Category Archives: Uncategorized

Footstool of the gods!

My First Success!

Allow me to say first off, that success is relative. I still need to learn a lot about paint and painting, but I’m delighted with my first “real” project: my little footstool.

I love thrifting—more than painting. It’s like really cheap shopping. When I needed to outfit my new kitchen from scratch last fall, between loyalty points, sales, discounts, gifts and thrifting, I probably did it for a couple of hundred bucks. The new stainless steel appliances came later, but even they were Black Friday deals.

But I digress. I arrived at the Newmarket Salvation Army one day in early January just as someone was donating a little stool. You know the one from the 80s that we all had. Came from Regal and fit the Toronto Star TV Magazineperfectly. It looked like this one, which is available today from Amazon for $77.29 Cdn dollars. The legs are slightly different, but it’s actually the identical faux tapestry.

The one I snagged had already been recovered once, but when I peeled back the fading cotton, there was the original faux tapestry, just as I remembered.

I took the whole thing apart, carefully saving the screws and hinges. I didn’t want to use the grey chalk paint I already had, so, after sanding and cleaning and priming (in white), I grabbed the can of Rustoleum outdoor paint. The instructions on the can said you could paint wood, so I did. Two or three coats. Note to readers: Rustoleum outdoor paint does not clean up with soap and water.

First I tried to paint the tapestry white using fabric spray paint purchased from Michaels. Two spray cans later, it looked as if I’d left it outside in a mild snow fall. Hmmf.

So I got out my trusty staple gun and recovered it in black and white striped fabric that I’d also grabbed at Salvation Army a while back. It’s not the same polished cotton curtain I’d be using later on the bench (spoiler alert), and indeed, I may take this little guy apart again and redo it with the better quality fabric—they’re both black and white stripes after all. But I thought the stretchy, T-shirt-y material would be easier to work with. Here’s s shot of the exciting new stripes draped with the thin cotton that had covered it when I bought it.

I struggled to get the screws back in, having covered the predrilled holes with fabric. But, after first doing it backwards, I finally got them in. They were tiny and the wood cheap and old—that’s what’s holding me back from re-doing it with the better fabric. I’m afraid the wood might not withstand yet another change.

But, I now own wood filler and a drill. So…

I love how it looks—glossy black (pay no attention to the drips and brush strokes), with the black and white fabric. I sprayed it repeatedly with Scotchguard, and later with anti-static spray, but the other thing that’s not great about the stretchy cotton is that dog hair sticks to it like Velcro.

Now… it sits by Command Central (that’s the chair where I can see both the TV and the bird feeder), proudly holding the now-too-big Toronto Star TV guide and the remote. (I wonder if remotes had even been invented when this wee footstool came off the assembly line.) And I couldn’t be more pleased.

Stay tuned for my next success—the front-door bench…

The Journey Begins…

How did I get interested in upcycling you ask? Sure you did.

I started watching those reno shows: Fixer-Upper, Masters of Flip,  Leave it to Bryan, Holmes on Holmes, and several others. My faves these days are Save My Reno because they upcycle, and Good Bones because I just want to hang out with Karen. She’s so much fun. And? She upcycles.

From there, the slippery slope led to Pinterest, and then various Facebook Groups. I love Upcyclers Anonymous, Paint it Beautiful, and several others. There appears to be a great divide between chalk paint and mineral paint, but that’s a tangent for another day.

Since I have a “discount for life” at Canadian Tire, I usually start there. I had just moved into my new home in Aurora, Ontario, and hired a painter to paint the entire multi-pastel house in a rainbow of greys. (Not quite 50 Shades…). So at Canadian Tire, I bought black outdoor paint for my patio table, grey chalk paint and a can of protective topcoat. All by Rustoleum, because that was what they had. I had yet to hear of Annie Sloan, Dixie Bell and F.A.T. paints. Not to mention Fusion Mineral Paints.

Hmmm. Not sure it’s a good idea to buy a specialty product at a general store, because the can must have been sitting there for years. The bottom had hardened into a lump that defied stirring. But the top looked okay, so I persisted. It was just practice for now, right?

I grabbed a little Ikea shelf I’d had for years, a box that wine had come in, and five “heads” I’d snagged at a thrift store. Oh, and some carved dragons I’d bought on the beach in Bali in 2000.

