Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Camping

A weekend escape to the northern Ontario woods this past weekend ... to our favourite destination ... Algonquin Park.  It never disappoints.
Gordon Lake along Booth's Rock Trail

The weather was incredible, and we wore shorts and t-shirts all day.

Rock Lake (I mistakenly posted earlier it was Lake of Two Rivers)

We hiked a couple of trails on Saturday.  We used to drive up to the park, hike a couple of trails, and then drive home all in the same day.  But it's a very tiring day with the walking and the long drive (3 hours each way), so now we pull the trailer up and we camp for two nights to ease things up.

We're barely at the campsite for fall camping.  We take a packed lunch with us on the trail ... 
Booth's Rock Trail
... and settle into a nice spot with a view to eat it.
Rock Lake
Can you imagine a better place for eating lunch than at the top of this cliff?
After lunching here, we clambered down the rocks on this trail, hopped over to another trail, and clambered back up another cliff.
Two Rivers Trail
The fall colours in the park attract a lot of visitors.  There are a couple of trails that offer great views with very little hiking.  We avoid those trails because that's where the tour buses stop and the trail is absolutely packed with people.  There's lots of chaos along the highway that runs through the park with many people pulling their cars onto the shoulder to take pictures.  Dangerous place to walk!  I prefer the quiet of the woods.
Two Rivers Trail
The evening star display was not to be missed either.  We walked down to the lake in our campground and sat looking up for a half an hour and were just blown away with the billions of stars visible on the two clear nights we stayed.  There are no towns close by to impair the visibility of the stars ... pure magic!
On Sunday we headed out for our favourite trail that has the best view in the park.
You can see for miles from the top of Centennial Ridge.
Whitefish Lake from Centennial Ridges Trail
The best part is that the hike up to the top is fairly long and rocky, so there aren't many people at the top!
Whitefish Lake

Whitefish Lake
The woods fairly glowed with colour yesterday.

Eventually, it was time to head back down the road to the campsite to pack up and head for home.  All too soon for our liking :(
Road to the trail
our campsite
the road in front of our campsite
 Thanks for stopping by

Thursday, September 19, 2013

WIP Refinishings

I've been hit with the refinishing bug, and have been working away at several projects these past couple of weeks.
I have a lot (a lot!) of wooden things in my house.  Everything from furniture to bowls to boxes ... on and on it goes.  After having so much fun sanding down and painting some chairs for my daughter in the summer, I've lined up these smaller items to work on now.
A plain pine breadbox, which I plan to sand down and paint white.  It looks like it was homemade, but it's fairly clean inside & out.
I got it to this stage yesterday using the orbital sander (love that tool!).  Today I put one coat of white paint on it, but I bought the expensive stuff that takes 6 hours to dry for second coat (which it needs).
Next is a small stool that my great grandfather made.   I got it from my Great Aunt Mary's house (which was the family farm homestead) years ago.  It's always been coming apart a bit, and had a very dark stain, which is slowly wearing away.  I want to paint it white too for the bathroom, where I've always had it for my kids when they were young, and now to hold a basket of toilet paper.
I got it all sanded down yesterday too, but need to drive a couple of screws in before I paint it.
Now Stacy asked me about my rocking basket, which I said I was going to paint (but never did!).  I like the stained wood, but hate the painted strawberries on the side. 
So it got sanded down yesterday too.  Unfortunately, the outline of the strawberry painting showed up even after a thorough sanding, so I decided to just paint the whole thing white too ... I'm a little disappointed with the white paint on it, and wished I could have kept the natural wood.  Hopefully with the second coat of paint it'll look better.
The piece that took most of my time was this cute little smoking table.  We bought it many years ago at an antique flea market out Dundas way, and I always thought it would look nice painted white.  It's got a hideous, dark, poorly-applied stain on it that someone slapped on in a hurry just before we bought it ... it was still tacky when we brought it home.
After sanding it with the orbital sander yesterday for a good two hours, I found it was made from some rather nice wood.  I thought it might be cherry, but my husband thinks it's more likely walnut.
And that spoiled my plans for painting it white!  Now I'll finish up the sanding that I couldn't reach with the power sander and either stain it, or just put a clear varnish on it instead.
I'm not going to try and get the stain out of the decorative grooves, or the little dot in the door and on the sides ... I think it'll look okay with those a bit darker.
It has a delicate little latch ...
I also dragged a box out of the garage that was left here when we moved in.  I wanted to clean it up somehow, but didn't know how to accomplish this without washing the words away.  It was really filthy, and the inside is just as black as it looks in the photo.
So I sanded the inside and the bottom with the sander, which cleaned all the dirt off it and smoothed it out considerably.
When I wiped it off with a tack cloth, I just continued rubbing the tack cloth all over the outside and was amazed at how clean it came up just from that!  No need to wash it with water, and the printing stayed on.  Nice surprise there :)

Once I get the painting completed on the other pieces I'll show them all off.
Have a great day!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thrifty Finds

I've been trying really hard to keep away from the thrift stores pretty much all summer.  With my daughter going into a rental house for university, I did venture in for the sole purpose of outfitting her with a few things.   I picked up a chair to round out the four I purchased through Kijiji, and a very nice set of all-white dishes (sorry no photo there), among other helpful "necessities".

