Saturday, March 31, 2018

Eating Out

These days, it's sometimes too cold to go out walking...

So Terry and I occasionally head out to a cafe or restaurant, for a change of scene.

We hadn't been at Art-Is-In bakery and cafe for a while...

It will probably be quiet - it's mid-afternoon, Terry commented as we drove over.

But it was packed!

I guess others had the same idea in mind: Escaping the cold by eating out!

(Their clam chowder was really delicious!)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

Today, Good Friday, is a somber holiday in Christianity. I never really know how to mark it. Years ago, the church we attended (St. Peter's on Merivale Road, now an Ethiopian Orthodox church) held a Friday morning service entitled "the stations of the cross." We often attended.

Then there was a prayer vigil from the Friday morning service until the Sunday Easter service. People volunteered to pray in one-hour slots of time, day and night, from Friday until our first Sunday morning service. One family camped out in the church basement during that time, to oversee the lengthy event. When our children were adolescents, the youth of the church held a sleepover in the church basement from Saturday night until Easter Sunday morning. Early Sunday morning, they baked pretzels in the church kitchen to share with those attending the Easter Sunday service.

The church we currently attend doesn't have a two-day prayer vigil... And I'm left to ponder how to personally mark Good Friday.

Should making pretzels be part of that day? It's a lovely tradition!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Not Quite Spring

The weather is warmer these days...

But it's not quite spring...

This is what the end of the Rideau Canal (next to the Ottawa River) looks like with the water drained out. I notice that two boats have been moored in the empty canal all winter.

The shining sun invites me to go out walking, but a cold wind penetrates the skin!

Nevertheless, a few days ago, Terry and I headed out for a walk downtown.

We wandered through the Byward market and over to Parliament Hill.

(The "falling ice" sign will probably be taken away soon ... until next year!)

The ice on the Ottawa River was beginning to thaw.

The skating rink that had been in front of the Parliament Buildings was being cleared away.

We don't walk downtown very often...

Next time we come, tulips may be in bloom!

(They're starting to emerge!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How Many Bags?!!

How many of those bags are you planning to make? Terry asked me, as he watched me begin my third shopping bag.

I really have no plan... I'm just trying to use up scraps of yarn. (Some of it was my mother's.)

I'm just so thrilled to have found a project that I like - that is adaptable enough to use a mix of yarns.

I'll keep going until the yarn is gone...

I'd guess I have enough for at least 5 bags. And I'm not quitting now - unless my wrist starts to hurt. I'm on a roll!

The fun is seeing all these yarn scraps disappear, transformed into useful boho bags.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Hotel Scam Alert

Travel season is almost here. There are a lot of scams out there. (It's hard to keep abreast of  them all...)

I try to stay clear of writing about "bad news" - like scams - in my blog. But recently one of my sons, who works in a hotel, informed us of a hotel-related scam to be aware of... So I'm passing it on...

This is the situation: Someone calls a hotel, asking to speak to her husband / friend etc. in room number....

At this point a vigilant hotel employee should ask the name of the person the caller wishes to speak to... But if the caller is put through to the room, this is what the scammer says to the person in the room:

Hello, I'm calling from the hotel front desk. There was a problem with your credit card. Could you please give me your credit card information again.

At this point, the person in the room should reply: I'll come down to the front desk and sort this out.

But at no point should a hotel guest give credit card information to an unknown caller, even if the caller claims to be a hotel employee!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Glazing Time

This past pottery session was shorter than most. But I was able to slip into the glazing room one afternoon last week to glaze the ones that had been bisque fired.

There were more than I expected!

Some potters keep detailed notes about what they do each time they're at the studio... I'm not that organized!

(I also usually find my hands are too dirty for me to want to write in a notebook.)

At the same time, a few items I had already glazed were ready to take home.

Since I only do pottery in winter, it's always bitter-sweet to realize that another pottery studio season is done!!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Plants... Create a Mood

I was recently visiting a friend.

