Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
At this time of year, poinsettias are very popular. This is my poinsettia. It doesn't look like a poinsettia right now. It doesn't matter as I like this poinsettia even though it doesn't quite look like a poinsettia. What makes it special to me is one of my kids gave me this poinsettia last Christmas and there is a story behind it. For the very first time, I managed to keep the poinsettia alive during the year and now here it is. I'm not sure if it will get the classic red flowers this year but so far the plant looks pretty healthy! So why is this so remarkable especially for someone so much into gardening?
I admit to having a green thumb and at one time our home was overflowing with houseplants but by no means would I ever say I was and expert. Unfortunately most of the houseplants had to go due to health reasons so growing has been confined mostly to outdoors. This raises two concerns not the purpose of this entry but over the past couple of years I have slowly been re-introducing houseplants in our home. That explains the houseplant issue, sort of except I am a little rusty on keeping some houseplants.
This poinsetta was very special to me so I was determined to keep it alive despite not know how to do so. I was really flying by the seat of my pants. During the holidays, I kept the poinsettia watered but not really wet. After the holidays, I removed the foil pot cover and set the plant on a saucer. It looked like it was dying anyway so I cut it back to about 4 inches and kept the soil moist but not wet. Then when the weather turned warmer I moved the plant to my small greenhouse. All of a sudden this plant just came to life and it is now as in the picture taken a couple of days ago. When I shut down the greenhouse the poinsettia was moved back into the house and appears to be doing just fine.
So my tips for keeping poinsettias are:
✰ Keep watered but not really wet.
✰ Cut back to allow for new growth.
✰ Provide a warm, sunny spot for growth.
✰ Even if it doesn'b bloom, enjoy as the plant is pretty regardless
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
is the journey...
A scapbook can really be in any format but I like to tell a story so that means a beginning, middle and end. Most of my scrapbooks focus on our family's highlights for the year in chronological order but others are themed for one particular event. The pages should have movement and journalling. I also try to include handwritten journalling because of my family history interests.
I make a title page for all my scrapbooks. To me, it just gives the starting point and focus for the album. The title page pictured is from a scrapbook I did of our trip to Las Vegas in May of 2003. I chose the colours for this title page because they remind me of Las Vegas. It seemed fitting to have the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign as part of the title page. It is a digital image as are a lot of my more recent images. It is not clear in this picture but movement is provided not only by the title but the letters are peel and stick glittered felt. Las Vegas is all about glitter so I thought they matched the theme nicely. They give both movement and depth. I used a gold metallic paper for the matting and larger stars in keeping with the glitz theme. The smaller stars were actual metallic glitter.
Much like a book, I think a scrapbook needs an ending page as a way to give the viewer a glipse to the next album. These can be elabourate or rather simple as this end page is. This is the end page for our first year together. I was expecting our first baby so chose blue and pink mutted matts for the simple saying. The saying was printed on plain white card stock then hand embossed using a paint stencil. The saying and matts were mounted on purchased designer stationary.
Now my method for embossing is, shall I say, different and I use any stencil I can find, not those geared to scrapbooking. The stencil I used for this particular layout was purchased at a dollar store. Once I printed the journalling, I centered it backwards onto the stencil. Then holding it to the window, I used the non-writing end of a ball point pen to rub into the stencil markings. When turned over, the result was a pleasing and inexpensive embossing, a method I still use today.
The pages should have some type of movement whether real using embellishments and layering or perceived using shadowing or font gradients. Even if a layout is digital, use shadows and/or embellishments to add depth and movement.
This was a rather difficult layout because I wanted to include a lot of pictures and journalling that included a recipe. So I printed all the digital images then worked on getting movement. One of the easiest ways to get movement is to layer elements which I did in this layout. Then I added more movement by angling the images and journalling. The title gave a bit more movement using gradient coloured font. What is barely apparent in the image is the background paper is custom designed by me. I printed one sheet with custom background and title while the other had just the background.
Journaling is a very important component. It brings your pictures to life. It brings back the memories! Purists will tell you that journaling should always be handwritten but I disagree. While handwritten journaling is always incorporated into my albums, I also rely heavily on computer generated journaling.
