Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rainy Day

Nan's old beach umbrella.

Vintage now.

The beach umbrella is Nan and the duct tape is Gramps. He put duct tape on everything. He even used duct tape to fix the holes in his socks.

It's funny how inanimate objects have so much life in them through our memories. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Beach Umbrella -

Family backyard barbecues. Swimming pool. Splashing. Aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, sisters, brothers, parents, and friends, all gathered together at Nan's house. Roast beef dinners and green salad with only one dressing on it. Eating under the beach umbrella at the picnic table. 

See also The Beach.
J sometimes feels left out because I post so many photos of K.

Well, he's never said that to me. But I'm fairly certain he must feel that way. Maybe it's some sort of mother guilt I am feeling that makes me think that. So I have to post some photos of him. And not her.

At least, not today. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Live Simply. 

Easy to say. Hard to do.
We helped some friends today get ready for a big party tomorrow.

Our friends, T and T, have a son deploying to Afghanistan in a couple months. They are throwing a "Goodbye! Stay Safe! We'll Miss You!" party for him. My friend T had asked if she could borrow our big tent in case of rain or too much sunshine.

We watched the weather all morning long. Showers and drizzle on and off. Mostly on.

We had to get the tent up so we waited until it looked like it was clearing and heading over to their house with the tent all bundled up and covered with tarps so the cardboard boxes would not get wet. Because, of course, it started to rain heavily once we left the driveway.

After hemming and hawing for a bit, we decided we were going to leave the tent and set it up tomorrow morning. But I could see that was causing my friend T some stress. I know I would not want to be setting up a tent just a couple hours before my guests were set to arrive. There is way too much to do the morning of a big party and setting up a tent should not be one of those things to do.

So I said, "Let's just set it up today. It's only rain. We won't melt!"  T jumped all over that one. I could see the relief on her face.

And everyone else agreed. Except the Man. He had a "you have bats in your belfry" look on his face.

Yes, it rained the entire time. We got soaked. Our hair was hanging in limp, wet strands with streams of water running down our faces. My shorts were so damp, they were sagging and I had to hold them up so they wouldn't fall off. At one point I looked at T, she looked at me, and we just started giggling. 

Wet rats. That's what we looked like.

This was one of those days that I don't want to forget. Funny moments spent with good friends, working together, helping each other. It's all good stuff and happy stuff and please-don't-let-me-forget-this stuff.

The rain stopped as soon as we finished.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Bits of Randomness

I never get enough of this.

Especially when the fresh tomatoes from the garden start coming in. And the basil. Oh, yes, the fresh basil. 
Hanging from the laundry line. 

I gave him wide berth.

Spiders can eat you.
Some treasures from the flea market at the beach last weekend. I found a bunch of vintage postcards, most dated around 1910. I'm going to use them as little touches here and there throughout the year.

~~~~~~~~~~

So the verdict on the black bean "brownies" was an overwhelming, "Yes! Delicious!"

My co-workers really enjoyed them. They ate almost the whole plate. One of my co-workers thought the consistency was a bit dense, like beans are, and she said they were, "okay." But everyone else liked them a lot. I brought some over to a friend's house tonight. I'm trying to spread the wealth so I can gather lots of opinions.

They are more like fudge than brownies. So I think I will call them Fake Fudge.

Brownies?

I got a bit busy last night. No time to blog. I had seen a recipe going around Pinterest that I had to try and last night was the night.

Black bean brownies. 

I'm bringing them to work today for a final verdict. So far, the vote in the house is two likes, one so-so and one has to try a few more bites before she'll decide.

That would be me.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Encyclopedia

I found a book at the library a few weeks ago that I can't stop thinking about.

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

The author writes her memoirs in the form of an encyclopedia. Keywords. Short entries. Diagrams. I love the format of the book.

I think I'm going to write mine.

