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Eve's Goldie Blox Yarn Swift

I was trying to explain to my daughter Eve, who turns 7 in a few days, what a yarn swift is and why knitters use one. A few YouTube videos later, Eve was sure she could make her own. After a few experiments, she came up with this Goldie Blox creation.

I was very impressed. Of course, it only comes in one width so not all skeins would fit, but it is perfect for small balls. Also, limbs can easily be lengthened by adding extensions to the current rods.

Sometimes your heart really melts when your kids do womerhing that overlaps with your own interests.

May I also add that making videos is ridiculously easy these days? Something like this takes like 10 minutes with an iPhone. Back when I started as a video editor in the early 2000's, this would have taken a room full of equipment and loads of rendering time. And I was at the start of non-linear editing -- linear would ha e taken that much longer (and mostly wouldn't have been put online, given the limitations of the Internet at the time).

Now I feel old. Back in my day, you young whippersnappers...

Back to the Country Garden

Recently I went out to my in-laws' cottage out in Renfrew County. We had beautiful weather the first day: sunny, hot, perfect for jumping into the (still-really-cold) lake or just lounging on the patio with some trail mix, knitting, and a good book.

Of course, the weather didn't hold for the entire weekend, so in an effort to get my eldest out in the afternoon while her sister napped, the next day we did a little exploring around the area. First we stopped into the Country Garden to see what they had to offer on this particular day.

I've written about them before; they're basically a traditional local produce booth at the end of a farm lane, but somewhat modernized and fancied-up. They're not exactly in the phone book, but you can find them at 3024 Queensline Rd., Foresters Falls (Renfrew County), Ontario. I think we bought 90% of their weekend's harvest of sugar snap peas and munched on them for days. (Healthy snacks that my kids love? Yes please!)

I also took a chance and bought a few slices of summer sausage to try (there is a fridge inside the building for perishables -- their eggs are cheaper than the grocery store). Holy crap, was it ever good! I went back the next day and bought the whole darned sausage. It lasted me a week at most, and I regret nothing. Firm and chewy on the outside, slightly softer on the inside, and all with a lovely smoked smell...

Of course, then we had to head up to The Scoop ice cream and sweet shop in Cobden, located adjacent to the Little Coffee Shop. I love their ice cream and gelato! I'm told that the coffee next door is great, too. I forgot to take a picture, but you can check them out for yourself at 33 Main St., Cobden, Ontario. They even have a little patio off to the side of the building where you can eat your ice cream in the shade on a hot day.

Welcome to Spring! (Kind of.)

The first day of spring this year was March 20th, but you couldn't prove it by me. Sure, the days are getting longer and the nights are getting shorter, but it's the temperature hasn't been reflecting the change. When I woke up this morning it was -27°C (-16.6°F) with the wind chill, and I was not amused. However, around the start of March we had a couple of (relatively) warmer days and I felt like doing something spring-ish. So I hit the closest store with a garden center, picked up some seeds, bulbs, soil, and pots, and started a little indoor garden. I did something similar last year, but this year I expanded. First, what's growing so far:

I also picked up a few pre-potted tulip bulbs, one of which surprised me this morning with its first bloom.


Basil, I think. I kind of misplaced my labels.

This one's supposed to be summer savory, but it could just be weeds. I seem to have the same sprouts coming up in some of the other pots.

Peruvian daffodil.

By the way, all that white stuff you see in the background out the window? Snow. It's not melting yet. Sure, we had a couple of days of warm weather around Christmas that melted all the accumulated snow until that point so that despite the generally miserably cold temperatures we ended up with a green Christmas. But the post-holidays snow seems to be sticking around. Total accumulation's nothing like Boston or, heaven forbid, the Maritimes. But it has been record-breakingly cold around here.

Anyway, back to the window garden. I wanted to do a double-layered one this year, so that required a few changes. First of all, I knew it was going to be a lot heavier -- not only the extra board, but a bunch more pots would add to the weight. So I bought an old fence board and mounted it above my window frame. This is a handy trick for mounting anything heavy above a window, including brackets for heavier curtains. If you have kids, pets, or just heavy curtains, you have probably found that wall anchors can be totally ineffective in drywall. For a more heavy-duty mount, screw a board above the window frame (I picked the height of my board based on the size of my curtain brackets), making sure to hit the studs when you mount it. This should make the board darned near impossible to pull down. Then mount the curtain brackets (or whatever) to the board, not the wall itself. This will give you much greater stability. It's basically a heavy duty version of using a picture rail to mount framed items on a plaster-and-lathe wall.

This year I also used a much heavier-duty eye bolt and thicker ropes. Last year I just went with what I had on hand, but I didn't want these new hanging shelves to come crashing down in the middle of the night, ruining my plants and quite possibly my window if they fell the wrong way.

As you can see, once the board above the window is painted the same colour as the wall, it's nearly invisible. (Always save your paint leftovers! They're great for projects like this as well as the inevitable touch-ups to damage over time.) I haven't put the curtains back up yet because I took the opportunity to clean them and they're still in the wash. Once they're up and covering the corners of the window, you won't be able to see the brackets or shelf mounting hardware at all.

