Thursday, March 31, 2011

A to Z Blogging Challenge

My old friend Steph at Hooking, Knitting and Living has been doing an alphabet thing every Sunday for the past couple of years.  I've really enjoyed her weekly posts inspired by a letter of the alphabet. So much so that I've decided to spend the month of April doing it too.

Stephanie and over 800 other people have joined in the A to Z Blogging Challenge (can you believe over 800?).  They'll all be posting something relating to ABC throughout the month of April.  Each day (except for Sunday) participants will post something for the letter of the day--from A to Z.  On my sidebar are some buttons that can take you to some of the other participants, either in sequence or as a surprise.  Click on them to do a little blog hopping and don't forget to leave comments.

I know it's already April 1st in some parts of the world but here it's only 7:45 so I'll hold off until tomorrow to post my A entry.  Take note, most of my posts will be photographs.

Heritage hardware

The guy who helped make our old windows functional at Yukon Street told me how to restore the old window hardware.  Last night I boiled these paint covered pieces in TSP and it was so effective in removing the old paint.  I pulled each one out of the pan with tongs and scrubbed it with a wire brush and voila.

From this

to this 

in less than an hour. 

Won't these look nice on our restored windows?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Smiling faces in the garden

These cheeky faces are outside my kitchen window on this gray day--reminding me that spring is really here.  To me these mini-daffs are quintessential spring.  Whenever I find pots of them marked down in the grocery stores because the blooms are dying I buy them and stick them in my flower beds.  They come back year after year to remind us of sunshine ahead.

I'm joining this post up with the Garden Tuesday meme over at Sidewalk Shoes.  Every Tuesday we get to share photos from the garden.  It's a natural for me, since I'm always photographing plants.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

All work and no play...

If you've been following this blog you'll know that we've been involved in a pretty intense renovation of our 1898 house since last October.  Things are coming along well, especially now that Harry's son Ben is helping us out. 

Here's a photo of a corner of the kitchen featuring a purpose made cabinet by Ben to fill in an awkward space in the corner by the fridge.  Ben designed and built this to house the microwave and some recycling baskets.  Just in the past few days the kitchen is beginning to come together.

We still have a month or more of work to complete everything but we have an escape planned in June.  Here's just a hint about it.  Can you guess where we're planning to go? I'll tell you more later.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's spring

The camelia in our front yard is perhaps the prettiest I've ever seen.  The flowers look like peppermint candy with the pink and white stripes.  Some are whiter than others and some are in fact clear pink.  It's a fiesta of pink and white.

With its blooming we now know that spring has arrived.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Almost finished

This is where my painting of the cone flower is at today.  I've been adding shadows to the petals and detail to the cone and also darkened the background.  It's almost finished I think.  But if I leave it propped up by my telephone for a day or so and glance at it as I pass by, I may find more little tweaks I'd like to do. 

That's the cool thing about water colours, you can go back in and adjust colours or soften things or change edges.  The trick is to know when to stop.  The whites are another story though.  Once they're covered by a colour you can't get them back.  Unless you use an opaque non-bleeding white and then paint over it.  I've done this in a few places here.  Can you see where?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Looking out the windows

Looking out the window the other night this was the wintry sky.  Such a pretty colour. 

The window below is one of the ones I'm working on at our house on Yukon Street.  We hired a guy to re-do the sash cords and make them open again from both the top and the bottom.  Now I'm busy chipping off the bubbled paint, scraping, sanding, then filling, priming and painting.  I've taken the old hardware off to restore it.  I think they'll look nice when finished. 


Signs of spring can be seen through the windows everywhere now.  This frilly little crocus greeted me yesterday.  Now if only it would stop raining!    

Saturday, March 12, 2011

From a crumple to a dimple

This is kind of what the bumper on my car looked like yesterday morning.  It suffered a little crunch when...(I hate to admit this but there's no way around it)... I  backed up and the far edge of my bumper banged against the corner of our van's bumper.  It was just a little bump and the van showed no signs of trauma but the bumper on my little Ford Focus Had a big crumple on the corner--about six inches across and two inches deep.  Aaaach!

