Thursday, January 31, 2008

stopping junk mail, desktop wallpapers, etc.

Here's the lovely neckwarmer Ingrid made for me, being worn properly this time.
And I laughed out loud at this picture Adam took - I was talking. What a dork I am!
If you would like Canada Post to stop delivering un-addressed mail to your box (certain flyers, and other junk mail) go here for details.

Terrific desktop wallpapers (no, really, they're great) are here.

Happy Thursday evening!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

winner du jour

Phillip and I put the names in a jar...
I reached in...
And the winner is...
Hi, I'm terri! Well hi, I'm Sherrie, and if you send me an email (grahamsherrie at yahoo dot ca) with your name and address, I'll send you your hard-won soaps!

Thank you again for all of your sweet comments - I'm still beaming.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Only a few more hours...

If you haven't commented yet on my 500th post contest, you only have a few hours left! The cutoff is tonight at midnight, and I'll randomly draw a winner tomorrow afternoon when I get home from work! The post to comment on is here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

snow day the first

Double the anticipation.
Last year's bloom (on the wall, taken by Adam) and this year's. Phillip slept for a long time. So I got to my friendly cleaning arsenal (I need prettier labels!) and washed windows, cleaned bathrooms, and tidied up.

Piles of soap waiting for their new homes (how pitiful does that sound?) You can buy them in my Etsy shop!

some serious fun

We are in for some serious fun in this household today. The first full snow day of 2008! Phillip was up at 5:30 to celebrate.

Thanks for all of the sweet comment / contest entries! Keep them coming!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

chocolate peppermint and fruit smoothie handmade soap



I just updated my Etsy shop - Fruit Smoothie (top, hot process) and Chocolate Peppermint (below, cold process) are now available! $4 per bar at the shop! If you'd like some, head on over and order, and be sure to leave me some positive feedback once you receive and fall in love with the soap.

pyjama pants

un-cashmere un-cowl neckwarmer



The other day, I saw this lovely neckwarmer and loved the pattern - not the regular knitti-ness with the straight lines and such. (Can you tell I'm not a knitter?) I mentioned it to Ingrid, thinking that I might be able to make it, and when Annie and Ingrid came over to knit on Friday, Ingrid had whipped one up for me! Toggle and all! (I'm a big fan of toggles.) Adam took the picture as we ran outside in the very much below freezing weather, so we didn't take the time to adjust it and tuck the end under. I always stick my tongue out like that. Sigh. Anyway, I love it and it's perfect! Thanks, Ingrid!

Edited to add a picture of me wearing it properly!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What?! 500 posts? That deserves a contest!

As I was daydreaming, my 500th post was, fittingly, about Frenchy's. I think that 500 posts deserves a contest! The winner will receive two bars of soap handmade by moi - one Vanilla Peppermint, and one Mango Smoothie (unless you happen to have a citrus allergy, in which case substitution can be made.)

To enter, leave a comment about what you like the best about the 500 previous posts - it can be as vague or as specific as you like. You have until midnight (Atlantic) Tuesday January 29th to enter, and I will randomly draw a winner on Wednesday when I get home from work.

Happy commenting!

operation clean sweep at Frenchy's and a complete bedroom

Phillip insisted that he be included in the photo shoot in his snazzy pyjamas.Here are my favourite Frenchy's finds, perhaps ever. Yes, that's right - ever.
As you may know, the wall hanging is a pillowcase from Frenchy's, stuffed with a piece of cardboard. Yesterday, I found not only the two plates which match the pillowcase (!) but also the curtain (which is perfect and I love) and the ceramic dish which is now the home for my pet moss. Oh, and also the additional white pillowcase. (And the duvet cover, throw on the end of the bed, and the rest of the pillowcases are also from Frenchy's.)


OK - I am officially in love with my bedroom. It (to me, anyway) looks like something from the pages of Country Living, a magazine which I love. In case you're not familiar with the magazine, it's emphatically not Country Sampler. Rather than new junk masquerading as old junk, and cutesy early 90's type 'country' ugliness with tole painted loons and forest green and burgundy abounding (imho), Country Living is real old stuff and neat thrifted finds, put together in interesting ways. (In this month's issue, there's a salvage company in Maine I dream of visiting someday.) What do you think?

