Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Great Grocery Project: Mid-November Update

Well, this month I have had no income but lots of outflow.  So far we have spent $269 on groceries - which is totally reasonable.  The grocery shopping has been going well - but I am not thrilled with spending in other areas.

Nonetheless, I am going back to work in one week so busy times are ahead.

This month I have mainly been focusing on getting ready for Christmas.

What have I done to save money this month?

1.  I used a coupon to make purchases at the Salvation Army.

2.  I made Lavender bath salts to put in with Christmas gifts.

3.  Using money I had set aside, I ordered handmade cold pressed soaps from my cousin (she has her own business) that I will include with the bath salts as gifts.

4.  Instead of spending money eating out or buying expensive pre-made foods, I made a birthday cake and appetizers from scratch which we brought to a birthday dinner for my mother in law.

RECIPE SHARE:  This is the Marble Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache from Ricardo.  Sooo good.

5.  I said "NO!!!" to many great deal on Black Friday.

6.  I took advantage of one great deal on Black Friday - I bought an Instant Pot.  Although I bought it now, I will be using money from a Christmas gift that I know someone is giving to me to pay for this.  I have been wanting one for a long time and I think it will help with some changes to my food plan that I want to make.  I already have two Crock-Pots (yes two, I use them ALL the time often simultaneously) but there are some things Instant Pot does that Crock-Pot does not.  We will see how this goes...

Birthday Art
7.  My oldest turned 4.  We kept his birthday simple.  He had a friend over and they played, ate grilled cheese and cake, and they each painted their own canvas art using supplies I had on hand.  I gave his friend an easel (from Dollarama) that he could display his canvas on at home. 

8.  I did a superspend of points at Shoppers Drug Mart (I had $170 worth of points to use - and the Black Friday special was that you could use $170 worth of points but get $40 worth of points put back on your card).  I used it to purchase grocery and household items as well as Lipikar Baume AP+ which both my sons use to help with severe dry skin in the winter.

9.  I went on a date with my husband (our first dinner out alone in three years).  We went out for breakfast and used the time to crunch a bunch of numbers for our year ahead and analyze some different options for decision we need to make in the year ahead.  It was time well spent.  After, we went to Shopper's Drug Mart for free flu shots.  How romantic.  I know.  Stop.

10.  I made someone else's life frugal by giving them partially used cans of primer we had leftover from our renovations.  Sharing the frugal is fun!!

More to come after the month is officially over...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

DIY Gifts: Lavender Bath Salts

Working through my list of gifts to make, I arrived at the "bath salts" component.  This is the Relax part of my Read, Write, & Relax Christmas gift theme.  There are hundreds of bath salts recipes online, and they are all different.  I searched up and down and read and read, but I could not find a consistent formula - so in the end - the bath salts I made were made based on the formulas I preferred.  A good place to start, if you are looking for a bath salts recipe, is this one provided by Martha Stewart.  Martha's recipe uses a lot more Sea Salt than Epsom salts, but I did the opposite - I used more Epsom Salts and fewer sea salts.

My original plan was to make three different kinds of bath salts for gifts: a lavender (relaxing) bath salt, a Eucalyptus (de-congesting) bath salt, and a citrus (energizing) bath salt.  In the end, I just made a whole bunch (and I mean a whole bunch)  of Lavender Bath Salts.  Due to other unrelated expenses, I just did not want to spend the money buying more oils so I only purchased Lavender Oil to make the lavender salts.

Sidenote:  I love the idea of bath salts - but not everyone takes baths.  I don't.  So I had to do some sleuthing to make sure the people I want to give these gifts to actually take baths and are not shower only folks like myself.

Bath Salts are not difficult to make, and they make a beautiful gift.

-Epsom Salts (I got 2 5.5kg containers from Costco)
-Sea Salts (they sell these in three packs at Costco - I used 5 of the 750g containers)
-Baking Soda (I used almost an entire box)
-Lavender Oil (purchase a quality oil - I bought mine directly from La Maison Lavande in Québec)
-Lavender buds (completely optional - I purchased these at La Maison Lavande as well

You will need airtight containers.  I used Mason jars (with rims and lids).
You may also want material to make tags and ribbon to attach them to the jars.

