Saturday, November 22, 2014

Off the Needles

I've been busy knitting lately.  It always feels good to finish a project and get it off the needles.  As per usual, it's winter woolies.  This time it is for Michelle's cute kids.  Last year I made them each a pair of mittens.


This year I made Ben a new pair in a different colour.


Brit expressed the interest in a scarf to match last year's mittens.  So I knit her up my all time favourite scarf pattern.  I figure that it is "style approved" since I have made the same pattern for trendy Diane and her equally trendy friend Candice. I didn't want to knit something "old lady-ish" for a teenager.  ;)


Then I made Brit another pair of mittens just so her set is brand new.


Today the woolies began their 7 - 10 day journey to WI.

Next up on the needles... a pair of mittens in the colour "aqua" for a friend.

Jen

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

That 70's Tangent ~ These Little Gems and a Recipe (of sorts)

In my attempt to bring just a touch of the 70's into my home,  I was thrilled to find this little cutie.


There weren't many kitchens in this time period that didn't have a ceramic frog by the sink holding the SOS pad of course.  (Although I have to admit that my mother never owned one.)  I found this one at The Antique Mall for $8.  It does have a small crack on the inside which makes me love it even more.  I know that it was put to good use for many years.  I love the green shades and the layering and depth in the finish tells me that it was done by a very experienced ceramics maker.  Her expertise really brought out the details of his little hands.

Last week I was thrifting at The Goodwill near Susan's house, which by the way is the best thrift shop where I seem to score the best stuff.  I came upon these beauties.


They were only $2 each.  I couldn't pass them up and so home they came with me.  The finishing work on them does not have the same detail and expertise as my green frog.  I'm guessing that they may have been done by a first timer in the ceramics class.  Or maybe they were done by someone like me who is a little bit shy of the wet mediums.  For this reason, when I look at them I think that just maybe this is what I would have produced in ceramics class back in the 70's.


Historically, the ladies kept Comet in the mushroom for easy sink clean up.  I rarely use Comet in my effort to be just a bit green.  Here's an organic recipe from "The Organically Clean Home" by Becky Rapinchuk.  It is an amazing way to clean your sink with no chemicals or harm to the environment.  She calls it Lemon and Clove Nightly Sink Scrub.  Who scrubs their sink nightly?  I don't!  haha

So basically, you mix up 2 cups (one small box) of baking soda with 10 drops of lemon essential oil and 10 drops of clove essential oil.  (Remember that essential oil is not the same as fragrance oil.)  So I give these three things a good mix up in a Pyrex bowl, of course.  Put the mixture into a container with holes in the top.  If you don't have a crazy looking ceramic mushroom from the 70's just use a small canning jar and drill or hammer in some nail holes at the top.  When you want to clean your sink, nightly hahah..... just wet your sink and then sprinkle this deliciously smelling powder all over.  Then take a sponge and wet it and give it a little squirt of your dish washing soap.  I use Seventh Generation free and clear so that I am just smelling the lovely mix of lemon and clove.  This dish soap is reasonably priced at between $3.50 and $4 a bottle.  It also seems to bubble better than many "green" detergents and therefore goes a long way.  It takes awhile to get through a bottle.


Give your sink a little scrub and enjoy the terrific aroma as well as a shiny clean and fresh sink.  Feel happy that you didn't flush any chemicals and bleach down into the water system!  Yay!  If you feel adventurous go down to your health food store and check out the selection of essential oils and choose your own combination to make an aroma that makes you want to scrub your sink... nightly?  Never!  LOL

Jen

Monday, November 17, 2014

That 70's Tangent ~ The Decorative Bowl

A few months ago I decided to add touches of "avocado green" to my home decor.  We have always been fans of the colour green around here and "avocado green" compliments "harvest gold" so perfectly.  Rob and I went to The Antique Mall in Edmonton to look for that special piece for the living room.  I would know it when I saw it.  We searched and searched and realized that there is a lot  more gold pieces out there than there are green.  Finally I spied it and knew that it would be perfect!