This layout was created using MS Word Art on a rather mutted blue card stock. The digital images were printed then cut and I rounded the corners. I wanted something different for the journaling though.
We honeymooned in Niagra Falls, Ontario and spend a couple of weekends a year there ever since. So the legend of the Maid of the Mist seemed to just fit this layout. I chose vellum because it give a misty, hint of the Falls look. I printed the legend in blue type onto vellum then trimmed the vellum with a jagged rotary cutter. To give the page movement I chalked the cut edge of the vellum.
A scrapbook album should be about more than just pictures. I always try to include extras like travel pamphlets, airline tickets or other momentos. This layout was from our trip to Lake Mead in 2003 while we were in Las Vegas, Nevada. The journaling was done using MS Word then cut out to use in the layout. I included details like the cost of dinner and weather conditions that day. Pockets are a perfect way to hold extras like travel pamphlets so I used one for this layout. The strip at the top of the pocket is textured with sand from our trip. The tag gives the interesting details of Lake Mead.
Well you have seen a few of my layouts, some totally traditional and some incorportating computerized elements. I think most of my layouts involve computerization at some level. I have branched into digital scrapbooking but even then sometimes embellishments sneek in. I find myself relying more and more on digital scrapbooking simply because my images are digital and the possiblities are practically endless! I am now including with every album the digitalized images and for some albums digital videos and/or sound.
Some only do digital scrapbooking but my style is a combination. This layout with the exception of the blue diamond and grey square is completely digital including the background paper. I am doing more digital layouts though. I love using custom made background paper and it's so easy to do! The first page was made using only MS Word. The second page was made using HP Scrapbooking Assistant.
The nice thing about digital scrapbooking is the no muss factor. Design your background, title and journaling. Simple click and drag your images to the document or layout. Add any embellishments for more depth then print. At any step of the way you can make any adjustments without it costing you a penny!
Hardware: Mac Duo Core (Mac OSX/Windows XP) and iBook G4, HP C3180 All-in-One, Epsom Photo 890
Software: I use the following programs for scapbooking: iPhoto, Adobe Photoshop CS V 8.00, Adobe ImageReady CS, HP Creative Scrapbook Assistant (Mac or PC), Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Design (PC), Microsoft Word for Mac, Preview, and Comic Life.
Miscellaneous: oodles of gel pens, stamps, stickers, paper, cardstock, Sizzix® Die Cutter, fancy scissors and lots of punches.
Money Saving Tips:
✫ Start small and don't try to buy everything at once. Trust me I have stickers I bought just because they struck my fancy at the time and I will likely never use them because very few of my layouts ever use stickers! And forget about those fancy scissors that you will use only once or twice.
✫ Always buy only what you really want and then buy it on sale.
✫ Shop the dollar stores! Just be sure to look for "acid free" elements.
✫ Create your own elements.
✫ Go digital especially for images. A digital camera will pay for itseld likely in processing costs the first year. Digital background are not only unique but cheaper than purchased background paper.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I love a good bargain so like to shop yard sales always in the hopes of finding just that perfect antique. The problem is sometimes the item smell and not in the pleasant way. While airing can often be the simplest solution sometimes a stronger method is required. The topic of removing odors from items such as antique textiles or furniture has come up a couple of the Yahoo groups I read. Since I've answered a few times with my method, I thought I would share this tip with my raders.
I'm removing the nicotene odor from 1973 Rock-ola Jukebox my husband just acquired. You can see a picture of this gorgeous jukebox on my journey blog by clicking the link. The most important thing to remember especially when restoring antiques is you do not want to do any damage to the piece. This method will not damage your antiques, textiles, or furniture and can be used to take odors out of just about anything. So here's how I do it.