Very straightforward - combine your ingredients (based on the formula you choose) in a large bowl and then place in airtight containers.  I made some that did not include lavender buds, some with buds mixed in throughout, and some where the buds were placed on the very top of the jar.

It really is that simple.  You do not need very much oil - so a tiny jar of oil will go a long way - consider joining forces with a friend who might also want to make their own salts.  This will help ease the cost of the oil.  

How much did this make?  With the ingredients listed above, I was able to make:
8 x 1 L jars
15 x 500 ml jars
2 x 250 ml jars

My favourite part of this project (aside from the super - relaxing smell) is that I had some green Bernardin jars just waiting for something special to be funneled into them.  I put the plain (no buds) salts in these jars.  In addition, I had some purple lids and rims on hand, which paired beautifully with plain jars and the lavender salts.  My cousin has her own cold pressed soap business, so I will be putting a little half bar of beautiful soap along with the large jars of bath salts.  I am really looking forward to sharing these gifts with friends and family over the holidays.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Great Grocery Project: October Recap

This post is coming a bit late because I needed to regroup after losing our freezer.

Yes, we lost everything (over $1000.00 worth of food) that was in our upright freezer - packed full of a year's worth of fruit, meat, pastry, and other food supplies.  How did this happen?  We had a contractor doing work on our house.  I specifically told them to make sure the freezer was plugged in before they left.  When I came home, I put my hand on the freezer to make sure it was cold (it was, but obviously just still from when it had been plugged in).  I looked at the outlet, it *looked* like it was plugged in.  A week later I went to get something out of the freezer, when I opened the door.....everything was ruined.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the plug had not been shoved all the way into the outlet.  I was very upset (obviously).  My call to the contractor has not been returned and we will obviously never be using them again.  Lesson learned (several actually).

This was a huge blow for us both time wise and financially.  Nonetheless, we soldier in.  There are far worse things that could happen.  As a result, I am making a change to my Great Grocery Project.  I am not going to be tracking my per category spending this year.  It is just going to be so far off the norm and our menu is being significantly reworked in an effort to minimize the financial impact of losing the freezer.  I am unsure about whether or not we are going to work towards refilling it at this time since we might be moving in the coming year.

So, moving on - in October we spent $497.68 on groceries - much more than I wanted to spend but such is life.  A large portion of this was spent replacing a few things that were ruined, but also on a birthday party open house we had for both our sons (very fun!).  We actually had a very economical celebration, but I also bought pickles and olives and specialty cheese for the party which adds up quite quickly.

I like to keep kids events as simple as possible and I also wanted to serve one of my son's favourite foods.  Our menu was simple but delicious:
A grilled cheese buffet (brie, cheddar, etc., caramelized onions, apples, various condiments)
Crudités and dip (the classic French Onion Soup mixed with Sour Cream)
Pickles and Olives (wide assortment)

For dessert, my son and I made a Rainbow Bit Cake the morning of the party - he loves cooking.  We also made Molasses Ginger Cookies.  In the weeks prior to the party, I made over a dozen miniature cheesecakes (in 250ml Mason jars) and froze them (in the freezer that was not ruined).  On the day of they were served with optional toppings like crumbled Oreo, Strawberry Maple Sauce, Peach Rum Sauce, and some fresh fruit.
You can find the recipe for these individual cheesecakes here.  (Very simple to make!!!)
Individual Cheesecakes without topping
The birthday party was great and simple.  My mother in law brought her coffee maker and coffee since we do not have one (neither of us drink coffee).  Everyone commented on what a nice, relaxing party it was and how much they enjoyed the food so that made this hostess very happy.  I do love a theme party, but I really felt my kids do not need that yet.  I would like to do this when they can be more involved in the planning.  Somebody asked me "well don't you have a theme for the party?"  "Yes," I replied, "the theme is BIRTHDAY."