The tag labelled this glass piece as a "decorative bowl".  Rob instantly said, "No, it's an ashtray."  I really wanted to believe that it was a bowl because I wasn't sure if I wanted an ashtray in my house.  Rob pointed out the little ledge to hold a cigarette.  I told him that he was wrong and it was just the way the blown glass went.  I just wanted to believe that tag.

At the cash I asked the lady what she thought it was.  She said without a thought, "It's a cigar ashtray."  Her theory made sense because that little ledge was kind of wide and would really hold a thick cigar much better than a cigarette.


She said that all of the tags on the ashtrays read "decorative bowl".  I decided to take it home anyway.  We had a lot of fun asking anyone who came into the house what they thought it was.  Some saw it as an ashtray immediately and others just a glass decoration.

I like having this piece in my living room even if it really is an ashtray.  I figure that if I want a small reflection of the 70's in my home, then an ashtray definitely belongs even though nobody is going to be smoking in my place.


It got me thinking of what smoking was in the past.  It was glamourized.  A person wouldn't just have a functional ugly ashtray.  They had beautiful detailed ornate pieces that served as beautiful decor and functioned as an ashtray.  I guess it was to enhance the joy of smoking.  Kind of like how I say that tea tastes better served in a china cup with a saucer.  Times have changed and we know of the dangers of smoking.  Past generations did not have the benefit of this knowledge before picking up that first cigarette.  Todays decorative ashtray at the house party is an old washed out soup can sitting on the back deck.

I'll leave you with a glimpse of the ashtray that my Grandfather Taylor used while smoking his pipe back in the day.  This was a piece of decor.  That is little Susan in the far left of the photo.  I'm still under production at this point.


Jen

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winter..

It's here


And although it is pretty


And I tell myself that each season is to be valued


And I said that I would embrace it


Sometimes when I open the back door to let the pups out and that cold blast of air hits me, I can be overheard saying, "Urrghh winter!"


It's kind of like living in your freezer for six months of the year.  Who decides to settle in a freezer like environment?  Opps  I'm sounding bitter again.  ;)

Happy Winter!

Jen

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Reading Challenge Wrap Up

In my efforts to motivate myself to get back into reading I challenged myself to read 5 books that were up for The Giller Prize.  You can read about it here and here.  Basically I choose 5 books that interested me from the 12 books on The Giller Prize long list.  I was thrilled that when the short list was revealed, three of the books I had chosen were still in the running.  At this point I had two books left to read.  I decided to focus on finishing up The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill since this was still in the running.  I was hoping to love this book and therefore root for it to be the winner of $100,000!!

I did start the book. ;)    It is very interesting even if the characters are weird to the core.  I was enjoying that it is set in Montreal.  I knew many of the landmarks and areas that they were talking about.  I even understood some of the political references of the time.  But then... I got on another tangent.  The book still sat on the coffee table pushed behind the knitting.  That's the scarf for the lovely young lady in WI.  It is now finished and I'm on to a matching set of mittens.


Not much reading was getting done, but yay to knitting!


The Giller Prize date was sneaking up on me.  It was announced on November 10 and I still wasn't finished the last two books.  :(  As it turns out none of my choices won.  The prize went to a book called Us Conductors by Sean Michaels.  It is inspired by the real life Russian scientist, inventor and spy, Lev Termen.  He invented the theremin.  It is the theremin that makes that weird sound in the Star Trek theme song.  You know the one?  Here's Sheldon Cooper playing his.  Hilarious!

So that's the reading update from a person who is always on a tangent and still has two books to finish reading but is rocking the knitting.  I guess it is just the way I roll.  :)

Jen

Friday, November 14, 2014

Crafty Day

Tuesday is usually the day that Susan and I get together.  Sometimes life gets busy and we miss out on our day together.  Sometimes we shift our meeting day to a more suitable day.  So "Tuesday Tea Time" can turn into "Thursday Tea Time".

Yesterday's tea time looked a bit like this.


