Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Animal Findings and Summer Fun

A few days ago when I was walking Juno I found part of a robin's egg, which I carefully carried home and put on our front porch so I could admire its lovely blueness.

 Then we got ready to leave for work and school and guess who was visiting?

Can you see it over there past the edge of our porch?  How about a closer look.

No we can't see you at all, your sitting-still-as-a-statue technique is very clever.

Aren't you cute!  Now run along and eat someone else's garden.


I have some summer changes happening here on the blog for July and August.

First, there is going to be guest posts every Monday all summer long - I'm tickled pink that every one of the bloggers I approached to write a post agreed to do so.  I'm looking forward to what they come up with. 

Second, I know I'm going to be busy over the summer and have decided that I will only be posting three times a week. When I started blogging on January 1st I decided to commit to publishing a post every weekday.  So far I have kept to that schedule and have loved it.  I thought I would run out of things to write about, but my mind is just brimming over with ideas and projects.  However, I thought I would take a bit of a break over the summer.

Finally, stay tuned for a giveaway in celebration of my 6 month blog anniversary - details coming soon.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Way to go Girl

Kate has now officially finished high school!

She wrote many essays and exams,
 went to prom,

 went to WonderGrad (a one-night event for graduating seniors at Canada's Wonderland, an amusement and theme park),

and had a tea party with her friends to celebrate exams being done.

Kate's a little shy about being on the blog, but rest assured she does have a head.  That's her in the black dress channeling Audrey Hepburn, and her friend is in the yellow, dressed to go to prom. 

I have to tell you a story about her friend's dress.  She had been excited for months about going to the prom and even sewed her own dress.  When Kate and I went down to her friend's house, so I could get some photos of both of them, we were greeted with a flurry of activity - the zipper on her dress had broken and they had had to break the zipper-pull to get her out of the dress.  This was now about an hour and  a half before the limo was coming to take them to grad.  We brainstormed some options and finally decided to sew the zipper up as far as we could so that she was decent at the bottom part of the dress and then take some yellow material from the ragbag, cut it into ribbons, and sew two on either side of the zipper and tie the dress shut.  It worked beautifully and the ribbons hanging down covered the zipper opening so it actually looked fine.  The truly amazing part was that Kate's friend was calm and composed throughout the ordeal - I think I would have been alternating between flipping out and tears.  Kuddos to her, though - it was grace under fire!

Kate and three of her friends also got together after exams were finished for a tea party.  One of Kate's friend's, Gabriela Hansen, is an uber-talented photographer and took some photos of the tea party, which I was glad about since I was at work and didn't get to see it. 

 Gabriela is only 18 years old but has already sold some of her photos, has an amazing portfolio, and is going to the Ontario College of Art and Design next year to study photography. 

Gabby, not only graciously allowed me to share some of her photos here on my blog, but also wrote about me on her Facebook wall, and said: " She has possibly the best decorated house I've seen."   What a sweety, eh?

At the tea party they all dressed up, made cupcakes, brewed some tea, set a pretty table, and had fun. 

Aren't they adorable!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sumer is icumen in, lhude sing cuccu!!

Translation from Middle English (most effective if said like a Shakespearean bard):

Summer is a-comin' in
Singeth loud cuckoo
Groweth seed 
and bloweth mead
And springeth the woods anew

Since summer vacation is a-comin' in three more days I thought I would list what I hope to do this summer.

So far I plan to:

1. go to the cottages. 

2.  paint the kitchen cabinets white.

3.  go to Stratford with hubby and see "The Tempest" - also includes lunch and a walk in the park.

4.  go on a Moonlight-and-Cheesecake date - thanks Sarah for the inspiration, although I may switch from cheesecake to a chocolate dessert, but I love the whole magic-in-the-city-at-night idea.

5.  plan a series of fun summer daytrips/weekend trips since hubby likely doesn't have a chunk of time off this summer.

6.  enjoy time with my brother and my sister and her family who are coming to visit us from Winnipeg this summer.

7.  enjoy the weeklong visit with our French guests (the parents of the exchange student who lived with us for a few months 2 years ago).

8.  deep clean the house - see #7.

9.  organize the storage room in the basement.  It has been a pit since William "decluttered" his room into the storage room.  Now his room looks zen and the storage room - not so much.

10.  hem a pair of dress pants that I bought last November.

11.  finish a blackboard project that I started in May.

12.  paint the dining room table black.

13.  touch-up the basement playroom paint where the wall was patched because of water damage.

14.  paint the upstairs hall and hang the photos we had framed last December.