~~~~~~~~~~

Under the As:

Apple Pie - My mom made the best apple pie. Flaky crust, thick and chunky apples, full of cinnamon and brown sugar, my sisters and I couldn't wait to eat those pies. I don't remember seeing her make them. They always just appeared, usually around the holidays. We were probably off at school while she did all the rolling out and chopping and baking. We would come home and there they would be, looking perfect in ceramic deep dish pie plates she made. I never got to make an apple pie with my mom. I wish I had. When I had children, I made apple pie with them. I didn't want them to miss out on a memory.

Under the Fs:

Flip Flops - I have bought over one hundred pairs of flip flops in my life. Out of those, I only have two favorite pairs. They are recent additions to my collection. I wear them every day during the summer and hate to give them up when the cool weather comes. Sanuk flip flops. But don't buy them. I don't want to create a run on them. Sanuk = happy feet.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Funny Business

Went to see "Lee Daniels' The Butler" tonight with some friends.

I liked it. A lot.

But the real show was all the traffic going in and out of our row.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Man and I went with another couple and we chose to sit on the end of a row. I always sit on the end of the row because I need a quick escape in an emergency situation.

I'm a little quirky like that.

It's also the reason why I like to have the hallway door open at the library. If there's an emergency and I need to evacuate the building, I don't want a door to slow me down. So I keep it propped open.

My friend D and I sat on the end seat and second seat in the row, the Man and D's husband sat in the third and fourth seat in. A group of four or so was occupying the middle of the row and there were more people in the seats at the other end of the row.

As the previews were playing, a group of three women came in and wanted to get to some seats toward the middle of our row. They slowly worked their way down the line while people shifted in their seats to make room. The last woman in didn't even try to avoid banging into any of us. She just moved through like a snowplow, clearing a path in her wake.

Within an hour, snowplow woman had to go to the ladies' room. Again she came through, smacking us all on the legs as she went by. When she had passed me, and had dragged her legs across my knees, I noticed that one of my knees felt damp. Of course, I had shorts on - leaving me with bared, exposed knees open to all kinds of germs and nasty things. Ewww.

I started to get a whiff of something not quite kosher and the freak-out began. I squirmed in my seat, trying to avoid the odor I was smelling. I bent over to get a good look at my knee and see if there was anything smeared across it. Snowplow woman returned and this time I turned my body ninety degrees so that we didn't touch as she passed by.

I lasted about ten minutes and had to excuse myself. I just about ran into the ladies room and grabbed a bunch of paper towels, wet them, and loaded them up with antibacterial soap. I scrubbed my legs and dried them. Got more paper towels and more soap. Scrubbed my legs again and dried them. All the while, I've got one leg propped up on the counter so I can see what I'm doing. And then I switch, making sure I don't miss any spots.

The irony here is that if anyone had come in at that moment, I would have looked like a freak. But I didn't care. I had to get the nasty germs off my legs.

I made it back to my seat with minimal disruption, sat down, and sank back into the movie.

Ten minutes later, another woman from the same group had to get past us to go to the ladies' room. Again, I twisted ninety degrees to let her out. Settled back in to the movie and waited for her to come back. When she did, she couldn't find our row. D and I saw her and immediately started to make room for her to go past us. She saw us moving and realized what row she was seated in. She brushed past us, whispering "thank you" as she went by. 

Glad to be of assistance, ma'am.

A few minutes later, another woman is walking up the aisle along the side of us and trips just as she is going past our row. I saw her start to fall, looked at D's face to see the look of horror as we both realize the woman is heading right towards us. Thankfully, she caught herself before she hit the floor, windmilling her arms to catch her balance. I really thought she was going to land across D's lap and my lap. D and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. Unbelievably, the movie was right in the middle of a very funny scene and everyone else was laughing too. 

Which made us laugh even harder.

So, yes, the movie was funny. But not for the reasons you might think.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Flea Market Bag

I found myself with a free morning one day last week so I decided to get a bit creative. I had pinned a bag a few days before that I had fallen in love with. You can see it here. Heather is a very crafty, talented woman. And the bag she designed is perfect to take to the flea market to hold all your treasures as you shop.

I rummaged through my fabric stash to find a cheery yellow print.

