Sunday, May 18, 2014

Love of Lace

I have a love for lace and over the years have collected numerous lace doilies.    A number of these were given to me from my mother, grandmother and from friends as they began downsizing their homes.  A number of them I have crocheted myself.   

My collection had grown and I no longer knew what to do with all these doilies and couldn't bear to part with them.  

I had a large open space above our couch in our living room that looked empty and bare.
So I decided to create some wall art !  


I used two used stretched canvas on 23.5 inch square wood frames.  
The canvases were then primed and painted with an acrylic folk paint found at a craft store in my favourite colour - Blue.   The shade I chose is called "Midnight" by "Folk Art"

 The fun part was arranging the doilies on the canvases, deciding which ones to choose and where best to place them. 

After a time of arranging and re-arranging I finally had the pieces in the places where I wanted them. 

I next hot-glued each doily in it's place.

These doilies also have special meaning - there are parts of my grandmother, mother, friends and myself woven into these collages.   
Now I can enjoy the intricate work of these pieces instead of having them 
shut away in a box.

The finished result .......

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Simple Knitted Shawl

At a recent Knitters Guild meeting our guest speaker for the evening was a mother daughter team from "Black Sheep and Ewe".

You can check out their website at for products and their event schedule.    They participate in events both in Canada and the United States

I bought two or their "bling shawl" kits at a very reasonable price.   The one shown in the photos is called "Perseids" - a composition of 65% dralon, 31% wool and 4% payette.  It also had sequins attached throughout the yarn which gives it some fun "bling".   The "Bling Shawl" kit came with two balls of yarn - enough to make the "Bling Shawl" or the "Bling Cowl" - both patterns were included.

The patterns are simple which a beginning knitter would be able to complete.

The second bling shawl will be posted as soon as it's finished.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spring Night Hiking

Boardwalk on Roberts Side Trail
About a month ago, I joined up with the local Naturalist Club and we went out on a night hike to see the salamanders.    I have seen salamanders before, but never in the wild.

We met at about 8:30pm on a Saturday night and hiked in 300 meters off the road along Roberts Side Trail, which is part of the Bruce Trail in the Silver Creek Conservation area.

A wide boardwalk was built on this section of the trail to protect the habitat of the endangered Jefferson salamander.    There was still snow on the ground in and around parts of the trail.

There is a brief time period each spring where you can see the salamanders.  They live underground for 11 months of the year.  Each Spring they surface and head to the pond to mate and lay their eggs.    At first we didn't see any Salamanders, but as the night grew darker we found them crawling towards the pond.   We we fortunate that night and not only did we see the endangered Jefferson, but also a yellow spotted, red back and rare albino Jefferson salamander.  The later the evening became, the more salamanders we saw and we had to be careful with each step we took, so as not to step on any as they were making their way to the pond.

The salamanders allowed themselves to be picked up.  They don't bite, however, was told they do secrete a liquid from their skin, that can make you sick if it is ingested. 

The next weekend I went out again and it was difficult finding any Salamanders as they were already in the pond and we found egg masses laid underwater. 

It was quite an amazing site to see these small creatures.  This was also the first night hike I had been out on and is quite different from daytime hikes.  At night you need to rely on different senses, ie hearing and the motion around you as it's difficult to see very far even with a flashlight.   You need to be very aware of your surroundings as it is very easy to get lost if you're not sure of where you are going.  You hear different noises in the woods at night too.   The screech owls are out and even some racoons decided to have a fight in a tree near by. 

Jefferson Salamander
Jefferson Salamander
Jefferson Salamander

Yellow Spotted Salamander
Red Back Salamander
Part Albino Jefferson Salamander

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Trying to Get Ahead

Do you ever get frustrated, the more you try to save, scrimp, budget, it feels like you get further behind?   You think, what more can we cut out of our budget when we've already cut out so much, such as; cable, scrutinizing every utility bill to cut out any extras, cook from scratch, don't eat out, stay-vacations, re-use/re-purpose, garden, coupon, etc. etc..  Here's some links to a number of  cost cutting measures we've taken over the years.   I am always looking for more tips and tricks and ways to save even more.

Life throws you curve balls.  During the last month, natural gas in our area went up 40% !  Yup ! 40% !   Our furnace uses natural gas to heat the house and our hot water tank runs on natural gas.   Fortunately the days are getting warmer, and mother nature has given us an abundance of free wood from fallen trees this winter due to the ice storm last December.  We have a few months to gather wood, split, chop and stack to get ready for the fall/winter.  We already keep our house temp quite low during the winter - 62F during the day when we are home and 56F at night and when we're not at home.  We rely on heat from our wood burning insert in the fireplace to help us through and wear extra clothes to keep warm - socks and slippers ! 

Gas prices in our area have also increased and it's taking about $10 more to fill up the car each week, just to get to work.  The news tells us that prices will be even higher by the summer.   Food prices have also increased.  Other costs, such as insurance, telephone, etc. have been inching their way up too. 

Last month I also got a rather large car repair bill on my 10 year old car.   Repairs are still less than the monthly payments would be for a new car, so I will be hanging on to this one as long as I can.   Unfortunately, a car is a necessity as public transit it very limited in our neck of the woods and moving is not an option.  Today, we were also hit with a large unexpected furnace repair bill too.  

Last month I needed to get new glasses.  In an attempt to be frugal, I opted to just replace the lenses and keep my old frames and still the bill was big !   While waiting for my new lenses to arrive, I was using an old pair of glasses a couple of prescriptions old and it certainly was a frustrating feeling being in somewhat of a "blurr".   Even though it was only less than two week wait, I was so excited to see clearly again !

Then, Microsoft decided to not support Windows XP anymore and my 10+ year old faithful desktop computer could not support any upgrades what-so-ever.   I was fortunate and found a very good used laptop for a very very reasonable price.

My seedlings I planted indoors in recycled/re-purposed paper have not done well and just recently been attacked by aphids too.   Where these little critters came from indoors is somewhat of a mystery.  Most likely hibernating in some of the plants I brought indoors last fall.

I wonder how others are able to make ends meet and still are able to take nice vacations couple times a year, drive new cars and live in bigger houses, have lots of toys, etc., etc.  Maybe they are not able to make ends meet and are living on credit ? 

I know there are many who are not as fortunate as we are now and if you throw in  job losses and major health scares, which we have also had - it makes it so much more challenging.  I do know what it's like to wonder where your next meal is coming from as I was also a single parent for a number of years raising two small children on my own, working on minimum wage with a couple of part time jobs on the side as well.   Hard work is not foreign to me.   But you do what you have to do.

Yes, life has its challenges !    

All this to say, all the sustainable and frugal living skills I have learned over the years, just kick into full gear and we just keep on going.  Check out the side bar folders on sustainable living, frugal living, gardening, finances, recipes etc. for lots of ideas.

As my granddmother and mother always used to say.....

"When life hands you lemons...... make lemonade "

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