i heart my contractor

It seems like Club Little House ignites not only the family's creative sparks, but it also renews our interest in our own little house. A work in progress for years, it has been sitting idle for far too long. My Dad, the consummate contractor, after patiently helping me with the ironing boards for Club Little House, got to work on some major renos of my dollhouse.

And my poor mother - look at the state of her kitchen table for the last few weeks. So patient she is. These are the contractor's tools for installing the last of the miniature lights, putting up walls and adjusting the kitchen pieces I bought in Orlando so they can be installed soon...

My poor Dad said it was harder to wallboard and paper this little house, harder than a real house. I don't know, I've renovated a few crooked houses in my day! But here you can see the master suite. The ceiling fan really turns, did I ever tell you that? The larger light on the ceiling is a halogen bulb for "task lighting" so we can easily see what we are doing or if we want to show things off for a better look. Dad is carving the crown moulding and baseboard himself. It is hideously time-consuming for him when I am sure there are more exciting things for him to do. I can't wait to move the little house from Mom and Dad's to our newly renovated home... hmmmm.... a newly renovated old house inside a newly renovated old house?

And since I never did post the photos of the Club Little House packages, here they are: they are embellished with thimbles, safety pins and tiny pairs of scissors.

And inside sit the pretty ironing boards! I hope they travel well. I also added quite a bit of shredded tissue to keep them stable. If you get one of these yellow wrapped parcels, lift the tissue sheets surrounding the shredded tissue up first, then unfold it all to reveal your gift.

club little house

My twelve Club Little House goodies are all packed up and have left for Amy's. I couldn't resist sharing them here. Since there are 48 members this round, Amy is sorting the packages so that each person receives twelve different things than the next person... I thought it would be nice to show what I've sent because not everyone will get one:

I made an ironing board for the one-on-one swap last year and it was really fun and quite a hit, so I decided to make twelve of them for this round. I cut the pattern out myself and my mom and dad and I made the ironing boards from balsa wood. Did you know that it's not that easy to find tiny printed material anywhere?

The tomato pincushion is tied together from a bitty pom pom. My dad lathed the spools and I wrapped them with thread. My brother sat and wire-snipped the pins and needles short for me, what a tedious task! But we visited while we worked.

I got the seamstress scissors from eBay and can you spot the tiny thimble? Loopy and I made them from sculpey. The button cards and the needle package are actually Mo's Doo Dads (Boxers Six) shrunk tiny on my printer and then I added dimension with mod podge and other acrylics.

The measuring tape is from my local dollhouse supply store. It is the sweetest detail.

I had the worst time finding dollhouse irons. Finally, I decided to carve them from heavy black craft foam. I had to buy a big letter "O" at Micheal's and cut it into pieces a tiny fraction of the original letter.

I wanted to put detail everywhere. The pattern envelope is also one of Mo's Doo Dads, I folded it and filled it with cut up pattern bits. Can you spot the tiny ribbon packages?

puppy love

Today we got the good news... a litter of pups were born at Black Bear Farms in Killarney, Ontario - and one of them will be ours! They are weimeraner/labrador cross, giving us the sleek shape of the weimeraner tempered with the behaviour of a lab. He or she will be grey in colour, sometimes called a "silver lab".
The puppy will arrive via Air Canada in September. We are thinking of the name Duke for a male or Duchess for a female... any other suggestions?
Ben is a fan of the University of Michigan and their fight song is "Hail to the Victors" so I thought Victor would be a good name. Ben didn't.
Gramps was named for Ty Cobb so Ben thought Tyrus would be a good name. I like the Detroit Tigers so I thought Tiger was a better name. We agreed to disagree on this point in general.
Ben is a huge Green Bay Packer fan, but he thinks there are a million dogs in Wisconson named Farve so we threw that one out the window. I was glad.
This name thing is at a standstill.

the tragically hip

Last night, Canada's favourite band, The Tragically Hip, came through town and played in the garden of this hotel. When the concert was announced, instead of trying to get tickets - I booked the garden suite overlooking where the stage would be.

We invited Ben's business associates and some friends and put out snacks and beverages - we had an amazing time. We threw the windows wide open and the cool evening breeze came in. We could see the river beyond the stage, there were boats stopped so people could hear the music.

