Wednesday, August 28, 2013


My father turned 90 last Monday.

He and Mom married "late" when they were well into their 30s.  By today's standards, that's not late at all, but back then all their friends had married and had kids probably before they were 25.  So my parents were a good 10 years older than my friends' parents, and I was often teased about the fact that my mother looked like my grandmother.  My dad aged much better, and even now there are few wrinkles on his face.
We had a nice family celebration for him at my sister's place.  She has a place in the country, and we were blessed with a beautiful summery day and ate outside under the shade of a maple.  Dad was a bit lost in the crowd, as his memory is fading fast and he doesn't remember us all anymore.  But he knew he was amongst family, and he was happy.  Here he is listening to his youngest grandson sing "Happy Birthday" over the phone.  His two youngest grandsons were away in Scotland at the time, and unable to attend. 

He was happy, but he was missing my mother very much and tells me often how he wishes she were still with us.  Happier times for my dad ...

My parents cycled with a hostelling group in Hamilton, Ontario
On their wedding day ... just love  their smiles!
All of us (me on Dad's lap).

Dad is also missing his old home and being able to care for himself.  It is one of his biggest regrets to have moved into a retirement home and leave his country home of 37 years behind ...
"Back Acres"
My bedroom was in the corner (little window on end & big window on side).
I gave him a framed photo of his old home for his birthday.  Thankfully he remembered it well, and was happy to have it for his room.
Me (left) and my siblings and Dad
So after a really nice visit with my siblings and their families, I got a call from my oldest sister this week that Dad had got up in the night and somehow pulled his grandfather clock over and it landed on top of him.  I think he must've lost his balance and grabbed at it for support, but it came crashing down on top of him.  I cried when she sent me this photo.
I'll be over to see him on the weekend, and he can tell me all about wrestling with the clock.  Hopefully, we can find some humour in this somewhere like he usually does.  For some reason that song "My Grandfather's Clock ... was too big for the shelf, so it stood 90 years on the floor ..." keeps running through my head.  The clock had recently stopped working, and I thought at the time that it was an omen.
So here's to my dear old Dad and all the trouble he can get up to!  We've had many stories that were worse than this one with my dad, and I'm sure my mom is up in heaven just shaking her head "here we go again". 

Thanks for stopping by :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Spit & Polish

My daughter is soon to be heading back to university again ... this year renting an old house with a bunch of other students.  They were in need of a kitchen table & chairs, so I had been checking on Kijiji for something suitable to turn up ... and it did!  Four chairs and a table for $40.  Unfortunately for me, another roommate came up with a table quicker and they're going to use that, so I'm stuck with the table :[

Sturdy chairs with stained padded seats!
 The place from where we picked them up was rather creepy ... an old farmhouse that had been let fall to ruin from the inside out.  The guy said he'd "recently renovated the kitchen and the chairs just didn't go with it anymore".  Laughable since the kitchen was horrendous, and this guy didn't really look like he cared about interior decorating.  He invited us into the house to collect the chairs ... I was dubious about entering the house at all, and wouldn't have if I was on my own.  We brought out three chairs from some back room, and when I reminded him he had posted four chairs for sale, he said "oh my wife's sitting on the other one in the kitchen".  And so she was, having her last cigarette in her favourite chair.  She kindly let me have the chair, and she was left smoking standing up ... I guess they hadn't yet picked up the set that would go with the newly renovated kitchen!
Lovely fake oak finish :)
Judging by the pile of butts in the ashtray on the kitchen table, and the smell that permeated these chairs, these people smoked like fiends.  I decided to refinish the chairs and paint them all to remove the smell.  Even after two months sitting in the garage, they still smelled strongly of cigarette smoke ... blech!
The chairs were in fairly good shape, and my husband the woodworker took them apart and glued them back together to fix any wobbles. So after sanding ...