Lay 3 or 4 sheets of newspaper rubbermaid type container or if a drawer just lay the newspaper in the drawer. Place the item if applicable in the container. Pour about 1 c of unused coffee grounds into a plastic container. Place the plastic container in the container on the newspaper not touching the item or directly in the drawer. In the case of the jukebox, I simply opened the top lid, placed a couple of folded sheet of newspaper on the floor of the jukebox and set the plastic container containing coffee grounds on top of the newspaper being careful not to spill any grounds. If a drawer, shut the drawer or if using a container put the lid on and let sit for about a week or longer. The odor will be gone. Recycle the newspaper and pour the coffee grounds onto house plants or in your garden.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
With the Holiday season comes the holiday lights, strands and strands of them. We want our homes to sparkle with the glow of the holiday season. However, the new lights are nothing like those of days long ago. I can remember the Christmas lights of my youth. Our house always had blue lights on strands that would likely make anyone shudder today. They were painted, likely with lead paint, bulbs so when the paint peeled a little a glaring white light would peek out. These bulbs screwed in and a larger base but similar indoor lights had a smaller base. Fancier bulbs included the bubble bulbs that had some type of liquid in them that bubbled when heated.
Old Fashioned Bubbling Bulbs
These bubble bulbs were manufactured by Universal Electric Products, Montreal, Canada. They are part of my small Christmas ornament collection and while no longer in use they generate a lot of interest from the younger crowd.
That's just the problem with these bulbs is they did get hot, not warm, hot. Anyone interested in energy efficiency knows that heat produced by light bulbs is wasted. But the real problem that caused the bulb manufacturers to change was the threat of fire not energy efficiency. The first change I recall was the crystal lights put out by Noma. These glistening jewel lights because quite popular because of their crisp, clear colours but they still put out heat.
Somewhere along the line, mini lights came onto the market and still remain popular. They are inexpensive, easy to use and provide an appealing twinkling lighting. As energy costs soared, these Christmas lights became even more popular. But these too emit heat and can be quite frustrating trying to untangle or troubleshoot for a burned out bulb.
Now people are considering not only the financial savings of using lower cost lighting and that is a big factor, there seems to be a greater awareness of the environmental impact our use of energy causes. So with all this said, how can we light up our homes for the holidays without the financial or environmental impact?
We now have light emitting diode (LED) Christmas lighting that is far superior to any previous Christmas lighting. When I bought my first strand, the price for a 12' strand with 35 LED lights was $7.97 CDN. Compared to the mini lights, this was expensive but consider these lights are cool to the touch making them suitable for most holiday placements. They are rated for upto 20 years and there are no glass bulbs to replace or break. The energy savings comparison was extremely impressive! Six hundred C-7 lights would cost $31.30 for 30 days use, 6 hours perday at a cost of 12¢/kWh. Mini lights under the same conditions would cost $6 while the LED lights would cost 45¢. That means for 45¢ worth of electricity I could run 17.14 - 35 LED light strands. I was hooked after one strand and have been buying s strand or two when they go on sale. Now that "on sale" is important to me especially for items that will be used for such a short period of the year.
LED lights have a lovely brilliant colour with a nice twinkling effect. They are now available in novelty strands. The first sets of novelty LEDs I bought are star shaped programmable running LED strands. Eight different settings allow for lots of movement from these lights. We just bought the ColorWave LED strands from Holiday Creations. These lights use multicolour LEDs to change from one colour to another then back in a rather mesmerizing effect. We also bought two strands of the new multi-colours mini fat Albert style LEDs. These have a frosted appearance but are quite bright. I also noticed that Holiday Creations will be releasing Solarbrite LED strands so I will certainly be watching for those. With the variety of LEDs available for both indoor and outdoor use, the holiday lighting need not be restricted to one style and costly.
The new strands are all 25 bulb strands bring the total number of LED lights we have to 290. That means we can run all of the LED lights, 30 days for 6 hours per day for a cost of 21.75¢ at a rate of 12¢/kWh. Now our electricity is calculated at 5.5¢/kWh for the first 600 kWh, 6.5¢/kWh for anything above 600 kWh plus delivery, regulatory and debt retirement charges and GST so a total estimated cost per kWh is about 10¢. The payback period for each strand will be determined by the strand it is replacing. Ideally you should replace all C-7 strands because that is where the greatest energy savings is. Next replace mini light strands entirely if desired or as they become problematic.
Tips for Buying LED Christmas Lights:
☑ My rule of thumb is to never buy unless on sale. This just makes good economic sense. My husband bought the last four strands at half price.
☑ These lights are labelled indoor, indoor/outdoor, outdoor or battery operated. Buy appropriate LED strands for your needs and use only for their intended purpose.
