Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dessert Day

It wasn't supposed to be dessert day, but I guess when it rains, it pours.

I believe I'm the only person I know who likes tapioca pudding, everyone else turns up their noses and says "ew, yuck".   I made some earlier today and bought some fresh local raspberries to go along with it.  Yummy.

And then, who should pop by but my lovely neighbour Patty, with some fresh cupcakes.  She's from the East Coast and has a strong Irish heritage.  Her specialty is Chocolate Guinness cake, which she has adapted to make a batch of cupcakes.  Yummy again, can't wait to try one tonight.

Prepping for the Big One

Yes it's true, I'm a "Prepper".   Not a very good one, though, by most standards.  Most preppers are getting ready for The End Of The World As We Know It by gathering together food, water and other supplies.  Not me.  Sure, these things are important but I've got something else to worry about.

My focus for prepping has been figuring out how I'm going to continue sewing when there's no more electricity.  What else would someone with the world's largest fabric stash be worried about?  For some time, I've been looking for a treadle sewing machine in good working condition.

I recently joined a group called "Freecycle Toronto".  It's an online group where you post items you want to give away.  You can also respond to posts from other people if you want whatever they've posted.  The idea is to keep stuff out of landfills and so everything is free and in varying states of new (or not).  A lot of the stuff that gets posted are small items - things like a bag a dog food that was just opened and that the dog won't eat.  Or a few bricks or other materials left over from recent construction projects.  But there are also things like furniture and even a piano a couple of weeks ago.  If I had the space I could fill my house with treasures from Freecycle members.

Guess what was posted this morning on Freecycle when I woke up?  Yes, indeed, a treadle sewing machine.  I jumped at the chance to go and see it - it was located super close to home.  The woman who posted it was given it by her mother, who had received it as a wedding gift in 1939.  It's not in perfect shape - the belt is broken, there's no manual, and there are no accessories or other things (like sewing feet), but it was free.

I had some help putting it in the car and then unloading it at this end, still can't lift or move anything with my back.  The thing is mighty heavy, the top of the cabinet is wood and the base is cast iron.

Turns out it's a Singer treadle model 15-96, made in 1938 in Quebec.  It needs some TLC and a good clean - the woman who owned it was a very heavy smoker.  I didn't buy it as a collectible, it's to be used when the world ends so I'm just interested in making it workable, not in making it pretty.

Here's what it looks like - it came in a wooden cabinet with the foot treadle at the bottom.

Notice how the "S" and "I" are worn off?  The previous owner had wrapped a piece of wool felt around that part of the machine and hand-stitched it to stay there.  She used it as a sort of pin-cushion, and there were pins and needs stuck in it when I picked it up.  Unfortunately it's caused little pin scratches all over that part of the machine but I think that's just part of the charm and history.

I've ordered a new belt online (let's hope it fits, it's hard to tell when buying this way) and some Singer machine oil.  When it arrives I'll be able to do a little maintenance and then see if it works!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Kitty Family

I bought a new couch to replace my old one that had seen better days... and a lot of cat scratching.  The new sofa is pretty cool, red with white polka dots, but to save the upholstery, I've covered it in quilts.  The sofa's been in place for about a week.  Here's what the sofa actually looks like under all the quilts:
When I woke up this morning I walked into the living room and saw my happy crew of kitties all curled up on the new sofa!  Apparently they've all decided to be friends so that they can make the most of the new couch.  No room for me of course, but at least the kitties are happy.

Notice Bert is on the top, he always likes to be higher than the other kitties.  A bit power trippy I think.  From left to right, Tula, Peggy and then little Tipsy.

And see below a great photo of a cake that Kim and Noah made for Talika's birthday last weekend.  Talika was one of Noah's nannies and she's become a great friend of the family.  You would normally see a photo like this on Kim's blog since I wasn't at the birthday dinner (but she's not updating hers right now).  :)

Kim made the cake, and Noah decorated it - it's a map from Noah's memory of Sesame Place.  Kim, Noah and Grandma went last year.  This year, Kim, Talika and Noah are going to Sesame Place and it will again be an exciting trip.  I'm holding out to accompany Kim and Noah to Disney World.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bert and Peggy - Camp Tales

Bert and Peggy were at camp this weekend, they had a long weekend sleepover at Noah's house.