I found a pretty-in-pink Jane Austen fabric instead. But I really wanted yellow on the outside of the bag so I found a small piece of yellow and combined the two so I could use the pink fabric for the lining.
Love the font on the Jane Austen fabric.
I chose to make a bag about 18"x16". I wanted it longer than wider. I cut my burlap about 36"x17". The extra inch on the width is a seam allowance.

You can cut it to your own dimensions, depending on how big of a bag you want.
To make the cuff/lining piece, I sewed one edge of the yellow and pink fabric together and ironed open the seams. I laid out the burlap on the lining, with the edge of the burlap lined up on the center of the seam. I marked off the other end of the pink fabric, where the burlap ended, added an extra 0.5" for a seam allowance and cut.

I sewed the second piece of yellow to the pink lining and ironed open that seam. Now I had a piece of pink lining with a yellow piece attached at each end.
My yellow piece had to be trimmed, so I guessed about seven inches for the yellow outer cuff on the bag. I trimmed it to eight inches to allow for a little bit of overlap into the lining of the bag and to give me some fabric to hem.
I laid out the burlap to make sure it fit properly. Or at least close enough.

* If you only use one fabric for the outer cuff and lining, you can skip the steps where I pieced together the two colored pieces and matched the lining to the burlap. Instead, decide how big you want your cuff (ie. seven inches), add 0.5" for a hem, and then double it (because there are two sides to the bag!) and add that number to the length of your burlap piece. That's how big you want to cut your cuff/lining piece. So using my dimensions of 18"x16" bag, you would want to cut a piece of burlap 36"x17" (You add an inch to the width for a seam allowance - I use 0.5" seam allowance for burlap.) You would cut your lining/cuff fabric 51"x17" (36" + 7.5(2)" = 51")
Hem the edge of the cuff by folding the fabric 0.25" and then doing it again to give it a nice finished edge. That's where the 0.5" hem allowance comes into your fabric measurement. Pin it down and stitch.

Lay the burlap onto the fabric.
Fold the cuff over onto the burlap and pin it down. Make sure you pin the hemmed edge, which is the outside of your bag.

* The hemmed edge of the cuff is not sewed to the burlap.
Fold the fabric in half, right sides facing. Your lining should be on the outside of the bag. Make sure you match up the cuffs so they are even with each other. Using a 0.5" seam allowance, stitch up the sides of the bag with a straight seam. It may be overkill, but I also zigzag stitched the edges because I dIdn't want the burlap unraveling.
Flip the bag inside out and it's finished. Now you just need to make a strap.
To make the strap, I used the leftover pieces from when I trimmed the cuff/lining piece. I found a messenger bag and measured the strap on that to figure out how long to cut my handle. I cut a piece about 3" wide x the length I wanted the bag, plus 10" (5" for each end) to account for the ends I would need to attach it to the bag.

With right sides facing, stitch the long edges together and flip inside out.

Fold and tuck in the raw short edges and stitch closed.
Center the handle along the side seam. Pin it down and stitch along the top edge of the bag, attaching the handle to the bag.

Do the same for the other side.
The next part is a little tricky. And of course, I didn't take any pictures because I was busy trying to figure out how to attach the ends to the bag.

Working inside the bag, I lined up the end of the strap with the side seam and pinned it to the bag, being careful not to pin the outer cuff, only the lining and the burlap.

I slid the bag into the sewing machine with the cuff facing up. I pushed back the cuff to get it out from under the needle and, using my fingers to feel where the strap was pinned, I sewed back and forth, catching the end of the strap. The photo above shows you what it looks like from the inside of the bag. I did this on each side of the end of the strap.

Do the same for the other side.

When you are finished, trim your threads, remove from the sewing machine, and push the cuff back down. You won't see the sewing you just did to attach the handle. It will be hidden under the cuff!

Don't forget to trim all your threads.
Finished bag.

Love it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Star Light, Star Bright

A whole passel of people at the beach this weekend. We had enough to man a football team.

We chose to play poker instead. Well, the rest of them played. I was too busy with my camera to play.

I took a photo of A's hand and offered to sell a peek at the photo for one dollar. Lots of takers until A gave me the stink eye. He's such a good sport.
Most poker games include whiskey and cigars.

