Friday, 28 December 2012

Train Talk

Santa delivered a train table to Isaac's house for Christmas.
Callum (who loves to tell everyone what to do and how to play with toys): Don't forget when you are driving a train you have a daily duty to load and unload the train, it's your daily duty. Everyone has a daily duty!
Isaac (who doesn't want to be told what to do by his cousin): Sorry, today is my day off!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Greetings!

Christmas Eve is here and Santa Claus has been busy getting the presents loaded in the sleigh and the reindeer harnessed up. Remember to leave a cookie and a drink for him, it's a long night's work! And Rudolf and the other reindeer would really appreciate a couple of carrots, or a handful of nice green grass.
I'm wishing my bloggy friends a Happy Christmas and may you enjoy good health and good cheer throughout the coming year.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Scotch Settlement

We went geocaching this morning. It's OlderSon and Callum's newest hobby. This particular cache was hidden at the Scotch Settlement Arboretum in Bradford, West Gwillimbury. It was a cool morning.... rain threatened.
In 1815, 140 Scots came from Lord Selkirk's Red River Settlement in Manitoba eventually making their way to what is now known as the Scotch Settlement in West Gwillimbury. The first school and church known as Auld Kirk was established in 1823 .
In 1865 a second church was established. Originally known as "The 2nd West Gwillimbury Presbyterian Church" — over time, the church became known as "The Scotch Settlement Presbyterian Church". The arboretum trees were planted by members of the local Horticultural Society. 
The small cache was wrapped in camo tape and well hidden..... I'm not going to tell where and spoil it.... but easy to find using the GPS.
So we signed the paper with the date and our names, tucked the cache away in it's hiding place and registered the find on the web site. This was a very small cache, but some of them are a lot bigger and contain all sorts of exchangeable items.
On the way back, there were lots of these grey mushrooms in an area surrounded by pine and spruce trees. Anyone know what they are?
Update: Possibly Grey Knight (Tricholoma terreum) also known as the Dirty Tricholoma. This is a late-season mushroom that thrives in pine forests, forming large groups with the first cold spells. And it's edible! But we didn't take any home for dinner.
Geocaching seems to be great way to explore areas that you'd otherwise miss. I had no idea that this little arboretum existed and I knew nothing about the history of the Scotch Settlement..

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Christmas in October

I bought a small Christmas Cactus at Home Depot a few years ago. Each year it gets a little bigger. It stays in my south window all winter and really does nothing much except enjoy the winter sunshine, and then in the spring it goes outside. I don't water it, I just leave it up to Mother Nature to look after it.
And then as soon as it starts to get colder at night I bring it in.
And I noticed that it was covered with tiny pink buds.
Obviously spending the summer outside and being ignored agrees with it.
Only a week later, the whole plant is covered with pink blooms. Just gorgeous.
It's giving me my Christmas present a couple of months early.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Seasonal Changes

O C T O B E R.
Where did the warm September sunshine go? It's getting colder. The furnace has had it's fall cleaning and maintenance and is already warming the house. And there's a frost warning tonight. Brrrr....
I took Tessa the mad DoodleDog for a gentle walk top speed romp through York Regional Forest, and even though it was a dull day, the fall colours were glowing.
I'm so lucky to be able to enjoy this beautiful public place and it's just a ten minute drive from my house. And Tessa's a lucky dog to get to go there with me! I hope she appreciates it.
There were quite a few walkers with their dogs out enjoying the brisk fall air. Most of the dogs were splashing in the pond. Of course, Tessa didn't want to be left out and she joined in the fun. That water must have been very cold but she didn't care! This pond is home to frogs, fish and turtles. The water is flowing all the time, and it freezes over in the winter.
I was just focusing the camera when a jogger suddenly appeared and made me jump.  He must have been hiding in the bushes!!!
I think I'll have to return to this tree with my camera on a sunnier day... the colour was stunning.
 And any amateur mycologists out there, who can ID this mushroom?
No, I didn't pick it, someone else picked it and discarded it. And no, I don't think I'll try it for dinner.... looks a bit dodgy.
Update: after "mushroom picking" through the internet, I think this might be a species of amanita, and definitely poisonous. Pictures here.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Markham Fair

If it's the end of September, it must be Markham Fair.