It was the perfect weekend - with my back in poor shape, having two less kitties to care for was a great plan, so off they went on Friday night.

And they must have had a fantastic time!  Since arriving home this afternoon, all they have done is sleep on the couch.  They are exhausted - perhaps they were busy all weekend with camp activities?  Were they horseback riding, swimming, and playing tennis?

Not sure, but they are tired.  They will sleep well tonight!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ouch - Auntie P has a sore back

It's been kind of a crappy vacation.  The first week was great, camping with Kim and Noah at Cyprus Lake.  But on the last day, as I leaned forward to pick up a box to pack in the truck, I felt a sharp pain in my back.  Following that, the 5-hour drive from Tobermory to Toronto exacerbated the back pain.

So it's been a week and I've been to the chiropractor almost every day.  They've determined that the problem is a herniated disc in my back.  It's been very painful and so far, there hasn't been any relief with the chiro, ice packs, or ibuprofen.  Noah suggested on a call today that Auntie P should try Robaxacet - tried that too buddy, nothing is working.

Here's what a herniated disc looks like:

On the good news front, all this time at home without the ability to do anything or lift stuff has meant more time for blog updates!

Hope this gets better soon.  It looks like I'll be home for at least another week - chiro says 4 - 6 but I'm sure I can get back to work sooner that that.  It's pretty boring lying around here, even though the kitties and Daisy are fantastic company.

Cool new tool!

I found a new online colour tool, it's great for quilting but I think you could use it for cake making (hi Kim!) or painting a room in a colour that you love.

To use, you load a picture that you like and it comes up with the paint chips.  Here's the link to the site if you want to try.  Here's a chip card I created from a picture that Kim took last week at Cyprus Lake.  Can you see all the possibilities?

And look, here's the strawberry freezer jam photo:

Mom, if you ever read my blog, here you go, here's one for you:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bonus Pet Photos

I forgot to include these pictures in my updates.

First, take a look at this cutie-pie, I'm sure none of you have ever seen her.  This is Honey, the feral mom who is always hiding, and this is the only picture I have been able to take of her.   She is a sweet, clean little kitty, and her daughter Bunny is quite friendly.

Her eyes are unfortunately reflecting the camera flash so you can't get a full picture of how pretty she is.

And isn't this a great picture of Daisy?  She's with her best buddy Fitz who lives across the street with Patty.  Patty snapped this one, I love the lighting:

And finally, here's a picture of Bunny!  She's not quite as mysterious as her mom, and she's learned to like a few pats here and there.  Still skittish, but I guess that is the outcome of growing up outside.

Grumpy Sherri

I'm so glad I'm on vacation this week so I can enjoy the activities as my front yard and driveway are being dug up!

The local gas utility is replacing the gas mains, and that means A BIG MESS.

Here's the driveway, they left the backhoe parked there last night.  Nice.

And the front yard, I've had several "chats" with them about the magnolia tree and the root damage they are doing with the digging.

And of course here's the front gate, mind the hole as you enter.

Hopefully this will all be finished this week, at least enough to cover the holes and make it livable.

Cyprus Lake Camping Trip 2012

Time for our annual camping trip to Cyprus Lake!  Kim and I have been doing this for years, and now Noah is becoming a big-time camper too.  Daisy is of course an old pro at this.

Unusually this year, there was a fire ban because of all of the dry weather.  So for the first time ever, we weren't allowed to have a camp fire.  It was still a magical trip.

Here we are, setting up, you can see Noah is pretty excited.

We spent most of the time at the beach on Cyprus Lake.  Daisy can really enjoy herself here, swimming for balls and running along the shoreline.  Noah and Kim did some swimming too.  I was mostly there to throw balls for Daisy.  The weather was fantastic!

Daisy really had a great time, here she is getting ready to run for the ball:

And as she's getting older, she's getting tired a little more easily.  Here she is leaving me in the water, heading back towards the beach.  She had had enough for the day, notice she's taking the ball back with her!

Each day we walked along the path from our campsite to the beach.  It's a wonderful national park, one of my favourite places to go each summer.