Not ours.

Water and Oreos for us. We're tough guys.
Always time for a fish face.
I love this photo.

The blues are just. so. pretty.

Memories are like this photo for me. Vague shapes and blurry impressions. There's not much that is crystal sharp. A few things here and there but mostly it's all a blur.
I think that is what draws me to photography.

Photos are a way for me to remember things with crystal sharp accuracy, like the red sunglasses K bought at the flea market that make her look so glamourous and K's friend E coming to the beach with us this weekend. You can see E in the reflection. Without this photo, I doubt I would remember those small details ten, twenty, or more, years from now.

Capturing moments. Recording history. Trying to stave off the ravages of time on the memory.
My BIL brought spike ball to play on the beach. 

Everyone that played enjoyed it. I enjoyed sitting in the sun, soaking up some sunshine, and listening to the water and seagulls.

And eating chocolate chip cookies.

Classic beach food, non?
The golden hour.

Yes. Yes, it is.
Got a chance to use my new tripod and remote release this weekend.

J's friend, A, is a photographer too. We had lots of fun shooting the stars. Can you see the Milky Way on the left? It's the cloudy formation running from top to bottom.
Looking south along the shoreline.

That sunburst coming from the window of the house? Totally unexpected. Totally cool.
Opened the lens up for ten minutes, using the tripod and remote release. 

This scene was middle-of-the-night dark. Take another look at the two photos above and that's how dark it was. I still can't believe how much light is absorbed when you leave the shutter open.

I love the star trails. I love the concentric circles, catching the Earth's rotation. I love how the North Star is at the center of the rotation.

A different set of eyes. That's what night photography does for me. Lets me see the world with a different look.

It is just. plain. fun.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Beach Music

 Aaaah. The beach. 

Time to dig a hole and jump in. 

~~~~~~~~~~


 “Every time I stand before a beautiful beach, its waves seem to whisper to me: If you choose the simple things and find joy in nature’s simple treasures, life and living need not be so hard.” 
- Psyche Roxas-Mendoza


K and her friend and I came down to the beach early. We had some shopping to do before we got here. 


Outlet mall. Words that strike terror into the Man's heart.

Let me just say....we saved the Man SO. MUCH. MONEY with all the sales we happened upon.

"You'd save more money if YOU DIDN'T GO SHOPPING!" he might have said to me a time or two or twenty. 

Tra-la-la. I can't hear you.
“My day is done, and I am like a boat drawn on the beach, listening to the dance-music of the tide in the evening.” 
- Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Easy Peasy Bookmark

Here's a quick craft for you.

I'm calling it the "Easy Peasy Bookmark" - I feel a bit guilty posting this but I was showing it to a co-worker a few days ago and she loved the idea and had never thought of it. It's a great way to save a memento or all those little pieces of scrap memories that we somehow collect.

We bought the Toronto City PASS when we were on vacation and managed to visit four of the five attractions included. That meant I had one ticket left, plus the cover, pictured above. Times four, since we each had our own City PASS.

I didn't want to throw them out. I love the black/white/red color scheme and the font and the layout. I decided to turn one of the covers  into a bookmark.

Being a librarian, I tend to think about all things books, all the time.

I found my shipping tape, slapped a couple pieces on one side, overlapping a little bit. Turned it over and did the same for the back and then trimmed it. 

The first time I made one of these bookmarks, I trimmed it right along the edge. That wasn't good. The front and back tape pieces weren't sticking together and it left the sides of the bookmark exposed. It got damp. I learned to leave a little bit of a border when trimming so the tape stays sealed.

I told you it was easy peasy.

The Great White North, Day Six



Last day in Toronto.

We took a brewery tour.

We had tried to go the day before but the tours were all sold out by the time we got there.

Yikes.

You have to get there very early to book a tour.

A nice employee felt bad that we missed the tours so he gave us tickets for a free tour on another day. We were there bright and early the next morning.

Free beer. Free tour. 

Score.
Our tour guide was great. She gave us all a bottle of beer to start the tour, which we carried around sipping and sampling the entire time. She walked us around the brewing floor, along the catwalk above, explaining the brewing process and different pieces of machinery we were seeing. She took us into the back offices for a "behind the scenes" peek. She had hops and barley for us to see and smell and taste.

After the tour, we hung out with her and another employee. We talked about their beer and where it could be found. They only ship in Canada right now and not all of Canada, just some of it. Quebec won't let them sell in that province. Apparently you have to have a business presence in the province to sell there. They also won't let you use their roads to get through to another province. So you won't find Steam Whistle beer in Nova Scotia.

Quebec doesn't sound very friendly, does it?
Next stop? Ontario Science Center.

The contraption above measures your heart rate and and puts it to a color changing show. We were all fascinated with this machine.

And had to check to make sure we had heart beats.
A tornado making machine. My kind of machine.

Foggy smoke swirled around the bottom and the kids would jump in and move their arms in a circular fashion. Sure enough, a tornado would appear.

I could have watched this machine for hours.

