Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pins Galore

Wow, I had no idea that I was or had become a collector of pins. I was reading the “Grunge Queen” the other day and she was writing about a recent trip to the Goodwill store where she scored a couple of neat jewelry pieces (read the article here). I loved the filigreed owl pendant and it reminded me of a pin my sister gave me several years ago. So, just for fun, I dug out all my pins to have a look and it seems that I have quite a few!

Just a sampling of my nicer pins.

As I was looking them over I noticed several themes going on. Halloween was the most obvious; this is “The Witch’s Island” afterall! There are skeletons, Dracula, ghosts and witches. Did you pick out the pin that say’s “#1 Witch”? I guess that’s me!
I wear this around the house somedays just to remind hubby who’s boss.

This skeleton hides behind the castle door waiting to pass out treats at Halloween.

The ghost is a little hard to see but then I guess that can be said about all ghosts. He looks like he is flying by a full moon button.

Did you notice the different witch pin in the upper left hand corner? This is an original designed, carved, and hand painted wooden pin from darling Hubby. It’s a beauty and I wear it with pride. The skeleton and Dracula pins have working doors and sometimes I wear them opened and at other times I leave them closed. Oh, and the Scardy Cat pin was too frightened to even be on the same mat as the witch!

Hubby made this for me one year, I hope he wasn’t using a picture of me fo the model!

Next are my bunny pins. I do seem to have an exceptional amount of them, also. The oldest one of these is the “Barnaby Bunny” from Hallmark. He’s turning a yucky yellowish colour now but he is almost 30 years old. There’s a bunny pin with a door as well. Hmm, maybe there’s a theme there, too.

What amazes me is the amount of Christmas reindeer pins in there. I didn’t know that in my subconscious I must really like reindeers. The big gold one (maybe from Avon) actually has a battery inside which allows his nose to flash red. I just love this but the battery will die out quickly if I leave it on for any length of time. It’s a great ice breaker at a Christmas party. Who doesn’t love Rudolph?

I’m surprised that I have this many reindeer pins.

I also have some pins which were given to me from family and friends and as I look at them all gathered together they bring back great memories. The Grinch pin is a gift from my Dad and all of his children received one as a joke. We loved the old Grinch (and Dad, too) and how he stole Christmas. It was always our favourite Christmas show.

The Mexican sunflower with all the turquoise stones was purchased for a couple of bucks at a yard sale by Dad and when he returned from the sale he held his hands behind his back and had my sister and I pick one. This pin was in the hand I picked. I don’t remember what my sister received. I’ll have to ask her.

The sunflower pin that I got from my Dad is near the top of this picture.
Lots of pins, lots of happy memories. Thanks to the Grunge Queen for the inspiration. Enjoy the rest of the pictures.

Pins, closeup.

More pins, closeup.

This giraffe pin is covered with Swarovski crystals.

I think this Avon pin is a dragonfly but Hubby named it Scorpiom for some reason.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer Holiday Building Project

Hubby starts his summer holidays in a month or so and he is starting to get the itch to build something. Truth be told, he gets 4 more weeks of vacation than I do so he needs something to fill in the time while I’m at work. I mean, after all, I can only expect him to do just so much housework before he blows a gasket. A little building project is just what he needs. Besides, back in early March he spent $700 for a new Bosch mitre saw and he hadn’t even plugged it in before today. Building something complicated out in the backyard will put his new toy to the test. It had better be worth the money!

So, what is it to be? Have I mentioned before about the insects here on the Witch’s Island? Summer here consists of about a month of Black Fly season followed by two months of Mosquito season. We are very blessed to have a beautiful backyard and a nice deck to view it from but it can be a bit uncomfortable to sit outside unless you are willing to bathe in insect repellant. We need something to screen out the bugs and still be out in the fresh air.

It just so happens that we found an old copy of “Country Home & Kitchen Ideas” magazine from 1982 with an interesting article about gazebos which included some basic framing plans and dimensions. One line in the text really caught our attention.

“A gazebo can integrate your garden into your homelife by luring you outdoors – not to work or weed, but to relax and enjoy.”

And hopefully to escape the bugs, too! I like the relaxing and enjoying part! A screened-in gazebo sounds like just what we need.

Okay, now how big should it be, where should we put it and what should it look like? We started looking at our neighbourhood and found some nice examples including one at a local nursery. Really, they are not that complex. It’s the trim work that makes them seem so intricate. The size is going to be the most difficult problem to solve. Hubby decided that the easiest way to decide would be to draw a few diagrams and then make a full-sized template and actually place it out in the yard. It’s a good thing, too because the first try was too small.

