Our Perfect Pit

We love sitting in our back yard, we live in the country and love the peace and quiet of it all. But when the old house came down and the new one went up…our back yard became a disaster area.

After building the house the back yard needed (still needs) a lot of work. No real grass is growing just some random weeds and the rock situation is out of control!

This was our attempt to make the back yard a bit more inviting again.

First we decided where we wanted the fire pit to be. It was in this area with old house but we moved it over about 10 feet.

(see what I mean about the grass).

Lets start by saying that you can buy fire pit kits from Home Depot, but it limits you to the size that they have created so we didn’t go that route. We bought the stone that we liked at $3.90 a stone and while I was at work hubby and his buddy started the process (that’s why no before pic). Laying the stones down took mins and was super easy, below the stones is a commercial grade weedblocker. We had some left over from the house build. It’s like the thickest felt you’ve touched.

Before putting down the weedblocker, my husband dug out the centre of the pit just a couple of inches.

(felt was cut away from the inside)

Our pit is a 4 ft diameter, we have the space so why not make it a good size.

Once all of the stones were put in place we realized we needed just a few more, and we bought one extra just incase. We don’t have a medal ring in the middle, didn’t think it was necessary and air flow through the stones helps the fire burn better. We also bought the adhesive but did not use it. After a friend made a good point that if a stone cracks or chips you can’t replace just that one. So we will be returning the adhesive at $10 a tube!

We then layed down more weed block in a perimeter around the pit.

We then put a pipe in the centre of the pit as a place holder for the rope to go around making a perfect circle. As you can see we spray painted the area, laid down the blocker and then spray painted again.

We had gone to Home Depot looking for a boarder or trim of some sort, not sure what we were going to find. When we got there we discovered this fantastic product (Canadian made… Super important to us). It’s from recycled rubber, comes in 4 foot lengths, and long plastic spikes to drive it into the ground.

We thought for sure these spikes were gonna break like crazy as our backyard is hard pan and even machines had a hard time digging down during the build. (putting the supports for the back deck wasn’t fun). But to be honest only 3 spikes broke and it wasn’t a problem, just left the broke pieces in the ground and moved onto the next one.

Now these 4 foot rubber edging were not the cheapest at $13.47 a piece, totallying $175 to trim out the pit. Where there cheaper options yes… Where they as nice, not even close! And this is something we will be enjoying for years and years to come, to use it was worth the few bucks to get the nicer product.

Placing the trim was super easy we just keep making sure we were staying within our perfect circle as we hammered the pegs down. Once we got to the last piece we only had to cut off about 12 inches. Cutting it was also very easy, as rubber cuts like a hot knife through butter if you wet it first. Kory easily cut it with his pocket knife and some water.

Once we had the rubber edging all down it was off to one of our local garden/greenhouse nursery places here in Thunder Bay. We had bought white stone from there early this summer for around the front of the house. So we knew it was a great price, we also knew from that purchase how much our truck could hold.

We bought 2 yards the first time we went loading it all in the truck at once. Now we have a heavy duty GMC diesal but a lot of weight is still not the best idea. It road pretty low with 2 yards of rock. This time we got 1 load at a time. I’ll be honest it was a super super hot day and taking the hour break to go get 2 loads of white rock was perfect. The rock with tax cost us $101.

We also had a very handy little dumping trailer that we had borrowed, loaded it up at the truck and pulled it down to the pit, shoveled it off and spread it around.

Once all of the stone was down it was time to clean up the weed blocker sticking out and place down some chairs, which we had just purchased from Canadian Tire @ $20 each, now Muskoka chairs aren’t the comfiest things around so I’ve also just bought some cushions.

In total the firepit including the new chairs cost us about $500. Which is money well spent for something we will enjoy for years to come.

We had a fire that night and it was perfect. The perimeter wasn’t to close or to far from the flames and of course I was making sure the white stone stayed clear of twigs and debris the whole time (yes even a neat freak outside).

Now back to Home Depot to buy more rubber edging for the front of us house!! Seriously best product ever!

Tks for visiting our little blog, see you soon!

Signs Signs Everywhere Signs

Yes, I just quoted one of my favourite bands…Tesla.


