Archive for November, 2009

So, I’ve managed to complete the full month of NaBloPoMo. It hasn’t much of a change from how often I typically post, but I have felt a bit more pressure to make sure that something was up every day. I think I may celebrate by taking tomorrow off from posting….

In other news, my butterfly Dictionary pin was featured on the Gifted Designs blog. It’s part of a group she calls “Timeworn”.

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When dealing with vintage, sometimes it can be pretty hard to determine when and where, exactly, something was made. Other times it’s easy. I have a handy

vintage DeVilbiss atomizer

little book that has been very useful in reading silver hallmarks and many china pieces can be dated by their marks as well. Other things can be a bit more of a challenge but the shape, style and colour can typically get you within the decade of its manufacture. sometimes you can get lucky and their documentation. This atomizer is one where we know when it was made, since it has all been kept together throughout its history. The slip of paper, with it, tells us that it was made in Canada during WWII, because it says that they had to make some changes in how it was manufactured, due to the material restrictions from the war. It then has further instructions on how to care for and clean it. I’m always amazed at how things like this manage to stay together and intact. We have such a disposable attitude to things today that it often seems surprising to realize that this attitude is a recent development. Here’s something that can still do the job it was made for, over 60 years later while most modern spray bottles get thrown out as soon as their initial product is used up

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Wreaths have been one of the projects I’ve been working on this week. So far I’ve been sticking to putting together ones on the synthetic bases we have.

candles and cardinals wreath

(I’ll be doing the real bough ones in a couple of weeks, since they have a finite lifespan) The first one finished is very traditional. It has a standard green pine-looking base and I’ve gone with dark red and gold glass candles on gold bases, (I’d have loved to use real candles, but they are just such a fire hazard and these ones have great colour and sparkle) real feathered cardinals and ribbons in red and gold. It’s not all that complicated but all that red and gold looks really rich and it jumps right out from the green of the store. Our porch is very sheltered so I’m able to put it out during the day and I think it makes the whole place look festive. The next one is a bit more experimental and I’m hoping to have it done over the next day or so. I keep having to remind myself that it’s still only November because it’s starting to feel so much like the holidays in here!

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Dining out

With so much going on in our lives we haven’t had much time to get out and try many of the local restaurants. There is a remarkable level of cuisine

Northwestern sourdough loaf

available here and it’s one thing we’re looking forward to finding out more about. It turns out that one of the local high schools in Stratford, Northwestern Secondary, has a culinary program and offers set menu dinners every month or so. Mother heard the teacher who leads the program discussing it on the radio and we thought it could be fun, so we gave it a try last night. The schools restaurant is called the Screaming Avocado and they made a good effort on making it feel like fine dining. It was a four course meal, (five, if you count the second dessert) with a glass of wine for $30 a head and that was a very good deal! The food was excellent, more than on par with what you would expect from a college level chefs school, and mostly done by grade 10 students! It was much, much better than I had any expectation that it would be. The school also raised their own Red Fife wheat this year, (it’s a heritage variety) and they used it in most of the courses.(the Star had an article about it) It has a lovely flavor and texture, so we picked up an additional loaf of their sourdough bread. We’re planning on making this a regular thing. The next one is in December and will be done using only local food. I think we’re also going to go and try to buy some of the flour for our own baking.

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Giving thanks

Thanksgiving, for those of us here in Canada, was back in October. I didn’t say much about it at the time since we were pretty typically busy. As the U.S. holiday dominates the news, I’ve been thinking about it and realizing that we have so very much to be thankful for. We are having a great deal of fun here. It’s all been keeping us busier than we expected and there is still so much for us to do. It’s a bit strange to be thinking and planning things so much in advance and still feeling a bit rushed, because there is so much to get done! The store is a constant learning experience and challenge and that is a very good thing. As we become more familiar with all the things this area of Ontario has to offer, the more we know this is exactly where we want to be. We love our new lives here and are so thankful to be on this adventure together.