Markham Fair has been an annual event for 168 years, starting in 1844. It's a real old time agricultural fall fair showing farm animals, rabbits, poultry, antiques, homecrafts, baking, art, photography, farm implements.... just about everything you can think of. And this year the weather was perfect!
Could you name all these vegetables if the captions were taken away?
Unfortunately I didn't notice the weight of the grand champion potato but I think it would feed a pretty large family.  Update.... it was 3.92 pounds.
This owl was made of corn leaves, apples, a carrot nose beak all attached to a pumpkin body.

Here's a handsome fellow, all ready to wake you up each morning.
We saw the horse show, the cow competitions, sheep shearing, and gymnastics displays. We petted fluffy baby chicks. We saw the squashed cars left over from the previous evening's Demolition Derby. We watched an immense purple monster truck taking the public for rides. We even saw a real elephant! But Isaac's favourite part of the day was the visit to the Midway and the Rides!

He had a great time. He waved to me every time he whizzed by. And that happy grin never left his face.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Arrrr, Me Hearty....

I spent the whole day yesterday on a bus trip with about 50 other people.... and it was great fun!

The destination was Stratford.... no, not the famous town of Stratford in England with its Shakespearian theatres and the River Thames and swans.... we went to the famous town of Stratford in Ontario, Canada, with its own Shakespearian theatres and River Thames and swans. Yes, Canada's answer to Shakespeare in the Colonies!
A yummy soup'n'sandwich lunch was prepared by the local United Church Ladies, and then we had about 90 minutes to do some exploring before the theatre. My friend and I found a great little discount clothing shop... and we both indulged in a little retail therapy. Well, that's what tourists do, right?
Then it was time for the show.
The Pirates Of Penzance..... Gilbert and Sullivan of course!

The Stratford Festival celebrates 60 years this year. It started with performing only Shakespeare's plays, but now offers a varied assortment of modern and classical productions. Pirates was great! Fantastic voices, colorful costumes, swashbuckling pirates, demure maidens, and of course, a thrilling (and very funny) fight scene.
And don't forget "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General".... how did he remember all those words?
Then a stop at a chocolate shop to satisfy all the chocoholics on board the bus, and then back to the United Church for a roast beef dinner, followed by a choice of lemon meringue pie or pumpkin pie.... oh, divine!
Then home...... a movie on the bus made the 2 hour drive fly by...... what a great day out.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

High Fliers

What goes up must eventually come down.......
.... and Daddy's there to catch them.

Just noticed.... this is post number 600!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The End of an Era

The last flight of the Space Shuttle program took place today when Endeavour was piggybacked on a 747 from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida across the USA to Los Angeles. It will eventually be on display at the California Science Centre.
 Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space shuttle Endeavour loaded onto the 747.... image from NASA's Image of the Day Gallery.

I'm a little bit sad about the end of the Space Shuttle program. I'll miss seeing those smiling astronauts march out of the building, dressed in their space suits and carrying their helmets, and waving confidently. I always considered it was an amazing feat of engineering to get the shuttle up into space and home again safely, although not everything always went smoothly. Two shuttles and their crews were tragically lost. I watched many of the launches and landings on TV, and I was lucky enough to witness the launch of Endeavour first hand when I was in Florida a couple of years ago. Spectacular!

A couple of additional facts: Endeavour was the replacement for the destroyed Challenger shuttle. It made its debut in 1992 and flew 25 times, logged 198 million kilometres in space, and circled Earth nearly 4,700 times before it was retired. 

Another unforgettable space shuttle moment came on a hot June day in 1983. (Was it really that long ago???) I was at work in Toronto, and looking out of the top floor office window I saw the prototype shuttle Enterprise fly by on top of NASA's first 747 shuttle carrier. Not the normal view from my office window!

Enterprise was on it's way to (or possibly coming back from) the Paris Air Show and made a short side trip to Canada...... probably because Canada had contributed to the space programme with the Canadarm, which was built in Toronto by SPAR Aerospace. Enterprise never flew in space. It was used to practice landings on earth and verify the flight worthiness of the design, and it was retired in 1985. It is now on display at the Intrepid Museum in Manhattan.

Monday, 17 September 2012


My mother back in England used to call them "chrysanths" but here in Canada they're called "mums".... which I always find rather a weird name.... but I love the colours. These beauties are on display at the nursery just around the corner near my house.
I came home with two pots of dark red ones. I just couldn't resist their happy faces.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Getting Creative

I've recently applied for a table to sell some of my Baby Quilts at the local Arts and Crafts sale to be held in November. It is the annual fundraiser for the town Art Gallery. I haven't been told if my work will be accepted yet, but now that summer's over (almost! it's still sunny and warm out there!) it's time to get back to the sewing machine.
Pretty pinks and white, just right for a sweet baby girl.  Just a couple more pinwheel blocks to sew and then I'll start putting it all together.
I love the combination of all these assorted blues, and the tiny red and yellow squares give it that "POP" that it needs.
The fabric collection is Ten Little Things by Jenn Ski for Moda Fabrics.  I love the owls.... and the trucks and traffic signs..... I wish I had more of this fabric!  It's just right for a baby boy.

