Just look at the bone structure of this old girl! And it’s orange. And it’s awesome. And it’s free RIGHT NOW on UsedRegina.com.
Posts from Jennifer Aikman
Jennifer Aikman is the community manager at UsedEverywhere. She's been making content special since the beginning of this century via Tweets, blog posts & whatever it is the kids use nowadays. Oh, and she's also the mother of a toddler and a teen. Does that maker her crazy? Probably.
Why just buy a Christmas gift when you can buy a Christmas heirloom? Not only does it sound more impressive, it generally is. Clearly not every gift can be an heirloom. Chances are your sister isn’t going to hand down the bath bombs you gave her last year to future generations. So, what does make a good Christmas heirloom? Why, a handmade German Christmas Pyramid, of course. And it just so happens that a talented Swiss ex-pat now living in Surrey BC handcrafts them and sells them on UsedSurrey.com! He caters to the local market, but he’ll also ship it your door. At $65 it will set you back more than a bath bomb, but we both know you can do better than fizzy bath water. And it’s a whole lot cheaper than traveling to Germany!
Today, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians pause and observe two minutes of silence to pay tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in military service. We remember the fallen from the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the Afghanistan conflict and in other peacekeeping missions around the world.
My grandfather was enlisted in the RCAF during World War II. Thankfully, for us, (he always regretted it) he never saw any battle time, but still he was never comfortable talking about the war. He would only say he made a lot of good friends and lost even more. End of conversation.
After my grandfather died, my dad was given a small collection of photos taken at the beginning of the war. In the faded photographs, my grandfather looks young and handsome and happy in his uniform. I think it’s because he looks so happy that I find the photos so sad. The smiling uniformed young man, who had only just married my grandmother, was going to see the world change. His friends were going to go overseas and he would be left behind. Many of them, possibly even some of the men in the photos, were going to die. It seems too terrible to even consider. I can’t even pretend to understand what it must have been like. I can count the people I’ve lost to tragedy on one finger. I’ve lived a privileged life and regardless of my politics or feelings about war in general, I know I have my grandfather and the men and women of his generation who sacrificed their lives to thank for many of the freedoms I enjoy.
And so, today I am going to think of my grandfather and his lost friends and of all the others from different wars and different times and I’m going to try to thank them by bringing them back to life in my thoughts. And not just for 2 minutes either. I think I can manage a little more time than that.
A complete listing of Remembrance Day ceremonies is available on the Veterans Affairs Canada website.
What’s better than a buttercream-frosted, eggless devil’s food chocolate chip cupcake? Why, a bite-sized one, of course! I was charged with baking something for my housing co-op’s Halloween party this year. It had to be spooky, tasty and egg and nut free. Piece of adorable little cake! After a bit of Googling and cross referencing I came up with a recipe for these tasty morsels. Super easy and fast and the allergic kids will LOVE you!
Eggless Witchy One-Bite Cupcake Recipe
(makes 48 mini cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of dark & milk)
Preheat oven to 325°F if baking mini cupcakes – 350°F for standard size
Line mini muffin tin with spooky seasonal mini muffin liners (available at bake shops and craft stores).
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
Mix all the wet ingredients MINUS the vinegar in another bowl.
Combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring together in bowl until well combined. Stir in the vinegar, mixing rapidly.
Optional: Stir in 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips for a richer batter
Spoon batter in to mini muffin liners, filling a good 3/4 full (if you like puffy cupcakes, you can go ahead and fill the liner to the top)
Eat batter with wild abandon! After all, no eggs means no salmonella to worry about!
Place muffin tin on middle rack and bake for 15 minutes at 325°F. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Allow them to cool completely before frosting.
Witchy One-Bite Buttercream Frosting
1 cup of butter, room temperature (I use salted which a lot of people think is gross – BUT I love the slight offset to the super sweet buttercream. To each her own, I say! use salted)
6-8 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (use the good stuff)
Using electric beaters or a mixer + the paddle attachment if you’re so lucky, mix the butter until smooth and creamy
Add 4 cups of the icing sugar, 1/2 the milk and vanilla and mix on low speed mix until combined.