They played all of our favourite songs, and the view was amazing. I spent most of the night leaning out the window looking through my telephoto lens at the action and snapping pictures. I think I'll make a photo album for our friend Shawn who is the biggest Hip fan we know.

Gord Downie is an amazing performer - if you ever get a chance to see the Hip in concert, you really should go.

I had the suite all "tricked out" for the event. I took my blender and mixed mudslides for the girls with ice, cream, vodka, Starbucks liquer and chocolate drizzle. We ordered appetizers from room service as well as standby chips, veggies and dips. I stocked a full bar for the men along with beer and pretzels. I don't think I've ever checked into a hotel with so much stuff in my life!

baby will make three!

Just a matter of days until our friends deliver their first baby and they become a family! I'm very excited for them. Here are a few of the shots we took yesterday....

There were so many to choose from.... don't you love digital cameras? We did all the fun poses, too, like the hands on her tummy and his hands making a little heart... we even had a dragonfly land on Lance's shoulder and stay for lots of pictures - I'm sure it's good luck!
They told me the baby's name... sshhhhh... it's a secret. I can't say a word.
I've volunteered to take the first baby pictures, too. I can hardly wait.

i believe it is called al fresco

We anticipated rain today but it didn't come to cool us off. It's still very, very warm... and now humid, I can't remember it ever being humid here. It was a nice day to stand in the river and take pictures of my friends Marlys and Lance, they are expecting their first baby any day now. Tonight I have the usual several hours ahead on PhotoShop - especially when you click off 260 pictures in an hour! With their permission, I'll have some photos to show you tomorrow. I took their wedding photos in Jamaica in 2004, you can see them here.

Tomorrow Ben will be home, hopefully the weather will hold out for a nice backyard meal. My friend Sharon made these rocks for us - she and her father hunt nice, smooth river rocks and sandblast them with words. I use these for place markers, sometimes I stuff them in my decorative jars with sand, or I put them in our little water fountain... so many things to do with rocks etched with your name!

Now if you would just tell me... what should I serve for supper?

fun with google challenge

I found this bit of fun on Pumpkin Cupcake's blog: Type your first name plus the word "needs" into Google and you can generate a pretty interesting list... your name plus "wants" also works.

Here are my needs and wants:

Sasha needs a vacation
Sasha needs attention on flickr
Sasha needs a cocktail
Sasha needs a ride to Oklahoma
Sasha needs a producer for her next album
Sasha needs to have her house training started all over again as if she were a puppy
Sasha needs to take her medicine with four ounces of fluid at midnight
Sasha needs an adult she can confide in
Sasha needs professional help
Sasha needs dental treatment
Sasha needs a cool, dust free place away from cats, dogs and children
Sasha needs to comb her hair
Sasha needs a brother-in-law who is a hitman

Sasha wants to practice acrobatics
Sasha wants to be famous
Sasha wants to have a normal life
Sasha wants to be a driver when she grows up
Sasha wants a small snack
Sasha wants to return to the sound of several hundred years ago
Sasha wants to quit skating to become a cook
Sasha wants to cut a fragment of N consecutive digits from one one piece without the comma
Sasha wants Vince to stay in the apartment
Sasha wants to help with the war
Sasha wants to borrow Jenni's dress
Sasha wants to stay in Western Europe
Sasha wants to prove she can kill a rat
Sasha wants to act as mother to kittens
Sasha wants to raise Nadia
Sasha wants to be a rock star
Sasha wants to than the many women she has worked with over the years at the yoga studio
Sasha wants someone to babysit
Sasha wants more sleep
Sasha wants a second chance
Sasha wants a normal brother
Sasha wants to see a movie with Sergei
Sasha wants to have the family together
Sasha wants to know who committed the crime

So I'd like to send a little challenge out there to google your name plus your needs and wants and post it on your blog for all to see! You don't have to admit to any of them.... but go ahead... see if any of them are true. I wouldn't mind having normal brothers, now that I think about it.

welcome to our yard

I spent a good deal of the day in the 95 degree heat fussing over my Club Little House work. It was nice to be inside the air conditioning of my Mom and Dad's house (aka "the Fan" and "the Secret Weapon"). I can't show it to you yet, of course. Would you like to see the backyard of my house, without a giant tree smashed onto the patio?

