northern miniatures

A friend of mine on flickr, Northern Miniatures, makes and sells wonderful dollhouse things. She has a few artists who work with her... Sarah made these cinnamon rolls and coffee... these aren't real, they are 1/12 scale!

Check out the Northern Miniatures website and have a look at their eBay auctions... the photographs on flickr are nothing short of amazing.

if money bought happiness...

It would look like Duke, our new pup. Here he is at five weeks old. We are picking him up at the airport in Edmonton next Tuesday... he's a weimeraner. He has silver fur and blue eyes. You can see more of the recent photos of him here.

And hey, did anyone see Feist on Letterman last night? We are addicted to her around here. Buddy will see her at VirginFest in Toronto next week, along with The Killers, Tokyo Police Club (got mentioned on Gilmore Girls tonight) and the Smashing Pumpkins. More than anything, he's completely gaga over Bjork, swan-wearing Icelandic songstress and apparently, my future daughter-in-law... huh?

wishes do come true

My dear blogging friends, what we have all waited for is finally here. Pinch me and pass the credit card! I will have to get the postman a really nice Christmas gift for all of these magazines he hauls to my door.

tu-tu cute!

Here they are... the tutus I whipped up for MJ's daughters, K and N, last night while Ben watched some sort of pay-per-view-man-fight-thingy. I had to do something to offset the testosterone in this house.

The Ki starting dance lessons this fall. MJ and I used to take dance lessons together... how the time has flown. I hope these fit. I like longer, flouncier tutus, don't you? I had to make one for N, too... so she wouldn't be left out on the fun.

for lisa

Today a parcel went to the post filled with some of my favourite things for my friend Lisa in Alaska. I hope she likes her goodies - this photo doesn't give anything away, except that you can tell my favourite colour scheme lately has been pink, orange and green. Everything else shall remain: mystery.

veto's birthday

Loopy worked so very hard on this gift... and it was all her idea, all her very own... she made this topiary of her Dad's favourite candy: salt water taffy, tootsie pops, strawberry marshmallows and dots. She painted the pot three times with orange paint and mod podged the cutout m&m's onto it - the bottom of the pot is filled with more taffy and dark chocolate m&m's.

She used two packages of toothpicks - almost 500 at my estimation. And here is the cake - SHE MADE ALL BY HERSELF! It's Duke, our new puppy! She did an amazing job... we'll serve it with grape ice cream (and lots of candy) for dessert.

Is the suspense killing you... do you want to see what I made Ben for his birthday this year?

It's a replica of Roy Hobb's "Wonderboy" baseball bat from the movie The Natural, starring Robert Redford... it's one of his favourite shows.

I started this process in June. I had a dickens of a time finding a blank bat, and my Dad's lathe is too small (he uses it for fine work, jewelry and such) so we couldn't make it ourselves, like we normally would. You can buy blank bat kits on eBay, but you need access to a pretty big lathe.

Finally, I called my old friend Darwin at Olympian Sports. I went to elementary school with him and over the years have bought all of Buddy's baseball equipment from him... never mind that I kicked his butt on the Morrison-McCall spelling test (oh, and MJ kicked his butt a few times too, and vice-versa, we were all quite the spelling geeks), I hardly never mention it to him anymore. Darwin told me where to go. For the blank bat, I mean.

It turns out, there is a gentleman right in our very own city that makes custom bats for some very famous major league ball players. He is retired and has quite the cottage industry going on. His son, who knows Ben through old baseball days, is now a MLB scout and he arranges tickets for us when we visit various ballparks... I don't know why I didn't think to call him in the first place...

Anyway, I had the most interesting visit with his father when I went to their workshop to pick up Ben's bat. He keeps track of all the players weight, height, how they like their bats shaped, how they hold them, and what kind of wood (mostly maple, with no cork inside, of course)! Now Ben has a record along with all of those ball players from the Yankees, the Orioles and the Royals... and he has a nice piece of movie memorabilia too!

I used a wood engraver to burn in the lightning bolt and the name of the bat. Then, Dad and I aged it around the handle using dry pigment. Before I spray sealed it, I took it out and banged it around (I am really, really sorry about the fence, Daddy) and dragged in in the driveway so it had a really weathered look.

I won a Roy Hobbs rookie card on eBay in June - but it hasn't arrived yet. I'm very disappointed. It was supposed to be the "icing on the cake". Hopefully it will come soon. I've never been burned on eBay before.