Add two more cups of sugar and on low speed mix until light and fluffy.
Continue adding icing sugar and milk to get the desired consistency. It should be light and smooth and very, very delicious.
Add your food colouring. I used Wilton’s gel in Violet to get this particular shade. Go easy. This is powerful stuff! A little dab will do you.
Fill a large, strong Ziploc freezer bag with several large scoops of frosting and snip off one corner. Voila! You now have a handy-dandy frosting bag. Pipe frosting on to those lovely ‘lil cupcakes. I used lots. As in the cake to frosting ratio was equal. Equal parts awesome, that is.
Sprinkle cupcakes with Wilton’s edible Black glitter. And you’re done.
So pretty. So tasty. So egglessly awesome! Now go hug an allergic kid and slip ‘em a cupcake. Happy Halloween!
On October 20th we attended/sponsored the Blissdom Canada 2012 social media conference for women in Toronto. This was a big deal for us and we wanted to make a good impression. If you don’t already know, when we go to events we like to create a pop-up living room furnished with items bought from a local Used site—UsedOttawa for this event. We decided to go with a Mid-Century Modern theme for Blissdom and I think we pulled it off rather nicely and affordably, I might add. See below. Pretty swank, non?
I fell truly, madly and deeply in love with a lot of the furniture and accessories we found which made it a little heartbreaking to let it all go—the bigger pieces went into storage while most of the decor items were given away as prizes to Blissdom attendees. But the hardest good-bye for me was bidding adieu to five, gorgeous custom-made pillows from Tonic Living.
I’ve been a huge fan of this Canadian fabric company for a while so I was thrilled when owner/co-founder Janine Morrison agreed to donate the fabric for an awesome chair makeover that the lovely Jennifer Flores of Rambling Renovators created for our booth. But when Janine also agreed to whip up some custom pillows to give away to a lucky winner, I was over the moon.
After spinning my moral compass north, south, east and west I concluded it would be wrong to fix the draw in my favour (considering, I’m not even allowed to enter)… And although it hurt to hand them over, I’m pleased to report the pillows went to the awesome Brooke Berry and they’re reportedly quite happy with her in their new home in Calgary.
I’m still dressed for mourning (mostly because it’s slimming) but let the healing begin with this nifty little interview with Janine about the family business, upcycling and the stupidity of short shower curtains.
Interview with Janine Morrison of Tonic Living
How long have you been in business?
We started out on eBay a few years before our site was built and launched… so, all together, around 10 years.
On your website you say you’re a family owned and operated business…what family members are you putting to work?
No children …yet! ; ) My husband Jon and I started our business while he was still working in the film industry, but he’s been full time with Tonic Living for the last five years at least. Our youngest son shows quite a bit of interest in the “numbers” part of our business (Liam’s only 8, for goodness sake) and our oldest shows a lot of interest and promise in the marketing/graphic design end of things (Darin’s 12 and rather talented I must say!) Also, I have my first cousin Linda who comes in from Portugal once a year to work for us when she’s here for her annual Canada visit.
Why the textiles business? Are you a seamstress yourself?
Seamstress is a very strong word! I can sew, but in a basic way. But did I mention I mastered putting a zipper in a pillow? And did I also mention that Jon was the one that taught me how? We once had a big order for a 75 pillows roll from BCBG in LA (with a tight deadline, of course) and wouldn’t you know it our chief pillow sewer had just moved to another city. And so because we didn’t have a replacement lined up yet we learned together… And fast! The origin of our company was selling vintage collectibles and textiles on ebay and we had a tip from our friends about a “stash” in an old store in Toronto which led us to a gold mine of 30 and 40 year-old fabrics still on the bolt! From there we were sold on choosing fabric as the next, clear direction. Besides, the world was being drained dry of actual vintage fabrics so we began sourcing reproduction prints.
