2018 Round Up Reflections and Lessons Learned on Birdz of a Feather

I’ve been spending some long overdue quality time with Hubs this holiday season, so this post comes a day late for 2018. Looking back on our projects of 2018 has made me realize how much I’ve turned into my mother’s daughter. It’s a strange thing to think all your life that you’re nothing like your mother then suddenly come to the realization that you have more in common than you ever thought.

My mom was a prolific indoor and outdoor gardener. For years I didn’t have much of an interest in growing indoor plants – or a green thumb for that matter. Now every available light source in our house is stuffed with plants. Albeit, succulents are easy to keep alive, so if you don’t have much of a green thumb either, give them a try! They’re so lovely to look at and make a home even homier. You can’t really consider your nest feathered without house plants 🙂

I was inspired to re-plant some of my succulents into this succulent display when I came across this set of ceramic planters at the thrift store.

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I’m not sure where my passion for repurposing came from, but I suspect it might have something to do with the fact the my Mom combined my birthday party together with my sister’s on her birthday when we were kids. I seem to remember that because it wasn’t really my birthday, I didn’t get as many gifts. The gifts that I did get, I would hide and not use or share – which is probably why I’m such a hoarder today! Instead of enjoying the few new things I got, I would reinvent things I already had. It somehow sparked my creativity. I was also keen on learning how to knit, crochet, sew and build – things I picked up from Mom – so I could create my own new things. Strange the way a kid’s mind works! My two sisters are quite the opposite: they didn’t inherit the creative gene!

We did a ton of repurposing projects at Birdz of a Feather this year starting with creating a clock from the hard drive of my old desk top computer. This marked Hubs’ writing debut.

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Computer Hard Drive Clock

What we didn’t show on the blog was the ‘accident’ we had drilling out the spindle. We didn’t check thoroughly enough that the clamp was properly secured to the work surface. The drill bit caught in the spindle and the hole thing was sent spiralling into the drywall behind where I was filming. There went Hubs’ level 5 drywall finish! We still haven’t patched and repainted; here’s what the above picture actually looked like – before touching it up with photoshop.

We never skimp on safety like eye protection etc, but the lesson learned here is ALWAYS double check safety procedures – like making sure clamps are tight enough. You know the adage measure twice, cut once? It should be check everything twice – period – and then proceed! But that isn’t as catchy, is it?

Not to be outdone by Hubs’ clock project, I came up with a Foghorn Leghorn clock idea that solved a very real dilemma in his mancave – where to put a clock when there’s no practical wall space. My solution was to build one right into the door of his Ikea TV unit! Hubs repeated his favourite cartoon phrase so often, you’d think he coined it himself, so I knew he would get a kick out of having it immortalized in something that embodies both form and function:

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The beauty of this clock solution was that Hubs can still access all his storage behind the door:

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Planters, Planters and More Planters

My interest in old fashioned milk paint was reignited this year. I was interested in experimenting in covering surfaces that aren’t traditionally milk painted – like pre-varnished wood and metal. The first result was this sweet mini Adirondack Chair….

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Milk Paint Mini Adirondack Chair

… and our ‘Partners in Grime’ planter.

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Partners in Grime Planter

I find that experimentation often leads to discovery of new techniques which is now I came up with this milk paint mixing hack.

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My experimentation with milk paint inspired yet another planter idea when we spotted a phone booth enclosure at the Aberfoyle Antique Market. Our phone booth planter spawned our first attempt at creating faux barn board shelves – which we also created with milk paint!

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Not completely content with our first try at faux barn board, I added a pickling solution to the milk paint equation and finally had something I was completely happy with!

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Faux Barn Board

Living in a large Metropolitan city like Toronto, real barn board costs an arm and a leg. While we do love the real thing, we’re not opposed to a little fakery every once in a while. Besides, by the time you drill holes for planters – or cover the wood with items if you’re using it as a display shelf, you see very little of it anyway.