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Last week I was able to get most of the holiday decorating done in the store. I ended up having to re-doing a fair chunk of the whole place,

Christmas in the store

but I’m happy with how festive it’s looking. We’ve got a nice range of vintage and new decorations and I wanted to get them out as well as shifting a bit more towards having good gift options out rather than things people tend to buy for themselves.  I also put together a nice assortment of angels. (I was a little surprised at how many different ones we have, clearly they sneakily congregate) The size of the store is something that I’m always having to keep in mind. I would have liked to put up a full-sized tree but we just don’t have room. I have a cute little table-top sized one and that will have to do for showing off some of the ornaments. (it’s so completely covered you hardly see green at all!) I have the rest on a number of pretty trays. The rest of the week I’ll be working on wreaths and some exterior decorating.

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I’ll be continuing with the discussion of how to reclaim an older frame for a new piece that I started a couple of days ago. The original picture was removed and

oil painting with vintage frame

the frame cleaned then painted. (The removed painting is interesting on its own and, after a light cleaning, I might eventually find it a new frame) When I’m going with a black painted finish I typically go with gloss, since it is one of the most reliable finishes to do by paint. The client wanted a more matte look, and while I don’t recommend a true flat, we were able to find a semi-gloss black, (black and white will give you the widest range of finish options) and it came out really well. (it’s so nice I think I might be a bit of a convert to using it rather than a gloss, on a couple of other projects I have in mind) The cut-carving look of the frame suits the piece while the solid colour of the finish keeps it from looking too busy. I like the thematic pairing of it with the style of the art as well. The shape of the molding leads the eye through the centre of the image and really accents the rock path. All of this was still well under $100 for the whole thing and we also got the satisfaction of giving an old frame a new lease on life.

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fall interlude

I almost forgot about posting today. We’ve been out and about on a typical

leaves and vine

monday.  Nothing all that exciting, but just trying to get a ton of errands done before the start of the store week. I keep hoping that Dad and I will have a chance, one of these closed days, to get out with the cameras and spend some time taking pictures. (this photo is from one of those wanders a while back) The weather is supposed to finally turn cold and snowy this week, so I don’t think we’ll be able to catch any more of fall, but it’s a been a good day to out. I have hopes for some pretty snow days so we can try and capture some of the local character, in winter.

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I like to encourage using vintage frames where they are a good fit, on new art.

vintage frame and picture

Choosing to use a vintage frame can give you a look that would be hard to find with a custom frame and still be a great value. I recently completed a job where we went with an older frame and, by changing the finish, were able to make it perfect match to a new artwork. The piece to be

vintage frame

framed was a small oil painting that was already stretched to a standard 8”x10” size. It is the work of a Native artist, in Yellowknife, so we didn’t want to put anything too formal on it, but still wanted to showcase it in a way that work in a fairly traditional space. The client plans to put it in a room that already has a number of pieces with black frames and there was enough black in the painting for it to be a good option for a frame colour. We’ve got a decent stockpile of vintage frames, some with pictures in them, so we looked at the ones that were the right size and selected this one. It had a dated looking gold, and white finish, as well as some scars, from its travels as you can see in the second photo. (these kinds of marks are the sort of damage that a refinishing will fully hide) The painting, while not bad, was seriously overwhelmed by the frame. These factors made it an ideal choice, because I hate to have to take apart vintage pieces that could still work as they are.

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flu shot

The flu season is coming in and, since we deal with the public, we decided to go and get our H1N1 flu shots. Mother got hers on monday but Dad and I had to

lining up for the flu shot

wait until yesterday. This is the first year I’ve gotten the shot, since I could never get myself organized enough to track down one of the clinics before now. They have the process very well-organized, even with the high demand. This was the size of the line-up, when we arrived. It took about an hour and a half to get in so it was a good thing that we both came equipped with books. The process was very smooth and efficient. They make you wait for 15 minutes after you get it before you can leave and we were just fine. We’ll be keeping a look out for the regular flu shot clinics, which should get going soon, since that one is also needed if you want to be fully protected. I was fine yesterday, (and feeling a bit smug about the whole thing) but, by late last night I realized that they were not kidding about the “some pain at the point of injection” warnings. Mother said it will taper off over the next couple of days and I know it’s a small price to pay to avoid the misery that is a full-blown bout of the flu, but ow!

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