Do you remember the first item you sold? What was it?
On our website it was a single yard of fabric in a multi colored dot. On ebay, a few years prior, it was a pair of gorgeous old wall sconces from the 20′s that I picked up from Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. What a rush!
You sell custom fabric and you also make custom pillows, cushions, draperies and futon covers… Any other plans/creations in the hopper?
SO many ideas it could take an evening to discuss it… BUT, off the top of my head as far as products go, we want to launch a line of ready-made shower curtains with fabrics that we carry but in a longer length that means it would just almost kiss the floor. A pet peeve of mine is to see how short they are traditionally?! I mean, we don’t make our drapes short by 8″ do we? Of course we do custom shower curtains already but having them ready to go on the site would be smart.
Where do most of your buyers come from? Are they Canadian, American, International?
Slowly Canada is beginning to tip the scale where it used to be mostly American (we never advertised, so all of it was organic traffic) and there’s always been a good steady stream from the UK, Australia and New Zealand etc.
What’s been your favourite or most memorable project to date?
Doing Jennifer Flores’ (from Rambling Renovators blog) master bedroom drapes. At the time we were buried so deep in work and business that we were still wondering what the word ‘blog’ even meant. We had no idea her drapes were going to be blogged about, on the Nate Berkus Show and in Style at Home Magazine. The response was overwhelming and to this day a few years later we still get many inquiries on those particular drapes. She has done such a great job with so many of our fabrics and custom items and we’re downright lucky to have her support.
What’s your favourite fabric pattern in your collection?
Currently i’m loving the Spring Mix in Aloe by Robert Allen. There’s something about it that reads a little vintage but not overly and works so well with some contrasting geometrics and glazed metallic linens. YUM!
If you could give one decorating tip to people working with a snug budget, what would it be?
We’re huge supporters of re-using or up-cycling furniture and frankly that’s how 95% of our home is decorated (OK, minus the window treatments and pillows) so part of going that route is taking your time and staying committed to your vision whether it’s clear cut or more eclectic/organic. If you prefer to buy only new things then at least try to wait until you can get a quality item rather than buying “landfill” quality items. And you see that’s why I mostly buy used furniture that was meant to last the ages because it’s affordable and you don’t have to wait to save up!! (and… the soul it gives, such soul!)
Big plans for the future?
Yes, expansion for sure. In fact we’re currently hunting high and low for another commercial space but it’s been really difficult to find just the right building. There we’ll be able to offer even more selection of fabrics and spread out on larger work surfaces when designers and decorators come to visit. We’ll also be able to host design and industry related events which would be SO fun I think!
UsedOttawa.com has partnered with the new home renovation reality series All For Nothing? airing across Canada on the W Network early 2013. That’s right, we’re hitting the small screen and we need your help!
First, a little about the show:
All For Nothing? features two households who face the challenge of fixing up their design-deficient houses on a next to zero budget. The sellers with the highest increase in value at the end of their two week renovation, win commission-free listing services from top realtor, Paul Rushforth. The homeowners also receive ideas and tips from Rushforth and from award-winning designer, Penny Southam throughout the renovation process.
Participants must find creative ways to collect items and get help from their community for renovations to update their homes with a pre-listing makeover. This is where you come in! If you have furniture, renovation supplies or a service that you think will help a contestant, simply post a free ad on UsedOttawa.com and include the hashtag #UsedAFNTV in your ad description. This way the show producers, contestants and UsedOttawa can find you easily.
Want to be on TV? All For Nothing? is looking for contestants! Come ON, you know you’d be perfect for this show! Just think of how great your house will look and how AMAZING you’ll feel after connecting with people in your community, recycling, keeping stuff out of the landfill, being famous… If you’re interested or you know someone who is, contact the good fine people at All For Nothing? and let them know: Click me! I’m awesome & I should be on TV!
You can also get in on the conversation on Twitter by following @usedottawa and @allfornothingtv by searching for and using the #UsedAFNTV hashtag.