Recipe Share:
Since I have been reworking the food plan and adjusting everything accordingly, I have been lining up and trying loads of new recipes.  Not all recipes are good.  It has to be really good for me to make something twice.  Twice this week I actually had to throw out some new snack recipes I tried (they were very bad!!!).  However, there are a few fantastic recipes I tried this month that I want to share.

1.  Our Best Blueberry Muffin Recipe
This recipe is from Crosby's molasses.  It is fantastic (truly) and there are many variations of it that you can make.  I used the lower sugar amount every time and they are fantastic.  I love having a muffin, some cheese, and some fruit for breakfast most days so this recipe will definitely be going in the rotation.

2.  Broccoli Cheese Soup
Via The Pioneer Woman, this recipe is a fantastic base for creamy soups.  Having tried many of these soup recipes over the years, this one is a favourite because it requires no broth (unless you want to thing the soup - but I did this using broth one day, and water another), instead relying on milk (which I always have on hand).  The first time I followed the recipe exactly - it was great.  The second time, I used cauliflower and red pepper instead of broccoli, I omitted the cheese and only added it as the soup was served.  It was still fantastic.  This soup recipe will be used over and over in our house.

What did we do to save money this month?

Besides the usual (making everything from scratch, etc.), we focused on simplifying whenever possible. 

1.  Christmas Gifts - I finished wrapping all the gifts for children (we buy for quite a few) and made note of any missing items.  This ensures that no unnecessary extras are purchased and allows me to keep careful track of who is getting what.   There was one additional thing I needed to purchase for a child, and I did so this past weekend so I can cross all the kids off my list and know that their gifts are packed and ready for action.

2.  DIY Gifts - I finished up some gifts, and gathered the final materials needed for the remaining gifts that I need to make.

3.  The Charity Shop - A visit to The Salvation Army was very productive and I was able to get several needed items.  I wrote about some of them here.

4.  Optimum Coupon  - I got something in the mail from Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Rewards.  I love free things I can actually use - and this little gift included a 20X the Points coupon, a notebook, some pencils and an eyebrow brush.  Everything was put to good use.
Optimum Gift Package

This Christmas canvas has been mailed.  I was sad to see it go.

A gift basket that was made (by me) for a friend - Italian Themed

6.  Photo Gifts - As part of Christmas gifts for my mother and mother in law, I making photo albums of family photos.  This is a gift they will love (who doesn't want photos of their grandchildren?) and it is economical.  I was able to get one photo album 50% off at Michael's, and I found the photo album below brand new and still in its packaging at The Salvation Army.

7.  Enjoying the outdoors  - I took my kids to as many outdoor farms and activities (all free) as possible in October.  There were lots of great events on for Halloween and we took advantage of as many as possible.  I love visiting local farms where our kids can play outside and then picking up a healthy snack (usually fruit) while we are there.  I also went hiking a few times with my youngest - which is a bit of a nightmare because he wants to be able to go on his own all the time - but it is so worth it.  

A walk in the woods cures many ills

8.  Swimming lessons  - I wanted to sign my son up for private swimming lessons but they are very expensive and I could not justify the expense at this time.  I decided to sign him up for lessons during the day, knowing that these classes are usually smaller in size (and literally 25% of the price of private lessons).  Well, I got very, very lucky.  Only one other person signed up for my son's class, and they have not shown up for a single lesson.  So, my son (who I feel really needed private lessons at this stage for his own emotional well being) is getting private lessons for the not private lesson cost.  I am just thrilled that he is going in the pool with his teacher.  That would be enough for me - but he is actually developing his water skills as well.  This has been a total blessing.

9.  Pickle Jar - I saved a Gherkin pickle jar to use as a pencil/pen holder.  I really liked this shape of it and I love keeping pens and pencils in clear glass jars where they can be on display at all times.  These are the things a person who loves the written word gets excited about.