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On the same trip to Aberfoyle, we found a little vintage stamp holder. All the slots were filled with ink stamps – with the exception of two. I filled the slot at the front – the place of honour – with a stamp bearing my father’s name. In the second slot, I added one gorgeous flower from our neighbours garden. Sometimes you don’t have to completely change an item to breathe new life into it and make an impact! For 5 minutes of work, it would be a beautiful addition to any table setting.

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I guess I went quite planter crazy in 2018. With our next project, Hubs might say I just went crazy – period. A chance find at a garage sale got me thinking about how I could repurpose a bathroom light fixture into a planter too!

What do you think: crazy or inspired???

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Upcycled Bath Fixtures

I still wasn’t done with planters – the planter bug bit once again when Hubs found an abandoned guitar curbside.

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Learning New Skills

Our next upcycle project had me pushing the learning curve once again when we found a Singer sewing machine base in dire need of veneer repair. I really didn’t have high expectations for it but I had an amazing teacher in Hubs and it ended up exceeding my expectations once it was painted.

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Again, I had to take it that one step further – or more correctly, find a way to turn it into another planter 🙂

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Hudsons Bay Point Blanket Inspired Upcycle & Ikea Hack

Of all our road side rescues, the waterfall dresser ranks right up there as one of my favourites. We had to build a new drawer to replace the one taken by a garbage man who left the rest behind (lucky for us he didn’t have room for the whole thing).

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Heavy Metal

By now you might be wondering if we turned everything into a planter in 2018. Just a few things escaped that treatment. Our enamel light fixture rehab proved that almost anything can have a second life if you’re willing to put in the sweat equity.

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Enamel Light Fixture Rehab

Hubs is a heavy metal freak but not in the way you might think (he’s more into Neil Young). These metal scales are HEAVY – and have always left me wondering why a skinny guy, who’s never had a weight problem, would have such a fascination with restoring them.

Retro Bathroom Scale Makeovers. Step it Up!

After seeing a few of these restored, I can see now that they’re absolute eye candy. If you don’t have the space to restore and display vintage cars, this might be the next best thing.

Another heavy metal item we upcycled was this retro filing cabinet that helped put the finishing touches on Hubs’ mancave (which we completed a year before). They just don’t build ’em like they used to; this is no flimsy metal cabinet!

Amongst one of the few things we didn’t turn into a planter, was this crackle finished cabinet. We were in need of additional storage to hide away our supplements after meal time in the dining room. Upcycling isn’t just for old abandoned pieces. This cabinet was a brand new Ikea Godmorgon that was on clearance. For only $49, we weren’t afraid to have some fun with it so we resurrected another faux finish technique and crackled it. Instead of sticking out like a sore thumb in our dining room, it kinda looks like an art piece on the wall.

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Once the weather turned warm, we finally got our fill of ‘real’ gardening. Hubs and I tag-teamed the trimming of our pom pom topiary.

We also built a new wood privacy screen for the back corner of the garden to hide the sightline of our neighbour’s pool.

Wood Privacy Screen

Good weather is far too short-lived in Canada so once the weather got colder, we launched our Sustainable Sunday series which actually took place a few years ago. Hubs and I were selected to be one of 24 families across Canada to participate in Ikea’s sustainable living project. It really opened our eyes to how we could make improvements to be more environmentally friendly. We learned valuable lessons that have sustained us well past the end of the project. In keeping with my penchant for planters this year, it will probably come as no surprise to anyone that our first sustainable living project was an indoor herb garden. You can’t have too much pesto 🙂

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Indoor Herb Garden

Getting back to our DIY roots, we made some kitchen storage improvements in our existing kitchen. Our storage capacity was drastically improved by adding pot drawers.

We also added pull outs in a set of lower cabinets and the pantry.

Keeping the DIY momentum going, we’ve got my Mom’s curbless shower renovation coming up early this year but beyond that we have no idea what 2019 has in store.

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It’s been fun reminiscing today about what we accomplished on the blog in 2018. We hope everyone had a Happy New Year!

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