Monday, October 31, 2011

Vintage Diner Plates

I've been a little CRANKY this past week.............a little off kilter......

So I thought I would make a special supper for the Raz man when he comes home tonight. I am serving it on my lovely 1950's diner plates.

Flowers In The House

I know.......I'm really lame........

Species:  Cyclamen
Blooms: 4- 6 weeks
Hardiness: Moderate
Simplicity for Novice plant person:  Very
Days owned: 5
Cause of demise:  Unknown..possible over watering.

I was most looking forward to joining Jane at Small but Charming blog today for her monthly Flowers in the House feature.  Yesterday, it was Sad.  Today it is Very Sad.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Handmade Felt Pillows

My Pillows.  Made with Handmade by me felt....
I'm a Fits and Starts kind of person.  I get an idea or inspiration and I throw myself into it, learning the process completely, getting all fired up and creating an abundance of products.......for about 2 months....and then I stop....either I lose interest or hit a roadblock.  Felting is one of those things that I started several years back and then abruptly stopped.

My Felting Life starting when I went back to college at 43 and was encouraged by my teacher to do fiber art instead of studying colour theory and architectural drawing.  I did a fair bit of work, had a couple of commissions and got 3 of pieces into a juried art show.  And then I stopped. Later, in a fit of inspiration I made several pieces of felted cloth.  Handmade felt is made from rovings....the clean and carded wool from a sheep before it is spun.

I started to buy roving from Maureen Harding at Dreamspin Fibers.  Maureen knew sheep and better still the farmers from whom she purchases her beautiful fibres. I experimented with different sheep's wool.  Corridale, Blue Faced Leicester and Finn wool quickly became my favourites.

Felt is the oldest fabric know to man, thought to have been created by accident when men used wool to sit on while riding horses.....the sweat and agitation from riding caused the wool to bind into fabric.  Working with roving, pure vegetable soap and water and a bamboo mat, I created my own handmade felt fabrics.

I love the process and the finished product because it is completely chemicals, no sewing....a purely organic process.  I've made a few felt vessels. has taken me 3 years with hundreds of pieces attached and still to be attached.......

The fabric is completely washable and cozy and beautifully soft. When I first started felting I wanted to start with raw wool...and like a real amateur I worked with raw Finn wool for a while. Although my hands were always nice and soft from the Lanolin, my house stank like a barn....I moved onto cleaned and carded wool.

Last night I took some of my finished pieces and some sample pieces of linen and velvet and decided to finally after 3 years to make some felt pillows. I may be slow to get around to it because sewing is my least favorite thing to do.  I actually found the felt quite easy to sew and it is thick and sturdy and doesn't move around......

And so I made 2 handmade wool felt pillows.  A black and white Zebra and a black and lime Spotty print....

Because the felting process is organic, you lose control of the shapes somewhat.. The shapes don't stay true and they morph a little.  Hence the spots are not perfectly round. Perfectly imperfect.

Now that my 3 year pillow project is complete, I am pleased with the way they turned out and once again inspired to dip back into making felt all over again.  Below is a photo from Dreamspin Fibres showing what roving looks like.

I am linking to Wow us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style and Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm
and White Wednesday at Faded Charm Cottage

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How to Be a Bath Puff For Halloween!

Go HERE for a How to.....

Please note that they are wearing sleeveless tube tops/tanks and shorts underneath. These are women in their mid 20's.  Younger girls could wear a body suit and leggings underneath. 

I think I've seen every type of Halloween costume around.  Except this one.  This is my girl (left) and her friend in their Bath Puff costumes. On Wednesday I met her for lunch and we tried to figure out how she could make this by herself with no sewing and no gluing as netting doesn't stay stuck with glue. The prototype had to something you could easily sit down and be reasonably comfy. So over the proverbial paper napkin, we came up with a plan. You may also like to see how she turned a mans shirt into a tunic dress HERE

She went home and made this all by herself.  Her friend made one too and they donned their heels and took a taxi across town dressed as a pair of loofahs.  I think they both did a super job of it.


Friday, October 28, 2011


1. Woven basket from Exuma...2. Newspaper basket from Montreal Museum of Civilization

Although I do love simple pared down rooms, it's a very hard thing for me to achieve.  I do like my BITS. Other than chairs, I seldom buy new things for the house unless they are handmade things like pottery or baskets.  A good way to corral the Bits is in baskets.....which I collect. 

When we were in Exuma, I got talking to one of the vendors who came to the hotel for the festival. She was telling me that the local crafts people really count on the sales to tourists for their livelihood.  Often these "Holiday Vendor" items are things you may not think to use in your home.  Grouped together at a market stall, they can look like cheap or garish trinkets, however pared down in your own setting they can be beautiful and useful. 