And we’ll see you on the telly soon!
All original except the base and in amazing shape, this sleek piece of history worth $1200+ is currently listed on UsedVictoria for $700. The seller’s also willing to consider a trade for a Mid-Century teak desk or Mid-Century patio furniture. So, anyone care to lend me $700?
Sure this Corgi Toys 1960s Original The Saint TV-show VOLVO P1800 & a copy of The Saint Magazine from May ’67 (phew!) is a bit on the rough side, but that only makes it cooler. And it’s only $20 via UsedPQB!
The kids go back to school next week! Yay! I mean—man, I’m going to miss my kids so much… Anyhoo, back-to-school time tends to make hearts heavy (ahem) and wallets light. So why not do yourself and mama Earth a favour and buy used?
Left to right: Brand-new Roots backpack ($15), colourful kids backpacks ($10 ea), HP laptop/notebook backpack ($50), Tracker messenger bag + matching lunch bag ($15), Targus multi-compartment backpack ($18),New Dakine backpack ($40)
In June we celebrated my son Arvo’s second birthday and I lost my mind. After years of throwing very challenging birthday parties for my daughter (Madhatter tea party, fairyland party, etc & so on) I promised myself I would keep things simple for Arvo. I should mention that the parties I’ve thrown in the past weren’t extravagant in a consumerist way—no bouncy castles, limos or hired entertainers—but they were definitely extravagant in a craft/decor/cake baking/planning kind of way.
I have a powerful love-hate relationship with party planning. I love to come up with ideas and decorate. I genuinely enjoy making giant cakes and hanging twinkle lights. But I hate the fact that I never seem to have enough time to make it all happen. I hate that I’m a sweaty, grouchy nightmare the day of the party and that I never manage make into the shower before the guests arrive.
Let it be known there’s no shortage of people offering to help, but I have a bit of a delegation problem. To be fair, I know for a FACT that no one cares as much as I do. How can I trust my husband to put streamers up with the same love, affection and attention to detail that I would? I can’t, because sane people don’t care that much about streamers. And so I don’t delegate much. And I drive myself crazy. So, this year I planned a simple outdoor hotdogs and cake party. Just like in the olden days. No structured games. No fuss. Maybe, just a theme. A simple theme… Arvo loves the moon. I would make him a moon cake and hang some moon decorations. No big deal, right? A moon party! How simple. How understated. How easy! How silly of me…
I’d Google “moon birthday party”, steal a cake idea and call it a day. Feeling overconfident and a little smug over how easy it was all going to be, I decided I’d have more than enough time to build a paper moon photo booth. Riiiight. It would have all gone off without a hitch if it wasn’t for the fact that apparently NO ONE in the whole wide world has thrown the kind of moon party I wanted. When I started to research party and cake ideas (only a few days before the party – I SAID I was overconfident)— I found nothing. I came across a million space cakes (round mounds of cake with a toy astronaut on top), but Arvo’s knowledge of the moon extends to what he sees in the night sky and the Man in the Moon from picture books. I was going to have to, God forbid, come up with ideas myself. And since I’d been counting on someone else to do all the legwork, I was in the same familiar boat—too much to do and too little time. PLUS, I’d already started on the photo booth. In the spirit of full disclosure, I might have cried a little bit. Like, a lot. Then I got mad and then I got to work. Here’s what I did, step by step, so that no one else in search of a “Man in the Moon” party has to suffer the way that I did.
Paper Moon Photobooth
This is a bit of work, but really not that big of a deal if you get working on it a couple of weeks before the party. Basically do as I say, not as I did.
What you need:
- Man in the Moon image
- 3 black disposable table cloths (or black fabric or big sheets of black paper)
- staple gun or small nails & a hammer
- wooden chair you don’t mind punching a few staples or small nails in to
- large foil stars (cut them yourself or buy readymade)
I found a classic Man in the Moon image online and sent it to my local printer asking them to print a 48″x48″ image on card stock. It cost $40, but if you shop around or have a friend in the biz you may be able to score a better deal. Cut the moon out with scissors and glue it on to cardboard cut to fit to reinforce it. Drape one of the plastic tablecloths over the chair and place the moon around the seat of the chair so when someone sits down it looks like they’re sitting on the moon. Staple gun or nail the moon into the wooden chair through the tablecloth. Make sure none of the chair is visible.