10.  Halloween Candy  - We do not get many kids, and I did not want to end up with a bunch of leftover junk food that we do not need to eat.  I bought the large boxes of chips at Costco (not the Halloween ones but the regular individual bag ones) when they were on sale.  This way, any leftovers could be used for a little treat on days I take sandwiches to work. 

Going forward...
November is the final month that I will be off work.  My baby is easing into full days at daycare.  My older son is already going 4 days a week.  I am prepping for going back to work.  The stress is mounting, but so is the excitement.  I will be spending as little as possible on groceries this month.  I know it is going to fly by.  We have my son turning 4, my mother in law's birthday, my mother's birthday shortly after, American Thanksgiving, loads of appointments that I am trying to get out of the way before going back to work, and general life busy - ness.  Or business.  I will be making my final Christmas gifts (yes, I will share when they are done).  I am also trying to exercise more this month.  Wish me luck.

Have a wonderful week everyone.  Thank as always for stopping by...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rantings and Ravings on a House Overhaul + Prepping Your House for Pictures

This was supposed to be a multi part post, but after the Part One, I realized I do not have time to do so many posts.  Welcome to the great merger!

CONTENT WARNING: The photos below may make you feel like your house is cluttered and you need to clean.  Let me assure you, my house never, and I mean never looks like it does in these photos - so you can browse them guilt free!

We had photos done of our house over a month ago.  Our realtor suggested getting them done while the weather was still good, so that we have nice, fresh photos ready to go up at a moment's notice should we decide to list while there is still snow on the ground.

Our house was completely renovated (more or less) over the past 18 months.  It was exhausting and expensive.

If you do not want to read all my thoughts, I can give you a quick recap here on how to prep your home for photos: GET RID OF EVERYTHING.  Good luck.

Moving on...

These are not the pictures the photographer took, just some that I snapped with our camera.  This is not a House and Homes spread - but maybe I can share a few things that might help someone.  Or you can just revel in my fake-clean house!

Before we did the pictures, aside from doing a scrub clean from top to bottom, we put pretty much everything we own away.  Stuffed into our furnace room, shed, and vehicles.  All the family pictures, the toys, the strollers, the kids artwork, the homemade crafts, the small appliances, everything.  Goodbye. 

Master Bedroom
Above, is our master bedroom.  We have no headboard.  We have no fancy bedding.  This seemed a little sparse - so I picked up the two cushions you see in the photo from Canadian Tire.  They were for outdoor patio furniture and were 50% off at an end of season clearance.  They did the trick.  The curtains are blackout curtains and they are from Costco.  This room used to be a beautiful rich (and very not neutral) brown.  We repainted it in Mennonite Grey Tint 2 by Para Paints.  We also replaced old and raggedy carpet with engineered hardwood.

Living and family room

A different angle

We did not do much to our living and family room.  We had repainted it when we originally moved to the house.  The rug on the floor we had made from an roll-end at a carpet store.
MONEY SAVING TIP: I wanted to use lots of flowers to freshen up the photos.  Floral arrangements cost a fair amount of money if you are going to a florist.  I do not grow any of my own flowers.  The day before the photos, I went to a local grocery store and bought multiple packages of flowers.  These were used to make all the floral arrangements for our pictures.  They worked wonderfully and this resulted in significant savings.

Kitchen and Dining Area


To update our kitchen, we replaced a very ugly laminate (I have nothing against laminate, but this laminate was ugly) with a quartz countertop, we added a backsplash, and repainted the entire area.  It made a big difference.  For the photos, I removed all small appliances (and everything else) from our countertops - except for the Kitchen Aid Professional Stand Mixer - because you have to be able to imagine yourself whipping up something gourmet in the kitchen, right?  I placed a small bowl of lemons by the stove, and a small vase of tulips by the sink.

On a normal day, we also have an island on wheels in our kitchen.  It is just a cheap-o I refurbished that works perfectly for us but is not good for the resale photos.  It was shoved into our master bedroom during these photos.