I also found a bunch of clothes at Frenchy's yesterday, including this t-shirt which I am also in love with, a little black cardigan, and a couple of new tank tops, some pyjama bottoms, and a couple other things I can't remember. All of which are things I will wear often. The best thing about these finds? I contributed to the used-rather-than-new clothing circle of life by reusing, and I spent less than $30 for everything. Yee-haw!

how to buy spices


1. Go to your local health food store.

2. Ask for enough of organic spice X to fill a spice jar.

3. Buy spice-jar sized amount of organic spice for approximately 37 cents.

4. Be giddy that rather than buying a jar at the big food store, you
a) supported a local business (not so much by the 37 cents, but by the other necessities you picked up)
b) got only as much of the spice as you needed so that you don't have obscene amounts of stale spices in your drawer for six years
c) you have exactly the right amount to fill a jar you already have
d) you paid almost nothing for an organic spice rather than the $5 or so it would cost at aforementioned big store

The only better thing to do would be to grow your own and dry them or use them fresh!

Friday, January 25, 2008

red and green



There's more mossy goodness coming this weekend - I found this fabulous little planter at Frenchy's today and scavenged some moss from beneath the snow (you can still see some snowy remains) in our yard and planted it. I ADORE it. I adore even more the little space I have in the house for it. With that little incentive, check back in! (It includes a few more Frenchy's Finds.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

baby-man with a mission

video

Adam took this video clip of Phillip today - he's really moving around these days, especially when he sees something he wants! I love his little soundtrack - make sure you turn up the volume!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

a taste of summer in January

yummy Sunday



I did a little bit of cooking and baking today, and it felt so good! (I'm hoping to make a batch of my favourite cookies tonight, too.) The first recipe is Greek Chicken Pasta from (where else?) allrecipes.com. It is super quick and easy to make, and is absolutely delicious! I think I would like it with homemade pasta; I just used boxed penne this time. The bread smells delicious. It's an easy-peasy bread machine French dough, and I just put it on the dough cycle and popped it in the oven. Here's the recipe:

Bread machine French bread:

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp bread machine yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine in order listed. You can make baguettes or a regular looking loaf if you set it to the dough cycle, or you can just bake it in the machine. I'm going to have a nice thick slice with butter and jam later on. Mmmm. (I didn't use whole wheat or even whole white flour this time - what a treat!)

check these Frenchy's finds out

Check these Frenchy's finds out on Ingrid's blog - one was a gift from me.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

blue eggs and oatmeal



I bought a carton of local blue eggs at Yarmouth Natural Foods yesterday. They're beautiful! A very subtle blue which reminds me of Spring and the smell of mud. I included the oats because I love them in the clear jar with the handy scoop, and I happened to be taking the egg pictures on the counter next to the oats.

pending amaryllis success



As I've mentioned before, I've had little success with amaryllis in the past. But this year - oh, this year - I bought three bulbs after Christmas and *in a whisper so the bulbs don't hear me and abort their plans to bloom* I have three flowers on the way. Watch out folks, I've conquered the simplest flowers to grow!

Friday, January 18, 2008

thank you, thank you


I've spent a lovely evening playing with my new Spirograph (a Christmas gift, yay!) and making some overdue thank you cards. I can't share the Spirograph card, as the recipient reads this!

I also unmolded and cut a new batch of Chocolate Peppermint soap today. It will be in my Etsy shop when it's cured. It smells divine, although I'm having mold issues - (that sounds fungal) - one of my molds cracked, and it is such a pain to get the bars out of the mold and they're never smooth and perfect like I want them. I think I might get a wooden one. But the soap itself is great. The cocoa butter really makes it heavenly.

Wishing you a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

pseudo-headboard idea


I came up with an idea in the middle of the night for a pseudo-headboard thing (how's that for a technical term?) for the wall above our bed. It's a Pottery Barn pillowcase from Smitty's (just like Frenchy's), which Annie discovered when we were there on Saturday. I loved it and bought it, not sure of where it would end up. And then inspiration struck.

I love the idea of putting a pillow case on the wall over a bed, love that it is soft and comfortable looking, and that it fits in with our new calm bedroom scheme. Bedding. On the wall. Love it. I stuffed it with a piece of cardboard to hold its shape, and used pushpins through the back of the case to attach it to the wall. So there are no big holes in the wall, either. I also love that if it falls off in the middle of the night, there will be no significant injuries.

Think of the possibilities! You could do two matching cases (that was my first idea, with two white on white cases I have - you might see that later on) either horizontally or vertically, a bunch of mismatched vintage ones... so many options, so little time!

I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to respond to comments lately - I read them all and appreciate every ounce of input! Hope you enjoy this idea.

"Peaches?!"