The table is set for lasagne, ceasar salad, garlic bread and Loopy's special treats...

Happy birthday to my dear husband, Ben aka "Veto"... I love you, I love you, I love you! These words are my own.

andrew's girls

Did you know you can copy photos off face book and save them to your own computer? I visited Andrew's photo album and snagged some pictures to make him a new desktop background... how blingy and fabulously over-the-top will his computer look now?

marygrace, polly, clara, sarah, melody, lecia, elsie and becky

Sounds like a cheerleading team from the forties, doesn't it? Or maybe a girl's singing group like the Andrews Sisters.

Clara is wearing the three of the vintage aprons that my mother, Marygrace (aka "the Fan") found in the back of the closet when she was doing one of her massive organization/purges. She can barely, if at all, get rid of anything. Well I'm glad she hung onto these three aprons that my grandmother (aka Baba) made and wore... probably back in the forties, come to think of it. This one is green gingham with embroidery on it and rickrack trim:

This is the fanciest one of them all, delicate pink cotton... with embroidery and a very flouncy bow at the back that you can't appreciate here because Clara's hips are too big. This is surely a hostess apron, if there ever was one.

This snappy blue and green cotton number is my favourite: I'm going to wear it at Ben's birthday dinner on Friday night when I serve the lasagna and cake to the birthday boy! I like that the material is a little heavier and it wraps almost all the way around.

Wonderful news: Miss Loopy has completely kicked her nail-biting habit, thanks to our brilliant esthetician, Sarah! She opened her own salon in January, and we followed her there. We'd follow her anywhere to get one of her great manicures or pedicures! Loopy has been wearing gel nails for almost a year now, and finally got the hang of not biting through them. Sarah makes them all pink and glittery with little decals... verrrry sassy! Visit Sarah at Studio One Esthetics in the Empyreal Building if you are in town.

And speaking of the Empyreal Building... why, oh why Sarah, did you have to go and get a nice salon space right above the best antique store in town? Every single time Loopy, the Fan or I have an appointment with you or Shaundra (waxologist) we are drawn through the maze of the absolute best antique furniture and vintage bric-a-brac. My friend Melody has worked there for years. Yesterday she was about to take tea with her Old Country Roses tea service when I arrived.

The antique bookseller is right down the street, too. While Loopy was getting her manicure, I browsed through the old musty stacks. I found some very good treasures, but being the well-behaved girl that I am, I left back two wonderful finds, which of course I regretted almost immediately. First, a book called Sasha... yes! It's a little blue leather bound Russian novel. I never get things with my name on them. And then... gasp! The three-volume set of Thackeray's Vanity Fair... oooh, I love the character of Becky Sharp. I left it behind too, since I couldn't justify buying either. Not after the great plate debacle, anyway.

Last night I attended the fun and talented Lecia's layout class featuring the Elsie Flanigan line. What fun! I really needed to break out of my rut and try some new things. The Elsie papers are perfect for that! I met some great new people and did three layouts, one of which I will keep working on at home. Crazy Lecia had everything: paper, paint, ribbon, and enough Scrabble tiles to spell out Homer's Iliad. Note to self: start looking for old Scrabble tiles! Before the class, Lecia made the cute paper clay buttons and embellishments for us to paint. What a ton of prep work - thanks so much for a great evening, Lecia! In the layout above, I used a picture of the kids that my brother took for my birthday gift this year. The black-and-white version is hanging in our gallery.
And guess what? One more page for the wedding album complete... about 250 left to go!

plate envy

I told you I was busy this week... I've been getting ready for my friend's baby shower on Sunday afternoon. Do you remember those baby pictures I took last week for the birth announcements? I saved one back for a special shower gift and here it is...

Don't panic. That baby wasn't really supported on my kitchen scale with only a towel. My genius brother helped me stitch together images from the photo shoot into this lovely final product. I could never, ever have done this on my own. You should have seen him at work. I sat there like I was helping, but in fact, I was trying to soak in all of his knowledge, which would be impossible, but I tried. He combined two scales from different shots (photographed without the baby, of course) and placed the image of the baby, who was photograhed on my folded up shower curtain. Since babe wasn't very cooperative that day, it required a "head replacement" photoshop surgery... whe chose the least stressed face to be placed on the most relaxed body.

