Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

March 23, 2017

DIY Stool with Bunny Ears

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

Last fall I had this burning desire to make a little stool with bunny ears after seeing one in an advertisement for an airline.  A few days later, I spotted a little wood stool at the landfill:  

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

Obviously the Universe was on board with me making a bunny stool too.  It was such a simple little furniture hack, but it turned out so adorable.  I have no idea why the heck I wanted to make this, but darn it if it doesn't make me laugh every time I look at it...  

DIY Bunny Stool Hack
DIY Bunny Stool Hack
DIY Bunny Stool Hack

Those EARS! 

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

After I lugged my new (old) stool home, I gave it a light sand and a wash and then let it dry.  It was grimey and chipped and needed a fresh coat of paint. 

Next Handy Hubby and I free-hand sketched two lopsided rabbit ears onto scrap plywood and, using a jigsaw, cut them out.  We were working on another project at the time, so this took two seconds. 

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

I lightly sanded the edges of the ears for a smooth finish (you can also add some edge band), and then we affixed them to the stool, screwing them in from the bottom.  Easy peasy.

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

I was tempted to draw a face but my Mom said it would look more Scandi - and less kiddie - if I spray painted it all one color.  So I gave everything a blast of white spray primer + paint in a gloss finish.

It is the cutest thing ever and I have absolutely no legitimate use or need for it, but I have been using it for six months as a plant stand.  Picture a sweet little bunny face - or one in the shape of a fox! - for a sweet addition to a kid's play room. 

DIY Bunny Stool Hack
DIY Bunny Stool Hack
DIY Bunny Stool Hack

So silly, but so perfect for spring, right?  I'm ready...

DIY Bunny Stool Hack
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March 17, 2017

Lake Life Lately: Take Me Back to Punta Cana...

First Trip to Punta Cana // Beach

We're back (kicking and screaming) from Punta Cana! 

Breathless Resort from Airplane

Hubby and I had never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before and it was such a bizarre experience.  Normally we holiday by traipsing through Europe in the rain, trying to take in every last castle and museum.  This was different because we never left the resort - and our wallets never left the safe.  It was weird to walk up to the bar or coffee shop and not pay.  But wow, was it nice!
 

We had such a fun time vacationing in the sun with our friends!  We unplugged, we read.  We drank too much, ate too much.  We fell asleep on the beach and developed bizarre sun burns.  It was incredibly relaxing - especially because we stayed at Breathless, an adults-only resort.  We toured the neighboring family-friendly resort and it was such a different energy.  The only bummer was that the weather was unseasonably chilly and we had a few windy and rainy a couple of days - the beach was even closed for a bit.  But we still had fun just hanging out (remember, the drinks are free!), plus we found the tennis court, which helped warm us up.  Even when it was too cold to swim, we strolled the beach and just enjoyed our toes in the sand.

I was deeply committed to fully relaxing on this trip.  I didn't bring my laptop, I barely looked at my phone, and I let my brain slip into neutral.  I also wanted to put down the camera.  I wanted to live in the moment, instead of frantically trying to capture it on camera.  So much of blogging is about always getting things in pictures and it really changes my experience of thing.  There were a lot of people doing incredibly in depth, sexy "photo shoots" in the waves - for social media, I'm betting.  One woman was completely taken out by a wave while she posed for the 100th angle, with her poor Instagram husband snapping away.  Meanwhile, I was down the beach like...


In hindsight, I wish I had more photos of the four of us - especially because I seemed to be wearing the exact same dress in the few photos we did take (despite dropping a ton of money on six new bathing suits and summer dresses!)  But in the moment, it felt so freeing to leave my camera and cell phone in the room safe.  On a particularly cold and windy day, Hubby and I did stroll around the resort and I snapped a few photos to remember how beautiful it was.

Palm Trees
Punta Cana Breathless Resort

We were upgraded for free to a swim up room, which was AMAZING!  There was a squiggly shaped pool right outside our rooms and because the pool was hardly ever used, it felt like like a private pool just for us.  We were across from the "party pool" so we could hear the music and feel the vibes, without having to fight for a sought after deck chair.  I loved this little luxury so much. 

Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort

The party pool was just incredible - there was a swim up bar, too.  The whole resort had lots of places to swim and sunbathe.  The grounds were impeccably maintained, too - such beautiful plants!  

Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort

The resort rooms were gorgeous, with a little open air courtyard to greet us.  I never snapped a photo of the inside of our room because we made a mess of it in seconds, madly flinging on our swim suits for a (prohibited) evening swim our first night.  After that we put up a travel clothesline so we could wash and dry stuff, and from then on it was gotch-city in our room.  But there are some great photos on the website - the rooms really are that pretty in real life.