15.  read at least 5 books.  Since blogging took over my life, I haven't read any books. at. all!

There we have it - 15 things I hope to do this summer.  What about you, what plans do you have for the summer?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Emerald Quilt

Yesterday it rained off and on all day and then it cleared up and the sun came out.  I loved the way the raindrops looked on the luscious hosta.

Linked to Mosaic Monday at Little Red House

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Photo - We Welcome you to Munchkinland

Is this not the cutest cottage ever?  The rounded red door just makes me swoon.  We saw this adorable cottage when we were on vacation several years ago in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.  The cottage was right down near the beach looking out to the Bay of Fundy. 

It is no more than about 12 x 14 feet with a small second floor loft. I remember that as soon as I saw it I began obsessively thinking up floor plans that would accomodate a small kitchen, a table for two, and a sofa or 2 easy chairs on the main floor.  Not easy to do in such a small area.  It completely captured my imagination.  I would looooove to have gone inside.

If this were my cottage, I would walk the beach looking for pretty stones, watch the amazing Bay of Fundy tides, take moody photos in the fog, and then go home for a cup of tea. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"What I Love About my House" Blog Round-up - Part 2

It's been a lot of fun reading all the posts about what everyone loves about their homes, so much fun, in fact, that I'm bringing you "What I Love About My House - Part 2"!  You can read Part 1 here and the post I wrote about my own home here.

It's always a good exercise to focus on the positive about our homes, despite the limitations of what we would want to accomplish if time, money, and energy were no object.  So here are another batch of lovely homes to show you (in no particular order):

Decorating Addiciton
Stephenie wrote about her Cape Cod style house which she and her husband have recently decided not to sell.  There's so much to love in her pretty home from the amazing bathroom reno, which now features those gorgeous river rock tiles in the shower, to the cathedral ceiling in her family room which makes it a perfect Christmas tree house.

3 Sun Kissed Boys 
Hop on over to Yanet's blog to read the story of how Yanet and her husband were able to purchase their house through a series of events with perfect timing.  They have since made their home a haven of comfort and coziness, from the white kitchen (I do love a white kitchen), to the swing hanging from the tree in the front yard.

Blue Clear Sky
Elizabeth, who lives in a house that is very similar in age and look to mine, gives us a tour of the inside and outside of her home.  Have a look at the wonderful sunlight that streams into the eat-in kitchen, the inviting front porch, the amazing back patio, her gorgeous flowers, and even a fire pit out back. 

French Buttons
Pamela moved 3000 miles away from family and friends, about 6 months ago, and has ended up living in the cutest craftsman-style home that simply oozes charm, with everything from a 2-acre garden, a wide front porch, built-in china cabinet, claw foot bathtubs, beadboard everywhere, and more. 

Spindle Cottage
Pop on over to Kim's blog to tour her lovely home, including her original 1940s kitchen complete with a vintage enamel table, plenty of built-in bookshelves, fireplaces, white beadboard, and the beach nearby. 

Going a Little Coastal
Anita has had a difficult time warming up to the house that she has lived in for the past year, but she is beginning to find the things about her home that warm her heart.  She showed us the view of her pool - from her sofa no less - as well as her beautiful, warm, coastal-inspired bedroom, and the family treasures that remind her of the important things in life.

Thanks for taking part everyone.  It was so much fun to have a peak into all your lovely homes - each one so different, but each one appreciated for its beauty.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Manitoba Pioneer Camp

My oldest son told me that there is still room at some Manitoba Pioneer Camp sessions this year and he suggested I do a blog post about camp in case you are looking for the most wonderful experience of your child's life this summer.  I went to camp for many years, as did all my siblings, and now all three of our children as well.  I have some of my fondest memories from my time at camp when I was a teenager.

Camp is on a lovely island in Shoal Lake (actually just into Ontario, but we won't mention that small detail given that it is called Manitoba Pioneer Camp).  Your camp experience begins with your ride out to the island on the Pioneer-3.

The setting is a beautiful wooded island with rocky shores.  Campers and their counsellors stay in cabins like these.

There are also buildings like the dining hall and this one, below, which is Bill Mason Place, used for evening programs and chapel.  They named it after the "canoe god" - Bill Mason - who made the movie, based on the book, Paddle to the Sea.  He went to Manitoba Pioneer Camp as a child and then returned as a young adult to set up the canoe skills and canoe-tripping program.  Every camper at camp goes on a canoe-trip, everything from going on an overnight to the next island for the juniors, to a 12-day river trip for the leaders-in-training (which William will be this summer).