I have to dearly thank my brother because of course I get to take this marvelous creation to the shower and recieve all of the oooohs and aaaaahs it will ilicit from the guests.

And now, on with my sad plate story. I never picked a china pattern when we got married, it didn't seem too important. Of course, we've ended up entertaining Ben's business associates a few times and I sorely wished I had some decent china. While in Winners a couple of weeks back, I found this Noritake set, marked down with scandalous prices. The dinner plates were $9.00 each, the salad plates $4.00 each and the bread plates were $2.00 each. The pattern was subtle and timeless and what a saving - I snatched up as close to a twelve-piece set as I could, leaving the cups and saucers (I probably shouldn't have) behind.

For a while, I contemplated selling them on the internet at a profit... this seemed like a "good investment" and then while I was cleaning off all of the nasty red markdown stickers, I realized that in my excitement, I'd mistakenly picked up two salad plates that didn't quite match. And I only had eleven dinner plates.... hmmmmm... so much for selling them as a complete set.
Then I reasoned, that after all, since I'd always wanted china, I'd probably never get any again at a saving like this and I really should keep them. I could put the two slightly different salad plates at the two ends of the table and nobody would notice, right? All I would have to do would be to track down one dinner plate on eBay or here.

This turned out to be the first major disagreement Ben and I have had in our married life. After building and renovating two houses and navigating countless travels and child raising, our Waterloo ended up being this china...

You see, Veto doesn't think we are "china people"... what are "china people", exactly? And he was none too thrilled about having twelve place settings, as that represents a big crowd, I suppose. Men think, if I need to buy dishes, I will buy four dishes, because there are four people in my family, I suppose. Notwithstanding Christmas and entertaining, I thought that the savings really dictated a set of twelve. Surely, I reasoned, we would regret it later if we only bought four or six settings.

Purchasing plates like this represents to most men a completely frivolous and scandalous investment. Christmas only comes once a year. Our everyday plates are perfectly good for guests. Fancy china is pretentious. What am I, made of money?

So, being on the verge of hysteria without my hormone patch firmly in place, of course I burst into tears and sorely regretted purchasing that china, at any price, if it upset Ben or made him in the least bit unhappy. We've lived without china this long, right? But just look at that pretty (mismatched) place setting....

In the end, the china sat on the counter for about a week, one of those funny sore spots in a relationship that nobody wanted to address. It was like the elephant in the room. I had no place for it, and I couldn't sell it because it was mismatched, and I hesitated to return them, but finally I resolved to pack them up and take them back to the discount chain from whence they came. Then, Ben said "don't you take back that china" and I guess he realized too, that we could probably use it and it wasn't worth a drop of discontent.

So this week, while the Fan helped me by repainting my front hall closet (a monumental job) I spent a few minutes cutting felt circles to put between the plates and carefully stacked them up. I ordered a replacement dinner plate from the internet and justified completing the set because when it's all over but the crying, I paid less for all of the dishes than I would have for one five-piece-place setting at a department store.

Maybe we needed to have a little disagreement, just for the sake of it. I only hope that when I sit down to dinner at Christmas, I don't look down at my plate and remember how bad I felt one summer, just for a few days.

cue the music

"The Power of Schmooze Award is for bloggers who effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship."

Well, well, well. I've known MJ for nigh on to thirty-five years now, and it comes out now that she thinks I am a.... schmoozer?

Okay, maybe the use of the word schmoozer is a little more positive in this application rather than the usual, as in "he's a real schmoozer, he could sell ice to an eskimo." I do like to say hello to other bloggers. I'm sort of a "King of Kensington" gal in that regard... oh, that's right. If you're not Canadian, like MJ and I, you might not get that reference.

In the 1970's there was a TV show produced by the CBC (or the "ceeb" as we say in our house) about a jovial man (played by the talented and paunchy Al Waxman) who lives with his mother and his new wife in the Kensington neighbourhood of Toronto. If you live in Canada, there is Toronto, and the rest of Canada. That's pretty much how we're divided up. At least, it felt that way when I was a kid.

Growing up in "outside Toronto" entailed having access to only two television channels, CTV and the ceeb. The ceeb, government funded, mostly gave us "Hockey Night in Canada". It's forty below most nights between October and March here, what night isn't hockey night in Canada? Dutifully, the ceeb produced this quintessential (big word alarm!) situation comedy. I digress.