Punta Cana Breathless Resort

Sick of this dress yet?  I swear, I also bought this white eyelet one, this pretty green ikat one, this strapless maxi, this watercolor inspired one... There was even a pair of turquoise wedge sandals I have no proof existed.

To be honest, we only gussied up for dinner because during the day we tried to squeeze in as much time in the water as possible!  The resort was right on the ocean so it was a two second stroll through the resort pools, bars, and restaurants to reach the beach.  We've heard other resorts are larger and some even require a bus to reach the water.  This was so close we could hear the waves from our room.  We spent a LOT of time on the beach - you know me and being by the water!  There were a few "red flag" days, which meant swimming was prohibited due to waves, but we recklessly jumped in anyway and logged long hours in the ocean.

Punta Cana Breathless Resort

The ocean was GORGEOUS!  Crystal clear and surprisingly warm (as long as the weather cooperated)!  Our friends did some snorkeling close to the coral reefs but I was too scared of cutting myself on the coral.

Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort

I'm a little bummed we didn't have the nicest weather - resort staff kept apologizing for the bizarre cold front.  After spending weeks carefully buying a summer wardrobe, I spent a couple of nights wrapped up in Hubby's hoodie or under a blanket.  Although we had a few perfect days, I definitely could have been warmer, but that's just the story of my life.  Some day someone will surely engrave that on my tombstone: "Daughter, wife, feminist. She led a full life, but she could have been warmer".

Luckily the restaurants and bars were so chic (and the food was delicious), so we didn't mind lingering over breakfast or lunch while we watched for better weather.  One section of the main restaurant had a wood, green and teal theme - with cactus sculptures that I need to make right now! - that quickly became my favorite (I already shared a peek on Instagram because I was so smitten):

Punta Cana Breathless Resort

I left feeling inspired and I am definitely going to be adding some more beachy accents to the lakehouse, that's for sure - something to tide me over until we can go somewhere warm again!  Any suggestions for where we can escape winter next year? 



I swear, I really brought other clothes.
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March 10, 2017

Lake Life Lately: I Have a New Job!


I never intended to become a professional blogger.  I started blogging as a hobby, while I was in grad school, because I wanted to connect with other people who had small budgets and big dreams for their homes.  I've always loved making and creating, and it was just so thrilling to be able to chat with others DIYers.  To my surprise, Dans le Townhouse grew and by the time the blog became Dans le Lakehouse, I was making a nice little income.  I filmed videos with Canadian Tire, saw my house pop up on sites like Elle Decor and Better Homes & Gardens, and even parlayed the blog into some exciting freelance work for various Canadian retailers.  Behind the scenes, even crazier opportunities presented themselves - it has been a wild ride!

But secretly, I was applying to other jobs.

My job search is such a long story - with so many crushing disappointments - but I don't know if it's really all that uncommon.  Lots of my friends, with various backgrounds/education, have struggled to find work.  I was lucky I had a back-up plan!  I decided to start growing the blog more purposefully (wishing I had laid the proper groundwork to run the blog like a business when I started) and things were chugging along.  Looking back, I'm especially grateful that I had a flexible job like blogging to fall back on because when some terrible things happened in my family, I was able to be there.

But I pined for a different kind of job.

Recently I took another stab at looking for a job but I took a wildly different approach with my job applications.  I threw out every single piece of advice I'd been given over the years (and I had been given a lot) and just wrote my cover letters from the heart, keeping them casual and upbeat.


Well, guess what?  I landed interviews for every job I applied to and was offered two competing offers within days of one another, for two excellent jobs broadly (sorta, kinda) in my field - if I can even say that I have "a field" (I have a PhD in Feminist and Gender Studies and an HBA and MA in Philosophy).

I chose the one with flexible hours and a chance for adventure.  Hubby works a really weird work shift and a 9-5 job would mean I'd rarely see him, so I pounced at the opportunity to work a job that has similarly odd hours.  I always worry about sharing too much on the blog, which is why I've kept details like Hubby's first name, our last name, his place of work, our location, etc., private.  I am probably overly cautious, but I hesitate to share too much about new job too, although I will say it's in education.  I am currently training and I start in earnest very soon.  There is a lot to learn and that's why I haven't been posting here with the same frequency as usual.  I'm cramming, haha! 

But I'm not leaving blogland!

The best thing about my new job is that I can keep blogging.  In fact, my new boss has encouraged it, which is amazing because Hubby and I have so many great projects lined up - plus I'm collaborating with some really great brands I've been wanting to work with for years.  With my focus shifted to my new job and new research, I'm actually feeling so much more inspired these days.  I think my brain needed a little bit of a challenge - and probably a change of scenery - to get those creative juices flowing again.  Ideas for posts and projects are just pouring out of me right now.