Figure out where you’re going to set up your paper moon and cover that wall with the remaining black tablecloths/fabric/paper. This is going to be your backdrop. If you have time (I didn’t) you can add some clouds to make it look a little nicer. But, really it doesn’t matter because you’re going to focus your photographs pretty tight around the moon. Decorate the backdrop with cut out metallic stars or sparkly ones you bought at the very last minute for far too much money from the craft store. Take a few test shots. I didn’t do this, either. But, hey, you’re not me and you’re starting this way in advance. You’re the best.
This is pretty much up to you. The sky’s the limit (sorry), really. I set up a table for the food and covered it with a bright coloured table cloth. I bought contrasting napkins and paper plates and scattered silver and gold star-shaped confetti everywhere. I then put up white lights and hung stars and moons here and there and tied up a few red helium balloons. Had the party been indoors, I might have done a little more. But the logistics of our back yard kept me in check.
The Loot Bags
What you need:
- black paper bags (available at craft stores)
- moon/space stickers
- bouncy balls
- Rocket candies
- glow sticks
- glow in the dark moons & stars
Oh, the cake. I planned to bake a simple round cake. I would frost it with white buttercream and then stencil on a face to create a proper man in the moon. Sounds easy, right? Well it could have been. But I got it into my head that my paltry 10″ cake pan just wasn’t impressively moony enough. So, I decided I’d bake a single layer 16″ round cake. I reasoned that this would actually save me a lot of time as I wouldn’t have to fuss with torting and layers. And in theory I was absolutely correct. Until I realized that the 16″ pan didn’t fit properly in my lame old oven. I was able to close the oven door, but not without lifting the pan a little. This meant the cake cooked really, really unevenly. Like one inch thick on one side and several inches thick on the other.
This was a bad moment. There were more tears and maybe some colouful language and then there was acceptance. I would bake another cake and double it up – matching the super thin side of the first cake with the thick side of the second cake, hopefully creating one even double layer lake. And I’ll have you know, it worked. I had to do a little creative leveling/cutting but it wasn’t THAT big of deal. Mind you, uneven 16″ sponge cakes can be a little delicate to handle, but I took my time and all was well. My advice? Go ahead and make a 16″ cake if you have a big enough oven. It really will save you time. Otherwise, use the biggest cake pan your oven can handle. If that’s only 10″, then so be it , but you may want to double up the recipe and make a layer cake, if you’re having a lot of people. Anyhoo, here’s the recipes & instructions:
Make a stencil:
I did a Google search for large-sized Man in the Moon images. Once I found the right face I was looking for I made the image full screen, taped some waxed paper over the monitor and traced the face features with a pencil. Then I cut out the features with an exacto knife. Really, quite simple. You’ll note that there is no image of this. At this point was starting to feel the pressure and documentation fell at the wayside.
Oma’s Sponge Cake (makes one 8″ single layer cake *Note, I quadrupled the recipe for a single layer 16″ cake)
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp (1/8 cup) butter
- Preheat oven to 350
- Grease and line a springform pan with parchment paper
- Cream eggs and sugar well, add vanilla.
- Add half of the flour and all of the baking powder and fold in gently until mixed.
- Fold in the rest of the flour mixture.
- Heat milk just enough to melt butter (about 60 sec. in a microwave).
- Fold the warm milk and melted butter mixture into the dough a little at a time, until all ingredients are combined.
- Pour into pan. Bake 30 minutes ( or until toothpick comes out clean) at 350.