☑ Look for the CSA and UL logos.
☑ View LED light strands as a long term holiday decoration. They are long lasting with no bulbs to break or replace so these are something that should give you years of use.
☑ Read and follow all safety precautions included with the LED light strand.
☑ Keep all packaging and receipt in case the strand fails. Most come with a replacement guarantee.
house gif by Free Gifs and Animations
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Pure beeswax candles are simply lovely! I make a lot of beeswax candles in many forms but the rolled beeswax candles always get a lot of attention. They are perfect for gift giving or daily use. I have beeswax candles in some form in every room of our home.
Pure beeswax has a higher melting point making it ideal for candlemaking. Rolled beeswax votives are the perfect size for gift baskets. They are easy to make and inexpensive. I prefer to use natural pure beeswax sheets purchased from a local beekeeper in 25 lb cartons. The beeswax sheets I use measure 8" x 16 3/4" and have a honeycomb pattern. Unlike the coloured beeswax sheets found in many craft stores, these sheets have a mild and pleasant natural honey smell. When burning, the flame is a pale amber that fills the room with a natural aroma. The flame is said to have air purifying qualities as well.
The choice of wick is very important. Use a 100% square braided cotton that has four distinct sides. The flattest side shows a pronounced "V" or herringbone design. Place the "V" side down on the sheet of wax for proper placement. This will ensure the wick will burn in the hottest part of the flame. If not properly placed, the wick will extend beyond the flame causing a carbon ball to develop at the tip. If smoking or dripping occurs the candle was not rolled tight enough or is being burned in a draft.
Once you have mastered the technique of rolling votives, you will be able to move to more advanced candles like joined standards or tapers. For a fiesta look, brush candles lightly with mica.
1 sheet pure beeswax per 2 votives
length of 100% square braided cotton wick
1. Lay beeswax sheet with short end towards you on cutting board.
2. Using a ruler, mark at 2" intervals on each short end.
3. Lay the ruler to join the first marks on each short end. Press firmly and use sharp knife to cut the first 2" strip from the sheet. Repeat until all 4 strips are cut.
4. Lay a strip on the cutting board, short end towards you.
5. Place wick along short end of strip along edge, "V" side down.
6. Very carefully heat wax with hair dryer and press wick into wax. Do not overheat wax!
7. Begin firmly rolling, heating wax as needed.
8. When you reach the end of the first strip, warm about 2" of the second strip and butt this strip to the end of the first. Continue warming and rolling until you reach the end of the second strip.
9. Lightly warm the final edge of the second strip and using your thumb, press to secure.
10. Lightly warm the bottom of the candle and push with light pressure from the top of the candle to smooth the bottom.
11. Trim wick.
You now have made your first rolled beeswax votive candle.
Caution: Never leave lit candles unattended.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Homemade slippers always are a treat and the perfect way to share your love! This quick to knit slipper is my family's favourite and in our Christmas tradition every member of our immediate family gets a new pair under the tree. I use Red Heart® Super Saver worsted weight yarn. The slipper is knit from the heel to the toe using two strands of yarn. I love the effect of using a varigated yarn combined with a plain yarn. While the original pattern below gives instructions for finishing with pom poms or cuffs, I don't. For the girls, I crochet a lace about 12" long using the two strands of yarn leaving the ends unfinished. One end is threaded into a large eyed needle then pulled through the top of the front seam. The ends are worked in and the lace is tied into a bow. For the guys, I usually leave them plain unless I know someone likes the cuffs.
Source: unknown but more than likely on a yarn wrapper at one time years ago
Such quick and easy knitting produces gifts of real please when you are sure to use Canadianda Suprewash Wool or Canadiana Sayelle for these slippers designed in three sizes. You will nee:- 4(50 g) balls for men's, 3 balls for ladies' and children's size. Small quantity Contrasting Clour if desired. Two No.7 (41/2 mm), (U.S. 7) knitting needles.
The instructions are written for Men's size (M). Any changes necessary for Ladies' (L) and 'Children's (C) sizes are written in brackets thus: ( ).
With double wool and beginning at back of heel, cast on 2 sts.
lst: row: Knit.