Dining Area
This is our humble dining area.  The solid wood table and chairs I bought on Kijiji when we first moved back to Canada.  The curtains (both sets) are from Costco.  The tablecloth is from Simon's (one of my favourite stores).  The small bowl (I really should have done a closeup) was $4.00 at Dollorama and is filled with the most delicious apples.

Pretty flowers

Tulips are my favourite - this is a close up so you can see the backsplash.


Front entryway
This is a small glimpse of our front entryway and the second bedroom is through the doors.

Does your kitchen normally look like this?  Mine doesn't.  I am pretty sure only people who do not cook have a kitchen that looks like this.

Raised Garden Beds
Our two raised garden beds are surrounded by all the baby trees we planted a few years ago.  The vegetables had already been pulled for the season, but I left the Marigolds in so that the beds would not look completely bare in the photos.


We have a large patio area, but no substantive patio furniture.  Instead of putting this in the middle of the patio and having it look odd, I decided to make a little tea corner. 

Laundry Room (La buanderie)
Unfortunately, I did not take a before photo of the super small space that is our laundry room.  If I had, you would know that this shelf never would have fit on the wall before due to a large, unnecessary bulkhead that was taking up space and stopping us from opening our dryer.  Having it removed and the drywall repaired did not cost very much - but it has made an enormous difference to this room.  Not only can we now fully open our dryer, we can hang this pretty wood shelf and top it off with a picture of the Cannes harbour and some pottery posies.

Basement shelf

Basement shelf
I wrote about these shelves when I talked about the basement renovation.  They were completely empty - but I filled these jars from Ikea with candy (using a gift card I had to the Bulk Barn).  In the previous picture I used some greenery from Dollorama to fill a vase, and a tin from Simon's.  It is not much, but enough so the shelves are not completely bare.

Our guestroom.  The headboard is homemade.  The bedside table belonged to my Great-great grandmother.  The dresser on the left is something I refinished, but I have since decided to get rid of the dresser (it is a long story, but it is very old and the drawers are all coming off their tracks).  So this picture already seems out of date...

If I had to make one comment - the best thing to do for your pictures is just get rid of simply everything.  Stuff it away, give it away, hide it.  It is cheap and provides tremendous results.

These flowers wish you good day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

10 Ways to Save Money this Holiday Season

Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time of year - it is about giving - but not about presents.  It is so easy for the expenses to pile up during this season, but there are always ways to reduce the financial costs.

Here are a few ideas for reducing costs this season:

1.  Drink more water.
Not only is this good for your health, but if you find yourself out for holiday parties and drinks more than a few nights - cut your bill instantly by drinking plain old water.

2.  Stay home.
This doesn't mean be a hermit!  Instead of going out for expensive dinners, why not host a dinner in your home?  Have friends over for a potluck - share the work!  Screen a Christmas movie in your own home and ask everyone to bring a batch of their favourite cookies.  Or, if you are trying to keep the waistline from expanding - try some delicious cranberry smoothie recipes and go for a winter stroll.  There are hundreds of free (or almost free) things you can literally do in your own backyard.

3.  Give less things.  Spend more time.
Does this one need an explanation?

4.  Do It Yourself.
There are literally hundreds of gifts you can make yourself.  A few ideas:

Homemade Cranberry Sauce  (this is one of my personal favourites)
Personal Journals
Santa Six Pack

5.  Make your own gift baskets.
Never, and I mean NEVER - buy a gift basket from a store.  You can always make it cheaper yourself.  I do this often.  My baskets all come from The Salvation Army.  Throughout the year, when I see the following items at excellent prices I pick some up for in my gift cupboard:
-quality cookbooks

You can quickly put any combination of the above together with some coffee, tea, hot chocolate or homemade goodies and you will have a very impressive basket.  This is probably one of my favourite gifts to assemble.

6.  Shop the Charity Shops
There has not been a single visit to the Salvation Army where I have not left with something that is brand new.  Often you can find unused items there.  Recently, I picked up several books (including a brand new cookbook as well as some brand new board books for children) and a photo album that were brand new and still had the price tag on them.  Make sure you go when you have time to look around carefully (ie. when your young kid are not with you!).