We were at Cyprus Lake for 5 days so on one of the days, Kim and Noah went off to take a glass-bottom boat tour of the lake while I stayed at the campsite with Daisy to relax and read.

I would normally link you up to Kim's blog so you could see her photos of their trip but of course Kim isn't putting her pictures up, so I thought you might like to see them anyway.  ;)

Here's Noah, getting ready to go on the tour:

I asked Noah to make a map of where the treasure was located so that we could go back and pick it up later.  Here he is, diligently marking the route to the treasure:

Kim took this great shot from the boat - pretty lighthouse!

One of the new favourite things to do this year was to play soccer.  Noah named his team the "New Daisies" and Kim insisted that they needed a winning dance for when the New Daisies scored a goal.  Here they are, dancing, I sure wish I had taken a video of this:

Each night we went down to the water so Daisy could have a little swim and to enjoy the view.  Here is a picture of Kim and Noah:

And finally, an "art shot" that Kim took with her fancy camera once she realized there were features she didn't know about.  I like this one, it's of the trees around the campsite.

Oh and a new, bonus picture posted now as an update!  Look at this one, love it, another one of Kim's pictures.  This was taken just before a huge rainstorm, you can see how dark the sky is in the distance.  The storm caused a lot of thunder and lightening in other parts of the province, but we just had a lot of rain.  Pretty colours in this photo, don't you think?

Birthday 2012

I had my birthday and what a wonderful time I had this year!

First, a huge box arrived and can you believe it, I received a magical bird feeder from my beloved Auntie Jan and Uncle Dave.  It was just what I needed / wanted (is there a difference?) and it's happily hanging in the garden, feeding pretty birds.  I am always looking for the bright cardinals and blue jays in the garden, and of course the little sparrows too.

Kim and Noah had me over for a birthday dinner, and made these wonderful birthday cupcakes - aren't they perfect?  So creative!

And then some great gifts - see these sweet things from Kim, including the nice bird tray under everything which I will use often:

Noah picked out something special for me, which worries me, because it seems that everyone thinks I'm the crazy cat lady and Noah does too apparently.  So here it is, the crazy cat lady toy, Playmobil version with 5 kitties 4 kitties (Kim called to tell me there were only 4 kitties, that just makes it so much better) :

Kim also paid the deposit for something I really, really want, which is a custom-made stained glass transom from a woman in Chicago.  I should have it in a couple of months, can't wait to hang it up in the narrow window at the front of the house. 

Mom, thanks again for the wonderful gift cards, sure was fun shopping on!  And Eunice, thank you for the lovely gift card, I've already indulged and I will really enjoy it!

What a nice birthday.

Updates - June

June was a busy month, starting with getting the garden cleaned up.  You can see I had some helpers - Tipsy was supervising, that's her on the deck.  Tula watched from the chair and you can see Bert and Peggy near the shaded patio stones.

I went with a largely red theme this year.  Now that it's been in place for a couple of months I've learned that the red begonias and new guinea impatiens were successful; the red gerbera and double impatiens were not.  Also the planters look nice in this picture but they're pretty much dead at this point - I found it tough to water them fully when they're so high up.  Next year, I need to find these thingys and get them up at the start of the season so it's easier to water.

Each week at work we have "treat day" on Thursdays, and every three months it's my turn to bring in treats.  So for my treat day in mid-June I decided to do a mix of healthy and tasty treats.  Healthy treats being veggies and dip; tasty being cookies.  For fun, I put some signs up, indicating healthy and tasty treats. At noon on treat day, here's what was left of my treats:

Work has been busy and we implemented Employee Self Service, an online system for employees.  I wanted to do something special but didn't have a lot of time, so Kim agreed to make some ESS cupcakes which were a big hit at work.  Thanks Kim - she's such a great baker!

Along with my refreshed garden I welcomed a little friend, a raccoon mom who came by every night for some snackies.  Things were going well for us until she started bringing her babies, and then they decided to invite friends along for rowdy parties every night.   One night I awoke to find raccoons EVERYWHERE in the back, including swinging from the patio umbrella.  Oops.

Daisy of course is perfect and wonderful as usual, here's a photo of Daisy in the daisies, taken by my neighbour Patty:

Updates - May - Camilla

I was pretty excited to be able to see Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on her recent trip to Toronto.   A work colleague is involved in the military and invited me to her visit to the Moss Park Armoury.  Camilla is the Colonel-in-Chief for one of the regiments.