They're made up of a patchwork of different wood, but some of it is oak, so they're quite heavy.  I wondered at first if I could stain them, but when I revealed the different woods and some of it is pressed plywood, this wasn't an option.  I'm going to paint them all white.
So stay tuned for the big reveal.  It looks like another sunny day out there this morning, so I've set the day aside to work on these chairs and get them finished.  I have some fabric picked out for the seats as well ... I hope I have enough to do all four of them!  Not really looking forward to ripping off the old fabric and it's all glued down.
This is my first refinishing project, and I've really enjoyed working on it.  I can see myself choosing some other bits and pieces of furniture in the house to redo now! 
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crafting in the Sun

Yesterday I made a very cool craft that I thought I'd share with you.  I searched on The Crafty Crow for something to do outside, and found this idea ... "Faux Sun Prints".  I love the images you can get from sun prints, but have to admit I've never tried it myself.  This idea uses acrylic paints and cotton fabric ... both of which I have plenty of!
The method is so simple, a young child could do it.  (For a full tutorial, click on the link above.)
After wetting the cotton fabric and laying it out on a table covered in a plastic sheet, we painted the cotton with diluted acrylic paints.  Then we added soft leaves (top side down) and pressed them gently into the wet fabric.  I picked leaves from bleeding hearts, columbine, ferns, clover, ginkgo and redbud.  We found the thicker leaves like geraniums and cranberry bushes wouldn't stay pressed down.

 It was hot and muggy yesterday with not much wind, so we laid the pieces out in the sun to dry. 
After a couple of hours, this is what was revealed when we peeled off the leaves!


Pretty nifty, eh!
You can throw these in the dryer for 45 minutes on high heat to set the colour, and then, apparently, you can wash them safely to soften the fabric again and the colour won't come out.  I skipped that step this time.  But I thought they would make some very pretty pillow covers with the print in the middle and a border around the side.
I'd love to make a long panel using this method to hang in the shady corner of my yard with lots of fern leaves along it.  I'm just not sure I have enough ferns growing yet to accomplish this.  It would also make one-of-a-kind curtain panels for my kitchen windows (which are currently void of curtains).   Possibilities are endless ;)
Thanks for stopping by!

peek-a-boo, I see you in there bumblebee!




Friday, August 16, 2013

Back Yard in August

The backyard is getting a bit dried out now, and we're not expected to get any rain for another week yet.  The grass is becoming a bit worn looking, but the flowers seem to be doing great.  I have a walled garden around my patio, and the flowers in there are always changing.  My springtime columbines start here, and now the late summer bloomers are coming out.

I love the balloon flower.  The colour isn't showing up so great in these photos, but in the evening light they almost appear to glow a periwinkle blue.

The bees crawl right inside the flowers.

These balloon flowers never fully open, and just 'deflate' as the flowers die.  I keep deadheading them and they continue to bloom into September.  I saw some in the gardening store last year, but the petals of their plants were all opened up and looked like stars.  Not sure why mine keep closed, but it like that they do ... adds to their interest.
I grew some zinnias from seed for my husband this year.  It took a while for the plants to get going (because I left the planting so late), but they look great now ... so tall!
I'll definitely plant these seeds again, but maybe with a variety of colour (I think they come in different colours).
If you just stand on your tippy toes and peak over the zinnias and tall grass, you'll catch a glimpse of my son's new fish in his pond.

One of the neighbours on my son's paper route has a larger pond in his front yard, and my son and this guy have been discussing ponds for a while now.  We took a couple of peoples' advice and installed a UV light to kill bacteria in the pond, and it is the best suggestion.  The water has been crystal clear since we installed it.  A couple of weeks ago, the same neighbour offered my son some fish from his pond.  He said they're a cross between goldfish and coy.  My son jumped at the chance.  So now we have two shubunkins and four mini coy. 
Last summer I planted love-lies-bleeding around the pond, and it grew to a great height, and all the fancy flower "tails" hung over the little pond.  It looked so cool that I planted the seeds again this year.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a seed packet in the gardening store, so I used the leftover seeds from last year.  Only one plant grew to maturity.  Oddly enough, I got two tomato plants growing in the pots with the love-lies-bleeding.  I've never planted tomatoes before (allergic to them), so I don't know where they came from.  My son isn't too pleased that one of the tomato plants has grown huge and hangs over his waterfall.