The pergola is repaired and I did get my dream set of garden furniture. The Fan and I hung my collection of Crate and Barrel globe lights while Veto, the Secret Weapon and Uncle Bug assembled the furniture. I keep sunscreens and bug sprays in that white wicker basket drawer set at the back door. It should be brown to match, so I'd best paint it.

I splurged on an outdoor patio rug... just a little darker green than the house. I adore the loveseat built for two and the other pieces can be moved around sectional-style.

There are two chaise lounges by the pool. Bahama Mama has her own lawnchair, she likes to take a little sun on the patio.

It cooled off when I got back from the 'rents and I couldn't resist a late night sit in my cozy backyard living room. I read Lois Hole's Perennial Favourites book, deciding what plants I might buy on sale this week....

The existing plants came in so nicely! It looks like my dragonflies are soaring above a forest.

speculation alert!

The end is near... Harry Potter book seven hits stores in a week. I think we've figured out how it ends... so don't read on, if you don't like mere speculation or spoilers, even.

I've read the other books out loud to my children by candlelight, so yes, I think I am somewhat of an expert. We decorated an entire HP tree for the Festival of Trees, including my dad making a real working "Monster Book of Monsters" that bared its fangs and growled as people walked by! We are broken-glass-wearing, wand carrying, Rowling-quoting nerds around here... read on if you dare....

First, let us establish that JK Rowling will likely not kill off her beloved main character. Although she has long been quoted as wanting to "put the series to a complete and final end", she is very aware of keeping her fans happy - and killing Harry, well, that would not make anyone happy. He has become, in such a short time (in the literary world) a beloved character. If she kills him off, will anyone be satisfied? She wants an ending that will prevent sequels being written down the road by others, like what happened to Gone With the Wind. She simply doesn't want anyone feeding off the money-machine she created, or messing with her characters.

Also: this is the biggest build-up since the end of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries... she knows that a lacklustre or unsatisfying ending will haunt her like a dead girl in a bathroom (Moaning Myrtle) or an ex-husband in a shower (Bobby Ewing).

Snape: Friend or Foe? That is the question. He appears to be foe... but why ask, at the very end if he will be a friend? He's been such a foe... how could he ever be a friend?

The first novel: Harry survives the attack by Voldemort that killed his parents but left him with a scar that seared in pain if Voldemort came near in subsequent books. One of several horcruxes, the darkest of the dark arts, yes, that Voldemort planted in Harry's little head, of course he is unable to kill Harry, his forehead holds one of the very pieces of he-who-shall-not-be-named's soul, he has been miserably gathering them up in the last five books at least.

So here is how Buddy and I cracked out it's ending: Harry is the last of several horcruxes that Voldemort spread out before vanishing. He needs Harry's death to retain his horcrux, and thusly, his power. Harry realizes this and decides to kill himself. How obvious.

But wait! Professor Snape, now instructor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, emerges to explain - there is another way! But Harry must jump into the floo and leave by whence he came, returning to life as a muggle, leaving behind his friends, his magic life, the only place he ever felt like he belonged... and return to muggle world, knowing forever that he made the ultimate sacrifice to save Ron and Hermione (who are now hopelessly in love of course), Hogwarts and all of it... Harry says goodbye to Diagon Ally, never to return. His future in the muggle world unknown but certainly fraught with unhappiness, no family or friends, and at this point, no career training? How's that for the ultimate ending? No wonder Rowling cried when she wrote it.
PS. With Snape sending Harry back to muggle world, he gets to take the credit for banishing Voldemort, forever.

cue the perfume

My friends, I need your help. I need to pick a new vanity table for my dressing area. Do you remember my bedroom?
I need storage for my makeup, of which I have scads. I haven't really found anything that meets my storage needs. I have a lovely mirror-framed mirror to hang over the vanity, and I've already purchased this clear acrylic chair... and I love it!
So: I'm looking for something traditional, maybe with a twist but not too much twist as to detract from the twist of the chair... something with at least a bit of storage, better yet, substantial storage... any ideas? Do any of the above picks from Horchow make the grade? Any other suggestion from the online shoppers out there where I might look? I'm up for new or antique, as long as it meets my needs. If it's wood, I prefer it to be dark.
Can you picture me, getting ready for a night out with Ben, fluffing and primping at one of these lovely little tables? Oh, pinch me!

talk about lucky!