Decorating the Cake
- Buttercream frosting (recipe below)
- your stencil
- Edible spray paint
- edible gold stars
- round measuring spoons or an egg to create craters
- chopsticks to hold down the stencil
- pastry scraper or plastic putty knife/scraper
Simple Buttercream Frosting via Apt2 Baking Company (Note* I tripled this recipe for a double layer, 16″ cake.)
- In the bowl of a standing mixer or with a hand mixer cream the butter until it’s well mixed, about 1 min.
- Gradually add in the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 min.
- Add the salt and vanilla extract.
- Slowly stream in the milk until the frosting is soft, smooth and spreadable. If you plan on finishing the cake with an ombre design it is helpful if the frosting is very soft, but not runny at all.
Because my cake was so big, I bought a piece of blue foam board to put it on. I lined it with tinfoil to keep it food safe. If you’re frosting a single layer cake, use an offset spatula or a flat knife to get the frosting as smooth as possible. If you’re creating a layer cake, cut the cake with a leveller or a sharp serrated knife. It’s always easier to cut frozen or cold cake, but I’m never organized or patient enough to accomplish this step. Frost between the layers and try to get as smooth of a finish as possible on the sides and top. Let the frosting crust by popping the cake into the fridge or by letting it sit an hour. You want to be able to gently tap the frosting without it sticking to your finger. Take a piece of paper towel and place it gently on the frosting, use a scraper to gently smooth the frosting through the paper towel. I am doing a terrible job explaining this, so watch this video instead:
Now, you’re ready to stencil on the face. I bought edible spray paint from the baking section at my local craft store. You can also find this in bake shops and maybe even some larger department stores. I chose silver because I was already a little bit grossed out by the whole idea of edible spray paint and I figured a less intense colour would mean less food dye. I could be totally wrong about that, but it made me feel better about spray painting what was up until that point a lovely, completely organic cake. Place the stencil on your cake, positioning the face where you want it. Use napkins to block off any areas of the cake that are still visible .Have a couple of skewers or chopsticks handy so you can hold down the stencil in case it starts to curl. You want it as flat as possible. Shake the edible spray paint and smoothly and evenly spray your stencil. Remove the waxed paper and voila! Pretty cool, right? I then added some craters using a combination of an egg and round measuring spoons to create a not-too-even effect. I also scattered some edible gold stars across the cake and onto the frosting clouds I painted onto the blue foam board. The effect was pretty cool. Totally worth the effort.
This is where I actually stuck to my original plan—hotdogs, chips, fruit…nothing fancy. I used a round cookie cutter to cut out “moons” from Swiss cheese slices, dumped some frosty cold cherries into a bowl and filled a couple of buckets with chips. I made lemonade for the kids and big mojito punch for the adults. Here’s the mojito recipe I pinched from Chowhound. To save yourself some grief, make the syrup the night before. I didn’t start making it until a half hour before the guests arrived. This meant shoving pots into the freezer and some mad mint chopping. Thankfully, I did juice the limes earlier in the day. Keep in mind, this is very delicious and very boozy. So, keep it far away from the kids.
Of course, the weather started to turn as we got closer to party time. In typical West Coast form, it was a chilly June day and the skies were threatening rain. I was determined to have the party outdoors. Our place is small and it was a sty. There was NO way I was going to let people see how we really lived. Anticipating that there was no way I was going to get the house presentable in time, I planned ahead and borrowed a white, pop-up event tent from a friend. Decor-wise, the tent was awesome. We strung white lights through it and hung decorations and it helped make the party space feel more intimate.
We set up the paper moon photo booth against the wall and under the tent, taping two of the black tablecloths as a back drop. It looked a little dodgy at first, but Arvo loved it and so did the other kids. We managed to get some really great photos. The cake was a hit, the mojito punch bowl was refilled twice and the kids seemed to have a great time. Some family and friends stayed later and the guitars came out and the singing began. All in all a pretty fantastic party. Mind you, I say this in retrospect. Clearly, the happy memories have helped me forget my post-party exhaustion. Maybe next birthday we’ll go visit Grandma in Saskatchewan…