As an aside, yes, I could have mounted that bottom shelf lower and had three rows of shelving, or two taller ones. However, I went with a height that was a bit above the level of my kids' heads, trying to avoid anyone getting a shelf corner in the eye.



Saturday we had snow. Sunday started with freezing rain, then just rain and a degree or two above zero (just above 32°F) during the day. The mercury dropped overnight to an icy -20°C (-4°F) this morning. Everything was not only frozen, but because of the precipitation the day before, everything was also covered in a good thick layer of ice. It was beautiful. Frigid, horrible driving, broken tree limbs everywhere, frost quakes, and impossible to shovel if you weren't around Saturday night or Sunday morning... But beautiful.

It's hard to capture on camera (although I'm sure someone more proficient would have an easier time of it). It's so high contrast: the brillaince of the white of the snow and ice contrast sharply with pretty much everything else. Also, some of the magic of it is the movement of the trees in the wind, how everything sparkles as it moves.

An aspect that is really hard to capture in a photo is how the sparkling whiteness surrounds you. Everywhere you look, there is more to draw your eye. (In sunglasses, of course. Sunny days on new snow or ice can cause snow blindness if you're not careful, or at the very least a pretty bad headache.) I've made the above photo available at a higher resolution so you can get a better feeling for the sheer scale of it.

(The view out of my daughter's bedroom window today.)

(That's cedar hiding under there.)

(Not some kind of sea anemone, but rather a low decorative bush in front of a store.)

The girls begged to watch Frozen again today. Gee, I wonder what inspired them?
Here are the last of the Elf on the Shelf pictures for this year!

Here she is perched atop my cookbooks in the kitchen. It looks pretty innocent when viewed from my height...

...although I didn't realize until after how creepy she looked from kid-height.

This kids went out of town with their grandparents for a couple of days, meaning that Candy Cane was free to roam around a bit more since she wouldn't be touched by inquisitive little hands. First she tried on Rapunzel's dress and had tea with Anna on the basement couch.

Then she snuck into the candy dish in the kitchen, bringing Omnom along to gorge on candy. (I guess she really likes Lindor.)

Then Candy Cane and the Sesame Street gang did a gift exchange on the basement desk. If you don't understand why each character received what they received, where have you been for the last 45 years?

By the time the kids came home, Candy Cane was perched safely behind the mini-quilt on the back of the front door, out of reach again.

The next night she played William Tell with Merida in front of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Of course on Christmas Eve she ended up on the Christmas tree, waiting to watch the kids open their gifts in the morning. Can you find her? After Christmas Day, she loses her magic and goes back to being just a doll. She will not move again until December 1st, when Santa will send her magic back so she can move around at night and report back to him if necessary.

And with that I bid a merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

A gaggle of Candy Cane pictures

Come on, you knew it was going to happen. In the pre-Christmas rush, I totally forgot to post pictures. I mean, Candy Cane moved every night, and I took pictures, but I forgot to post them. So here they all are.

11 days of pictures...Collapse )

Noddy, Candy Cane, and Myra the Mooshka doll started a Magic: The Gathering game.

After playing Magic, Candy Cane got down to the serious business of drawing up a Dungeons & Dragons character.

It's no coincidence that she checked out elves as a race.

More to come!

Super Elf flies to the rescue!

Candy Cane's flight was compliments of fishing line strung between the kitchen shelf and the dining room light fixture. My eldest noticed the line, and I had to explain to her that while Candy Cane may be able to move at night when nobody's looking, when anyone can see her she's just a dolly who has to be held up somehow. Hence the string. I wonder if, when she's grown, my daughter will realize that I pretty much explained to her that an Elf on the Shelf is, in essence, a benevolent Weeping Angel.

Sorry about the lens flare/dust on the last photo, but it's almost 1:00am and it's too close to bedtime for a retake.

Two days of Candy Cane

Knowing myself, I should have known I'd nigh-on forget to take pictures of Candy Cane (probably more than once). Well, better late than never.

Here Candy Cane is perched atop the knitter's wreath that I put together back in 2009. It's missing a few balls now ("shatter-proof" my butt), but I still hang it every year. The hat and scarf set was a gift from tyches_echo and das_goon back in 2010, and they were made by Art by Ana. It's supposed to go on a liquor bottle, but with a bit of stretching it did fit on the elf.

Tonight Candy Cane is hanging out with Santa on the Christmas lap quilt that I received from my mentor Lorraine Norstrom back in 2008 (or possibly before, and I just didn't take a picture).

She's wearing a two-tailed hat out of a set I knit for dolls and for some reason never gave away. Man, that was probably three or four years ago now. Ah well, they have a use now!

Candy Cane finished her knitting!

Not sure what she did to end up hanging off of the kitchen curtain rod, though.

Candy Cane needs a new scarf

Apparently Candy Cane is a knitter.

In other news, it snowed today. It had already snowed in November, but a few days of warm weather melted it all. I don't know if this round will stay (it's hovering around 0°C right now), but it was picturesque while it lasted.

Also, we loved Big Hero 6. Just saying.