What did I say in the last sentence of yesterday's post?

I said that today, 07-07-07, was bound to be a lucky day, and it was:

When we woke up, most of our beautiful maple tree had been destroyed in a windstorm overnight. The tree was right outside our bedroom window, providing shade to the third floor and a beautiful canopy over our new pergola.

A good portion of it landed on the patio, narrowly missing the pergola but still taking off the front beam. One patio chair: destroyed. Still another huge branch is hanging from the tree and it is impossible to reach safely even though it could come down at any minute.

So was 07-07-07 a lucky day? Yes, it was. Nobody was hurt. The pergola is a little bent, but not destroyed. I giant branch landed in the pool but the liner didn't get punctured or damaged. Nothing too large fell into the house, leaving the windows and siding intact. We had lots of mess to clean up, not the best way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning, but if we count our blessings, we can mark the events of 07-07-07 up to very, very good luck.

alex is... 15?

... already? Fifteen years, you say? I still see him in my mind's eye running around in overalls behind Buddy. Oh, well. Even though my nephews and children are getting older, I'm staying the same age! Is that happening to you, too?

Tonight we had a barbeque and big swim in the pool for a birthday celebration. Still too hot to cook too much, so I didn't put out one of my famous Saucy-cakes. These potatoes are made from - ice cream! Aren't they the cutest thing you ever did see? If you want instructions on how to make them, Martha posted the recipe here. They are so simple, so very easy, and just plain fun. We told the kids there were too many potatoes left after dinner so that what they were getting for dessert! I still can't believe that Alex is fifteen. I hope you had a wonderful birthday, chum!
Tomorrow is 07-07-07. Sounds like a lucky day, doesn't it?

just how hot is it?

It's not quite as hot as it was in Costa Rica in 2004... that was pretty hot! 97 degrees in the shade.

But its warmer than the Bahamas in 2005... at least there was an ocean breeze to keep us cool.

It's almost 90 degrees here today, and I overfilled the pool. I forgot that I put the hose in it before Sid and I went to the annual Second Avenue Sidewalk Sale. It is exactly full to the top, but in this heat I am sure some of it will evaporate off. We're off to the movies for the evening to have a little cool off and some popcorn.

happy fourth

The planters in my yard have been all decked out for Dominion Day and Independence Day! Enjoy the show.

Have a safe, happy holiday! Wouldn't it be a great evening to be at a major league baseball game?

all buttoned up

Guess what happened to me the other day? I decided it would be a good day to sort my buttons. First thing you need to know, I have lots of buttons... and the second thing: I adore sorting things. Any object, big or small, if it needs sorting, I will sort it. For example, when I was a little girl, I loved to sort my pigtail holders. Sometimes by style, sometimes by colour. I keep my cabinets sorted with my soup labels facing outward. All Campbells, all stacked together, broths here, cremes there, stacked and sorted. Underwear drawer? Sorted. Matching sets, knickers on one side of the drawer, cups on the other. So you can understand how a rainy morning of button sorting would get me all wound up. This is how it began:

And then the doorbell rang. There was Mr. Postman. With a parcel from Kelly! Inside was a gorgeous button bracelet made by our fabulous friend, Gina. Can you imagine how sweet it is? Click on the picture to see it larger. It has Gina's famous dangling crystals hanging between vintage buttons. Of course, I put on my button shirt to model it. By the way, Kelly is convinced that Gina and I are psychically linked because things like this have happened before...

Proud of ourselves, Loopy and I separated all of the buttons into R-O-Y-G-B-I-V. Suddenly, it didn't look like so many buttons:

After the rainbow was out of the mix, we sorted darks and lights. I must say I prefer the look of the lights, with all of the clear and pearl finishes. What do you think Miss Gina could do with these babies?