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diy: american girl doll sandals & jewellery

August 22

It seems that the hot summer temperatures in Toronto are still trying to get going despite the calendar proving it is late August. Let’s hope there is still lots of sandal time left before the official end of summer, sadly just a month away.

american girl doll diy sandals - saf affect

There’s definitely still time to make some sweet and frugal DIY American Girl doll strappy shoes. I made these pairs of sandals for my niece’s doll, Kit Kittredge, with materials found at the dollar store and by following the instructions in this helpful video.

american girl doll sandals - saf affect

I traced one of Kit’s shoes and made a pattern out of thin cardboard. I modified the materials used in the video, making the soles from thin cork bulletin board squares and making wider front straps from elastic headbands. I found it easier to forgo the grommets that the video version of the sandals uses to finish the straps on the soles, and simply secure the straps by hot gluing them between the foam layers of the soles. I also added a bit of sparkle with rhinestones and other findings.

AGD sandal supplies - saf affect

I found this perfectly scaled solid wood sales sample dresser at a church rummage sale for $10 – perfect for storing a little bit of bracelet bling I made for Kit, and the matching pieces I made for my niece, scaled larger to her size. Again, all made from affordable supplies found at the dollar store and local bead shops, simply strung on clear elastic cording.

doll dresser - saf affect

shoes in drawer - saf affect

dreser drawers - saf affect

matching american girl bracelets - saf affect


canadian vintage: HBC point blankets & AJ Casson print

June 29

In honour of the upcoming Canada Day holiday, I thought it an appropriate time to feature a couple of recent Canadian vintage and thrifty finds of mine from local Toronto thrift stores.

canadian vintage finds - saf affect

I’ve alway wanted a vintage Hudson’s Bay Company multi-coloured striped wool point blanket, thinking that perhaps one day I’d wander into a charity shop and find one for the amazingly low price of ten dollars. Well that vision came true – sort of. I am now the proud owner of two single-sized pink vintage HBC blankets. I have a queen bed and no twins, and pink is nowhere in my decor. But in essentially perfect condition and spotted for $9.99 each at a Salvation Army store, I couldn’t pass them up, when this size and vintage of point blanket can retail in an antique / vintage shop or online for $100 and up. From my research about the colour and the label reading ‘100% wool’ but with no French, I figure they date from 1950 to 1970. Visit The Point Blanket Site for more information about the history of HBC point blankets and identification. I think it’s time to add some pink to my colour scheme.

HBC pink point blanket - saf affect

HBC pink point blanket label - saf affect

Another colour that generally doesn’t enter my decor or wardrobe is red. I know, not so Canadian of me, but for some reason red just isn’t pleasing to my palate or palette. However, this bit of red in this divinely thrifty find of an AJ Casson lithograph/serigraph is just fine by me. This pretty little floral arrangement of delphiniums and other blossoms is likely from the mid 20th century and yes it is by that Andrew Joseph Casson of the Group of Seven. I’ve not yet opened it up to see what markers may be on the backside, but  is signed in the print and is in the original frame. Again, from some of my preliminary research it may well be worth a few hundred dollars. A little bit of an Antiques Roadshow moment for me, as I bought it at a Goodwill on a half-price day for, get ready for it – $2.50!

AJ Casson delphiniums - saf affect


AJ Casson delphiniums signature - saf affect


surprise in the box

June 26

Wow life has gotten busy lately with work, planning summer travels, and general socializing and daily chores. So busy so that these boxes from Staples Canada, one tiny one rather large, have been sitting in my living room unopened for weeks, without the time to reveal their contents. And no, the innards are not a new printer, a new office chair, reams of paper or other various and typically standard Staples office supplies. Nope, what lurks in these boxes fits in well with the design theme of saf affect. Stay tuned for the reveal…once I carve out enough time to carve these boxes open. :)

what's in the box from staples? - saf affect


weekend rummage & garage sales: west & east toronto

June 4

rummage sale - saf

The spring thrifting season continues with a couple of large sales this coming weekend on the west and east ends of Toronto.