Winnie the Pooh

We started something new over here at Moose Valley Designs…and that my friends are SIGNS!!  We do custom signs, specialty signs and of course signs for all season of the year.

How did we start making signs you ask, well in one simple word INSTAGRAM!  My name is Nadine and I am an Instagram (IG) addict…there I’ve admitted it!  But in all seriousness, I wouldn’t have started this sign making part of our small biz if it wasn’t for the fact that I started following and seeing all of these signs and sign makers.

When I see something home decor on IG that I absolutely love, I don’t think to myself, “oh where is their small shop, is it in Canada or the US, I need to order that!” NO, I think to myself  “I can make that”.  And so I did!  I started to tell my husband about how I wanted to make these signs, he didn’t quite get what I was explaining to him until I showed him first hand and now he’s hooked.  He loves how we spend time together in the workshop making these signs, he loves helping me be creative and he just loves me so he helps me make this work.

Let me add I didn’t just see a couple of signs and start making them, I contacted a few sign makers who I knew weren’t too worried about sharing tips and tricks with me, as a lot know that the Canadian dollar sucks at best, and shipping and duty are a pain… so their buyers are most times NOT Canadian.   There was a Canadian sign maker in Winnipeg I think she was, who I contacted and simply asked what computer program she was using for her machine and she blocked me…how rude!  That’s one thing I like about most of the ladies on IG they bring each other up instead of knocking each other down, but there is always someone out there that is willing to do anything to stay on top, even if that means blocking a sign maker 800 kms away from knowing any tips or tricks.  I hope her business does very well.

Along with pickin the brains of sign makers in Michigan and Arizona to name a few, I watched a many YouTube videos, and when I say many I mean like dozens and dozens. Anything I could find that showed someone doing it just for their own home or doing it in small production as a small business venture, I watched it,  more than once.   Quite a few things I figured out on my own and somethings I’m still trying to figure out. (There is one sign maker in Arizona who does amazing work and makes over 100-200 signs a week and for the life of me I don’t know how she’s doing it so quickly? How does she get her paint to dry so fast, and how many people does she have working for her which she really doesn’t show) I’ll figure it out but for now the pace we are working now is just fine.

We prepped a lot of signs for a really really small craft show at a public school and of course that day was one of our biggest snowstorms of the winter. So not a lot of people came although I did get some orders and got my name out there, it wasn’t a big affair.  Next year we will have a table/booth at the big craft shows around Christmas…and we’ll be just as prepared!!

Framing a surprise sign for a friends, and see there is still room in the workshop for vehicles that need some work.


Let me add we aren’t the only sign makers in town, but I’d like to think that no others quite look like ours. So if you are interested in a sign let us know!! You can email us at moosevalleydesigns@hotmail.com * processing time is 2-3 weeks.

And to all of those friends, family and people who just happen to stumble upon our Facebook page or Instagram page, THANK YOU…we appreciate every kind word and comment made and orders…we really appreciate you wanting one of our signs as a gift or a piece of decor in your home.

Dollarama craft aisle! 

I’m not always out in the workshop, sometimes my old body needs a break from sanding, painting and moving furniture. But that doesn’t mean that I want to just sit and doing nothing. In fact I honestly don’t watch alot of 📺 tv. I have a few favourite shows and of course the Jay’s game is playing in the background right now… “Go Jays”  (hubby is on the couch watching said game) but lots of times its off when I’m in the house.  

So when I’m not in the workshop, I like to dig out the craft supplies. I’ve been working with alot of wood beads lately. Making different wood garlands to hang around the livingroom as furniture jewelry. I didn’t invent it, I wish I had!  In fact there are ladies all over Instagram who make them and sell them. Some fancy then others! But I of course being a DYIer, had to make my own 😊. 

I move these around probably weekly. (I move all decor weekly).

With a smaller bead I made these napkin ring holders.  I do have something a little fancier to hang on the end, but not all craft supplies make it into the house, and sometimes the 30 steps to the workshop is to far away! 😁 lol

Now adding some beads to some wall hangings. I had bought a few embroidery hoops for a different project, but I couldn’t find that amount I needed (used ones anyway)  and I wasn’t about to spend about a $100 or so on a variety of sizes from the craft store. *if it’s not from Dollarama craft aisle it’s usually expensive unfortunately. And speaking of Dollarama craft aisle, I bought these rolls of material cut them into strips and tied them onto the hoops. 