I wanted to share my news to explain my absence but also because I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads Dans le Lakehouse.  I never shared my employment struggles because I try not to let my problems seep into the blog.  There is an abundance of negativity in the world so the criteria for the blogs I read is simple: I like to be entertained, uplifted - and if I can learn something, that's a bonus!  I don't want to be mired in someone else's crazy drama, so I try not to foist mine on you.  But when I was feeling down, your kind comments and emails definitely propelled me forward, made me smile, and made me appreciate this job so much more. 

So I wanted to say thank you.  So much.  I think this year will be our best year yet!

P.S. The photos are from my home office makeover - if you missed it (and our DIY walnut waterfall desk) check out the before and after tour here.
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March 6, 2017

The Leesa Mattress: is a Mattress in a Box Really Comfortable?

Disclosure: Leesa® provided a king mattress as compensation for writing this post. However, all thoughts and opinions stated here are my own.

After finishing our DIY walnut plywood bed, Hubby and I started to casually shop for a mattress.  We bought our mattress 10 years ago and after hauling it back and forth across the province, it was starting to show its age.  Actually, I started to show my age, waking up each morning trying to figure out if it was my bones or the mattress that was groaning and creaking so loudly.



When Leesa® Canada reached out to me to review one of their premium foam mattresses, I was thrilled - if a little reticent.  I had seen the advertisements on TV, read the glowing customer feedback, and even poured over the positive reviews on other blogs, but I was still a little nervous about how comfortable a foam mattress could be because our guest bed has a solid foam mattress that I find very firm and somewhat uncomfortable (but it was made in Ottawa and I always liked supporting local).  I was worried this would feel like that one does: unforgiving, unyielding, super firm and clunky.

But I was too curious to turn down the offer!

We arrived home late one night to find the Leesa® mattress waiting for us in the car port.  We lugged it inside and couldn't believe that a comfortable, king-sized mattress was hiding inside.  The next morning, following the instructions, we opened up the box, placed the rolled up mattress on our box springs, and watched it unfurl.  In minutes, it was already puffed up.  An hour later, everything was looking much more taut and firm.  The progression happened SO quickly, I could barely capture it on camera:


BOOM - a mattress!

The process was accompanied by a very loud hissing noise and, as explained, it did off-gas for a little while, but the smell went away within a few hours.  Then we were just left with a lovely new mattress:


I was still skeptical.

We waited until evening to test it out and, surprisingly, it's really comfortable.  Unlike the solid foam mattress in our guest room, this mattress feels like it molds to the contours of my body, cradling every inch - without being too soft.  I have struggled, off and on, with back pain and I'm really sensitive to mattresses but this one feels really good.  How do I describe this?  Like my bones kind of sink into the mattress, but still feel supported. 

Honestly, it's difficult to describe because after the hundreds of mattresses I have slept on over the years, in hotels and the homes of friends and family, this feels unlike any other.  It just feels really good.

Inside the mattress is a different composition than what I was expecting.  The top layer is a 2" cooling foam, the middle is a 2" memory foam, and the bottom layer is a 6" dense core support foam, which results in a mattress that feels like it's custom designed.  It's really hard to believe this was all crammed into that small box!
 

My fears were all unfounded because I am really impressed.  Hubby and I both find it really comfortable and I no longer wake up with aches and pains that I think the slumps and dips in our poor old mattress were causing.  The only weird thing is that even though it's now firmed up, I still can't really sit on the edge of the bed because it just collapses under me, which is an adjustment but not a deal breaker.  

If you've been hearing about the Leesa® mattress to and find yourself wondering if it might be a good purchase, know that it comes with the guarantee of a 100 night risk-free trial and free shipping.  Mattresses are a big purchase and this mattress is no exception (the king rings in at $1290CAD, which isn't peanuts), so I like that you can have some time to make sure it's the right fit.  Judging by the overwhelmingly positive feedback from both bloggers who received this mattress for free or were compensation to review it - and customers who parted with cold hard cash to buy it, I think this mattress is a solid buy. 

I plan to provide an updated review when I've had a chance to test this mattress beyond the 100 day return policy and I'll share my thoughts then.

In the mean time, has anyone taken the plunge and ordered a mattress online?  This technology just boggles my mind.  If you've been wanting to try out the Leesa®, there's a promo code for readers to get get $100CAD off the price: lakehouse.   
I was provided the Leesa® mattress for review, but was not asked or encouraged to provide a positive review.  I think the unsolicited, positive feedback speaks volumes.  Plus the company donates a mattress to a shelter for every 10 that are sold. Plus they're made in America!    
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March 2, 2017

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

I'm counting the sleeps until Hubby and I are lying on a beach in Punta Cana with friends.  Last weekend my Mom came over and we whipped up this GINORMOUS beach tote for the trip.  It's been way too long since we got together to sip tea and make something.  The funny thing is that while we were in Fabricland, trying to pick out the perfect turquoise print, we ran into my Mummu there!  I love my crafty family.