The Wax Man played the role of the affable Jewish Maple Leaf fan for all 44 episodes - roughly two seasons... and then - the axe! Since that fateful day, all 44 episodes have played, sequentially, on the ceeb, over and over again. The Leafs still haven't won a Stanley Cup, but the King of Kensington Market still strolls down Younge Street, hailed by his admirers. I make casual references to this fromage au television frequently in my daily conversation. Some people get it, some people don't. But now that you're in on the joke, won't you join me for the theme song?
When he walks down the street
he smiles at everyone!
Everyone that he meets
calls him King of Kensington!
He finds his fortune in the faces that surround him
His wife says helping other people brings him luck!
But his mother tells a slightly different story
he's the only King around without a buck!
He's a man among men
the peoples champion!
and when destiny calls him -
he's King of Kensington!

So, if I'm a schmoozer, like Larry King - yes, his name was Larry, then so be it! Long live the King! Whadda guy. I live to be the King of Kensington of the blogosphere! Thanks, MJ... really.

craft room spoilers

The Lovely Lady Loopykins is in a scrapbooking workshop all day today at Just Scrap It. I hope to use the five hours wisely, sorting out the chaos that is the craft room. It's getting ridiculous. Some things in it are working well and make me happy:

This fellow dangles from a perch of hatboxes that rest on my computer cabinet. He keeps watch over the weather vane.

The mural I am working on for the wall behind my desk. Tres magnifique! So much more to add to it, I'm not really thrilled with the overall effect, I have some repairs to do. I'm sort of collaging right onto the plaster...

And nailing little goodies and treasures here and there... like this cherub, some real antique stamps and photos...

A plaster cherub shelf that holds my two little Eiffels.

All sorts of scraps and ephemera are finding their way onto the wall. Vintage brooches, transfers, my Princess Di stamps too!

This is a Baba Bear and her granddaughter on their way to visit the old country. They are all dressed in fur and carry smart luggage. The other bears are waiting on the bench at the station and, sadly, won't give up their seats for the ladies.

These two fellows got into trouble when they were playing with my vintage spools of thread. Now they can't get undone. It's quite sad, but I'm going to leave them that way. They need to serve as an example to the other bears in the room not to touch things that aren't theirs.

I hope I can sort out the closet and the worktable and make some headway in the computer area. Today, I vow to get the internet working in that room and maybe even finish up some of the little jobs that are cluttering up my workspace. I hope that I will be able to report at the end of the day that I have completed a job well done, and maybe have some more photos - of organized chaos, not just chaos.

so exciting

My Dad made another amazing fireplace for me... we had a good chuckle the other day because this is the third fireplace mantle he has crafted for me, if you count the one in the little house! This one is simply amazing, made of red oak and stained to match my soon-too-arrive cabinetry for the adjacent wall. I love the dentil moulding...

... and see the dragonfly he made for the crest in the middle? It's made from the remnants of the titanium he used to make Ben's wedding ring(s). He made multiples of those of course, too. The joke at the wedding was what if the father-in-law-jeweler who made the son-in-law's ring put some sort of tracking device in it?

Also, my wedding photographer, Rachel Neville, a talented photographer from New York City put one of my bridal photos on her website! Check it out here! I have a black and white version in my family gallery framed in the smallest shadow box I ever found. That's not my real ring in there, just a replica. Don't panic. The real one has a tracking device in it.

baby photos as promised

Well that little baby wasn't overly cooperative yesterday, he was too interested in his Mommy and didn't really like being naked all that much. I did manage to get a few keepers and here they are...

Mmmmm.... that new baby smell. He is as sweet as can be and there are more photos of him here. I haven't finished the special photoshop project that I'm doing with the pictures yet - a gift for the baby shower next weekend. I've got to keep that one under my hat, then I'll show it to you!

babies and puppies - nothing cuter!

The friends I photographed a couple of weeks ago had their baby - a boy named Chase! Congratulations Lance and Marlys. We can't wait to meet him. Ben and Lance have gone out for a little celebration drink tonight. Hopefully Ben remembers to pass along this advice:

Speaking of parenthood, here are photos of our new puppy, due to arrive mid-September. He was born last week in Killarney, Ontario. He's so tiny, his eyes are still closed:

Isn't that just the cutest thing ever? Tell me, what's sweeter than babies and puppies?