Susan baked some amazing German cookies, with an amazing blend of spices and topped with a lemon icing.  You can read more about them here.  We had David's Tea.  Susan enjoyed "A Current Affair" while I enjoyed "A Mid Summer's Night Dream".  We went Downton Abbey style with proper Royal Doulton china.  It's my wedding pattern circa 1984, "Giselle".  Tea does taste better in china.  :)

We got a bit of knitting done after a quick shopping trip for Christmas gifts for our favourite little nephew, Tom.  While Susan tried to detangle and wind a ball of yarn, her sidekick Lady decided it was time for some head rubs.  Lady's persistence always makes me chuckle.





It was a lovely day.

Jen


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Banff Springs Hotel

The final Banff blog post.  (For this trip anyway.  ha ha)

I have always had an interest in what life in the late 1800's and early 1900's was like.  For years I loved the Edwardian decor style of this period.  I love to read books that take place in this period especially if they are set in Canada.  I love watching Downton Abbey.  I even dreamed of being a pioneer woman until I realized what it all involved and ... no thanks.  ;)  So whenever we went to Banff and saw The Banff Springs Hotel in the distance,  I wondered what it would be like inside.  Rob had stayed at it once for work years back when he was guarding a VIP.  He had wandered around and eaten there.  I was always curious.

Since the weather was a bit rainy this trip, we were looking for some things to do inside so Rob suggested that we just pop over to the hotel and take a peek around the lobby.  Are we allowed to do this?  Is this breaking the rules?  Apparently not.

Here's what this castle looks like from one of the lookout points we were at on a different day.


The building of this castle began in the spring of 1887 by the owner of the Canadian Pacific Railways.  It was opened to the public in 1888.    It was considered to be the best hotel in all of North America at the time.  People would come and stay for 3 or 4 months at a time with a $50,000 bank note to cover their expenses.  A room was $3.50 a night.    From what I have read in fiction, people were all about the mountain air and natural spring water for health purposes at this time and this hotel had both.  But maybe this was only true in fiction books.  LOL

There was a "writing room" for people to sit and catch up on correspondence or write in their journals.  I wish I lived in this period!  But really, would I be hanging out at this castle?

So we milled around looking at fancy architecture and amazing old furniture which seemed to sit in every nook of each hallway.  I kept waiting for someone to come up to us and ask us to leave.  Rob just walked around like he belonged.  We are two very different people.  ;)


We stumbled upon a gallery of sorts.  It had amazing black and white photographs with a written history for each.  I read each one and imagined myself staying here back in the day.  But really, who am I kidding?   I would be the wife in the one bedroom shack out on the prairie with 5 kids and some bad dogs, milking cows and chopping wood and trying not to catch consumption and just hoping to make it until the spring.  ha ha  There would be no time to sit and correspond if I even knew how to read and write.  


There were fancy chairs set up so I imagine that there are presentations given with historical information.  If one started up I think I would have hidden my outdoor jacket and tried to blend in as a guest just so I could hear what they had to say.



You may notice that in that photo at the end of the chairs,  it is Marilyn Monroe golfing.  It was taken in 1954.  She visited while working on a movie with Robert Mitchum.

We walked past the shops on the ground floor and then went out onto the grounds, as it had finally stopped raining.


Rob has heard it said that there are stories of the castle being haunted.  I don't believe in that stuff but it does kind of look spooky here.  ;)


We tend to take pictures of Mountie stuff so this statue was no exception.


Pretty lights in a row.

I spied a sign advertising "high tea" so maybe the next time we are in Banff we will make a reservation.  I would love to see the tea room and pretend that I am one of the characters off of Downtown Abbey who spends their days sipping tea and getting dressed for dinner.  ;) But for this night, it was getting dark and it was supper time so we headed back downtown, chatted with a local about a good spot to eat and then ended up going to the Keg, which we have here, and eating appetizers and caesar salad, just like all of the regular people.  :)

Well, that ends my Banff blog posts.  Are some of you sighing with relief ?  ha ha

Jen
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