These projects will show up on my Etsy shop as soon as they are completed.

Friday, 7 September 2012

First Day at School

 The first of many many rides on the Big Yellow School Bus! Are you crying, Mummy and Daddy?
Updated: The Blue Paper Hat identifies a new Kindergarten student, just in case you were wondering!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

If the Shoe Fits.....

The Bata Shoe Museum is located at the southwest corner of Bloor Street and St. George in downtown Toronto. And you wouldn't think that footwear would be a topic that could possibly fill a five storey building inspired by a shoebox, but there are more than 13,000 artifacts spanning 4500 years of history.
There are shoes worn by Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Roger Federer, and Elton John. A single blue Adidas running shoe was worn by Terry Fox on his legendary cross-Canada journey in 1981. Napoleon 's black silk socks are on display. And a pair of burgundy, high-top Supra SkyTop II sneakers that were worn by Canadian teen-idol sensation Justin Bieber
This astronaut's training boot from the Apollo Space program was worn by Jim Lovell in the 1960s
Tiny satin slippers worn by Queen Victoria  (1819 - 1901)
Shaquille O'Neal was one of the NBA's most dominant players, playing on the USA 1996 Olympic team and for Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. Standing 7'-1" and weighing 325 pounds, he wears a size 23 shoe. This shoe is size 20EEE and was worn in 1993 in his Rookie year.... while his feet were still growing.
Roger Vivier (1907 - 1998) was one of the most celebrated shoe designers of the 20th Century. He rose to fame in the 1950s when he designed footwear for Christian Dior, and his shoes signified mid-century glamour, often covered with pearls, lace, jewels, applique, rhinestones and sparkling ornaments.
Princess Nina Midvani, daughter-in-law of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, owned this pair of made-to-measure Vivier shoes.
This shoe designed by Vivier in the 1960s would be quite fashionable today.
Another wing of the Museum houses a collection of moccasins created by Indigenous peoples from diverse regions of North America. Ninety pairs of shoes, boots and moccasins show exquisite craftsmanship, regional patterns, and beautiful decoration.
Beading on both the uppers and on the sole of the shoe,worn for special events..
And yet another wing of the Museum is dedicated to the Roaring Twenties. As hemlines rose, shoes became increasingly important for stylish women and many of the decade's exceptional shoes illustrate the electrifying synergy between fashion and design.
A great way to spend an afternoon... shoe shopping!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Olympic Relay

I'm really getting tired of being bombarded with the same old annoying TV commercials over and over again while I'm trying to enjoy the Olympics. I know they are a necessary evil, but I tend to press the mute button and find something else to do while they're showing on the screen.
However, there's one Canadian ad that I can watch quite happily multiple times.... I find it inspired and amusing and I always giggle at the ending.

Although I don't think it's going to encourage me to shop at Rona more often. Anyone got a hammer handy?

Monday, 6 August 2012

365 Days

Last year about this time two tiny people arrived in my life. They made their blog debut here.
One year old today!
And now they are celebrating their first birthdays! Almost walking, and definitely talking. Happy Birthday Max and Emma! And congratulations to mum and dad and big brother Isaac for surviving the first year of the Double Trouble Terror Twosome.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Hit the Deck!

At the back of my house there was just a tiny balcony and a rather boring concrete patio, just big enough for my garden table and a few chairs. But I wanted more outdoor useable space.... so I got the deck people in.

The deck had to be built as a stand-alone floating unit, and not attached to the existing structure so the framework was built on concrete deck blocks. Pressure treated lumber was used.... this will withstand the harsh winters and the hot summers and will weather to a soft grey. Unless I want to stain it in a couple of years.
The wooden rail on the existing balcony was removed, and a few damaged boards replaced. A sturdy rail was built all around the new deck, and a matching gate.... to keep babies and dogs in!

There's enough room for my patio table and six chairs, and a couple of sun umbrellas. And a cedar privacy screen that smells wonderful when it gets wet. I've already entertained family and friends with BBQ dinners al fresco. A few pots of flowers and hanging baskets will decorate it beautifully. I know I'll be making good use of this new outdoor room..