(yes that is my crafting beer 🍻) 

These hoops I bought off of eBay at an ok price and since original plans changed I decided to mix it up a bit by crafting up some Boho looking wall hanging.  Very much the look a lot of people are mixing with the farmhouse decor.  Flat baskets hung on walls, macromae plant hangers etc,  all very nice but not really my style of decor.  

Although I have to say this piece below is a new little favourite of mine.  I could easily change up the looked by using  an aluminum hoop, white lace and gray strips of threads. (maybe I can bring craft supplies camping… OH I THINK I MIGHT). 

If anyone local Thunder Bay Ontario) is interested in any of  these, or a request for something similar let me know I’d be happy to make some. (price to be determined on supplies used) 

Not a furniture post but something I like to work on. FYI there are 7 pieces of furniture, 3 each about 90% done waiting in the workshop. One I am super excited to share with you all.  And trust me I’ll be blogging about them all soon… Stay tuned! 
Thanks for visiting! 


Our Rustic Bed 

Sometimes you need pieces of furniture specific to a room, or an exact look you’re after. I looked through tons of websites, browsing for a bed frame that would fit our room, not that I needed to worry about space, but I didn’t want a huge headboard (there is a reason for that and that is a future project) or a frame that took over the room.  So a simple nice slat king bed is what I wanted and that isn’t something I was going to find at a price I was willing to pay.  Seriously what they want for afew pieces of wood is crazy! 

So in true Bodnar fashion, we decided to build our bed instead!

With a trip to Home Depot and a quick drawing of some plans… Voila a king bed for a really great price!! 

We started with measurements of just an inch and a half bigger than the mattress itself. I didn’t want to struggling tucking in blankets or sheets. So with a king bed of 78 x 79 we made the frame 79.5 x 80.5 using 2×10 pine. We then grabbed enough slats to have them no less than 2 inches apart, along with some cedar 4×4’s (yes we thought of using the rough 4×4’s from the old house but we wanted perfectly shaped ones for the bed).  We made a support in the middle using a couple of deck hangers and a 2×6. 

We then… Assembled! Actually I came home from work and hubby had already done so using some floor jacks to support one end as he screwed together the other… So smart. 

My job make look pretty. So with some jacobean stain and some hemp oil wax to seal it in. It was done, next we disassembled and moved it into the house. 

We’ve gotten so many compliments on this bed, and requests for more. As soon as some local Bodnar’s Acres landscaping is done, more will be made. One for our spare room bed, probably daughters room, one for the niece and one a friend wants. 

 We love the look and we purposely made it quite high,  as to have a lot of clearance underneath for dog beds (when not in use, or when the dog thinks this is her hiding spot), suitcases or whatever you can think of. 

Very happy with the finished product. It fits perfectly in our room and couldn’t imagine spending money on something not nearly as nice, or made so cheaply its falling apart in 2 years. This isn’t going anywhere and will be lasting a life time. 

Reuse and Recycle.

Kory bought the house in March of 2007, and I moved into our little red cabin in the woods in May of 2009. It was a tiny 2 bedroom house with 4 people and 2 dogs.  I love love love our 34 acres, but the little red house, well it wasn’t always so fun. Frozen pipes in the winter, cold floor that seemed to lean a little. My husband likes to joke that the eggs were always thick on one side!

As we tore down the house we learned that it was built to be a ‘summer home’ aka no insulation and definitely not designed to with stand cold winters in Thunder Bay, hence the frozen pipes.

It was built in the 60’s by the older gentleman who owned the property. Through talking with neighbours we learned that the old house was all built using the wood off of the property. The walls were stacked 4×4’s!! Sort of like a log home without the pretty log look.  It was 4×4’s, tar paper, panelling, 2 layers of siding and that was it. Did you notice I didn’t say “insulation”?!?!  brrrr is right!

