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Sunday, January 30, 2011

A few weekend crafts

How is your winter going? Frankly, I'm really tired of it. This is what our  backyard looked like a few weeks ago, we've since had a few more dumps of snow on top of it.

 We don't dare park at the backdoor because it doesn't get tractor-ed out as often and we stand the chance of not getting out again if we do. We really need to get on getting a bigger vehicle - like maybe a truck <--- I can't believe I just typed that. I always swore I'd never drive a truck, but they just make more sense out here.

So while we've been snowed in I've been busy doing more craft projects. The other day I made 2 door draft stoppers

(okay, not the most exciting thing in the world) but they help keep the chilly drafts out from our basement door (prior to us moving in there was flooding in the basement which resulted in the floors and half the insulation in the walls being ripped out. It hasn't been fixed (neither has the flooding issue) so we tend to get quite the draft coming up from the basement) and the backdoor, which needs new weather stripping or something.

My more exciting craft was this little pretty.

I had intended on covering the whole wreath in twine and then making detachable decorations on it so that I could change it out for the seasons without needing a bunch more wreath forms. I starting winding and then ran out of jute. Oops. So for now the ribbon is covering up the part that doesn't have any jute on it until I can get some more to finish it off. I didn't glue anything on, just attached with safety pins so I can reuse the ribbon when I take it off.

I made a couple of hearts out of scrap felt and stuffed them with a bit of batting to give them a little bit of dimension. I then finished them off with a blanket stitch. I just learned how to do a blanket stitch. I really like the end result. What do you think?

I'm linking up to:


Sumo's Sweet Stuff

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Clock Redo

So I've had this idea rolling around in my head for the longest time, but I wasn't brave enough to do anything with it. It wasn't until I entered the world of blog-land and saw all the many things that people re-do on a regular basis and still feel comfortable displaying in their homes, that I was inspired to finally go for it.

Here is the before picture:

Just your regular standard, cheap ugly clock.

While it served it's function (It helped me to be relatively on time for things for a number of years) It has never really matched our decor, and even more so since we moved into this place.

I recently bought some scrapbook paper off of someone who just isn't interested in scrapping anymore. I got a steal of a deal. (I love deals like this...ya know, let someone else pay the full price and then they sell it to me for a real discount later on - yes, I'm cheap frugal like that)
In amongst all the paper I found this beauty. I just love it! I decided this would be the new face of my clock. Just the right amount of colour and pattern without being too obnoxious to look at when you're trying to tell the time.

I used the glass piece of the clock to trace a template for the new face,

 and used this hole punch to cut out the centre circle (I love these things...I bought them a long time ago on sale one time at Superstore and they sat unused for the longest time, but I have made use of them so much in the last 6 months.)

In my newly acquired paper, I also found this other sheet. At first I didn't know quite what it was. (It really helps if you read the packaging, but I was in a hurry to see all the other goods when I acquired it, that I didn't stop to read the packaging.) I thought at first that it was an orange sticky paper, and I had no idea what I would do with it as orange tends to be on the bottom of the list of colours I would choose for, well, anything really.
BUT, after finally reading the packaging I found out that it was double sided sticky paper. (Pretty much a giant sheet of double sided tape.) Perfect!

If I had a silhouette or other cutting machine (My sister received one for Christmas - so jealous!) I would have used that for the next part, but since I didn't, I did it the old school way and just printed out some numbers on my computer, and used that as a template to cut out the numbers out of cardstock and the sticky paper.

After marking the clock for placement of the numbers, I adhered them to the face.

I spray painted the clock edge a dark satin brown. It turned out kind of glossy. I wish it were a matte finish, but this is all the hardware store had and I've got to work with what I can find!

                                                 This was me testing it out inside the clock before I adhered the numbers.

I then mod-podged the new face page and stuck it into the clock. This is where I had a problem.
Apparently, I did not use enough mod podge in spots (I haven't worked with it all that much and was afraid of making the paper soggy.) Or maybe it's just that I should have put something heavy on it while it dried. Regardless of the reason, I was, or more correctly, my husband was anxious for it to be back on the wall (since it's the clock that's referred to the most often in the house.) Anyway, all was good for the first 12 hours or so, but then some of the glue decided to let go and the paper curled up, which made the clock hands catch on it. My clock has been ticking away (the second hand works just fine), but the clock has been reading at 3:50 for a couple weeks now.

