Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Mail!

Yesterday I received some very happy mail all the way from the USA!  Michelle sent me this beautiful Christmas gift.  It is so me.... gold, birds, tea!!


I love the sweet golden finches on the teabag holder.  The bird ornament will be a welcome addition to my bird tree which will be going up sometime in the next week.  This tea towel will look so great in my kitchen.

Thank you Michelle for such a thoughtful gift.  :)

Jen

Friday, November 28, 2014

In the Kitchen

Lately I've been scaring myself a little.  I've been hanging out in the kitchen.  Maybe it's something to do with the onset of winter and the need for comfort food.  I hauled out the avocado dutch oven circa 1970 something and my recipe for Hamburger soup.


It's my favourite soup recipe that I've been making for about 20 years.  It comes from a school recipe book that the girls' elementary school put out.  I always enjoy these cookbooks as they are usually easy and well liked recipes.


I have to say that I have been having fun messing up the kitchen...


and the fruits of my labour are yummy.


Jen


Thursday, November 27, 2014

All I Want for Christmas is ... Chicken Pox!

Poor Thomas came down with Chicken Pox this past weekend.  Most children go through it and if they are anything like my girls they have a story to tell.  Diane got them at the age of four.  Her best memory was that Aunt Susan mailed her a set of miniature gold dishes for her Barbies.  Lisa didn't catch them until grade four despite me intentionally sending her to play with infected children... just to get it over with at a young age.  Finally at the age of nine a little boy at Lisa's elementary school, named Cory,  got them.  He wasn't even in the same class but they did ride on the same bus.  Sure enough Lisa finally caught them and Cory was quite proud to point out that it was he who gave them to her.  We lost touch with Cory as the kids grew up but it is a small world after all.  Last summer, Diane was in Calgary watching her fiancee do a fire fit challenge for the fire department.  Turns out that Cory is a fire fighter too.  Diane recognized him and they had a chat and yes, she did remind him that he gave Lisa Chicken Pox.

Back to Tom and his story of Chicken Pox.  We have been getting lots of photos documenting the progression of the pox.  But the best part was the videos sent of Tom.  I have to tell you that he was looking pretty rough by Tuesday.  Poor little guy.  The videos were so hilarious that Susan and I watched them many times because they just made us laugh.  He has a bit of a dramatic flare in them.

Well today was a special day for Thomas.  Santa Claus was visiting the daycare today but Tom has been home all week with his mom.  Santa being the awesome guy that he is made a home visit to Tom's house to give him his gift!  I think that Mia is looking for her gift too.  LOL


Awww.  Just gives me goosebumps of happiness.  I'm sure that Thomas's memory of getting the Chicken Pox will be how he got a special home visit from Santa Claus!


He is looking so much better.  Definitely on the mend.  You may notice that he is sporting his new shark slippers with the glow in the dark eyes.  They are an early "open now" Christmas gift from me and Rob and I think that they arrived at the perfect time.  They're a hit!

Jen

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday Tea Time

Well, it just doesn't have the same ring as "Tuesday Tea Time" does it.  But it sure was a good one.  Susan made these amazing cookies.  They are a Swedish cookie called Cherry Half Moons.  What made them extra special was that the jam used in the recipe was made by Susan with cherries off of the tree in her backyard.  Fancy cookies like this call for fancy dishes so we broke out the Royal Albert.


We enjoyed some David's Tea as well.


Susan left me with a small stash of these cookies so I may just be having a tea re-enactment tomorrow.  :)

Jen


Monday, November 24, 2014

A Good Day Thrifting

Today I was going through thrifting withdrawal and was looking for something to do to get me out of the house on this above freezing weather day.  So off I went to hit the four thrift shops in Sherwood Park.  It was a successful haul.  Here's what I found!

My first stop was at The Value Village.  Down in the yarn aisle I found multiple balls by one of my favourite Canadian Yarn companies,  Patons.  Adding to the fact that they are turquoise and only $6 for the lot, it was a no brainer.  These will eventually be turned into a youth size hat, scarf and mittens set.


Back up to the kitchen aisle and I came upon these beauties!  Fire-King Kimberly mugs!


These mugs scream the 70's.  I love the diamond design in them but have always stayed away from collecting them as they are usually found in a colourful milk glass which may have looked brilliant back in the day but unfortunately does not wear well.  Finding these in brown glass and looking pristine just makes me happy. They only cost me $4.  These may be making an appearance in an upcoming Tuesday Tea post.

Next stop was The Salvation Army.  Here I found these amazing glass candy dishes in gold for a total price of $4.50...


to match the ones I had at home in avocado green.  It will be great to mix them up.


Third stop on the thrifting route is The Goodwill.  Well, The Goodwill near Susan's place may be amazing but this one is tiny and I rarely make a score.  No treasure to be found here today.  Susan found a small Pyrex bowl in Crazy Daisy green for only $1 last week at this one!

Last stop is The County's Clothesline.  I love it when I can find useful things while thrifting.  Look at all of the wrapping paper and tissue paper that I found for a grand total of $5.50.


I'm thinking that this stuff is from the 90's.  The plastic packaging was all unopened but seemed a bit dusty, so I got rid of it and am storing it together in a clean zip lock bag.  What I love best about this somewhat vintage wrapping paper, is that the print on it is no longer out there and therefore will make the wrapped gift look somewhat original.  There is just something about finding stuff that is no longer in production.  Remember the Rug Rats?  They had birthday paper with those characters on it.  I haven't heard anything about the Rug Rats since my girls were little.

So with all the money I saved, I decided to stop over at Starbuck's for a latte.  Then I took a boo in the cook book section at Chapters and ended up coming home with this.


Here's hoping that it will inspire me to get back into the kitchen and whip up some comfort food.  I need all the inspiration I can get.  In my defence, I do cook for a "picky pants" husband.  ;)   Rob doesn't like foods touching or any kind of gravy or sauce, so finding recipes is always a challenge.

Jen

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Day in Canmore

The third of 4 Banff blog posts.

Whenever we go to Banff we usually drive right on by Canmore.  Actually, we stayed the night once when the girls were pre-teens and we were on our way to B.C.  This trip we decided to go and take a boo around this little tourist town and we are so glad we did.  It was the word of there being an antique shop there that got me interested.  A little thrifting while on holidays is always good.  It was a beautiful shop with lots in it but the prices were about triple the amount of what I pay here in Edmonton at The Antique Mall.  So, it was fun to just look.  Here's a peek.


Old radio and cute doll


A knitting swift for yarn


Pink Gooseberry Pyrex bowl for only $48!  Yikes!!  


Vintage school reader for $18.  Walk on by!  

The antiquing may have been a bust but the walk downtown was lovely.


The shop fronts were beautiful.


It made window shopping much more fun, well for me anyway. LOL


This lonely house sat in amongst blocks of shops.


And everywhere you looked there were mountains...


and more mountains.


I loved this street name.


We stopped for a latte at a Starbucks with a mountain view. 

It was a fun day.

Jen

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