2nd. row: Inc. 1. st. in 1st. st. K1.
**3rd and 4th rows: Knit.
5th row: Inc.1. st. in 1st. st. Knit to end ofrow.**
Repeat from ** to ** to 8 sts. on needle, noting that, as there are 2 rows even between increase rows, the increased sts. will alternate D'om one side to the other 0f the triangle thus formed. Continue repeating from ** to ** to 14 sts. on needle. (L- 12 sts.) (C-10 sts.).
Next row: Cast on 13 sts. (L-ll sts.) (C-9 sts.) for side of slipper. Knit these side sts. PI. Knit to last st. PI. Cast on 13 sts. (L-11 sts) (C-9 sts.) for other side. 40 sts. on needle. (L-34 sts.) (C-28 sts.)
1st row: Knit
2nd row: K13. PI. K12. PI. K13.(L-K11. PI. K10. PI. K11) (C-K9. PI. K8. PI. K9).
Repeat these 2 rows about 20 times (L-17 times) ( C-14 times) more, or until work will stretch from back of heel forward on foot to joint of big toe, ending with 2nd row.
Next row: K2. (PI. K1.) 6 times. K13. (PI. K1.) 6 times K1. (L-K2. (PI. K1.) 5 times. K11. (P1.K1.) 5 times. K1.) (C-K2. (PI. KL) 4 times. K9. (PI. K1.) 4 times. K1.)
Next row: (K1. PI.) 7 times. K12. (PI. K1.) 7 times (L-(K1. PI.) 6 times. K10. (PI. K1.) 6 times.) (C-(K1. PI.) 5 times. K8. (PI. K1.) 5 times.)
Repeat these 2 rows 9 times (L-7 times) (C-5 times) more. Next row: K2tog. across row. Purl 1 row.
Next row: K2tog. across row. Break wool. Thread end through remaining sts. Draw up and fasten securely.
To make cuff: With single wool and working along one side of slipper, pick up and knit about 32 sts. (L-28 sts.) (C-24 sts.) by picking up and knitting 3 sts. for every 4 rows (2 ridges). Work 9 rows (L-8 rows) (C-7 rows) in (K1. PI.) ribbing. Cast offloosely in ribbing. Work ribbed border on other side to correspond.
Pompom Style: Omit ribbed cuffs and make a large size pompom. Sew to front.
To make-up: Sew side edges of back triangle to cast-on sts. of sides and then edges of cuff. Sew ribbing at toe of slipper then edges of cuff. Turn cuff over and tack down at front and bac.k
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Little did I know when I started blogging a few months ago that so many people would be interested in what I was doing. I started my first blog on Yahoo 360 in April, 2006. The theme of course was gardening. I was new to blogging but knew I already wanted to be able to add more content. Blogger.com impressed me so I started a larger garden blog followed by my cooking blog. I was surprised when both attracted a following of dedicated readers. The emails have been very positive and quite flattering. I decided on creating one more blog dedicated to my journey of finding my ancestors as well as bit of a catch-all for thoughts. At the time it was to be my final blog. However, I've had so many emails asking more about my lifestyle and what I do when I'm not gardening, cooking or doing genealogy research so this blog has come to be. To all my readers who have asked for more information, a heart felt thank-you!
This blog will follow the format of my other blogs in that where ever possible photos will be included. I will focus on the various things I do to make our house a home. So expect to see all kinds of tips most with pictures and methods for everything from decorating, home maintenance, home energy efficiency, crafts or in other words basic homemaking. This is where you will find some of my crafting projects with pictures, patterns and/or instructions. If you are into hand knitting, machine knitting, crochetting, needlepoint, cross stitch, scrapbooking or just about any other type of craft, be sure to watch for some of my projects. Expect to see from time to time a mini review on a product that has really impressed me either good or bad and tips for using certain appliances. Due to the nature of this blog, I'll try to make use of labels for easier searching of entries. I think that best describes my goals for this blog.
I intend to keep the blogs separate for those readers who are interested in only one topic. This makes it easier for me as far as organizing. Again, thank-you to everyone who have expressed an interest in my life and making my blogs a success!
Home Sweet Home
Saturday, December 9, 2006
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