One neighbour had mentioned that the house was solid wood, we weren’t quite sure what he meant until we started tearing off the panelling to find this…

No Insulation!!

Although we were shocked to see the insides of the walls, we soon got very excited about what we could make out of them! We kept as many pieces as we could, getting rid of ones that were just in to rough of shape.  Of course our luck at the time was as we wanted to start to burn some of the wood we didn’t want to keep, a fire band was put into place because we were so dry in the area in May 2016. So unfortunately we had to pay to get more hauled away then we wanted to.

So what could we possible do with these beauty’s? Make furniture!  We always knew we wanted a huge island in our new kitchen, it was important for us to have a place to gather with friends and family over. A place where you stand if you wanted to or sit comfortably  while having a visit, eating a  meal or just ‘hanging out’.

We wanted to build something simple, something that would show off the gorgeous pieces of wood and something we knew we could make ourselves.

Look at the beautiful detail in that wood. The bark and the worm tunnels through it are definitely my favourite part.

Prepping the piece for the build really wasn’t to hard. A belt sander with some 80 grit and a whole lot of poly and it was ready to assemble.

The best part about this piece is no one in the world has one the same. It’s truly a Moose Valley Design original.

Let’s talk about the top. Right now we don’t like the colour. It end up being to orange for us. So since it’s a tinted poly and not truly a stain, I’m hoping it’s fairly easy to change it up. The problem being we don’t want to have to take the top off to do it.  A light sanding (by hand or dust will be everywhere!) and a re-coat of a different shade should do the trick. Fingers crossed it’s that simple.

With our many trips to Winnipeg last summer (Oh I love IKEA and Costco) we bought the bar stools. Soon realizing we didn’t buy enough. So we go back again in May and we’ll be getting at least 4 more.

The island is really all we ever use. I think in 4 months we’ve sat at the kitchen table twice, and that was with company over.

Question is what do we do with the rest of the wood!!??? Plans are in the works 😆😆

Kijiji Deals!

I will always let you know where I sourced my furniture pieces, as everyone asks “where do you get all of these pieces from?” And I have to say it’s getting easier as time goes by, friends family co-workers etc now approach me with items they have. It’s great! And sorry to those I haven’t picked up from yet…please don’t give them away or sell to someone else I promise I’ll be there!!!!

It really is great finding fantastic deals on Kijiji! But in saying that there are people who have a crazed idea of what a deal is. Some ask a silly amount of money for items I’m surprised they aren’t giving away to places like Habitat or bringing to the dump (which I suppose costs money, so right back to my first suggestion…give it to Habitat).

Then there are some who have a great item that they just need to get rid of and want to make a couple of dollars. These are the deals I love to find! Like this great dresser. I paid $25 for it and the lady was more than happy to see it go. If I had to guess at the age of the dresser I’m gonna go with 1950’s it’s solid oak and weighs a ton, and I mean a TON! Look at the lines of it though, aren’t they great?!?!

When thinking of TV stands for the new house I had envisioned something about dresser height. I didn’t want it to tall as I hate looking up to watch TV (sorry, no offence to those who have it above their fireplace, I don’t know how you do it!) I wanted a good eye level height when sitting on the couch. Ideally the TV would be on the stand it came with so that it can easily be seen from sitting at the kitchen island as well, but for some reason the stand went missing…but we won’t talk about that.

Lets be honest, I am always and I mean always on Kijiji (besides Instagram and Spotify) it’s the app I use most!   And so when I saw this pop up I jumped at it right away, thank goodness Kory was home to help me out, as this one was not easy to move. (sometimes I have no choice but to go get these items by myself, not always fun but a necessity). Our truck is a big 4×4 as well, so it’s heavy lifting  up high to boot!

Before (also before of coffee table left side and kitchen table behind)

It wasn’t easy working on a whole bunch of  projects at once, although I find that I never only have one project on the go anyway, it’s usually at least 5 or 6 or let’s be honest…15. With a new house to fill up soon buying all new furniture was out of the question, I had to be resourceful and come up with some fantastic ideas to fill up all of the beautiful rooms that were in the works. The only new items we did buy were couches, Made in Canada of course.  Any old items that did come into the new house were either painted (table) or refurbished (cabinet), nothing came in looking like how it left the little red shed that’s for sure.

I hadn’t discovered My Painted Door (FYI all my paint is from there now) yet so I was only using latex Behr paint. Which is great paint don’t get me wrong, easy to work, covers well and cleans up no problem.  But no waxes or finishes for the top coats etc.  I do like to try all different types of paints, I’ve used spray chalk paints, milk paints, mineral paints and of course latex paint for my furniture projects.

So this piece I covered in china white Behr paint. I had ordered handles for the kitchen cupboards, making sure to have extras and that what was used on the final piece. Always ready to reuse/recycle I kept the brass knobs for another project, but the ugly leafs going in opposite directions did not make the “keep” pile.

I did sand all of the yellow paint off of the top, as I knew I wanted to stain the top a nice dark chocolate colour and that means all of the old had to come off. I used a Verathane gel stain in espresso, I wish I could find more colours in that product as it was so easy to work with.  The sides I just sanded off the old paint as much as I could, not worrying about getting it all, knowing the paint would adhere to the remainder.  In the end I was super pleased with this dresser and it was the exact look I wanted for our living-room. 2A4A8458.jpg

Not a Tiger

Like all furniture re-finishers (aka paint old stuff) I always take a before picture of my projects, ok, ok, ok I might have forgotten a time or two, but the screen shot of the Kijiji ad usually saves me! This time I took a before in the workshop…but some maybe screenshots.

chalk dresser

This dresser I got a great deal on, like most items I picked it up off of Kijiji. How do I find these items you ask? I’m constantly on my app on my phone. And now that I have started painting regularly, friends send me links or tag me in buy and sell Facebook ads as well. It’s great!!

Everyone was a bit panicked when they saw that I had painted this. Let me assure you this was NOT tiger wood by any means. It was almost like the manufacturer took a marker and drew lines. In person this looked really fake,  so I did not feel bad painting this piece at all.

I used a spray paint on this one, I don’t usually use spraypaint but I thought I would give it a try.  This was Rust-oleum chalk paint spray. I did spray a primer underneath first which helped for sure.  Then I sprayed 2 coats of this great colour, called Serenity Blue (it’s mint green). After I sprayed it, I thought it looked a little to bright so I decided to try out my Homestead espresso wax. I had never used wax before I was quite nervous but I took out my paint brush and dug right in.  I turned out fantastic!   I rubbed the wax on letting it sit for about 5-10  mins and then just took a cloth and wiped it off. Not only did I get a great look it feels like super soft and sealed in. As the package states it about 30 days before it’s fully hardened or cured. And since I now did this 6 months ago I’m not afraid of putting anything onto it. I had a vase that had some water on the bottom and it didn’t leave a mark at all.


The drawers were a bit hard to open and close when I first picked it up so I took a cheap one dollar candle and rubbed it all along the gliders. Now in saying that the this is a very old dresser and I’ve had to do a bit more work to get the drawers to sit level and open/close nicely.  Soon it will be up for sale and make room for another project!

BLOG?!?! What???

A blog, I never thought I’d be doing a blog. It seems like a lot of work to constantly be writing about my day! But this is more than just about my every day, this is about what I (we) do to fulfill my days. The pictures I take, the house we built and the furniture my husband I build and work on. Are we carpenters NO, but we are way to thrifty and creative to pay crazy new furniture prices for something we know we can make just as well if not better.

A little bit about the name. Moose Valley Designs, well for one our house is most definitely in a valley, we get more snow then even the neighbours down the road (it really is annoying). The Moose well that part was easy, I love moose, they are the cutest animals around. They aren’t as plentiful as they used to be and are becoming more and more scares as the years go by.  I’m always watching for them when travelling the highways around here.  And the main reason for ‘moose’  we have a weather-vane  on the top of our workshop that is in the shape of a moose. We call him Gus, he was a wedding gift from our dear friends a couple of years back.  So when thinking of names it all just seem to fit, Moose Valley Designs!

I hope you enjoy all that we have to share and hopefully inspire you to do something you love, either photography, furniture flipping or being creative in your own home.

Thanks for taking a look at our blog


the Bodnar’s