But for myself, I curtailed my shopping because it was actually starting to bring me down a bit.  My house is full.  My cupboard space is full.  My closets are full (and I don't have a lot of closet space in the first place).  And I started to question over and over again "do I really need any more things??!!   The answer, as you might guess, is a resounding "NO!" 

But the sign above my local thrift shop states that thrifting is "the ultimate treasure hunt".   I wish they would take that sign down, because it reminds me how much I like to go on that treasure hunt. 
I went over to visit my dad on Saturday.   My visits with Dad are not always pleasant.  For the past few weeks he's been in a miserable mood, and making me feel like a total B***H of a daughter to him.  I know he's not mentally himself anymore, but his words are harsh and bitter.  One thing my dad always liked to do is sing.  He had quite a repertoire of songs that he would regale us with over the years.  Musical plays were a favourite of his. 
So when he started again on the topic of what a miserable bunch of wenches we all were for not letting him live with us, I started to sing "All I Want is a Room Somewhere" ("My Fair Lady").  He was hooked.  Oddly enough, although he can't remember my name, or what town he lives in, or even what "a.m." on his clock radio means, he can remember most of the words to his favourite old songs.  I read once "the brain forgets, but the tongue always remembers".   After these rather trying visits, I've been treating myself to the thrift store ... and what do you know!  A Gilbert & Sullivan song book awaited me ;)
Did I mention my dad has been ornery for the past few weeks during my visits?  Yeah, so I've been to the thrift store a few times lately and picked up more treasures.  But I honestly had my little cart filled with much more and I was quite proud of myself that I was able to return most things to the shelf once I had a little time to think about what I truly wanted to keep.
Ceramic jars ... with lids! ...
... still a weak spot for me.

A nice-sized bean pot for Baked Brown Beans this winter ...
It's got that nice two-toned brown & white that has been appealing to me lately.  AND!  I have Mom's old recipe for the baked beans :)
A trio ...
... of nesting boxes ... with lids!!
I'm pretty sure these are Ikea's seagrass boxes, and they don't look like they've been used and still smell like seagrass and not someone's basement.  Do you sniff items like this before you buy them?  I try to do it discreetly ... sometimes you just can't wash a smell out of an item, and I'll leave those on the shelf.  They look nice all grouped together on top of the dresser ... great for hiding away bits of jewelry ... or thrift store receipts!
In hindsight, I should've left this figurine on the store shelf.  She's cute, but I bought it out of pure impulse and it's not my usual type of purchase.  It reminded me of a little figurine of a boy by "Hummel" that my mom once had (and I ruined it when I was young and always felt badly about it).
Maybe I bought it to appease my guilty conscience.  I think I'll set her in the bathroom on a tiny shelf ... my bathrooms all lack any sort of decoration.

A blown glass ball.  This one had some inner strands of glass and a small tag attached described it as "The Tree of Life".  I have a few other glass balls hanging in my sunny windows that Mom bought for me at craft shows ... the collection grows ... the window space doesn't.
And I know we're not there yet (nowhere near, right?!), but I liked this little cookie stamp.  This is from a set that I believe Eaton's had out one year.  My husband bought me one with Santa on it, and my kids and I make shortbreads using the stamp and they used to be the cookie set out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
The ceramic cookie press on the bottom is fairly cute, and I'll be making more shortbreads with it soon.  My kids don't leave cookies out for Santa anymore, so the entire task of eating the cookies falls to us ... sigh ...

This next piece I bought last year sometime, but I don't think I ever blogged about it.
It's a very delicately thin decorative pottery plate.  The only name on the bottom is "Joanie", so it makes me think that Joanie made it up in a pottery class at some time.  I really like the colours in this fish, and think it will eventually be hung on the wall somewhere.  It's been sitting on a bookcase for the past long while, but I'd like it to be more visible.
This little stove-top percolator caught my eye in the housewares.  I put it to use this afternoon and brewed one very strong pot of coffee.  Usually I make coffee in a coffee maker, and not that often (prefer tea), so I need to experiment with this cute little pot a bit more before I dare serve my coffee to anyone else. 
And that's it!
I hope you're also able to keep your treasure hunting in check, or our kids will be lamenting the day we ever discovered thrift store shopping.
Thanks for stopping by!
PS ... this is my 100th post!
This Downy Woodpecker visited me beside the patio on Sunday :)

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