Recently acquired, brand new, Joy of Cooking from The Salvation Army

Brand New (still had price tag from MasterMind Toys on the back)

A beautiful gift basket that I used to make a wedding/house warming gift basket

More, brand new books from The Salvation Army

7.  Acts of Kindness
Do you feel bombarded with requests for money for charities? I do.  I try to give when I can and when I feel appropriate - but the truth is that there are many, many things we can do to help those in need even if we are not flush with cash.  If we are honest, we all know someone who could use a helping hand.  Why not do something for them?  Do you know someone who could use a home cooked meal?  Could you shovel someone's driveway?  Could you give a senior citizen or someone with mobility issues a ride somewhere?  Could you have someone over for tea who might not have anyone to socialize with?  
I have a Christmas memory from growing up that is very special.  It is one of the only memories I have that involves both my parents, before their divorce.  There was a boy in my grade 2 class who lived with his mom and three brothers.  I am not sure exactly what their financial or life situation was, but I know they were poor.  Very poor.  My mom got wind of this and she and my dad schemed up something.  She kept asking me all these questions about "Sam" (not his real name) my classmate and what he liked.  Then she somehow gathered up other details about his brothers and their mom.  Then - armed with my dad's chequebook - off to the malls she went.  They literally (with the help of a few friends) put together a Santa's bag full of things for this family and on Christmas Eve, my dad, dressed in a Santa Suit - delivered it to them while my mom and I hid in the car down the road.  I am not sure why they trusted me with this secret.  I never told.  Years later, the boy told me that he knew it had been my dad in the suit.  He said it was the biggest Christmas surprise of his childhood.  Now, obviously this particular act did involve my parents spending money - but I tell this story because we all know someone in need.  Most of the time it means more for someone to know that you are thinking of them, than the material thing itself.  Sometimes those who need kindness the most do not appear to be in need at all.

8.  Free activities
Have you ever taken your child to a Home Depot kids workshop?  They are great.  Is there a special holiday storytime at your local library?  A Christmas Carol sing?  Why not organize one yourself?  I remember as a kid going Christmas caroling at seniors homes and hospitals.  It was so much fun.

9.  Stop running around.
Do you really need to be out every night of the week?  Do you really need five more things for in the stocking?  I struggle with this.  I am a person who takes on crazy projects.  Now I try to focus and ask myself the following questions:  Can I simplify this and still get what I want or need?  Do I really need this or need to do this?  

10.  Use every loyalty point you can.
I try to save up all my points from all programs for the holiday season.  It just helps stretch any cash that much further - whether it is for gifts, groceries, or services.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

What if this is the last...

With the first baby it seemed like everything was a blur.  I always thought I would have 4 kids, or more, but after two difficult (but not life threatening) pregnancies I find myself wondering if this might be our last baby.  Other health concerns have come along, and now I am unsure as to whether or not there will be a Baby #3.  We are very blessed with two beautiful, healthy, wild boys.  But now, as my second maternity leave comes to an end - I find myself thinking - what if this will be the last maternity leave I have?  My last fall at home with the boys?  What if this is my last snuggle in bed with a baby?  What if this is the last time my little boy will crawl on top of me and rest his head on my chest, free of any worries, lost in a peaceful sleep?

The days go by so quickly.  Yes, I am exhausted.  Yes, my body has taken a bit of a beating.  Yes, I would enjoy a night of uninterrupted sleep.  But really - what I really, truly want - is more time.  More snuggles.  More kisses.  More baby noises.

Soon this will be over - and they will grow into a new phase.  We will make new memories.  But this is a special time.  Slow down.  Slow.  Down. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

DIY Gifts: Letter Art

Our basement has been home to my DIY Gift Workshop this year.  Now that I have finished the personal journals, we have moved on to canvas art.  Note:  You do not need to be an artist to do canvas art.

