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December 2011

December 17, 2011

The Periodic Table of Swearing

via thatslikewhoa.com

This is a great icebreaker for corporate parties or staid family reunions. Each button emits audio of a geeky swear. And the swears are British too, so they sound peri-Shakespearean.

December 13, 2011

DIY Chalkboard Paint

You can buy chalkboard paint in green or black, but why limit yourself to those scholastic-y colours? Maybe you want to make a chalkboard wall in the kitchen for a family communication center, or maybe you're making a kids' art table like this...


...and it would be fun to use a colour other than black or green.  

So get a quart size can of flat paint in any shade you like (I used Olympic Premium Zero VOC because it dries in an hour, has no odour and carries a lifetime warranty) and pour the amount of paint you'll need into a separate container.  Then add unsanded grout powder (available in the tile aisle) with the ratio of 1 rounded tablespoon of unsanded grout to 1 cup of flat paint.  Stir it up well and then roll out 2 or 3 coats on the surface you want to transform into a chalkboard.  You can use a hair dryer to speed up the drying time if you're rushed.  Cool eh?  

December 08, 2011

Vicky Sanderson's de-stressing gift guide

This is a guest post written by my lovely colleague Vicky Sanderson, a triple-threat guru in the fields of entertaining, decor and cooking! Vicki writes Hot Home Products, a weekly column on home improvement, décor and housewares that appears in the Toronto Star and on YourHome.ca - Follow her on Twitter: @vickysanderson 


Feeling seasonal stress already? Relax. It’s supposed to be fun, remember? Just in case that wise yogic counsel didn’t induce calm, here are three ways to instantly dial down the holiday pressure.

Give gifts that encourage family togetherness. Nothing says downtime like a couple of movies in a row on a snow-soaked afternoon. Choose a family favourite, such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – just out in a collectible box at HMV  — and add a classic, such as West Side Story. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Puffs

Foodie Blues?

Enough with all the cooking already!  Stock up on high-quality prepared foods from a specialty retailer like M&M Meat Shops. Pop their frozen pot roast in a slow cooker, which will produce a delicious cooking-all-day aroma (nudge, nudge) before adding veg and — if you like — a splurt of red wine. Serve with a pre-mixed salad and artisanal bread. For dessert, pull out M&M’s mini cream puffs, Nanaimo bars and tiny, perfect fruit tarts. When folks compliment you on the meal, sigh with exhaustion, daintily wipe your brow and say they were worth every ounce of the trouble you took. 

Be a Pig Hero

Remember what it’s really all about, and make a donation on behalf of someone far, far away whose life isn’t as blessed as yours. Consider, for example, World Vision, which partners with local communities in developing countries to improve lives.  A donation of $50 and a family receives two hens and a rooster; $40 buys a pig. The bonus here – you’ll raise a smile when you tell folks you gave pigs and poultry as presents this year.



Transfer your (or your kids') art onto ceramic tiles

I've discovered a cool new technique. I've been tranferring photos onto wood for a few years now to make coasters and all kinds of fun projects.  But the other day I tried it on a glazed ceramic tile and it worked!


I had a young friend draw directly onto t-shirt transfer paper using a Pilot rolling ball pen.  Then we cut out the drawing, turned it upside down and placed it on a 4-inch ceramic tile, then applied a hot iron to the back of the transfer.  

After we peeled off the backing paper, we had a perfect image on the tile surface. We put some parchment paper (the silicon-coated paper used for cooking) over the image and reheated it for a few seconds with the hot iron just to smooth a few bumps in the plastic transfer film.  Looks pretty cool right?  Which of your relatives wouldn't love a set of coasters from a budding cartoonist?  

You can also use crayons and markers to create images but be careful not to tear the delicate surface of the transfer paper. Also, Sharpies don't work very well - they blur and run under the heat of the iron.

TIP: Apply felt dots to the back of the tile to prevent sharp corners and edges from scratching delicate surfaces. 

This technique also works reasonably well with photographic images printed on t-shirt transfer paper using an inkjet printer.  Make sure the tiles are grease-free by wiping them with a little rubbing alcohol before applying the transfer.


Green Toys - Building tools for kids

Plastic kids' tools made from recycled milk cartons.  Great for fine motor skills, developing 3D aptitude and eye-hand coordination.  What's not to love?  For ages 2+. Thanks to Kevin Fraser for the heads up.  

December 02, 2011

Home-Dzine - What can you do with an old pallet?

via www.home-dzine.co.za

Wow, check out the beds, benches, racks, tables and even wall paneling! Most pallets are made of hardwood, so with some sanding and a bit of a linseed oil, they clean up to rustic chicness.  

Sugru - Duct Tape for Makers and Gadget Lovers - Forbes

via www.forbes.com

When a Forbes reporter says "This is one of my favorite products," you gotta get some! (I got my first Sugru the day they launched in 2009. They sold out in one day.)

Wood Bike Basket by AvieArts

via www.etsy.com

And just who wouldn't be attracted to a guy with a wood basket for his bike? And if he made it himself, even more points. And if a girl made it for him, he must be well and truly loved.


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Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie