Colourful creative office

Office after

My office. A space that’s completely my own. The last bedroom in our house. It’s done. And I’m so happy with how it turned out.

While I’ve used the word “office” to describe this room, it’s really a sewing, crafting, creative space.

It’s filled with the things that I like to do. The things I like the most and that mean the most to me (Bill!). I love that I now have an organized room that I enjoy being in.

Favourite things in the office

This wall used to be filled with boxes that had been packed since we moved in five years ago. Now, the thrifted china cabinet holds sewing and knitting supplies, magazines and memorabilia–and keeps them all organized.

China cabinet storage in the office

Sewing pattersn and knitting needles

Knitting and sewing supplies

Growing up, I never won a trophy. When we were dating, I mentioned this to Matt. One fall, after I ran my first 10K, Matt presented me with a huge trophy. It meant so much to me that he did that. However, the trophy was truly huge. I took it apart and then put it back together in a slightly smaller configuration, and it fits easily on the shelves.

Running trophy

Reconfiguring the closet was also hugely helpful to keep everything organized. Hanging up my big pieces of fabric makes it easy to see what I have and ensures that I’m more likely to use them.

Fabric stash hanging in the closet

When it came to art, I wanted to display some of my favourite things–like this collection of vintage hats. My Mom taught me how to sew. She learned from her mother–the original owner of most of these hats. In fact, my great-grandmother made one of the hats that is hanging on the wall.

I love the idea of a time where people regularly dressed up to go out, and hats were part of the outfits. I don’t live in that world, but I can still enjoy these hats by having them on display.

Vintage hats hung on the wall

The gallery wall is another showcase of my favourite things.

Gallery wall

The same grandma that taught my Mom to sew also had a collection of Red Rose Tea figurines. Often when we were leaving her home after visiting, she would give us a figurine to take home. A few years ago, I decided to collect a full set of the nursery rhyme statues. Between gifts and flea markets, I got every one. However, I’ve never had a place to display them. Now I do–along with a fun photo of my Mom and I modeling some of the hats.

Red Rose Tea figurines

Another small collection that is finally on display is my thimble collection. Matt’s parents travel a fair amount, and my MIL buys a china thimble for me pretty much everywhere they go. I made a really small shelf to go above my sewing machine, and it holds all of the thimbles perfectly.

A magnetic strip from Lee Valley, painted the same colour as the wall, holds sewing instructions where I can easily see them as I’m working.

Thimble collection

While I’m not an official participant in the One Room Challenge, which concludes this week, it definitely helped motivate me to finish off this room. I love that every item on my to-do list is crossed off.

You can check out all of the official ORC participants at Calling it Home.

Feminine blue and floral office

There are so many little details that make this room work really well for me. And I love the beauty and the sentimentality that I was able to incorporate as well. While the ORC motivated me to finish the office, the room itself is now motivating me to keep crafting. I’ve returned to some projects that have been hanging around for a little while and had a super productive sewing month where I’ve churned out a dress, jacket and several pillows. I’m excited by what else this room is going to inspire.

Thanks for following along on the makeover. Do you have a crafty creative space at your house? What helps motivate you to finish projects–whether big like a room makeover or smaller crafts? Do you have a favourite collection on display?

Snoring, storing and decoring in the office

Baxter dozing

My sidekick and I made some more progress in the office this weekend. To be truthful, my sidekick snored and snuggled his dinosaur. I made the progress.

Beyond making the office pretty, I want to make it useful, organized and tidy. Usually when it comes to storage, I make due with whatever freebies I can find–cardboard cartons, shoe boxes, containers destined for the recycling bin.

While sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. So for the office, I bought proper storage containers. Thanks to all of the sorting and tossing I’ve done, I didn’t need too many.

From a big cardboard box full of old school papers, I now have one–much smaller–plastic bin.

Plastic storage box

Six smaller containers hold all of my fabric remnants and fit perfectly into one of the cupboards in the china cabinet.

Plastic storage boxes

On the pretty side of the office makeover, I worked on the gallery wall. I’m actually not a huge fan of gallery walls. But I when I thought about everything that I wanted to display in the office, I realized that the best arrangement was to put them all together.

I am not a patient person, so I tried just laying it out on the floor and translating that to the wall. But it was hard to visualize. I traced each item onto paper and then taped them to the wall. I’m glad I took the time to map it out. It helped to finalize the layout–and realize that the initial placement was much too high.

Planning the gallery wall

Once I settled on the arrangement, I started hammering nails into the wall right away. But then I had to exercise some patience again. It was hard to get the pictures exactly where I wanted just by guessing where to place the nail. I took a minute to run downstairs and grab a paint stick and a screw. I don’t know why it took me so long to make this little tool. It made hanging the pictures so easy.

Paintstick picture hanger

I’m excited to show you the final gallery wall and the rest of the office next week when the One Room Challenge concludes. You can check out all of the official participants at Calling It Home.

Do you have a gallery wall in your home? How do you handle storage? Who else has a lazy sidekick?

Home Goals 2017

Alright. It’s officially time to start looking ahead. Time to share my Home Goals 2017.

Unusually, I’ve not been thinking about these for the past few months. Some of them have solidified over the last few weeks–one of them even started just before the end of last year. Some of them came together just as I was writing this post.

I think we’re getting to the stage where more things are done around the house–and the things that are yet to come are biggies. As in so big we’re not ready to tackle them yet (although I really, really, really want a garage).

However, there’s still enough to keep us busy for another year. Here’s what’s on the list.

My office

Turquoise and brass file cabinet from DIY Mommy

Source: DIY Mommy

Ahhh. My office. Finally a room of my own (thank you Virginia Woolf–not an affiliate link). I don’t know as I can convey the monumentalness of this project–except by making up words. Five years ago we moved to the farm. Since that time, moving boxes have been stacked against the wall in my “office.” I want to unpack and truly have a functional office. Finishing off my office will finish off another milestone for the house: the final bedroom.

The transformation is already underway. This is the project that Matt and I started right at the end of December–gotta keep up our holiday tradition of scraping a stippled ceiling.

Clean up the pond shore

Property clean up has been on my list every year. And every year I end up working on whatever spot shows up in front of me. This year I want to be a little more plannful. This year, I am cleaning up the pond shore–how’s that for an emphatic statement.

The pond is my favourite place on our whole 129 acres. And I haven’t been able to easily access the shore the whole time we’ve lived here. I’ve considered enlisting professional help, but I think if I put out a call, I should be able to find a few family members willing to wield chainsaws and weed eaters for a weekend.

Vegetable garden

The vegetable garden was our major project last year, and as a result I feel like we’re in very good shape to start this year’s growing season. However, there are a few things I’d like to add this year, like rhubarb, a second row of berries (maybe raspberries, maybe something else) and maybe some more grapes.

Most important, this year I am going to keep the weeds under control–another emphatic statement. I’m hoping a deep mulch will help me not spend my whole summer weeding.

Flower gardens

Last year our flower gardens were entirely neglected as the vegetable garden consumed all our time. This year I want to give them at least a little bit of attention.

I’ve dumped plants randomly in two beds at the front of the house, and they need a bit of organization. I’d like to add some more shade tolerant flowers to the turnaround.

I’m also planning to remove the flowerbeds at the back of the house (there are only so many hours in a day, and mowing is easier than weeding).

Basement

I’ve said it before. The basement has been hanging around long enough. This is the year we’re going to finish it once and for all–including fun art.

New barn cat

Ralph the barn cat

This one may be more of a farm goal than a home goal.

We have an outstanding barn cat in Ralph. So outstanding that we’d love for her to teach someone the wisdom of her ways. I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to go about finding her an apprentice, but we’re going to figure it out.

So there you have it. Six goals. Two inside, three outside, one alive. Some big, some small, one with a tail. Some easy, some tedious, some furry.

We’ll see how this goes.

Time to get started!

Do you have any goals for this year? What would you like to accomplish at your house? Any tips for introducing a new barn cat? Anyone want to help clear the shore at the pond?

Fun oversize Scrabble art for the basement

Oversize scrabble tiles as art in the game room

Anyone want to play Scrabble? I’ll bring some letters if you bring the very, very large board.

When it comes to art in this house, I follow two principles: keep it personal and keep it inexpensive. For the basement, I have one more factor: keep it fun.

A wall full of really big Scrabble tiles ticks all the boxes.

Oversize scrabble tiles as art in the game room

Personal: The letters are the initials for us and everyone in our immediate family. Moms, Dads, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nephews, niece, pets.

A message from Auntie JuJu to the two babies joining our family in the next few months: your names must start with one of these 16 letters. More than half the alphabet is in play. That’s lots of options for you.

Inexpensive: Sanding all of these tiles took a bit of time, but since I’m not paying myself an hourly rate, my only costs were a few 2x10s, some sandpaper, printer paper, Mod Podge and a paint pen.

Fun: We have giant Scrabble tiles hanging on our wall. That’s not typical artwork.

Oversize scrabble tiles as art in the game room

When I was making these, I wanted the letters to hang perfectly flush to the wall. Even the thinnest hanger didn’t appeal to me.

Oversize scrabble tiles as art in the game room

I came up with a simple solution that was also–you guessed it–cheap.

I routed a channel in the back of each tile, which slips over a nail that I hammered into the wall.

Oversize scrabble tiles as art in the game room

Adding art to the basement was one of my Home Goals for 2016. We call this room the long room, so I wanted some substantial art that could fill the wall. Sixteen large wood slabs work very well.

Oversize scrabble tiles as art in the game room

Do you play Scrabble? Would you ever hang boardgame art on your walls? How do you handle art when you have a big wall?

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Summer to-dos done

Is anyone else mourning the passing of summer like I am? While it seems like summer ends with Labour Day, I’ve been holding on to my favourite season. However, as of yesterday, I can no longer pretend. Fall is officially here.

Three months ago, I posted four projects that I was hoping to accomplish over the summer. You know how I like to hold myself accountable. So let’s see how I did.

Project #1: Build a closet in the basement

Done. This one felt so easy it surprised me. Doing the drywall in the basement the first time around was a massive job. I was not looking forward to doing any drywall at any time ever again. However, this time around I was doing such small areas that it seemed like it took next to no time to put on a coat of paste.

This area has given Matt a tonne of extra storage, and the basement is (almost) tidy and organized. I’m only sharing a progress shot because the closet holds Matt’s stuff and I like to give him his privacy. But trust that it is done.

Drywalling the laundry room

Project #2: Sand scrabble tiles

Done. I can’t wait to share these with all of you. Sanding 16 wood tiles was the definition of not fun DIY. However, the end product is (spoiler alert) awesome.

Weekend craft project underway

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Project #3: Strip paint off the guest room bed

Done. Okay I’m calling this one done, but it’s more like I gave up halfway through. The metal underneath the drippy, chippy spraypaint is not in good shape. So after stripping the headboard and side rails I decided to skip the footboard and just repaint everything. I’ve just been waiting for the weather to cool down enough to be able to paint (not a project for the summer to-do list).

Stripping paint off a vintage metal bedframe

Maybe project #4: Makeover office cabinet

Not done. This was a maybe project from the beginning, so I don’t feel bad about not finishing it. Although I do really, really, really want to put my office together.

Perhaps a project for the fall to-do list…

However, I’m still in denial about it being fall, so I’m not prepared to write a list quite yet.

How are you feeling about the changing seasons? What did you accomplish this summer? Are you thinking about fall to-dos yet?

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Summer to-do list

Summer officially arrives this evening. While I have grand plans of sunshine and hammocks and hikes and gardens and lots of time outdoors, I also have a handful of projects that I’ve been saving up for my favourite season.

Build a closet in the basement

Enamel basins and infant sleepers hanging in the laundry room

Our house has fabulous storage. However, none of it is a match for my husband. I’m not sure Matt’s office ever successfully contained all of his stuff. Over the winter I had a brainwave. Remove some of the cabinets that are tucked between the dryer and the freezer in the laundry room (they’re already filled with his stuff anyway) and replace them with a full height closet. I think I can just about triple his storage space. And it should be a pretty simple build with some basic framing, drywall, bi-fold doors and shelves.

Sand scrabble tiles

Scrabble art for the basement

Source: insideways

One of my Home Goals for 2016 is adding some art to the basement. Going with our fun and games theme, I want to DIY some Scrabble tiles. I’ve had the wood cut for months. Months, I tell you. I just need to sand them and then paint the letters. Sanding sounds like a good way to enjoy some time outside in the sunshine, doesn’t it?

Strip paint off the guest room bed

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The only thing missing from our beautiful guest room makeover is a proper bedframe. I have a great rustic metal frame in the barn, but the finish isn’t the greatest. I’m planning to strip it back to bare metal and see what it looks like. Paint stripping is an outdoor job IMO, so another good way to enjoy the outdoors.

Makeover office cabinet

Vintage china cabinet

Last week, you saw the china cabinet I’ve bought for my office and heard about my plans to rebuild the upper hutch. I’m so excited to have my office organized that I can’t wait to get started on this project. However, I have to put this lower down on the list, as other projects have been hanging around much longer. So this one’s a maybe summer project.

Puttering on some projects, keeping up with the gardens and relaxing on the farm. That’s my recipe for a good summer.

What’s your recipe? Do you have a summer to-do list? What are you looking forward to this season?

Hardboard and six favourite projects

There’s one material that I go to over and over for DIY projects: hardboard.

Hardboard

Hardboard is an engineered wood product also known as high-density fibreboard. Wikipedia says that it’s “made out of exploded wood fibers that have been highly compressed.” I’m not sure what exploded wood fibres are. By the time hardboard gets to the store, it has little resemblance to wood. It’s more like a super heavy-duty, super smooth cardboard. The main resemblance to typical construction materials is that hardboard comes in 4×8-foot sheets.

It’s less than a quarter inch thick, fairly light-weight, and cuts and bends easily. Sometimes it’s cut to other sizes than 4×8, finished with white on one side, or it’s also the material for pegboards.

Pegboard

Here are some of my favourite projects with hardboard:

Living room bookshelves – Hardboard makes a very sturdy back for shelves and bookcases. But it’s thin and fairly lightweight, so it doesn’t add bulk to furniture.

Monograms – Letters and words are popular decor trends. Hardboard is easy to cut with a jigsaw, won’t break or crack like solid wood, and is light enough to hang on a wall or sit on a shelf. I’ve found a quick pass of fine sandpaper can be helpful to smooth cut edges.

Ampersand monogram made out of hardboard

Ampersand monogram made out of hardboard

Doors and cabinet makeovers – Faced with boring slab doors in the basement and on the laundry room cabinets, I used strips of hardboard to transform them into barn doors and shaker-style cabinets. I was blown away by how successful the transformation was. I still love these doors. Plus the makeover saved us from spending money on new doors.

Making slab doors into barn doors

Score-keeping chalkboard – Hardboard is super smooth, and with a good primer and a foam roller, it takes paint very well. So I gave a sheet of hardboard a coat of chalkboard paint for a 6-foot tall, but very lightweight and easy to move chalkboard. Much lighter than actual chalkboard.

Cabinet door repair – Our kitchen needs a renovation, but until that day, we’re trying to hold things together however we can. Hardboard to the rescue once again. The cabinet door under the sink was separating from its frame. Backing it with hardboard has seen us through the last three years.

Holding a kitchen cabinet together with hardboard

Nightstand to dresser makeover – This dresser is one of my all-time favourite projects. Combining two nightstands into one dresser worked very well, but the join was very ugly. A panel of hardboard covered the seam and didn’t add much bulk to my narrow dresser.

I continue to find more uses for hardboard. And I’d love to hear if you’ve used it yourself. Any projects to share? What’s your go-to construction material?

Painting with a smaller brush

Look what I made.

Painting of four ladies dancing

I haven’t painted in a very long time. I mean, aside from walls, ceilings, furniture.

My friends set up a girls night at a painting class.

Girls night at painting class

These paint and sips–wine is on offer along with paint–have become very popular in our area. Everyone paints the same painting as the artist talks you through the process.

This is the painting we were copying.

Painting class

The artist talked us through the background and then adding the bodies–paint a heart, add arms and very long legs.

Painting class

Add necks and heads and then dress them with swooshes of pink and blue and yellow and red. Accent it with white. And know when to stop before the colours all blend together–that was the most valuable part of the class. The instruction to put down my brush and walk away.

Painting class

I felt a bit like Degas.

Painting class

As the paintings took shape, it was neat to see how they were each slightly different, depending on the colours we chose and our own approaches.

Painting class

I deviated from the plan when it came to the very end. The ladies are dancing on grass, so the curtains in the original painting didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I added some tree branches instead.

Painting class

I can’t say that dancing ladies are my usual style when it comes to art, but I’m thrilled with how this painting turned out. In fact, I think I might give this another try on my own.

This painting high on a wall at the artist’s studio makes me think I might be able to do a rendition of my favourite furry fellow.

Shaggy dog painting

It was fun to be creative in a different way than usual.

Are you a painter? I mean, of actual paintings? Have you ever been to an art class? Or a paint and sip?

Country style guest room details

Robin's egg blue country guest room

Today I’m diving deeper into the guest room makeover to share the details behind some of the pretty pictures you saw last week.

Pretty much every project we do here at the farm is a budget challenge. But this guest room is budget to the extreme. Hand-me-down, redo, thrift and even scavenge were the name of the game. The only things I bought new were picture frames, window treatments, a blanket and towels. Even the paint was reused from the mudroom.

Designers talk about jumping off points. For me the jumping off point in this room was the fake wood paneling on the walls–not the most favoured design feature. It may not be shiplap, but it was definitely country, so I decided to play up the farm factor with pine, white paint, rustic elements and pretty robin’s egg blue paint.

The colour is Wythe Blue from Benjamin Moore. Because the walls are paneling and not drywall, there are little trim pieces in each of the corners and against the ceiling. I decided to play these up–like in my inspiration image–with white paint (Cloud White also from BM–our standard trim colour at the farm). Precision taping paid off with really, really crisp lines, and the white corners add some neat interest to the room.

Robin's egg blue country guest room

Matt helped me scrape the ceiling, and now it’s beautifully smooth to showcase the thrifted chandelier I found. I think this had been painted black at some point in its past life. The only change I made was to remove the glass shades and shorten the chain (our most frequent guest, Matt’s brother, is 6’4″).

Rustic black chandelier

The pine comes courtesy of the armoire and desk from Matt’s childhood bedroom. I’d like to style the top of the cabinet somehow someday. Maybe a small collection of books and magazines for guests?

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The trunk in the corner is my scavenged find. My parent’s neighbours put this out for garbage. My Dad and I carried it home–approximately 20 years ago.

This trunk is an example of choose what you love and you’ll make it work. At first, the trunk played a nightstand role in my teenage bedroom. Then it was a very handy side table in the living room at Matt’s and my first house.

Now it’s returned to its nightstand function in the guest room. The clock, lamp, water bottle and drinking glasses are all thrifted from Value Village.

Vintage trunk as a nightstand

Above the trunk is my favourite feature in the guest room, vintage family and country photos.

The top photo came from the city archives collection. It’s the blacksmith shop that is still standing in the little town that’s closest to the farm. Below that is a photo from my family archives. It’s my great grandfather on a sleigh loaded with huge logs. The neat story shown in the photo is that the sleigh is so heavy it has actually broken through the ice that my grandfather and the horses are crossing.

Vintage family photos displayed in the guest room

On the other side of the window, the top photo is the general store where Matt worked as a teenager. However, it’s another archive shot with a horse and buggy outside the store–not the common conveyance when he worked there. Below that is a photo from Matt’s family archives. His great-grandfather with a team of horses and a wagon loaded with hay.

You know I’m all about personalizing my spaces, and these old pictures are a really meaningful way to do that.

The rustic frames that look almost like barn wood are a score from Ikea. I brightened the mats with a coat of Cloud White paint.

Vintage family photos displayed in the guest room

This side of the room has two more hand-me-downs from Matt’s childhood bedroom: the painted dresser and the pine desk. The painted glass vase and the hydrangea are from my MIL and work perfectly in this spot.

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The dresser is super cute. Each drawer is decorated with an illustration of a nursery rhyme scene. (The wicker waste basket was another thrifted find).

Vintage dresser with nursery rhyme illustrations

Jack and Jill nursery rhyme illustration

Our welcoming crew of Bax and Ralph are on duty on the desk along with a thrifted organizer (that I repainted) that holds pens and notepads.

Guest room desk

My distressed chair was a freebie courtesy of past owners. Its red stain was splotched with mauve and mint green paint. Adding a coat of white paint was a big improvement, and I think the distressed look works here. The log cabin pattern pillow is a made-by-me from way back when I was a teenager. I was surprised how well the pink and blue tones in the pillow cover work with the quilt I chose for the bed.

Distressed painted chair in front of a pine desk

I bought the quilt when we first moved into the farm. It was about the only thing I did to establish a comfortable guest room back then. Fortunately, it works well with the blue-green paint, so I’m keeping it.

The curtains and curtain rods are new–although the curtains are a DIY, so I’m not sure they entirely qualify. The rods are my go-to Hugads from Ikea. The curtains are my go-to dropcloths from Home Depot (see my tips for making dropcloth curtains). Maybe because it’s my second time around, these curtains weren’t as tedious as the last set I made. Still not my favourite thing to sew, but not quite as painful as before.

This final corner beside the desk was the one spot I wasn’t sure about. My original vision was to hang a vintage painting by Matt’s grandpa and below to have a weathered little ladder where I could drape extra blankets. However, this corner was the best place for a mirror, and I felt that the mirror would be more appreciated by guests than the painting.

Robin's egg blue country guest room

Plus, when I saw this unusual mirror in the thrift store on Friday night and spent all weekend thinking about it and when it was still there on Monday afternoon, I knew it was meant to be. A coat of white paint freshened it up, and I still have a place for extra blankets and towels in a large thrifted wicker basket set on the floor (the towels are the other new purchase in the room).

Robin's egg blue country guest room

There’s one thing that’s missing from the room, and that’s the bedframe. I have a great metal headboard and footboard from my bedroom at our old family cottage. Matt and I repainted it before we moved into our first house. However, the paint has since chipped, and it really needs to be stripped.

The bedframe has been living in the barn since we swapped rooms in our master bedroom switcheroo last spring. If the weather ever warms up, I’m planning to bring it outside and remove the old paint. Once it’s stripped (and potentially repainted), I’ll set it up in the guest room.

Even without the bedframe, I think we have a beautiful room that’s welcoming for guests. It was really fun to pull all of the details together for this space, and I feel like we ended up with a room that’s perfect for our farm setting, our family and our guests. This was the first item on my home goals 2016 list, and I’m crossing it off.

Robin's egg blue country guest room

How do you save money when you’re decorating? Who else is reusing childhood furniture? Do you have a vintage family photo collection? What have you picked out of the garbage and reused?

Keeping score

I feel like I’ve crossed a new milestone in blogger-dom. I used chalkboard paint.

I know. It’s like nearly four years in, I’m finally a serious blogger.

Tall chalkboard for score-keeping in the games room

I’ve been wanting to add a chalkboard to the long room in the basement for awhile now. This is the room that holds our pingpong table and dartboard.

I figured a chalkboard would give us a place to write down the score, and it could also play the role of “art”–one of my home goals for 2016 being to decorate the basement.

I used rough cut 1x3s for the frame and screwed them together with my Kreg Jig. Lesson learned, lumber this thin will split if you screw into it sideways. Cut a new piece, redrill the pocket holes, screw into the end grain, all is well.

Pocket holes with the kreg jig

The frame is stained with a mix of Minwax Classic Grey and Provincial. I find as I proceed with decorating this house, my style is getting more and more rustic–hence the rough cut lumber and the grey stain.

The chalkboard itself is a piece of hardboard coated with chalkboard paint. With chalkboard paint (for those that aren’t in the know), you have to “season” it before you use it. That means you rub it all over with chalk and then erase it. If you don’t do this, your writing won’t erase properly. However, this eliminates the beautiful black finish and makes your board very grey. I was a bit disappointed by this, but I think I can live with it. I’m not prepared to buy a big piece of actual chalkboard to fix it.

Tall chalkboard for score-keeping in the games room

The chalk and eraser sit on the floor in a wood bowl that my Dad made.

Chalk and erase in a wood bowl

Now we just have to clear Matt’s box collection off the pingpong table so we can actually use the chalkboard (darts is not my sport). Keeping it real for you.

Tall chalkboard for score-keeping in the games room

Speaking of sports, are you watching the Superbowl this weekend? Have you ever used chalkboard paint? Any darts tips to share?