St. Demetrius the Great Martyr church at 135 La Rose Avenue, Etobicoke, ON is holding their annual flea market this coming weekend  on Friday June 6th, 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM AND Saturday June 7th, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Usually held in the winter, the church shifted their rummage sale this year into a warmer weather month. Best to swing by on the Friday if you can for the best selection of used furniture, housewares, clothing, books, and general bric-a-brac.

garage sale items - saf affect

This Saturday June 7th, from 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM (rain date Sunday June 8th), is also the Annual Golden Triangle Garage Sale in Toronto’s east end. Participating homes are in the area bounded by Broadview Avenue to Donlands Avenue, north and south of O’Connor Drive in Toronto’s East York.




diy update: bamboo water feature

May 31

Three seasons of almost daily use of my DIY balcony water feature left the bamboo artist’s cup a little worse for wear as the raw wood interior did not stand up well to constantly being exposed to water. Learning from this experience it would have been wise to finish the cup with some sealant.

original diy bamboo water feature - saf affect

So out it went and my water feature is now sporting an updated look. For this rendition I found a short bamboo tiki torch at a thrift store for $2 that I sawed off just above the natural ‘plug’ in the bamboo stalk, into which I drilled the hole for the pump tubing. The other end I sawed off at a 45 degree angle using a mitre box.

diy balcony bamboo water feature - saf affect

tiki torch for diy bamboo water feature - saf affect

After cleaning the original cross pieces, I treated them to a coat of tung oil and bound them back together with twine. I also coated the raw inside surface and outside edges of the water spout with tung oil. This might be enough to ward off any mould, but it might be better to use a shellac / sealant. Alas, with none on hand we’ll see how the oiling helps.  This time as well, I glued the water spout in place with hot glue, as the exterior finish is quite lovely and it needn’t compete with additional twine. That, and hot glue is easier.

water spout diy bamboo water feature - saf affect

And now the water flows once more, helping to balance out the sounds of the city. It’s joined by another, easy DIY lighting project, if you can call it something so grandiose. Inspired by The Art of Doing Stuff’s glowing orbs, I bought a run-of-the-mill glass globe from a builder’s basic light fixture from a thrift store for a couple of dollars, and filled it with a length of 50 outdoor twinkle lights.

Follow this link for the full, original post: diy: bamboo water feature.

updated diy bamboo water feature - saf affect

home is where the nest was

May 27

Some years ago, a family of sparrows made their nest for a number of years in a neighbours’ fireplace vent until I notified condo management, who had the wire mesh repaired after the birds had left for the season. Not versed in all habits of our local feathered friends, I’m surprised to see these birds return each year since, trying again and again to get into the vent. They aren’t entertaining using any other vent on the building’s facade for nesting, of which there are many.

What is it about the sparrow species’ need for consistency that drives them back to the same nest year after year? Observing this tenacity (or stupidity?) got me thinking: what defines where and what home is? While some wildlife and humans are creatures of habit, others happily live more nomadically.

My late grandmother always said (with her Slavic accent) ‘best like home’, preferring her own bed to any other away from home. Whereas, two generations later I have the means to support my wanderlust, happily visiting and learning from far afield and foreign places, yet I do recognize that a consistent home base grounds me.

What and where defines home for you?

sparrow home - saf affect


nothing beats fresh ontario produce, beer & butter tarts

May 22

What did you get up to this past long weekend? I got up to foraging for food at my friends’ hobby farm in Grafton, ON and stopping by some new, new to me, and old favourite eat and drink, 100 mile diet qualifying noshes.

My friends first introduced me to the wonderfully unique and fabulous taste of wild morel mushrooms a couple of years ago, and this year I visited at the perfect time of the season to go foraging.

morel in the grass - saf affect

morel mushroom - saf affect

These delectable treats can prove tricky to spot in the grass and undergrowth, often preferring to grow in older forested areas and in established or forgotten orchards. The key to true morels is that they are hollow inside the stem and head. False morels which are inedible, are solid inside and the cap is often wrinkled or brainy looking rather than honeycombed or net-like.

morel mushrooms in a basket - saf affect

Once cleaned of soil and any critters, dried and fried to slightly crisp in a bit of butter so as not to over-power their flavour, they make a lovely accompaniment to breakfast.