My husbands good natured sarcasm: "Way to make the clock look pretty, Jen".

Yes, dear, I'll fix it. Eventually. (Have I mentioned that I'm a procrastinator?)

Sorry, I missed taking pictures of some of the steps in between, but here is the final product.

(After a bunch of glue and frustration with getting the face to stick down, my clock is finally reading the proper time :) )

Monday, January 24, 2011


Here's what we were up to today.

We took the kids skating. This was only the second time my son has been on his skates. We took him once last year, but at that time I was about 5 months pregnant and he declared that it was "too slippery" after the first 5 minutes on the ice. We were going to enrol him in skating lessons this year, but they require them to be fully potty trained and at the time of registration he wasn't, so I guess we'll have to wait until next year.

We had meant to bring his skating helmet with us, but forgot it. I figured that we had grown up and learned to skate without helmets and survived to tell about it, so it should be fine! Ha!

Little guy had lots of spills, but he never cried. He had so much fun chasing after the hockey pucks that were randomly around the rink from prior hockey practices. At one point another older girl from in town was on the ice and was practicing her figure skating moves. I was pointing out to little guy the fancy moves she was doing. He replied "I have fancy moves, too, they're like...hiya!" Not sure what karate looks like on ice, and he (surprisingly) didn't show me either.

I have a feeling I'm reaaallyy going to feel today's fun tomorrow. I'm pretty sure it's been well over a decade since I was last on skates

Little missy rode in the sled the entire time. I think she enjoyed it, but we were laughing about the fact that her expression didn't change the ENTIRE time we were on the ice.

Hubby doesn't skate, so all the pictures of courtesy of him :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

33 Before 29

So my sister inspired me to do this list, as she has one of her own. Hers is 30 before she's 30. Mine is 33 before I turn 29...(for the 4th time...shhh)

I'm not a very good cook, though I can follow a recipe pretty well. I love to bake. There are a few things that I've always been scared hesitant to try. There have also been things that I have tried, but have previously failed at, that I would like to succeed at doing. And then there's the never ending craft projects. I must have a million bookmarks on my other computer (which I have neglected to find a way to transfer over to my new computer) of cool crafts and ideas that I would like to do. This is a list of some of those projects that I would like to tackle before the aforementioned 29th birthday. There were lots of other things I would have loved to put on this list, but location and availability prevent me from being able to accomplish them at this time and I'm all right with that. It'll just give me something to do on my next list.
This gives me approximately 2 years, 50 days to complete. That should be plenty of time right? (but knowing me, I'll leave it till the last days and I'll be madly crafting/baking/cooking the week before my birthday, leaving my family wondering what kind of lunatic mid-life crisis I'm hitting)

Anyway, my intention is to keep you up to date (occasionally) about how my list is going. So without further ado, the list:

1. Creme Brulee
2. Sushi
3. Risotto
4. Tiramisu
5. Puff Pastry
6. Steak (can you believe it? I've never cooked steak - I always leave it up to the hubby)
7. Pie Crust (Pastry and I don't generally get along, I'm a tenderflake kinda gal)
8. Souffle
9.  Bread (I've had disastrous results with all my previous efforts)
10. Homemade Pasta
11 Canning (relish/salsa)
12. Fondant covered cake
13.  Homemade Tortillas
14. Candy (with a thermometer) - I've yet to make anything that requires a candy thermometer that's ever turned out!
15  Gingerbread house
16. Homemade perogies
17. Ice Cream
18. Fried Rice
19. baked alaska
20. French onion soup
21. Royal icing cookies 
22. Cabbage Rolls
23. Hardanger Lefse (A Norwegian specialty which is popular in my town, I love it, so would like to learn to make it myself)
24. Pavlova
25. Throw Cushions for the couch
26. Piano Bench Cover
27. Bolsters/decorative pillows for the bed
28. Repaint both kids' dressers
29. Table Runner
30. Tree Skirt (right now I have a $5 cheesy felt one, but I have dreams of a damask and velvet one)
31. Wall Decor for the Restaurant (our restaurant which we manage has some horrible decor, which I'm in the process of working toward rectifying)
32. Easter Rag Baskets for the kids (I saw a cute one that I have bookmarked on the other computer. I'll link it up once I transfer everything over.

and finally, this one doesn't fall into either crafting or cooking/baking, but it's something I'd like to do nonetheless:

33. Learn Chopsticks on the piano (my brother sent me the music and I'm determined to learn it - I've got my work cut out for me!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It Arrived!