Outdoors the weather was cold. The ground was covered with snow...

But the sun was streaming in through the window - and, in one corner of the room, her potted cactus plants made me feel as if I were in Arizona!

I've never had any luck growing cacti, I told her. Yours look amazing! Are they hard to maintain?

Well, if I have to transplant them - which I occasionally do - I have to wear thick gloves and wrap them in a blanket, so as not to get pricked..

Hmmm. I don't think I'd enjoy that!

I think I'll stick with flowers!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Crocheted Bag...

I receive regular emails from several online yarn stores that occasionally post free knitting patterns.

I wasn't planning any new crochet projects, but this pattern for crocheted shopping bags caught my eye...

I paid for a digital download... It was there a minute later! I was surprised how quickly it went.

I didn't purchase the yarn for the project. As I perused the pattern - I realized that I could probably use scraps I have around...

I accidentally modified the pattern a bit (because I don't read patterns all that carefully...!) It ended up a little wider than the pattern intends - but I'm really happy with the result.

The key feature of this pattern are using a mix of 3 yarns - one of which is non-stretchy. When changing color, change only one of the three colors at a time.

The non-stretchy yarn I used is thick synthetic carpet yarn that my mother dyed using onion skins back in her teaching days.

The other yarns were leftovers from a knit jacket I made years ago.

Part of the thrill - for me - is using up all these yarn scraps!

I'm not sure what I'll use the bag for... Shopping? Storing yarn?

But I plan to go back to the pattern and try again (and again?) until all my "chunky" yarn scraps are used up!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Orchid in Bloom

The first orchid I helped care for was one someone had given my mother. It was almost always in bloom.

Reading online, I discovered that orchids were not only beautiful - but they also purified the air. That motivated me to get one for myself...

It's in bloom now - next to a "snake plant," which also purifies the air. A snake plant is a lot easier to grow than an orchid, and my goal is to eventually have one in every room of the house...

I especially appreciate the orchid now that my outdoor flower beds are all buried in snow...

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Among Us!

One of the joys of blogging is hearing from people who read my blog.

One lady recently emailed me, after reading my post about needing a lid popper to open jars, in order to avoid injuring my wrist, which seems very prone to injury these days.

The woman who wrote to me lives in my part of the country, but (to my knowledge) we've never met.

The little tool I was writing about is like a large bottle opener with a different-sized hook on each end. The hooks are used for popping metal lids of different heights.

(I was told about the opener by a friend whose husband used to work at Lee Valley, a local tool store that has a popular online store as well. My friend loaned me hers for week. It worked on a lot of jars, so I purchased my own.)

I'm getting more adept at using it. Once the vacuum seal is popped, the lid usually opens easily.

The woman who wrote to me uses it too. She wrote:"The Jar Opener was invented by a wonderful next door neighbour... [who]... died last year but his widow is still receiving royalties. I owned his opener before I knew the connection. 

He was from England. He was very clever, creative and had a twinkle in his eye. I believe he lived in your neighbourhood before [moving to mine in] ... about 2003."

It's interesting to hear that there are inventors among us - sometimes even neighbors - people who see a need and set out to fix it...

Necessity is the mother of invention.

I wonder whose necessity made this local man invent - then patent and sell - this handy jar opener that is now so useful to many. But I'm glad he did!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Temporary "Art"

One of my sons recently gave me this low-tech painting set...

It's a sheet of paper glued to a black plastic frame, an easel with a trough for water, and a brush.

Using room-temperature water, you "paint" on the paper. The black color shows through where the paper is wet. Within 10 minutes, the paper dries - leaving the paper blank again..

(The water does tend to dribble down - temporarily pooling at the bottom of the frame.)

The set is marketed as a "zen" tool - art that lasts only for the moment!

I'm not drawn to "zen" concepts...

But I enjoy keeping the set on the dining room table.

Walking past, I often write messages - or practice a few brush strokes.