drying morels - saf affect

morel mushrooms - saf affect

morels for breakfast - saf affect

Ontario asparagus is in season too, and again I was treated to these fresh spring veggies from my friends’ garden. The original plants, having been planted decades ago by my friend’s grandparents, still peek up through the field grasses every spring.

morels & asparagus - saf affect

found some asparagus! - saf affect

When one is foraging, one can also happen upon pretty little things like this unique flower.

pretty yellow flower - saf affect

One can also happen upon a new brewery, like Cobourg’s first brewery in 100 years – The William St. Beer Company. An indie micro brewery that just opened a few weeks ago, William St. currently offers three types of beer made with Canadian, all natural ingredients. So thirsty are the locals and visitors to Cobourg alike, the brews have sold out each week, but the tasting bar and store has reopened today, May 22, with the fridges once again stocked.

william st beer co cobourg - saf affect

In addition to a couple of bottles of beer, other local delectables I brought home include my favourite butter tarts, the kind of which the syrupy goodness of the filling has to be lapped up as you bite through the tender crust. Betty’s Pies & Tarts is a home run business on Hwy 2 west of Cobourg, operating out of a professional bakery in the home’s converted two-car garage. Voted the Kawartha’s best butter tarts at the 2013 Flavour Festival, the butter tarts are available plain (my favourite) or with raisins or pecans and at $1.25 each, they are a thrifty country treat. Betty’s also offers a wide selection of fruit filled tarts and pies, all made fresh daily.

betty's butter tart - saf affect

My friends also grew some amazingly delicious organic heirloom tomatoes last year, and my long weekend visit just so happened to coincide with one of the two weekends that the spot where they buy their started plants from is selling seedlings for the season. Wicklow Way (located just south of Grafton) is a certified organic farm that offers for sale, amongst other things, dozens and dozens and dozens of varieties of heirloom tomato plants. Tempted by the selection and the memories of the fruit from last year’s harvest at my friends’ farm, I picked up a Pink Tiger plant to try growing on my downtown Toronto balcony.

Wicklow Way is open again this weekend, May 24 and 25, if you’re looking to pick up some plants for your own garden.

wicklow way tomato plant - saf affect

at their peak: toronto’s high park cherry blossoms

May 15

With Toronto’s brutally long winter it almost seemed that spring flowers would never bloom. But bloom they have, including High Park’s brilliant show of cherry blossoms.  I haven’t popped by yet to see this year’s show, but checking the bloom tracking site the peak was reached yesterday, May 14. Here are a few photos I took last year, a couple of days past the peak of May 4. For more photos of these fabulous blossoms, pop on over to last year’s post

cherry blossom trail high park - saf affect

cherry blossoms willows high park - saf affect

cherry blossom cluster high park - saf affect

cherry blossom art high park - saf affect

cherry blossom photo opp high park - saf affect

cherry blossom texture high park - saf affect

cherry blossom close up high park - saf affect

By this graphic from the High Park Nature Centre, it seems this is the latest peak date in years. Better late than never!


then & now: norman rogul furs sign

May 13

vintage Norman Rogul Furs sign - saf affect

Sometime last year I snapped this photo of a vintage and beautifully worn and weathered Norman Rogul Furs sign on the backside of 480 Adelaide St. W., Toronto. I was drawn to the retro, stylized models, wearing fashion from an era past and the fluid typeface, crafted in a time that a sign painter was truly an artist.

white washed Norman Rogul furs sign - saf affect

Unfortunately, the other day I walked by again to find this.

Now I’m all for white-washing and freshening when it’s needed, but it’s a shame that in this instance it is at the expense of a beautiful piece of graphic art that had made it through decades of weather and wear. To think of what that old sign would have fetched at an antique shop or vintage flea market! It would have made a gorgeous focal point in a lofty space.

warehouse sale: gus* modern furniture & decor

May 9

What mother or other doesn’t love a good deal on good furniture and decor? I’m sure there’s time in this Mother’s Day weekend to pop by Gus* warehouse sale – promised to be their biggest ever. But it’s on for one (half) day only, at 223 Evans Ave., Etobicoke (Toronto).

style garage sale - saf affect

gus sale location - saf affect


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