So the other day I had a rather miserable day of shopping in the 'city'. (I use that term lightly as it's technically a city in this province, but not even remotely close to the size of the cities I'm used to.

I should have known it was not going to be a pleasant day when the very first thing that happened when we arrived, was my belt on my pants breaking. (I'm still in those too-fat-for-my-regular pants and getting-too-small-for-my-fat pants... isn't baby weight just fantastic?!) Anyway, I really should have stopped and took the time to buy a new belt, but extra stops when you know you have a full day of shopping ahead and you have a baby and a preschooler with you, just doesn't feel that logical.

We got the first part of our shopping done with relative ease. It was when we hit the grocery store (which contained the bulk of our shopping) that everything seemed to go to pot. I was buying groceries for the restaurant and in typical small city fashion, they didn't have half of what we needed or it was already half-spoiled. Sweet daughter had just fallen asleep in the shopping cart (something I hadn't expected, but was relieved that she had). I heaved a giant bag of 50lb carrots onto the cart and then noticed that it wasn't sitting right. I looked down and noticed that the cart frame was broken! :S I still had a ton of shopping to do, but I knew I didn't want to keep baby in the broken cart. Of course their carts are those stupid put-the-dollar in type of carts, which are only stored outside, so I had to pay for what I had in the cart already, and then drag both kids outside in the bitter cold, to unload and get a better cart.

By the time we were back inside the kids were both now cranky and crying (the baby, because she was overtired and had been woken up rudely from her nap, and the preschooler because he had suddenly decided that he was done with shopping and wanted to go home RIGHT NOW!) *sigh* This is why I don't head to the city very often.

Anyway, after some smooth bribing with sparkle donuts (what he calls the vanilla sprinkle dips). We were able to finally finish off our shopping and get to the car. I was so tired. It had been a long day. The weather was turning even colder and we still had a long drive ahead of us.

That's when I got the phone call. My Christmas present had finally arrived! Finally some good news. Here's a picture of my new baby:

I grew up in a family of Mac lovers. We've had one since the time I was about 5 years old and they looked a little something like this:

If anyone knows how to make those little 'source' links for my pictures I'd appreciate knowing how!
...and sorry for the massive picture, but I don't know how to shrink it (or even if I can)

I've had to suffer with using a PC since I got married as that was the computer that my husband already had and Macs were out of our price range.
This year, as my computer has been getting slower and slower (and making noises that no computer should) it was decided that I would be getting a new computer. We decided on a laptop as our place isn't that big and really doesn't have the room for a real computer (the old one is currently set up in the baby's room while she has been sleeping in ours, but it's time for her to go to her own room!)

Anyway, I'm super excited to have my new computer, but now it's going to take a little bit to get all the important informations transferred from my old computer onto my new one and get it organized. Wish me luck.

I have a new project that I finished that I'll be posting pictures of hopefully later today.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Simple Valentines Bunting

So yesterday we received a parcel containing new dishes for our restaurant. My son enjoyed jumping on the bubble wrap for a bit. (Isn't cheap fun great?!)

In the box were these lovelies.

I don't know why, but I've always loved corrugated cardboard so when I saw it in the box I knew I wanted it. My husband tried throwing them out, but I immediately grabbed them back knowing I would probably make something with them someday.

Today I saw the little box containing the cardboard sitting on the table still not put away and happened to glance at the wall which still has nails in it from the advent calendar that I made this year, so I decided I would make a valentine's Day bunting to go on it. I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

                                   Sorry, the lighting in our place is atrocious, it looks way better in person!

It's simple enough that it really doesn't require a tutorial, but I'll tell you what I did.

First I traced a heart shaped cookie cutter on the backside and cut them out. Half of the hearts I painted completely red using acrylic paint and the other ones I just painted around the edges so they would pop a bit against my wall.

I then free handed some lettering onto more corrugated cardboard and hot-glued it on. I embellished the others with buttons and ribbon. I then glued each heart onto a piece of jute and hung. Done.

What do you think?

I'm linking up here


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Wednesday, January 5, 2011


What did you do for New Years Eve?

   Because there really is nowhere to go here - and even if we had been invited somewhere, we have 2 children that don't sleep well (or at all) away from home - I knew we'd be staying in. I decided I would make something special for the night for hubby and I.

Now, I'm not Greek in any way, shape or form, so I don't know about the authenticity of this recipe. What I do know is that it is really yummy. You'll want to make them.