~~~~~~~~~~

Someday. Someday I'm going to chase tornadoes.
The last four photos in this post weren't taken our last night, but the night before. I forgot them on Day Five.

We went to a very cool place, the Distillery. A bunch of brick buildings that were a distillery at one time and have since been converted into shops, and restaurants, and bars, and pubs.

We walked around here for a while. Found a brewhouse to eat at, while tasting some mighty fine brews, and then wandered around a bit more.
This restaurant looked very popular judging by the number of people waiting outside.

I liked the tiny white lights over the walkway.
Walking back to the car. 

End of a great meal. Among many other great meals during the week.

End of a great evening. Among many great evenings of good weather, warm nights, and tasty treats.

End of a great day. Really, they were all great days.

End of a great trip.
Goodbye, Toronto.

You are a lovely city.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Great White North, Day Five

Casa Loma.

Felt like we had been taken back to England during Jane Austen's days.
The conservatory.

Only one word for this room. 

Stunning.

Well, maybe breathtaking too.

And beautiful. And sunny. And happy.

That's quite a few words. Honestly, they all apply.

~~~~~~~~~~

I love the word conservatory. When I was standing in this room, I wanted to jump up and turn around, throw my arm out, point at someone, and yell, "MISS SCARLET, WITH THE DAGGER, IN THE CONSERVATORY!"

However, since I did not want to embarrass my children or the Man, I kept my peace.
The placards placed around tell the story of Casa Loma. 

I don't remember everything but I do remember walking out of there thinking that the man who built it got the short end of the stick from the city of Toronto.

They took the home from him for back taxes. 
Gorgeous stained glass dome.
The wife's room.

Must live here. 
Red ceiling.

What??
After that visit, we went to the CN tower.

It's no longer the tallest anything on the world record books but it's right up there with the tallest of them.

It's 1815 feet tall. A little over a third of a mile high.

Gulp.
View from the observation floor.

I don't really like heights. 
The glass floor. You can see all the way to the ground.

1122 feet down.

Double gulp.
My feet. I wanted proof that I stood on this glass floor.

The Man practically ran out as far as he could go. He was all smiles, downright giddy, while he was out there. Snapping pictures. Waving his arms around.

He coaxed me out so we could get a photo together. It took a little bit of persuasion to get me out there. And when I got there, he started jumping up and down.

Let me repeat that. HE STARTED JUMPING UP AND DOWN.

I was not a happy woman. K was snapping photos of this whole exchange. There are lots of shots of me making cranky faces, telling him to "STOP JUMPING! RIGHT NOW!"

And then there's one where I remember why I am out there in the first place so I look at K and smile pretty for the camera.

But it's still a very stressed looking photo and I am not posting it for the whole wide world to see.

~~~~~~~~~~

I can not believe how nervous I was standing on that glass. And looking down. 

Very scary. Very scary indeed.

I had to put on my big girl pants and be brave.
The Man refuses to make crazy faces.

So in every photo of crazy faces we have, he's the only one who looks sane.
Meandered along the harbor for a while.

Enjoyed the sunny day and waterfront.

Pretty harbor. Pretty Toronto.