Camp involves crazy, fun things like doing exercises on the benches at the waterfront.

wild jumps into the water to go swimming,

dressing up as aliens ... um ... I think that is what they are dressed up as anyway.  Camp involves a lot of dressing up actually - for banquets, and skit nights, and general fun times.

Camp involves learning to canoe.  Including such hard-core stuff as practicing canoe-over-canoe rescues, developing canoe skills,

going on canoe trips,

and making yummy canoe-trip food over a campfire.

I'll leave you with this photo from the camp website that features my eldest son, Malcolm, grabbing his rear (hmm ... charming).

(all photos were either taken by Kate or are from the camp website)

I interviewed my three resident Manitoba Pioneer Camp experts to see how they would describe the best part about camp, and here are their responses:

From Malcolm, who has gone to MPC for the past 7 years as a camper, and later as staff: 
Camp's location is its greatest gift - staying on an island means the camp is accessible to Winnipeg, but has the serenity and quiet of the northern woods.  MPC exceeds other camps in its commitment to go above and beyond to give campers the best experience possible.
From Kate, who will be going back to camp as staff, this being her 6th summer going to MPC:
Epic all round fun!
From William, who will be in the leader-in-training program this summer, which will be his 4th summer at MPC:
I like the canoe trips, the funny, entertaining meal-time conversations, and the wide games which are always fun.  You play games, you go on canoe trips, you get wet, you talk about God, and it's generally a great experience.
 So there you have it, from the horse's mouthes (so to speak)!

All I can say is, if you are looking for a life-altering experience for your child this summer, you should look into Manitoba Pioneer Camp.  Feel free to email me ( or check out the website here for more information.

I know people from all over the world read this website and you may think this is too far away to apply to you, but let me tell you that in the past 5 years there have been campers and counsellors from England, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, South Korea, United States, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Panama, Mexico, Thailand, Taiwan, and Australia.  So you can see that it's not just me saying it is a fantastic place - it is worth flying half-way around the world to get to.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Deck Plans

We are working on plans to build a deck in our backyard - possibly this fall when the weather is cooler.   I thought I would show you a picture of the back yard and the back of the house.   If you look closely there are some flowerbeds along the house, but the flat facade of the house needs some work to make it interesting.

See here's a closer shot.

And here is the same area from the side of the yard.

Just so you don't think we have a bare backyard - here it is looking in the other direction.

We have been pondering the deck situation and here are the requirements that we have come up with:

1.  We don't eat outside so this deck does not need to be big enough for a table and chairs - just a couple of chairs and a small table for a cup of tea outside.
2.  We would prefer not to have to move the bush that is to the left of the sliding door as it is well-established and has pretty purple flowers - I think it is a butterfly bush.
3.  We would like the area to have an intimate and cozy feel.
4.  We would like the stairs to be over at one side, rather than in a direct line with the sliding door, so that the deck is a cozy place to sit rather than being a walkway.
5.  We would like the deck to be low to the ground to avoid having animals make their home underneath.

There don't seem to be as many inspiration photos for decks, as compared to patios and porches, but I did manage to find a few, each illustrating some of the elements we are looking for.
I like the simple end-cuts on the pergola in the photo below.  I think hubby and I could pull that off with our simple tools and our simple skills.  I also like that the deck is quite low to the ground.  I was hoping for a cozier feel to our deck, though.

from DIY network

Yep cozy and intimate like this is just what I'm looking for.  We don't need it quite as big, though, since we don't want to eat out there.  While I think the white paint on the pergola is gorgeous, we want low maintenance, so we're going for composite wood.


I like the cozy feel of this deck and pergola.  I think this one is probably a good size as it just seems to fit a small table and a few chairs - morning coffee or afternoon tea furniture.

I like the lattice backdrop in the photo below.  I also like the fact that it is basically the same arrangement with the sliding door that we have.  We are thinking of doing long low stairs along one side, like this deck has, and I like how low to the ground this deck is.

Photo from Kent Development
This next deck is from fellow blogger, Kim at Savvy Southern Style.  I love the simple railing (that we could build ourselves) and the cozy size of her deck.  I asked Kim if she would mind measuring this side of her deck for me so I would know what size 'cozy' is.  She very obligingly emailed me back to say it is 9 x 10 1/2 feet.  Good to know! 

 Savvy Southern Style

Look how cozy and welcoming this deck looks from the inside - this is exactly what I'm going for.  Do you think Kim would mind if I moved into her house?

And this last photo is my very, very, very lame attempt to draw a deck using Paint.  Are you able to figure it out?

What do you think?  Any suggestions for us? What size deck do you have?