We have decided that our gazebo will be octagonal and we thought that 4 feet would be a good length for each facet. A little trigonometry said that we should get an octagon of about 9.5 feet across using that dimension. After building a pattern we decided that the interior would be too snug for any more than two people at a time. We increased the length of the sides to 5 feet and the octagon grew to about 12 feet across. Surprisingly, this felt much roomier, almost too big. Maybe somewhere in between but closer to 12 feet than 9.5.

After we got the size more or less set we had to decide where in the yard we would put our gazebo. We dragged the pattern around the yard for a couple of hours, stopping here and there to gauge the view (okay, there might have been some beer consumed while pondering but it is a holiday weekend), finally deciding that we had it right at the start. A couple of feet to the west of the existing deck and at ground level on the high side is where it will likely go. Subject to change, of course!

All we need now is access to a lumber yard and a few weeks of vacation time. Wish us luck!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wind Chimes and Weekend Work

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind”

I was thinking about last week’s post and my laundry out on the clothes line blowing in the wind and it made me think about these beauties pictured below.
These wind chimes are already over 20 years old and they still look and sound great.

It would be really hard to replace this set because the cost of copper is so high that they are not being made any more.
I have had these chimes for well over 20 years now and, hopefully, they will be around for even longer as they are guaranteed for 101 plus years. I got the first one from Hubby as a Christmas gift and thought “Oh boy, where am I going to hang this so it won’t keep us awake at night?” It hung outside our bedroom window for over 18 years before we moved and it never bothered us at all. The funny thing is that you actually don’t notice it after awhile because the sound is so peaceful. They are hanging from the front of the garage at the new place so we can’t hear them at all from the bedroom unless the wind is blowing at gale force but they chime a nice welcome every time we arrive home.

I just love the sound of them. The one with the blue stained glass pendulum is tuned to the sound of “c” and the one with the copper tubes and the orange stained glass is actually supposed to sound like cow bells. They don’t really make the copper kind anymore because copper tubing is hugely expensive. So I really cherish this one.

We never take them down and, yes, they have withstood some huge snowstorms with 80 km winds. Sometimes, if I know it’s going to be really bad, I have unclipped the stained glass disc but usually I just let them swing. I have had to replace the glass disc once because the first time we hung the chime it was too close to the house and high wind slammed it against the wall and broke the glass. What can I say, we were young and foolish? They now hang from wrought iron rods which extend them about 18 inches away from the house.

We have given these as wedding gifts and they have always been hung outside with pride. You could even have one of the tubes engraved with the couples name and date. I haven’t done this but I don’t think it would be hard for us to do.

My little frog guardian is keeping an eye on the little blue spruce trees that we  planted this weekend.

Hubby is busy planting this beautiful little blue spruce while I supervise and run the camera.

The first of the new trees are all nicely aligned and looking good.
Anyway, as usual, it has been a busy weekend. I’ve baked some muffins, done the laundry and cleaned the house. Hubby is STILL painting the front entry, working the land and fertilizing the lawn. It can be very expensive to have all the equipment you need to do all the outside chores so it is a good thing we have great friends who are willing to share their equipment.

This afternoon, we planted six of the nine blue spruce we bought for the front lawn and now we have to make supper, and then it’s back to work tomorrow. Where do the weekends go?

This cute family of owls was bought at the dollar store for less than 10 bucks and they are now looking after my shade garden.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Its Gardening Time!

It’s gardening time, sort of.

Some of these plants are getting very tall. I guess I should have waited a few weeks before planting the seeds.

My little tomatoe seeds were planted about 3 weeks too early. What was I thinking? I guess that’s the point, the weather was so nice in April that I went crazy and started planting. Look at my babies, all 5 different varieties of them. There are “Juliet”, “Bobcat”, “Beefsteak”, “Tiny Tim” and “Sweet Millions” in there. I do end up giving away a lot of the extras to our other gardening friends because there’s no way we are planting all these tomatoes! I always start extra and transplant the cream of the crop.

The Potting Shed is, surprisingly, a great place to transplant seedlings. I can hardly wait until the plumbing is re-connected  for the summer!

You can also see how thrifty I am by saving my yoghurt containers and salad tubs. These work great for this task because you start your seeds in a small windowsill cultivator and then transplant to the yoghurt containers as the plants grow. This way when you are ready for planting you just push the bottom of the yoghurt container and out comes your plant, roots intact, ready to go into the garden or a bigger pot. Save the containers for next year or a second round of planting.

Some of the tomatoes we started last month. Boy, that’s a lot of tomatoes!

Here you can see some of recycled planters, yoghurt tubs and slald boxes.

These Tiny Tim tomatoes have just been transplanted into the yoghurt containers.