This is an appetizer version of Spanakopita.
These are easy, albeit labour intensive, but they are worth the work.

You'll have to do a wee bit of planning ahead in order to make these. The phyllo dough and the frozen spinach both need to thaw for a few hours.

The Recipe: Source: Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations cookbook 2003

  • 1 Medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes) divided (Trust me when I say that you'll want at least twice this much)
  • 1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese
  • 3/4 cup small-curd cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 package (16oz) frozen phyllo dough, thawed

* a note on my ingredient list. You will see that I have no onions pictured. I did not realize until I was getting everything together that I did not have any onions on hand, so I reconstituted some dried flaked onions using a 1:1 ratio with water. I used about 1 1/2 Tbs. as I have no idea what the actual equivalent to real onions is. I probably could have used more. I also didn't have bread crumbs. I crushed up saltines instead. I would have gone to the store to get more, but the stores all close early around here, 6pm, which is really terrible for a procrastinator like me who doesn't generally think about making dinner until right around that time!

 In a large skillet, saute onion in 2 Tbs. butter until tender. Remove from the heat. Stir in the spinach, feta cheese, cottage cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, dill and pepper.

*because I used dried onion flakes, I skipped the sauteing part. I also used a Feta mix that had sundried tomatoes and oregano because that was all that was available, it turned out even better.

 I know the mush in the bowl doesn't look overly appetizing, but trust me, it is going to be so yummy!
  Melt remaining butter. Layer and brush five phyllo sheets with melted butter. Keep remaining phyllo covered to avoid drying out. You'll want to wet a clean kitchen towel to lay over top of the phyllo that you aren't using as it dries out really fast! The cloth doesn't need to be sopping wet, just damp.
 Now slather on that butter! Every time I've made this, I've ended up melting more than the called for amount (which is why I told you you'd want more). My preschooler came over to the counter while I was slathering on the butter and complained that I was splashing him...yup, I love me some butter!

Cut buttered sheets lengthwise into 2-in. strips; cut in half width wise. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling at one end of each strip. (I'm just going by the recipe instructions, though I've always found that I have to use a little less than 1 Tbs in order to get it to fit.)

fold into a triangle, as you would fold a flag.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with butter.(Yup, more butter!) I just lined my baking sheets with parchment paper (I love that stuff).

I think there were enough phyllo sheets in my box to repeat the above steps 3 or 4 times.

Bake @ 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm. Oh, ya! Look at that yummy goodness!

If you happen to have any filling left over after the phyllo has run out, don't throw it out. It makes an awesome addition to your morning eggs!

 Yield: 28 appetizers

I hope you enjoy. Let me know if you make them and how they turn out.

Jen  <--- Anyone know how to make those fancy signatures everyone else seems to have?

I'm linking up to:

