DIY outdoor furniture

I cannot even remember where I came across this gorgeous outdoor sofa for the first time.  But I knew when I saw it, Tim was going to have another project!

I have been looking at similar outdoor furniture but the sticker shock was too much!

Do people really pay those prices?!

I am all for paying for quality but if I can figure away to save me money, I am all for giving it a go! In my experience DIY is often the best bang for your buck!

When Tim gets a bee in his bonnet to build something, he is laser focused on getting it done.  He put this sofa together over the course of a day and a half!

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Niagara Fruit

While it is no secret that my favorite season is autumn, I have to admit the limitless fresh fruits and veggies that are available this time of year is pretty amazing.  On-Farm markets are everywhere in Niagara and there is nothing quite like eating produce that has been picked fresh that morning!

I recently found a local organic farmer who offers annual CSA memberships, but also has started bringing his produce to the market each Saturday.  Chez Nous is their name, and I was zeroed in on finding their stall at the market the moment we arrived!  And find them I did.  Not surprisingly there was already a bit of a line!  I would encourage anyone local to Niagara to check them out!

While they didn’t have any fruit, the vegetables were plentiful.  We picked up some tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic and zucchini!

Niagara Fruit

Next it was off to visit the on-farm market on the Niagara River Parkway.  There are several, but our favorite is almost directly across from McFarland House.  It is just a small stand in the front yard of a farmhouse!

We picked up some local raspberries, blueberries, peaches, a basket of tiny plumbs called sugar babies (Oh. My. Word.  Best plumb ever!), and some of the first corn on the cob of the season.

I couldn’t wait to whip up a dessert with all this fresh fruit, but given the weather has now decided to reach temperatures in the high 30’s (celcius) I didn’t really want to heat the oven too high.

Meringue Tart Shell

I decided on a fresh fruit meringue tart.

A simple meringue shell only requires a 225 degree oven to bake hence not heating up the kitchen too much!

Just whip up 4 egg whites until frothy, continue beating and slowing add 1 cup granulated sugar. Continue whipping until firm peaks form and egg whites are glossy.  Spoon into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe a round base, building up the sides with a row or two piped around the outside edge.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, turn off heat and allow the shells to remain in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.  (Store any leftovers in an airtight container to be used within 3 days, or freeze for longer storage)

Mixed Fruit Tart

While the meringues were in the oven I simply combined 3 cups of the fruit (raspberries, blueberries, peaches and plumbs) with 2 tbsp of sugar and set it in the refrigerator to draw out the juices.

Ontario Fresh Fruit

Topped with a dollup of whipped cream made for the perfect end to a summer dining Al fresco.

Meringue Tarts

I could have easily whipped up some coconut whipped cream, but in the spirit of not being wasteful, I thought I would use up the left over whipped topping I add first.  But this got me to thinking about sprinkling a bit of toasted coconut over top of the berries next time.

The extra meringue shells are freeze well, making it even easier to make the second time.

Needless to say we ate very well the entire weekend!

I can’t wait to share with you later this week, Tim’s burger recipe we enjoyed straight from the barbecue and piled high with grilled veggies!

Until next time…


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You would not believe the screen porch progress that has been happening at Leslie’s house!

With demo long since over and one very full garbage bin ready to be taken away from the driveway, construction has been running along smoothly.

Tim and my brother have been working hard but took some time off through the mini-heat wave we had last weekend.

Lets have a look at where we started!

Screen Porch Reno

Look’n a little worse for wear!  You can see all the before photo’s here!

I think the progress is pretty amazing.

Porch Progress

My daughter was kind enough to come offer some quality control!  She was checking to make sure the door opened and closed smoothly.  What would we have done without her.

Screen Porch Progress

They built the new roof to be in line with house, adding several inches to the inside height.  The new shingles are on and we have had a couple of heavy downpours without a drop of water getting through!

A new eavestrough will be installed to run the entire width of the back of the house/screen room.

A bit of sanding to remove the lumber stamps, and a power wash of the existing skirting and it will be ready for a new coat of stain.

The screens fit in so well, you can hardly even tell they are there!  A second set of window frames made with plastic will be made to fit over top during the winter.

Screen Porch Renovation

We are pretty much at the finish line with construction, with just the “battan” boards to be installed on the end wall of the screen porch.

When that is finished, the entire inside will get a fresh coat of white paint.

Leslie painted these bamboo chairs a glossy black.  The cushions had already been recovered by her mom.  The chairs were originally a yard sale find!

Accent Chair

I adore this chair that Leslie picked up at a yard sale this past weekend!

What do you think so far?

My favorite part is almost ready to begin.  Wait until you see what we have planned for the inside.

One more week and we should be all done.  Lets hope the weather co-operates!

Until next time…..


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Debt Proof Living

Being in debt is scary, especially if you are living paycheck to paycheck.  It can rob you of sleep, cause anxiety, even break up marriages.  It takes away your choices, and puts a dent in your self esteem.

Debt is very powerful indeed.

However, you can take back the power and gain control of your debt.  And, you don’t have to go it alone!

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Essential summertime layer cake

I have been holding on to a copy of What’s Cooking magazine from Kraft for over a year now, with the notion to make the Rainbow Layer Cake pictured on the cover.

It is the spring 2014 issue, but when I first saw it I thought it would make an essential summertime layer cake.  So bright and colorful. And fun!  just like summertime!

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Not too long ago our sister-in-law Leslie asked me if Tim would have a look at the roof in her adorable little screen porch.  Okay, she didn’t say adorable, but it really is a cute and quiet space in her home that, like many of us lucky enough to have screen porches, enjoy every season for as long as we can.

Some of you may remember Leslie from this bathroom renovation we did this past winter.

Secluded Screen Porch

Leslie spends a lot of time in this little screen porch.  It is quite secluded amongst the many trees in her yard.  It feels very rustic cottage like.  All she needs is a lake outside her door.

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Today is June 11th!  Do you know what that means?

I turn 50 in exactly 4 months!  Had you reminded me of that even two short months ago I would have groaned, protested and then went away to wallow in my anxiety about all the bad things that happen once you turn 50!

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What on earth happened to April?!  Between my computer completely and utterly dying a slow painful death, 2 birthdays (with 4 more to go this month), Mother’s Day and getting somewhat caught up on a few projects, it is suddenly half way through May.

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vanilla berry charlotte

I don’t know about you, but sometimes Sunday dessert outshines Sunday dinner by a long shot!  Yesterday was just one such Sunday.

I was leafing through some old issues of a recipe magazine and I came across a recipe for this Vanilla Berry Charlotte and knew I was going to make it before the weekend was done!

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