I was hoping to see a dressed-up Camilla in her usual fancy hat, like this:

But that didn't happen, she was dressed in the uniform for the regiment which was dark.  She reviewed the Guard of Honour, met some WW2 veterans, had photos taken with serving soldiers, laid a wreath at the memorial plaques, unveiled her new painting, and met with soldiers and families.

Here she is at a podium on arrival:

And here she is chatting with some of the soldiers.

The event was carefully choreographed and she whisked in and out, stopping at all of the places she was supposed to, in about an hour!

Still, it was nice to be in the presence of royalty.   :)

Updates! DC Trip in April

First update, back to April.  Kim and I took our trip to Washington DC, something we had been planning for a few months.  We learned a few things on this trip, including the fact that we have somewhat different travel styles.  We did see pretty much all of the major sights, and the weather was perfect.

We had planned to be there to see the Cherry Blossom Festival in full swing, but with the warm weather this spring most of the blossoms were already done.  However, this lovely tree in Arlington was a perfect specimen of the puffy pink blossoms that DC is known for.

Arlington was a little overwhelming, so many grave markers, so much sacrifice.  But it was also serene and beautiful.  And packed with tourists, turns out our trip coincided with spring break in some parts of the US so there were a LOT of people.

In the information centre there was a fantastic quilt, the Lost Heroes Art Quilt.

And looking at the detail, you can see that there's a scanned image of each soldier as a child in each jacket, as well as details of at least one person lost from each state.  Very sad.

The following day, we went to Georgetown.  Can you tell how happy Kim is at the counter?  We're visiting a place she was pretty excited about, from the TV show DC Cupcakes.  It was super busy, we arrived around 10am and had to wait in line outside the shop for about 20 minutes.

But, we got a box of 6 cupcakes, and then proceeded to pretty much eat them all, naughty girls that we are.  The coconut cupcake was amazing!  I was surprised that the cupcakes were so delicious - the best I've ever had!

Notice the picture below is of Kim stuffing a cupcake into her mouth - trust me I was doing the same thing on the other side of the camera.  Yummy!

Georgetown was beautiful, we wandered around a little and the gardens were all in full bloom.  I loved this little church (who can resist a red door???), pretty green gardens all over the place.

We stopped at a park half-way up a major shopping street in Georgetown - there was a path up some stairs with flowers on either side, and then a sweet park up top that provided a great view.

Gotta love a town that invests in its gardens.  Look at this view back down the hill towards the shops.

We had lunch at a waterfront area in the afternoon, with occasional important-looking helicopters flying  along the waterway.

The next day, we went to a number of places, starting with the Newseum.  It was the highlight for sure of the trip.

I didn't take too many pictures inside but this is a cool one, it's the handwritten and typed up notes that Katie Couric used to prepare for her interview with Sarah Palin.

Up top, there was a balcony affording a view of the Canadian embassy next door, as well as the US Capitol building in the distance.  Nice.

Then off to the Smithsonian to see an exhibit of First Ladies' inaugural dresses.  Again with the school tours and tourists, huge lineups inside to see anything.  Finally, we saw Michelle Obama's dress!

While wandering about outside the Smithsonian, we passed the outdoor sculture garden - isn't this installation cool?

Next, on to the FDR memorial, and a series of major memorial places along the water.  I love this bronze of FDR with his little dog.

The Korean War memorial was eerie.  It looks like the soldiers are really walking through the bushes.

The Lincoln memorial was very popular, lots of people standing around and sitting on the steps outside the building.

And what would have been a great view, except that the reflecting pool is under construction, looking back from the Lincoln memorial to the Washington monument.  It's still amazing.

The last day we made it to the Capitol and were able to take a tour.  What a beautiful building, I don't have enough superlatives on hand to describe how magnificent it is.

So many things to see, so much history in one place.  You can see Kim here beside Abe with the tour headset on - we had a great tour guide.

After some excitement at the airport - turns out you can't bring duty free alcohol through security - it has to be checked in, who knew - we arrived home.  Here's Kim, happy to be home as we went along to the parking area on the automated monorail.