So I primed with white Bulls Eye primer and painted. It’s not as easy as it looks. Brush strokes and bleeding paint are my nemesis, but for these projects, it was good practice.

I also experimented with Modge Podge, stencilling and stickers on these pieces. The stencilling worked best. I’ve yet to try transfers, because they’re not cheap. I’ve read that you can make your own by feeding wax paper into an ink jet printer. I see a jammed up ink jet printer in my future, so I’m holding off on that.

Enough words, Gina. Show us what you got:

First up, my little Ikea drawer system. My learning here is that I don’t like it when the rest of the piece isn’t nicely finished. However, I’d read that when you paint a drawer, it can often get just that tiniest bit too big for easy sliding.

Here’s the finished box deployed on my office bookcase. As you can see, I’ve covered the poorly decoupaged top with a stationery tray, and added the little bat sticker. It’s cute. It’s functional. I really didn’t care how it turned out. Next…


Next was the wine box. I practied my painting, and later, stencilling. I used a dollar store self-adhesive stencil and as you can see, it pulled off some of the paint. Note to self: use the protector coat first, then the stencil. Haven’t tried that yet. Will let you know how it goes.

The next two projects actually worked out pretty well. First were the dragons. I’d bought them from a seller who walked the beach in Bali–a memorial trip I’d taken when my mother passed away. The seller told me they were stained with brown shoe polish. I can’t recall if I primed them and I don’t have a before picture, but I painted 2 coats of the grey chalk paint, then dry brushed on some of the Rustoleum black even though it is for outdoor furniture. Then dry brushed some dollar store gold acryllic paint. The inside of their mouths was done with dollar store red nail polish. I love how they turned out. They have place of pride on top of a beautiful antique cabinet purchased years ago at an auction in Toronto.


Lastly, I painted the white styrophone heads grey. I wanted them to be vaguely reminiscent of Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels. Painting styrophone was a challenge because it kept chipping off. I finally found if I handled it very carefully, and then didn’t touch them till the protective coating had dried, that I could then dress them and display them. Now they sit atop my antique barrister’s bookcase.


At first, I just sat the heads directly on the bookcase, but after posting a picture to Upcycler’s Anonymous, someone suggested I acquire candlesticks. A quick trip to Salvation Army and $12.00 (less senior’s discount) later, here we are.

So far, I was 2/4 on my practice projects. It was time to move to something real. Stay tuned for my next blog post…

#upcycling #newlife #thrifymystery

Girls don’t need tools

It was 1968, I was in Grade 8 when an announcement came over Hodgson Junior High’s PA system: “There will be a special Industrial Arts after-school class for girls. Maximum 15 girls. Sign-up sheet on the door. First come, first served.” 

Back then, girls were required to take Home Ec, while boys were shunted to Industrial Arts. No exceptions. Always the rebel, I was dying to learn how to fix stuff. My dad didn’t know how to change a light bulb and my mom used a hammer for everything. Needless to say my signature was the first on the list.

Imagine my shock when I wasn’t one of the 15 girls chosen. I headed for the VP’s office, demanding to know why not.

In a low voice, despite the door being closed, the VP informed me that there were… girls… who would need to know this kind of thing. They’d be… on their own. Probably raising families… on their own.” Our school sat squarely between a middle class neighbourhood and a rather dumpy “wrong side of the tracks” neighbourhood. (Which would later gentrify right out of my price range.)

“What about me?” I asked. “I need to know these things.”

“Oh, no.” He chuckled. “You’re from a good home. You’ll marry well.”

I’ll marry well. Huh. What do you even say to that?

And I did. I married a man who knew how to do it all–hang drywall, fix plumbing, rewire a lamp, and refinish furniture. But he wasn’t interested in teaching me any of it. He preferred to work alone and I knew better than to touch his tools. When we split up last year, he was scrupulously fair in dividing up the tools (but not the power tools), making sure I got my equal share… of things I didn’t know how to use.

So here I am. Five months later, totally enamoured of upcycling furniture–saving pieces from landfill and turning them into beauties. It’s all trial and error… more error than trial sometimes. I now own a drill and a power screwdriver. They were sold as a set–I don’t know which is which. No kidding. The instruction manuals? All assume that much basic knowledge. Me? I don’t know how to affix a drill bit. Or is it a screwdriver bit? But I’ll figure it out.