Love-lies-bleeding one week ago

 The same flower today.

 The grasses around the pond that we planted this summer are doing so well, that I may not plant any flowers on the patio side of the pond next year.

I really like that purple fountain grass on the right :) 
I love this little space, and with the bench beside the pond, it's a great place to have my morning tea, listen to the gurgling waterfall and admire the fish flitting through the sun's rays.
This is the view of my patio as you come out the back door ...  (the pond is on the other side of the garden (where you can see the fence) ...
 Two weeks ago I left the umbrella open during a windy day.  The wind caught the umbrella and lifted the table up and when it landed, the entire glass top smashed on the patio in a perfect rectangle.  The table you see here is a temporary replacement (our other table was larger and taller).  Hopefully we'll be able to find one on sale in the next week or two as I had picked up this green table for my daughter to take to her rental house for university (I got it for free on the roadside!).
Off the back of the patio to the right, there is a little step to the back gate.
There used to be cedars struggling to survive in this shady spot where the lattice is now.  My son and I chopped down the trees two years ago, laid bark nuggets on the bare dirt (not even grass will grow under the bush hanging over the step), and lined the patio stones with rocks collected here there and everywhere.   The shade is so dense here, that I've had trouble finding a plant that does well.  I had begonias in the pots last year and they did well, but this year all of them got some sort of mold on them and I pulled out most of them.  I'd like to get some light-weight vine covering that lattice, but can't think what would do well.
We transplanted ferns (above) from my mom's garden along the far side of the bark nuggets, and laid down stepping stones that we had made for my parents years ago.  It looks so nice in the morning when the sun is shining through the ferns.  The ferns have taken off in this spot, and my son and I are so pleased with the results (removing the trees and putting the bark down also cut down on mosquitoes).
Earlier this summer I planted some morning glory seeds along this fence.  The rascally rabbit got into them once, but after I painted the leaves with "Skoot", they were left alone.  Look at these luscious vines that I've been rewarded with!

I also thought this handy reptile might keep the rabbit out of the garden too ....
The Deadly Dollar Store Rubber Snake :)  I hate snakes, so this made me fairly jump out of my skin the first few times I walked back there when I forgot I had put it there myself!  Did it fool you?
I have another vine growing up the bird feeder.   I usually don't feed birds in the summer following my mom's example.  However, I don't see many of the nice birds in my yard when the feeder is empty all summer.  The birds will be starting their migrations this month, so I think I'll fill them up to help my feathered friends on their long journey.  The birdbath is filled daily, and the birds do come to use that every day, they just don't linger as long as I would like.
And now the morning glories are starting to bloom!  These are "Heavenly Blue" and they are a big favourite of mine :)
Look!  They really are the same colour as the heavens!

Another of my favourite late summer flowers are the black-eyed Susans.  I have a good supply of them, and try to spread them around a bit more every year.
They look great with the purple butterfly bush.
Another late bloomer are the turtlehead flowers.  Their buds have been developing and will be blooming before the end of the month.  They do really well here too, and don't seem to suffer from disease, so I should really transplant some to new locations in the yard as they're getting a bit crowded here.

The butterfly bush is having a fabulous year, and with deadheading the blossoms every day, I've had non-stop blooms since it started in early summer!

The butterflies have been coming to it, along with the hummingbirds.  Haven't been able to capture the hummingbirds on camera yet however.

Two butterflies in this shot.

The hens and chicks are still surviving on the rock in the garden :)

And that's about it.  I've had quite a lot mold through some of my flowers this year, which I've never had before.  And my lovely garden phlox never came fully into bloom when they did so well last year.  I lost all my impatients to something that made them disintegrate, and wonder if the abundant hostas are playing host to some snails or grubs.  I think I'll be cutting hostas well back next year and see if that helps.
Thanks for stopping by!
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