Now I'm not really a pristine car person, but this little car is new to me within the past couple years and it's pretty spiffy with its leather seats, remote key system, and sunroof.  So first thing this morning I headed off to the body shop to see what it would cost to fix the bumper.

Well it costs much more than I ever imagined.  The guy said it would be cheaper to get a new bumper than to repair the damage.  That is until he priced a new bumper (over $600) and added the labor and paint costs.  His estimate including taxes was $1,170.  To fix a ding in a bumper!  Then he told me that they could repair and repaint the existing bumper for only $800!

Now you might be wondering why I posted a photo of a crumpled pop bottle rather than my dinged-up bumper.  Well, the reason is that my step-son Ben fixed it for me.  It took him about 30 seconds.  When he heard the estimate and saw the damage he got alongside the car on the ground and stuck his fist inside the bumper and pushed it back into shape.  The bumper is made of plastic.  I'm thinking that it's about the thickness of a yogurt container and just as soft. 

There's still one little dimple on it but it hardly shows at all.  Ben is my hero today.  Without him I'd be considering forking over hundreds of dollars that I certainly can't afford in exorbitant auto body costs.

There are just two things I'm left wondering about this experience.  What are the body shops trying to put over on us with estimates like that? And how effective can a soft plastic bumper be in a real crash? 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Exploring the square format

Kat's blog Exploring with a Camera has me thinking about the square format for photographs.  She suggested we look through our archives to find some photos that might work better in a square.  It was interesting to me that most of my images pleased me in a 2:3 ratio or somewhere near to that.  But there were a few that I think benefit from cropping into the square format.

This one for example had another flower on the right that was a distraction.  I like the diagonal effect that comes out when that part is cropped.

Same thing with this one, the most interesting part of this image was the part on the left of the original photo.  By making it square I cropped out some of the more boring leaves.  Again there's some interest by the curving line of ice at the top.

This one is pleases me a lot.  I snatched this photo in passing and liked the expression of the woman heaving her bolts of fabric around.  It's not well focused and it really didn't work before I cropped the rest of the palapa and the background from the right hand side.  Now I feel the subject is clear, and again there are some diagonals that work to keep it from being static.

You can follow Exploring with a Camera by clicking on the button at the top of the sidebar.  Others have posted their explorations with the square format there as well.

Now it's off to work for me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Turning the corner on our renovation

We've been at this work for almost seven months now and we're finally turning the corner on the renovation.  Now when we look around we are seeing some things nearing completion.  Today we put the cupboard doors on one of the kitchen cabinets and on Monday the new countertops are going to be installed.

We've been helped in this push forward by Harry's son Ben, who is an accomplished carpenter, having worked for a renovations company on and off for a few years now.  Ben started working with Harry at age 15, helping dig ditches and shovel cement.  He also works as a photographer and filmmaker so we're lucky to have him available for a couple of weeks to help us turn the corner.

We call Ben the 5C helper:  competent, creative, conscientious, cheerful, and cash-strapped.  Having him around for the past two weeks has made a huge difference in our progress at Yukon Street.  The photos above are from before Ben started to help us out.  Soon I'll post some updates so you'll see the progress we're making.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Catching up after a busy week

What can I say?  It's been a busy week, not just during the day with the renovation work plus shopping and dogs and dental appointments etc., but every night was scheduled too.  Monday was flyball practice, Tuesday was water colour painting, Wednesday was Italian class, Thursday was the Citizen Canine AGM, and Friday we set up for the weekend flyball tournament. 

We spent all weekend helping out at the flyball tournament. That was intense, starting at 8:00 in the morning we were out at the barn to help.  I was on the score table both days and Harry was the box loader for two racing teams of dogs and handlers.  We were finished Sunday afternoon about 4:00 and came home exhausted.  Here's the crazy thing: we spent the weekend doing flyball with other people's dogs, while our dogs hung out at home alone.  What's wrong with this picture?  I think it's the end of flyball for this family.

Last night and tonight we got to stay at home.  And what a luxury that was!  Everything is relative.