I’m perservering. I’m pleased with my results so far. Because with paint, if you screw up, you just do it over. Here’s a sampling of my work so far:

From this… to that. It’s all from gargage sales and thrift stores, even the lovely striped fabric was a $3.00 curtain from Salvation Army.

Stick with me for some entertaining adventures in upcycling. Because you know what? Girls do need tools!


Learn to love Microsoft Word

Kobo Writing Life

By Joan Frantschuk

Have you ever screamed at Word because it just will not cooperate?

Word is a writer’s best tool, best resource, best friend. Writing a book is hard enough without the added aggravation that unfamiliarity with Word can create. As a writer, you owe it to yourself to learn how to use all its features—without shouting. If your font changes unexpectedly, your pages break in weird places, your titles are wonky, then this course is for you.

In Mastering Word for Fiction Writers, you’ll uncover the solution of Styles for consistent text, the speed and convenience of the Navigation Pane for reorganizing your scenes and clicking around your manuscript, and how to write a synopsis in just THREE steps.

Do you want to improve your editing skills and work easily with editors?

Word can help you write your book without aggravation, frustration, and distraction, allowing you to focus on…

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Pricing Your Print Book

Woven Red Author Services

“My cover designer wants to know my list price for the bar code. Where the heck do I get that price from?”

The Cast

Before we begin, there’s a cast of characters for you to meet.

The Author/Publisher: that’s you.

The Printer/Distributor: companies like CreateSpace, IngramSpark and many others.

The Retailer: bookstore and libraries.

The Reader: the end consumer of your books.

The List Price


This is the price the reader will pay to get her hands on one copy of your beautiful print book. It’s usually added to the barcode on the back cover. Above is the barcode from Above Scandal by my alter ego Joan Leacott. The list price is $17.95 US. The price is coded into the shorter set of bars. Because I’m Canadian, I include a price in Canadian dollars.

The Retailer sometimes gets a portion of the LIST…

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My #1 Favourite DIY Editing Tool: Word Proofing Options

A very informative article. Well worth the lcick. (If only there was some way to catch those typos and mistkes. 😉 )

Woven Red Author Services

Image courtesy of ningmilo at FreeDigitalPhotos.netFor pointing out gaping plot holes, sagging middles and uneven character development, nothing beats the eagle eyes of a good editor. I wouldn’t publish without one.

But for spell checking, grammar checking and copy editing, I rely on three electronic tools to help me polish my manuscript.

This post takes a closer look at what Word has to offer.

Word Proofing Options

Word has a wide array of proofing options grouped under AutoCorrect, spelling and grammar checking, and writing style options.


You’re familiar with autocorrect on your phone and the inadvertent, and sometimes hilarious, assumptions that apps make. Word does the same. Those funny substitutions don’t mean you turn off Word’s AutoCorrect; it’s far too valuable to ignore.

On Word’s AutoCorrect tabs you’ll find:
  • seven AutoCorrect options
  • ten AutoFormat options
  • fourteen AutoFormat As You Type options.
Among those options, you can set up punctuation AutoCorrects like:
  • replace straight quotes with curly quotes

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Re-Inventing Love was judged a FINALIST* in the prestigious Rainbow Awards: (*Books receiving an average rate of 30 or more out of 40.)

“Re-Inventing Love was an entertaining and engaging read. The characters were very endearing and I loved Max’s distinctive voice. Storm created a very credible world and I was transported there every time I picked the book up. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.” 



Click here for details, reviews and excerpt.
Click here to buy Re-Inventing Love.
Click here to “try before you buy” with a free novella and short story by Storm Grant.


Fill your bookshelves free right now!

I’ve banded together with lots of awesome authors to offer you books, books and more books. For FREE FREE FREE. (Did I mention FREEEE?) If you like screwball comedy, funny fantasy, parody and…

Source: Fill your bookshelves free right now!

The Most Powerful – and Most Ignored – Tool in a Writer’s Toolkit

I learned so much from Joan about using Microsoft Word as an author. This course is a winner!

Today’s the DAY!

Lost Boys 2.0: If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.
I love Book Quote Wednesday (#bookqw) so much I made two. Today’s word is “DAY.” For Lost Boys 2.0, the second book in the Tales of B.O.O. series.

Click here for reviews, excerpt, etc. for Lost Boys 2.0.
Click here to read Lost Boys 2.0




Lost Boys 2.0: If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

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