Some Thoughts:
Let me get this out of the way first - I am very careful about giving people gifts that need to on display.  We all have different tastes.  Even people who might think they know my taste could always give me some art I would never use (although I would totally appreciate their thoughtfulness).  Someone might even give me something I love, but simply have nowhere to put or no use for.  With that in mind, if I am giving any art/craft type pieces I like to keep them small in size and seasonal.  In other words, nobody is getting a 8 foot by 10 foot abstract multimedia collage from me (also because I would not know how to make it!).

A few different pieces came about in my workshop - with different recipients in mind and different methods used.  Let's take a walk through them.

1.  The Butterfly Project

-Sharpie (blue and black)
-Mod Podge
-Tissue Paper

The Butterfly Project is going in with a gift for a young girl.  I used an 8x10 canvas (bought in a bulk pack on sale at Michael's).  I used the butterfly stencil from Dollorama to stencil on these two butterflies using Blue and Black Sharpies.  Sharpies will bleed (just a tiny bit) on to the canvas, so I always retrace after removing the stencil to get rid of any rough edges.
Next, I added this "filter" if you will, using blue tissue paper.  I got this idea from Letter Art, by Clare Youngs, where she uses tissue paper to make actual letter art.  This is obviously not the same thing, but I really liked how her projects looked and thought I would channel some of that into this project.  I had a few different colours of tissue paper that I tried, but I preferred the blue filter for this piece.  I cut the tissue paper (almost) to size.

After this, I put a thin layer of Mod Podge on the canver and began pressing the tissue paper down on top.  I used a ruler while doing this to remove as many air bubbles as possible.  I did this in sections - be careful because you need to make sure the entire canvas has Mod Podge on it or you will get bubbles in it.  Avoid using excessive amounts of Mod Podge because tissue paper is quite thin, and if it gets too wet it will tear.

Once the Mod Podge underneath dried, I then trimmed the tissue paper even closer to the edges of the canvas, and then added 3 layers of Mod Podge over top.  Wait 20 minutes (at least) between each layer.  Again, go easy on the Mod Podge because you do not want to soak through the tissue paper.

I also have an easel ($2.50 at Dollorama) that will hold the canvas to avoid any holes in the wall.

And....voilà!  A simple butterfly canvas for a sweet little girl this Christmas.

2.  O Holy Night 

For this canvas I wanted to do a simple excerpt from O Holy Night lyrics.  I used a silver metallic Sharpie.  Since the script was going to be thin (not wide) I did not do a pencil underlay first.  Instead, I drafted multiple ideas and layouts on scrap paper until I found the arrangement I liked.  I then copied it (very slowly and very carefully unto the canvas).  I covered it with 3 thin layers of Mod Podge.

3.  Christmas Carol Mash-Up
Once I decided what I wanted the central words for this collage style canvas to be (Peace and Joy), I added them to the canvas.  Then, slowly and carefully, I added all of the other lyrics from various carols that I wanted to include.  Some of them had to be traced over several times.  I did not do pencil underneath, again because if you are not doing a bold text it can be hard to cover it up.  I did a few coats of Mod Podge over the top because I wanted a glossy finish and also to protect the canvas.

4.  Merry and Bright
This canvas did not go exactly as planned.  WARNING: Mod Podge will make gold metallic Sharpie run and fade.  It did not do this with any other Sharpies, but for some reason it did with the Gold Metallic.  The original plan was just for the nice bright gold MERRY AND BRIGHT canvas.  When you are doing bold letters with the Sharpie, instead of tracing outlines and colouring them in, you need to write a "thin" letter and then go over it repeatedly as you work to make it bigger and stop any bleeding edges.  I used almost an entire Gold Metallic Sharpie to make this canvas.  After going over it with a few layers of Mod Podge, the text started to blur and smudge.  This made me sad.  In the end, I could not salvage it so I decided to do a gold tissue paper overlay using the same technique as I did for the butterfly.  I will be using this to make a Christmas display which I will share at a later date.

These canvases will take more time than you anticipate.  As with the journals, the most time will be sketching out and drafting your ideas.