Yes, there are definitely way too many tomatoes but you know how it is when you get to the seed store and start reading package labels. They all sound interesting so let’s plant some of each!

Re-cycling in action! We’re going to have to eat more yoghurt!

The salad trays are really cool because they work like mini greenhouses if you close down the lids. That makes for perfect conditions for my babies.

I have also started some pumpkins. In the one picture you can just see them starting to pop up, so I guess the container lid will have to come off. But it really did its job and no worrying about water leaking because there are no holes in the containers that would allow water to leak all over my beautiful hardwood floors.

This picture may be labeled as Sunflower Babies but they are actually pumpkins! Silly Hubby!

Next, I’m going to start my cucumbers, bottle gourds, scarlet runner beans, sunflowers and sweet peas. I find that the birds will eat my sunflower seed if I plant it directly in the ground so that is why I start them indoors now. Also as they grow I can space them where we want. The scarlet runners I put in last year were eaten right away by the slugs so I do the same thing and plant them indoors and then place them around our power pole when they have grown to about 4” or so. I always make sure I sprinkle slug bait (we use Safer’s) around the base of the plants to keep the slimy little buggars away.

If you’re going to try growing scarlet runners don’t plant them too early because they grow really fast. They might have even been the bean used in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Last year the vines climbed all the way up the twenty feet of string we gave them and then started back down again when they couldn’t find any more support. They could easily have grown 40 feet if Hubby could have gotten the guide ropes that far up the pole!

These are the Scarlet Runner beans that we saved from last year.

Speaking of Hubby, he did the first grass cutting of the season. There were lots of dandelions to mow down, the lawn was almost more yellow than green.

My Tree Swallows have returned once again and they are debating over which house to rent, the “High Rise” one on the power pole or the “Duracell” one on the clothes line pole. It’s something like the “House Hunters” TV show; only I can’t show you inside shots. They both have hardwood floors and great curb appeal but which one did they choose? I’ll keep you up-dated as to which house they pick.

This is the High Rise house that the swallows are looking at this year. We’ve moved the flag since this was taken because it would cover the entrance hole in some instances. If you look close you can just make out the Scarlet Runner vines climbing up their strings.

Here are the swallows last year sitting on the clothesline and checking out the Duracell House – the copper top one – get it?

This is from a couple of years ago. Momma swallow is buzzing around the nest trying to get her children to come out for some flight training!
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures of my happy plants and some of last year’s garden. Oh, and don’t forget to get your hummingbird feeders out and get them ready for these tiny jewels, they should be arriving shortly.

Some of the tomatoes in last years garden.

The bottle gourds went nuts last year. They sure did like the obelisks.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Clothesline Etiquette

Clothesline etiquette. What you didn’t know it existed? Apparently it does and a quick Google search turned up hundreds of thousands of articles on the subject including this one and this one but I’ll just share my thoughts with you all anyway.

To start the season off right you should run a damp cloth along the full length of your line to get off all the dirt, including bird poop. Why you ask? Because this only takes about 2 minutes but is well worth the effort. You don’t want your nice clean laundry to have lines of dirt on it, do you?

Make sure your clothesline is tight and you have spacers to add along the way. As your line gets heavy it will sag and these will give it a lift. I have three of the kind with rollers top and bottom and I use them every time because my line is quite long.

I have to say that I love my clothes line. It has a boat winch system that lowers the front pulley to make loading the line easier and then raises it back up again to get the clothes up off the ground. Hubby is a genius! Oh wait, that may have been my idea. What a team we make!!!

Now that I have given you this bit of information it’s time to hang out the laundry. Whites should be washed first and hung out before darks because the laws of science have whites taking longer to dry. Darks or colours next, it really doesn’t matter which.

Take notice of which way the wind is blowing. Hang your button-down shirts, un-buttoned, with the fronts facing the direction from which the wind is blowing. This will encourage the wind to puff out the shirts. This means no ironing. The Witch hasn’t ironed in years. Hang all your shirts out by their tails in case you get any stretching. Nothing looks dumber than pointy shoulders.

I hang all our laundry out, even underwear. We have no neighbors to speak of but even at the old house I would still hang it all out. Really, we all wear it (usually) so why be embarrassed? And mine is so cute (too much information) according to Hubby.

I hang all our towels out also and then if they feel scratchy I just pop them in the dryer for 5 min to fluff them up. The wind here has usually taken care of that problem.

These are just some of my tips and I hope they help everyone take one more step in saving the environment. Look closely at your next electric bill to see how much you have saved, too.

By the way, I don’t usually recommend a product but I have been using a great fabric softener and I think it is worth mentioning Ultra Gain Original Fresh.