaid fad in this photo.

The best thing about this carpet was that it was virtually indestructible. Both my mom and I remember ice skating on this carpet as kids.  It was fireproof, so we didn't need to put any tiles around the fireplace either.

The carpet, which had seen sale crowds, swimsuit fashion shows, ice skating children, and teenage sleepovers was finally laid to rest in the mid-nineties when my parents finished the basement. A life well lived...for carpet.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

DIY Chalkboard Project

Last month, I attempted to take a break from thrift store shopping for a month.  I can't remember what motivated me to try, and I don't recall whether the point was to stop going altogether, or just to stop buying stuff.  Failure ensued on both counts in any case.  A new thrift store opened up in walking distance from my house a couple of weeks ago, so can you really blame me?   I'm getting better at passing up good deals that I don't really need, but sometimes I feel like Ariel in her treasure trove:

I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I've got whozits and whatzits galore.
You want thingamabobs, I got twenty.  But who cares, no big deal, I want more
picture credit

   Realistically, who can resist at least perusing such an interesting assortment of items?

A Winston Churchill bust, anyone?
Status: not purchased by me

This would add some flair to your living room wall.
Status: not purchased by me

Priceless (well, actually, it was $5.99)
Status: not purchased by me

I actually bought this book.  I had a strawberry shortcake recipe book as a kid that I absolutely loved, 
so I thought my kids might like a recipe book too.  And the title is just too awesome to ignore.  Yes, I am that immature, but you just laughed a little too, didn't you.

I also brought home this gem of a globe.  It has a nine inch diameter instead of the standard twelve, which makes it a perfect size for my built-in wall unit.  I had major childhood flashbacks when I saw the original price tag from Woolco on the bottom.  Remember that place before Wal-Mart came and took over (the world)?

As for the real pièce de résistance, I found this amazing wood picture frame for $9.99.  I actually had to stop a couple of people from buying it out from under me when I had put it under reserve at the front counter while I finished shopping.

It's over four feet long and two feet wide!  It didn't have a backing or glass, but that was fine for the plans that I had for it: a framed chalkboard.

I waffled between leaving the original paint job and painting it white, and decided to give it a whitewash in the end.  Since spraypainting indoors is kind of a deathtrap, and I don't have a big enough yard to do it outdoors, I decided to paint it by hand with a good old-fashioned brush job.  I think I actually preferred this to spray paint in the end because it was so much easier to remedy any drips that formed.  It took one coat of primer and two or three coats of paint to transform it into this:

I bought a piece of high density fibreboard at the hardware store and had it cut to size to fit into the frame where the glass must have originally sat.  I originally wanted to use regular wood as a backing, but it would have made the picture much too heavy, and it was also pretty pricey.  

Chalkboard paint is also not cheap.  I am; therein lay the problem.  I didn't want to buy a full gallon of chalkboard paint that I would probably only use a smidgen of.  I discovered that some people have had success creating their own chalkboard paint by mixing unsanded tile grout with regular latex paint.  My parents happened to have some sitting in their shed, and I have plenty of leftover paint in the garage.  However, my sister apprised me of the health hazards of breathing in any particles of tile grout, and I decided to keep searching for another option.  Americana has a clear coating to transform any paint into chalkboard paint, but I couldn't find it, so I settled on Martha Stewart chalkboard acrylic paint.  It's available in a smaller bottle than a gallon at the paint store, comes in a few different colours (I chose the gray), and the trusty Michael's 40% off coupon makes it quite affordable at $4 to $5 a bottle.  I only used about half of the bottle for this project.  I gave the HDF a coat of primer, and then two coats of chalkboard paint, glued it to the frame with the help of some gorilla wood glue and heavy books to weigh it down overnight.

Aside from some glue streaks on the paint where I tried to wipe off the excess, it was a success.  

This is a picture of the board after "seasoning" it by rubbing chalk all over.  And, voilà, here is the finished product!  

My O. loves learning his Bible memory verses on the board.  Here they are during a rare play-dough play session.  I am one of those parents who practically keeps play-dough under lock and key because it is such a darn mess to clean up afterwards.  I justify it by the fact that the rarity of the play-dough times makes them extra fun and lengthy when they do get to play!

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