The small blonde basket came from Exuma. The woman told me how much it hurts her old hands to make the baskets.  I use it for my small knitting projects (socks).  The larger basket came from the Museum of Civilization in Montreal. (not a stolen exhibit....from the gift shop) It's made out of old newspapers.  It holds a bunch of very messy dried pepper berries that I found on my walk.

This one is an Early Iroquois basket and is my favourite because I love Native American artifacts. When I had my DECORATING DILEMMA this past week, Suzan from Vegas, (who I met last year and went flea marketing with) and I chatted on the phone so she could give me advice about my living room.  She told me she GETS people quickly and what they are all about.  After meeting me she told me to get out my earthy handmade and natural Bits and use them sparingly to create a look that reflected who I am. She also told me to throw a few pine cones around.  So Earthy, Simple, Natural and Pine Cones it is, or rather I am. (minus the wine gums).

I left the tag on so I wouldn't forget this is an early Iroquois basket.
This old bowl has made the rounds in my house.  Now it sits on the dining table and holds Seasonal Decor. Like keys, and nail polish and odd bits that get dumped into it.  Only this week I bought my mum a few small pumpkins for her room (which she was very rude about "I don't want that, it's awful" (bless the stroke that gives her loose lips) but then decided to take one back to the Home to add a little seasonal colour, but mostly because she felt bad for telling me they were horrible.  There's a resident at the home who unknowingly steals from the other residents.  I think my mum is hoping she steals this pumpkin.

And this last basket is from brother spent several years there in the villages and brought several of these home. And I snagged one. Ginger Beer bottle was picked up whilst shopping in a very expensive antique shop in my Grand Dad's village Dorchester on Thames in the UK. I can't remember what I paid, but I do remember him telling me it was Highway Robbery. (God, I miss you Grand Dad...just had a wave pouff of emotion thinking about I am tearful)

I'm loving the blur...looks like a painting...really caused by caffeine shakes and manual mode on camera.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Living Room Chairs Vote 1 or 2

# 1.  William Birch chairs in grey velvet (slip cover in white?)
Thank you all for your advice yesterday regarding my living room trouble.  I received so many great tips and had reached the point of being so frustrated about the room, I sat down with my computer and went though all of them.  many people suggested trying the empty white frame over the mantle for size and to see if a mirror would work in it.  It was unfortunately too large.  Following your advice I decided that I needed nothing on the walls to the left and right of the fireplace so I removed it all.  The pine cabinet needs some styling but I can manage that once I finalize the layout.  I did move the cabinet in front of the window flanked by the chairs and sofa on the other side because so many people suggested I move the sofa around.  I wish it could face the fireplace but there is an open doorway there and the room is not deep enough.  I actually loved it on the left where the chairs were but it blocked access to the dining room and especially for my mum's wheelchair. (the little green chair many of you mentioned is for my mums tea...she can only use her left hand so we move it around to where she needs it).

Thank you kelly for your mock up drawing that convinced me to have a large piece of the mantle.  I placed my favourite painting on the mantle, placed my 2 large candlesticks and I liked the boost of colour it provided. and the unadorned walls beside it. 

Next I removed the beige rug (bought when I had two old dogs) and stole a small Indian rug from the spare bedroom.  I really liked the colour in the room and it gave it the ethnic look I was after. I would like to find a larger one someday at a flea market.

I am certainly not short of chairs and what the room needed was a set of chairs and to move the dark wing chair that seemed to suck the light right out of the room.  The picture above is set # 1.  Greyish/taupe William Birch style chairs.  Very comfy....a bit drab for right here, but I am thinking if I like them here to slipcover them in while.  This side looks good with a bit of white as it brings it to life.  Picture #2 below is chair number 2.  A set of smaller cane backed chairs that I had recovered in this lovely RM Coco print.  They are extremely comfy chairs and I think the fabric really brightens the room.

Jacqueline suggested a minimal approach which is working well I think.  My problem is I have lots of stuff collected from flea markets and my travels and I tried to make them all work.  But they don't.  So I removed most of it. Less is more....according to the Raz Man.

So, again what do you think?  Is it better? Do you prefer picture #1 or picture #2.

Picture #2....vintage chairs with interesting print.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mini Makeover

I've never been 100 % content with my living room.  I have one long flat wall with a fireplace with differing amounts of space on each side which makes things look off balance somewhat.  On Friday I emailed Suzan at Old Grey Mare some pictures of my room. I asked for her advice. And she gave me some great ideas from her fresh perspective.  She suggested that I remove the large stack of books I had on this pine cabinet and put my globe collection there. The large whitewashed frame is a place holder for now.  I am awaiting the return of a large piece of art I've loaned to another house.  