A few minutes later, they've disappeared! An interesting way of  "practicing art."

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Resting Rabbit

I love the antics of the squirrels in our yard - though I don't like the thought that they may be burrowing a nest in our roof... (I mention that because, once or twice. Terry and I have heard sounds...)

Terry's favorite animal neighbors, by far, are the rabbits. He has taken a particular liking to one that often finds shelter behind a garbage can in our yard. (He's a little hard to see in the picture...)

Every day Terry goes over to check if the rabbit is there again... It appears that Mr. (or Mrs.) Rabbit likes this spot.

To Terry's delight, he (or she) often is there!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Back to Quilting Again!

I've started another black and white quilt project. Can't seem to leave my bin of black and white fabric alone!"

The idea came from a quilt I saw on "Pinterest"...

I love the red stripes!

Mine is lying, partly finished, on an upstairs bed.

I'm trying something new, as I machine-quilt it, as well.

The wavering lines remind me of vines... so I've added leaves!

The idea also came from a Pinterest picture...

(These days, Pinterest is my main inspiration source.)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Aloe Vera - Inside and Out!

I remember back when the natural healing powers of aloe vera were first being talked about... My mother went to the health food store and bought a bottle of aloe juice to rub on her skin.

My father looked at it and took it a step further. Deciding that, if it was good for the outside of the body, it must also be good for his insides... He immediately began to drink a tablespoon of pure aloe juice every day.

I remember laughingly telling him that he was wrong! But it may well be that I'm the one who was in error!

Several dozen years later, I recently came across a magazine article touting aloe vera's medicinal value - that actually encouraged readers to use the plant's juice in food... (A "chocolate and aloe pudding recipe was even provided!)

I guess my father was ahead of his time!

(The article did go on to say that there are many kinds of aloe plants - and not all were good to eat!)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Toronto's St. Patrick's Day Parade 2018

I happened to be on Bloor Street in Toronto last Sunday when the St. Patrick's Day parade was going by.

It's always fun to see the variety of floats and musicians that participate...

Terry's favorite was a Shriner's float with an old-time outhouse!

My was the troupe of Mexican dancers...

... followed by a car decked out with a Mexican blanket.

It shows Toronto's ethnic diversity...

And that everybody loves a parade!

Friday, March 16, 2018

More Snow!!

During last week's slushy snow, I slipped and fell while walking down our street to get the mail...

Fortunately, I didn't really hurt myself, though one wrist was sore for a few days... (I should have worn my boots with ice-grips, but the road just looked slushy to me....)

The result is that Terry forbids me to go out walking until the roads are bare again...

It looks like that isn't happening any day soon! This was our yard two days ago, in the midst of our latest snowstorm.

It has been snowing a lot... We've apparently been on the fringe of a major snowstorm that hit the East coast...

This much snow will be around for a while, especially when temperatures are below freezing...

Toronto - four hours away by train - has no snow at all. Maybe I need to plan a weekend in Toronto... just so I can go for walks!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

How Old is "Vintage"?

In my life of endless sorting.. (!) I came across these toys I had totally forgotten about...

The pinball game dates back to my childhood... I don't remember if it was given to me or to my brother, but the two of us often played it together...

I'm sure we also played it with my childhood friend, Jean, who lives across the country, but reads my blog... I wonder if she remembers it as well!

(It still works!)

The doll was made by my father's sister, my Aunt Elsie, for my daughter, so it's not that old. But it reminds me of an era when most dolls were hand-made.

The kaleidoscope was made by my mother - and it still works, too!

Would these be considered "vintage" toys?! (My own children's toys - Fisher Price toys I bought at garage sales when my kids were young - have been referred to as "vintage" by some!)

Then there's the blue dog which has a zippered pouch in the back - to store pajamas in. I got it as a Christmas gift when I was 10 or 11. It's been washed dozens of times and still has no tears.

(My cousin Rose-Marie was given an identical pink one... I wonder if she still has hers!)