Monday, January 14, 2008

branch shelf

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree
shelf

(image from west elm)

klean kanteen and good buying practices

Phillip's Klean Kanteen arrived a few weeks ago, and he loves it. We do too, for that matter. We ordered it with the Avent sippy cup adapter. Phillip holds it and drinks from it all by himself!

I've been thinking about some more friendly ways to live lately, and thought I might explain a little bit about some of my purchasing choices. Quality over quantity is the idea. This translates to everything - time, material things, food, work. It's not about depriving myself in any way - quite the opposite. Rather than buying something at the dollar store which is made of questionable materials from questionable sources and almost certainly unfair and dangerous working conditions for the people producing the goods, I've decided to make the extra effort to find other sources for things we need. To make it practical and so you can all hold me accountable: I'm swearing off Dollarama.

Rather than leave it in that negative sounding light, here are some more positive thoughts:

Buy locally produced products when you can, and the more local the better. If you can't find it locally, try to find something produced at least in your country.

If you're looking for quality, handmade things for yourself or someone you like, check Etsy out! There are 105,000 shops within Etsy, and you can find everything from ceramics to jewelry to clothing to toys to art. Like anything, there's some junk and some stunning work. Take a peek at these sweet baby slippers and this bracelet. From the main page, you can click on 'shop local' and find shops in your area. One of my favourites is Sleeping Forest Studios in Bridgetown, not too far from here. They make beautiful pieces from wood.

I have a few other neat sources for wooden toys and such, but Mr P just woke up. I'll share more later - I hope you're inspired to think more about what you buy!

coffee cake and a lovely visit

On Saturday, Annie and Ingrid came over. Annie knitted, we all watched Phillip and ate coffee cake.




And then we went to Frenchy's. Can it get much better than that? I found a few sweet things for Phillip, and some fabric for a thingy I'm planning to make for our newly re-done bedroom.

The original coffee cake recipe is here. It's super quick to whip up, and tastes delicious! We decided that it would be very good with berries mixed in, or served on top. And of course, it's best served with a hot drink. Here's the recipe for a lovely visit:

Coffee Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender to the size of small peas.
  3. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg well, then stir in the milk and vanilla. Add the egg-milk mixture to the flour mixture all at once. Stir carefully until just blended.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Drizzle top with melted butter.
  5. In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of cake. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

chicken pot pie


Last night for supper, I made this amazing chicken pot pie. The original recipe is here; I modified it a bit by using butter instead of lard, water instead of broth, and omitting the mushrooms. It could easily be vegetarian as well; just add more veggies and omit the chicken (obviously). Delicious comfort food for a January night!
And Adam came up with some silly name (like Adam's Crunchy Delight or something equally descriptive) for what we had for dessert - vanilla yogurt, granola and strawberries. Mmmmm! I know, strawberries in January doesn't exactly fit well with eating local and seasonal food. And they certainly don't taste quite as good as local berries in the summer. Still delicious for a treat!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

glass food storage find


Image from Achor Hocking's website.

I'm all about glass food storage these days, and I got a great deal yesterday on a set of four Anchor Hocking round storage bowls with fitted plastic lids. They're on sale at Canadian Tire this week for $7.99, regular $19.99. The largest one holds seven cups, the smallest is one. The lids fit snugly and nothing leaks out, they can be used in the freezer, and they're clear, so you can easily see which leftovers are in which dish in the fridge. My only problems with the dishes are more theoretical than practical.

1. The packaging says that they're made in the US. Which they are. Correction: which the bowls are. The lids are (you guessed it) made in China, which I didn't notice until I had unwrapped them.

2. The lids are made of #7 plastic, which I'm not a fan of in general. However, it doesn't touch the food, so I'm okay with it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

natural disinfectants and a happy bear

We've all been working hard around here lately... Phillip's been working on crawling (coming along nicely, thanks!) Adam's been looking after him, taking pictures (he took the one above), working, reading Dante and doing most of the housework, and I've been working and looking after Phillip (and making soap in all of my spare time). So we've all had our tongues out, working hard. Adam has been beyond amazing, (yet again) in making the transition back to work easier for me. He even made a housecleaning checklist to make sure that things like washing windows and floors and bedding gets done regularly. I beamed.

I just came across this information from The Green Guide about cleaning (specifically in the kitchen.) Did I mention to you all that my favourite Christmas gift was a giant bag of baking soda? Jackpot!

Here's a picture I took of Mr P after bath time tonight in a Christmas gift. Goodnight!