And on the left side, I had a large dark console which made this corner extremely dark, especially since my wing chair is dark leather and the floors are dark.  I am thinking of a seagrass rug to bring light to the floor area. I found this little painted farm table at My Back Shed in Oakville and also the 2 framed maps which were $25.00 each........I think they compliment the globes on the other side....

The two sides still need to be balanced somewhat and getting the fireplace mantle right is what's holding me back.  This week I'm going to dress it a few different ways and see what you think.  It really has be stumped.

Friday, October 21, 2011


My blogging buddy MARK. challenged himself to purge 365 items from his house this year.  Every so often he does a post showing all the stuff he gets rid of.....He inspired me to do the same.......

This morning I opened my dining room cabinet and vowed to pull out 10 things to get rid of.  I only could get 9 right away because it really is stuffed and I didn't have time for a serious clean out today.

Going...going....soon to be gone are 2 nut choppers, 1 silver plate butter dish, 1 silver leaf plate, 1 covered glass muffin plate, a peach hand painted plate....(purchased when I had peach walls and green accessories.  I lidded casserole with fret work silver holder and 2 massive Pottery Barn candle holders with candles....(forgot to count the candles so I am officially at 11).

I am going to let family and neighbors call first dibs.....if any of you live near me (Oakville, Ontario) and want 2nd dibs...feel free to email me....otherwise it's off to the Salvation Army where Rashon would snap them right up if he lived closer........You should check out his blog Mr. Goodwill Hunting to see his latest Nate show makeover and what he does with thrift shop items.....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The $2 Gift - Red Pepper Jelly

This Jelly is will need a cold beer with it.
I am entering what I call my "Year of Living Frugally" after a year of indulgence.  Of course that isn't easy to do with Christmas around the corner.  Often I run out and pick a "little something" up for hostess gifts, friends,  co-workers, neighbors etc.  All those $5 and $10 (or more) gifts really add up and this year I'm just not doing it.  I am starting to stock up on homemade items such as these little Red Pepper Jellies.  I have made this for years, and my friends, kids and their friends are always bugging me to make a batch....I have tweaked this recipe for years trying to get a very hot batch that sets well.  I think the hot peppers affect the setting sometimes.  Anyway, I finally have my recipe perfected and want to share it with you.

(Private message to the Montreal girls at last night's Girls Night Out....a batch has been sent to Boy Childs make sure he delivers your jars)

Yesterday I whipped up a batch of 25 2 oz jars.  I made a label using a free template and now have a batch of gifts to give away.  Thinking it was a cute name I labelled it HOT LIPS, only to browse the web later and see there is an existing Hot lips disregard my label (it's not for resale anyway) and next batch I will think of something more original.  

I make my jelly with scotch bonnets.  Please read my warning in the recipe....I actually had a burn on my face once as I touched my face with pepper juiced hands.  You can give these with a little ornament such as I did HERE for my wedding jam, or wrap it in a tea towel with a package of bagel crisps and a Brie cheese.  Or tie it onto a six pack of beer.  A perfect gift that has no waste (jar can be reused.  Good neighbors and friends will return your jars hoping for refills.)  One batch costs about $10 to the jars...

Here is my not so secret recipe.  Let me know how yours turns out......

 Hot Red Pepper Jelly
Wash jars and screw rings/lids in hot soapy water then put on baking sheet in oven at 220 degrees for at least 30 minutes-keep warm.  Place lids on a clean tea towel until ready to use.
1-1/3 cups cider vinegar (I use a nice organic one)
1 tsp salt
5 ½ cups sugar
2 pouches of liquid Certo pectin
3-4 large red peppers diced to make 3 sups
3-4 scotch bonnet peppers seeds removed (please see my warning below *)

In food processor or blender waz up 3 cups chopped red pepper and the scotch bonnets to make a coarse puree.

In large saucepan, add red and hot peppers, vinegar and salt and sugar. Bring to rolling boil.  Boil for 5 minutes, stirring now and then.

Stir in pectin and remove from heat. Skim off any foam. Let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into hot sterilized jars; seal immediately with new lids. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water or per your own canning instructions.  Because of the hot peppers, it could take 2 weeks to set.

*ANY MORE THAN 3 is TOO HOT…do not use the seeds unless you want to die.

When chopping the hot peppers I use surgical gloves or household rubber gloves and wash them with soap and water after. Do not get the juice from the hot peppers on you.  If the juice gets on your hands, you don’t feel it right away, but you will later………………Wipe up all seeds and juice and wash cutting board while you have the gloves on.  Wipe up any seeds that could have fallen on floor or counter…you do not want your dog or cat licking them up.