Isn't this fabric the cutest?  And there's a surprise inside:

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

If the pretty turquoise print and pom pom trim don't make me smile, the polka dot lining definitely will.  Plus this tote has a zipper to keep our stuff a little more secure.  We can't risk losing our sunblock because Hubby is so fair, he burns like a lobster just puttering around the yard!  

Here's how we made this beach bag - in case your feet will reach a beach sometime this year!

Supplies:

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

How to Sew a Zippered Tote Bag:

Figure out the preferred finished dimensions of your tote and cut out two rectangular pieces of fabric that size, adding approximately 6/8 of an inch for a seam allowance.  We chose a size that maximized the print (neither of us wanted to cut the feet off the little birdies).  Using a self-healing olfa mat with an olfa rotary cutter and ruler makes cutting a straight line a breeze.   

With the two sides of the tote cut out, sew the top of the tote with a large basting stitch (this will be cut open later for the zipper).  For the space beyond the zipper location, use a regular stitch on the sewing machine to make sure it's secure.   
  DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

Next, insert the zipper into the top of the tote.  Open up the tote and place the zipper face down on the wrong side of the fabric (where it's sewn together) and then sew a rectangle around the zipper with your machine's zipper foot. 

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

In these photos you'll see we started with contrasting black thread but quickly changed our minds and found the perfect aqua in my stash.  Luckily we weren't too far along before changing our minds.

Remember that, at some point, you have to cut open the basting to move the zipper tab so the seam is nice and straight - you don't want the stitching to follow a weird lump around the zipper tab.  This might sound familiar from our tutorial on how to sew a pillow with a flapped zipper.

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

While the tote is still open, sew on the webbing straps.  We also sewed on a piece of contrasting fabric for a bottom (to tie together the black straps and pom pom trim with the pattern), which is where the ends of the straps are buried for a neat and tidy finished tote.  We used an existing tote to figure out the length of the straps (approximately 25" from the top of the tote, plus additional length for the sides). 

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

Anchor the straps into the bottom of the tote (under the black fabric in this case), first.  Then sew up along the length of the straps and sew to the front and back of the tote bag.  Sew along the edges, up to the top of the tote bag close to the zipper, then back along the edge to the bottom for strength.

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

Cut out two pieces of fabric for the lining, the same size as the tote exterior fabric.  Then lay out the tote, right side down (wrong side facing you) and sew together the lining - but only at the edges, where the zipper isn't.  Leave the middle, where the zipper will be, open.

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

Fold the raw edges of the lining underneath (making sure the zipper won't catch it when being used) and then iron so it lies flat for the next step.  By hand, baste the lining to the wrong side (inside) of your tote fabric, around the zipper.

Flip the tote bag over, and, on the right side, go over the same stitching for inserting the zipper to anchor the lining fabric to the tote, without leaving a second set of stitching.  So to the eye, it looks like the same row of stitching has affixed the zipper and the lining on the opening of the bag.

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

Open the zipper from this point forward - VERY important step!

Pin together the right sides of the exterior tote fabric - inserting the pom pom trim if desired (so the pom poms face inward at this point).  Pull the lining fabric in the opposite direction so it's out of the way for now.  Starting at the top of either side, sew toward the bottom, along the bottom and back up the other side to close the tote, leaving approximately a 6/8" (3/4") seam allowance.

Trim the seams and then sew the bottom corners to create a nice square tote bottom.  Basically, you create a triangle by matching up the bottom and side seam and squishing it flat.  Once the corner is sewn, trim off the excess fabric.  This step is optional, but it helps create a nice shape so it's less of a sack and more of a box.  With stiffer fabric, this difference is much more prominent and the tote will sit nicely.

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

Sew the lining now, with the right sides together, but leave most of the bottom open so the tote can be turned right side out.  Once the tote is flipped right side out, sew the bottom of the lining and then push it into the tote, lining up the corners so everything is nice and smooth.  If the bottom of the tote has a large box bottom, the lining can be sewn into the same box shape, but it's not necessary for a smaller tote bottom like this one.  We also anchored the strap to the lining, which you'll see in photos.

DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse
DIY Beach Tote with Zipper Closure + Pom Pom Trim | Sewing Tutorial from Dans le Lakehouse

Happy sewing!
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