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year, A New Blog

What do a big-city girl and a teeny country village have in common? Um, yah, I’m still trying to figure that one out. I moved to a tiny village of approx. 300 people, in the middle of nowhere, a year and a half ago with my husband. He wanted to pursue his dream of managing a restaurant (and get away from his J-O-B that he had previously) and to give our family the chance to expand, as living in the city had become much too expensive. I became pregnant with our second child, shortly after moving here, so spent the majority of our first year trying to keep my breakfast down, my eyelids open, the hyper preschooler in line and my husband from going insane! (No one said it was going to be easy!).
This is not the reason for my blog.
This is:
After a year of living here and adjusting to rural life (I don’t know that I’ll ever completely adjust- bugs give me literal anxiety!) and settling into a routine with my now family of 4, and having got into the swing of things with our job, I’m now bored. I’ve been contemplating what exactly it is that people around here do for fun. In the city if I was bored I’d call up a friend and we’d hit the mall and go shopping or go out for coffee, go to a local park for a picnic or to feed ducks, go see a movie, etc. Here there aren't those options. Okay, maybe some of them. I'm pretty sure I've seen some ducks.
I like to craft. Unfortunately for me, I have 1 bin of craft-type stuff and that’s it. And those craft things are mostly left-overs from various baby showers or preschool crafts that I’ve done (think Popsicle sticks, pipe-cleaners, school glue and fun foam), so they’re not exactly suitable for “adult” type crafts. Sigh. So why not go shopping to get some new craft supplies you ask?
Let me paint you a picture of what my village has to offer:
Rec Center – This is the “fun” place to be.
It has a newly-renovated skating rink which is open for maybe 6 months out of the year. This would be ok if my oldest son (who is 3) was 100% potty trained – (I am not taking him out on the ice, only to be running to the bathroom and stripping off all those layers of snowpants, mitts, coat, etc.- only to find that he’s already peed his pants and we need to go home now!- whew!) and could skate. We did venture out on to the ice last winter with him in his bob skates ( you know those double bladed strap on skates) We were on the ice all of 10 minutes before he declared that it was “too slippery” and thus ended our adventures in skating.
Curling Rink. – Have I mentioned that I hate the cold? No? Well, I hate the cold. And along with that goes any sport that takes place in mainly cold places. My DS loves to play hockey in the house with us with his plastic hockey sticks. I was disappointed to learn that hockey is so big here, as that was the one thing I’ve told our son from the time he was born, that he couldn’t play because I did not want to freeze my butt off sitting at millions of games and getting up early for practices (Next to winter, early mornings are my least favourite things) – I try to encourage him to play with his basketball or soccer ball – but I digress.
Mini- golf – No, this is not the kind of mini golf that has the cool little windmills, ramps and cuteness that usually personify miniature golf. This is some astro-turf, metal rails, with holes drilled into the cement. Yah.
Bowling – There are two 5-pin bowling lanes, which are decent. Rather…ahem…retro…yah, that’s it. Retro. *Translated, haven’t been updated since 1960. There is a giant fish decorating the wall above the lanes. Yes, a fish. In a bowling alley. Don’t ask.* I will admit that I have enjoyed the few times we've ventured over to play a round or two of bowling, and the one thing it does have going for it is that it is cheap!
Pool Table/darts – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone using either of these. Oh, wait. The pool table was used once - to hold dessert during a big community fund-raising dinner.
A wall of rental movies. Only one copy per movie. Last time I checked “Kung-fu Panda” was still on the ‘new-release’ wall. ‘nuff said
A snack bar/pizza place. We mainly only go there for ice cream during the summer and occasionally for pizza. Timeliness is not always the strong suit there, so you either have to call ahead before you get hungry, or bring a snack.
Other attractions of note:
A gas station containing 2 pumps. 1 regular gas, 1 diesel
2 small grocery stores. I think one of the biggest adjustments has been coming to terms with the fact that not everything is available here. Especially not any “weird” ingredients. And by weird, I mean: White wine vinegar, Cumin, Eggplant. It is especially difficult to find fresh ingredients. Big cities have the luxury of receiving the produce fresh off the truck as one of the first stops on its route. Small towns, not so much. I'm pretty sure when the stores here receive their produce, it is already half-way to expiring. I have learned (the hard way) that you need to read the expiration dates on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Small stores do not move inventory like big stores do. Even in the bigger store in the town 50km north of us they have the same issues.
We also have a bank and an insurance office, 2 churches and a firehall/ems, 1 school (K-SR.H) Oh, I almost forgot about the golf course, but I don't golf - in fact in the 18 months that we've been here, I don't even have a clue as to where the golf course is located.
Oh, and of course the restaurant and motel that my husband and I manage. Which kind of puts a damper on things, because when you ARE the restaurant, eating out (at least here) has no appeal, it becomes old hat. In fact, I rarely eat in our restaurant (and not because the food is bad, because I happen to think that my hubby is a fabulous cook). It's more like the novelty has worn out and also, taking a preschooler and a baby out to eat by yourself really is not fun!
The next town over has an outdoor pool that it open for 3 (maybe less) months out of the year. We didn't go swimming last summer as I just had my daughter and a) I was not about to drag my newborn into the pool and, b) there is no way that I could ever hope to fit in any of the bathing suits I have stashed in my closet. (This second pregnancy was not kind to my body). Hopefully this next summer I'll be able to send my son to take swimming lessons.
I know this is rather long-winded, but I thought you might want to know a little of my background. And if you don't care, but have still read this far, I guess it's too late now, huh?
This blog is all about my adventures in keeping myself entertained. It'll likely contain a little of this, and a little of that. Crafts, sewing, photography, baking. Whatever strikes my fancy and keeps me part of the sane world. I'm not striving to be some big-shot blogger with sponsors and the whole bit, but if you want to follow along, I'd love to have you!
{disclaimer- I'm really new to writing blogs. I have no idea how to even post pictures. There will be a learning curve.}