Makes 6-7 cups

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Have you seen this done before?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Stood Up

We often go to a very cool restaurant that is a comfortable mix of singles, couples and families, making it the perfect (safe) spot for first dates and blind dates.  At this place there are often couples who meet in the restaurant or bar for the first time, perhaps Internet daters.  You can tell because one is usually already seated when the next one comes in, a brief introduction, and then the dreaded, or perhaps wonderful first date conversation ensues.  We like to quietly observe the can be very amusing...and we try to gauge how the date is going.

Sometimes they get touchy pretty quick, sometimes they are painfully awkward looking, sometimes just clearly not can actually observe chemistry. I've done this with my female friends too. Lot of fun actually. My friend actually once asked the waiter to ask the happy couple a question we all had. Pretty nosy I know.

Yesterday the Raz man and I took ourselves out to an impromptu dinner at a really nice restaurant. We were waiting for our food when the hostess seated a young man at the table beside us.  Tall, good looking.  Nervous. He had a book with him which he was reading while waiting. "Big Date to my right" I said to Raz man.  The waitress went to his table, poured 2 glasses of water, a brief conversation ensued, and soon a champagne bucket was set on the table.  This is a pricey place, so it must have been a BIG DATE.

"oh oh....she's really late" I said to husband.....He was checking his cell frequently.  He got up to make a call in the foyer, then sat down again and started reading his book.  He was flipped the pages pretty fast, glancing at his cell over and over.  By this point I was getting nervous for him......

I lost track of him when my dinner arrived and 10 minutes later, he was gone.  The waitress was clearing the table and removing the champagne bucket.

Of course, she (he) could have had an emergency, but I suspect he was stood up.  I also wonder how confident he was that his date was actually going to arrive in the first place given that he must have asked for the wine/champagne, but it was not brought to the table to chill while he was waiting, plus he brought along a novel....not what you bring to a fancy restaurant when you know someone is meeting you in a minute.

That got me thinking about how awful it would be to be stood up.  It;s never happened to me, but I did have my prom date cancel the night before.  Have you ever been STOOD UP.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Help-I need your expertise....

The Florida house has had a flood.  We left September 2nd and for a whole month there was a leak from the upstairs laundry. Luckily friends of ours came down and discovered the flood or it may have gone on for another month. The upstairs hall floor needs replacing and a 4 foot square piece of ceiling below, but some of the floors on the ground floor got wet and have since dried.  These floors are Engineered hardwood, so pretty rugged.  They are not damaged except for these white marks left where the water had dried.  Does anyone have a suggestion as to how to remove these marks.  They look like the rings you get when you put a wet glass on a waxed table or a hot dish on the dining table.  I would appreciate any ideas.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Spread the Love.....

I've been burning the midnight oil fulfilling my promise to make the favors for this weekend's wedding reception.  100 favors are needed and I wanted them to be all handmade.

I started with strawberry jam.....Ontario berries...and used these cute little jars that my sister in aw ordered for me.  I made a label using a free template from Avery Labels.  Yes, even though I wasn't sure about using it, that does say "Spread the Love" requested by the bride and groom.

100 jars of jam on the wall.....100 jars of jam..

A handmade (by me) clay tag, imprinted with a heart and pink satin ribbons..if you want to buy clay tags for your project contact Ness at as she makes the best (and the original) clay tags.

I tested this stamp too...very cute but it got gummed up with clay quickly....I made about 10 jars with this tag.

Et Voila......the finished product.  Cello bag, silver twist tie and a tag...Spreading the love..........

Monday, October 3, 2011

Farewell Exuma!

Exuma from the air. The turquoise sea and the ridges of sand are so gorgeous
We left our marvelous week behind yesterday.  What a week.  2 sets of parents, 1 set of grands, a pair of family friends and 16 of the most delightful young 20 somethings I've ever met. We all groomed and met for dinner each night, went to the various parties and hotel events, then danced at the club until the elders left the young'ens to it and retired for the night.

Exuma is one of the islands that make up the Bahamas.  No designer shops here or beach vendors...just pure simplicity and tranquility.  Colourful houses dotted around the island and a few basic shops.  Most of the island people are employed the the resort. It is truly a place for the sun and sea. I am so going to miss my midnight dips in the ocean and one of my favourite thing in the world....a hotel breakfast followed by a swim in the sea, a good book and a lounge chair.

The Bahamas
A destination wedding is an absolutely wonderful way to have a wedding, but also a great way to get an extended family together, where no one has to cook, plan etc. And it was the perfect way for a bride and groom to forge deeper connections to their friends and family who will support them over the years.

There was a definite sadness at the airport as the Toronto folk said goodbye to the Montreal folk....many hugs and double kisses (French).  Next weekend there is a reception in Montreal for the we need to rest up and get our photos and video sorted so we can celebrate with the rest of our family and friends.