Archive for April, 2010

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks. The computer challenges continue, but it look like things may be back to normal in the next week or so.

home-baked pecan tarts

Until then I’ll still be a bit spotty about posting. The garden also continues to develop in leaps and bounds. We’re still getting some great new things out in the store all ready for the new season and performances are already starting in Stratford! This past week we also got to do a bit of celebratory baking. A friend’s birthday was a great reason for mother to make a batch of her fabulous pecan tarts. Her pie crust recipe is so flaky it almost has trouble holding together long enough for you to pick one up and eat it! The filling is close to a butter-tart filling, just with lots of pecans and a bit of maple syrup. They have ruined me for any other butter-tart variant. (and seemed to go over really well with the birthday boy!) May is looking to be another busy month. I’ll be doing another Introductory Gilding workshop on Sunday, May 16th, in Woodstock for the National Leatherworkers Guild. (please feel free to contact me, if you want to attend and we should be able to arrange it) The shop will be open, just with Mother on site. We will be closed on the day before, Saturday May 15th, for a family wedding.

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Furniture isn’t our main focus here, but sometimes it’s almost impossible to resist a piece. Mother came home, a little while ago, with this Electrohome sound system.

vintage Electrohome stereo cabinet

I was seduced by its terrific mid-century design and fantastic condition. (there is some slight discolouration of the finish in an area of the top, but the rest of it is close to perfect) It has the original turntable and radio and both are intact. We plugged it in and put on a 12″ LP. The sound is just incredible! It even still has the attachment for playing 45’s. The only issue we found with the mechanical parts is that the radio tuner has been used so much that it’s worn enough to be a bit slippy. I find things like this a bit of dilemma. I’ve seen similar pieces converted into drinks cabinets or storage pieces that work perfectly in a hip, slightly retro space and it’s a great way to bring a vintage piece forward into a new century. On the other hand, it has a top-of-the-line sound system that still works and would make the perfect way to fully experience a classic vinyl collection. We just couldn’t decide what to do with it so we’ve left it intact, for now, and we’ll leave the call as to how to use up to its new owner. It has so many possibilities that I’m sure it will find one soon.

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The weather has been just amazing, for this time of the year. Everything in the garden is so much farther ahead then they were last year and we’re just trying to keep up without getting too far ahead of ourselves. Dad has been out doing the spring pruning and went at both of the currant bushes.

pruned currant bush

It looks like they hadn’t really been tended to for around 5 to 6 years. He did a pretty severe trim, but it was needed and I’m happy with how they look, now that he’s got them shaped a bit better. It will probably be at least another year or so before they are fully back under control, but he’s made a great start. We still have to do some work on the bed surrounding the one, since it is full of forget-me-nots. I know they are mostly a weed, but they are so pretty it’s hard to make myself pull them! I also got out this week and cleaned and prepped the urns for their new plantings. I had hoped that at least some of the ivy would survive, but we had no luck there. I really liked the look of the ivy drapes, so I think we’ll go with them around the edges again, but I may try to transfer them from the urns to a more sheltered spot for the winter. (I’m not sure if that will be possible, considering how deep the roots had gone, some were over 3′ long!) My fingers have been twitching to get started in this years crop of teapot planters, but I’m trying to hold off on them for at least another couple of weeks. The next big project is getting started on a path from the street to the store, so people won’t have to go all the way around the parking lot. There is so much to do, but we’re loving being able to get back into the garden season!

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We’ve been having some technical problems with the computer the last little while so I haven’t been able to get on-line at the store. Dad was able to do a bit of a temporary fix that will let me have some access for the next week, until we get our new machine here and set-up. It’s a bit frustrating,

modern hand-tinted owl print in frame

but I’d rather have it happen now than when the season is in full swing! The good part of being mostly computer-less is that I’ve been able to move ahead on getting some new items framed up for the store. We wanted to have them ready for the new season but it has stayed so busy since Christmas that I wasn’t as far along as I liked. I got this one finished last week and it’s more of a decor piece, but I love how it came out! The print is modern, but the colour has all been hand-painted and it has a very antique style. The frame is one of our “stock” specials. It is a gorgeous dark walnut colour with a slightly distressed beeswax finish and a perfectly period shape. I love this molding and was thrilled that we able to get it on special, so it can be offered at such a great price. The overall piece is fairly small, it’s under 16″x20″ on the outside and I think it looks like it could have been done a couple of hundred years ago and has just been waiting to find a new home. (except the perfect condition is a bit of a give-away) The great thing is that, because of its price, pretty much anyone can afford to take it home, unlike a comparable actual antique!

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It’s another gorgeous day out! I was a bit worried that the slight cold snap (there was actual snow falling! It didn’t stick, but it did fall)

wild spring violets

would have put a damper on all the spring growth, but nothing seems to have been bothered much. I’m not sure why we didn’t see them last year, but it appears that we have some small wild violets mixed in with the grass of the east lawn. They are very tiny and have almost no scent but I love their deep purple colour.

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mask making party

This past weekend I did my first mask-making group. It was a birthday party and we had six eight-year-olds taking part. I had prepared

masked zombies prepare to attack!

a group of plain mask bases that were painted white on the outside. The white fronts were so they would be blank canvases and I had a big array of (washable, because we were dealing with eight-year-olds!) markers. Each one was a bit different and I made them full-sized so the edges could be shaped, if the kids wanted to change them. I had brought a ton of different materials

horns rule!

as well as a bunch of my own masks, and others from my collection, for inspiration. It was really fun to see where they went with them but you can never guess what they’ll respond to! Everyone really liked the Devil mask I had brought and demanded horns. Luckily, there was a piece of black leather in my material stash so I was able to whip up a bunch of soft black ones quickly enough to keep everyone happy. Considering that the group was almost all boys I was also a bit surprised at how much everyone loved using the big rhinestones. At the end, they all posed for photos as attack zombies. (We had to photograph the last one separately since he had needed some extra help getting his mask tied on and the hoard was getting restless for the pizza and cake) I had a great time and the kids came up with some very cool designs so a good time was had by all.

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new cards

Spring is definitely in full swing. With that in mind, I’ve been working on getting the store all prepped for the start of the new Stratford Festival season.

Sherri's lilac photo

It’s all about “in with the new”! Sherri, from Dragonfly Designs, also stopped in yesterday to bring me a bunch of new cards. We still have both the gorgeous pressed flower ones and her handcrafted ones but she’s added a new range! These ones feature an assortment of her original photos. They are printed on a nice heavy cardstock and are blank, so they will suit any occasion. The beautiful lilac photo I’m using today is one of my favorites in the group.

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the first daffodil

Well, the construction workers had said they would be done working out front yesterday and I still have a giant digging machine in my parking lot!

daffodil flower

They are also at work on the front end of the east lawn. It’s where the walking path we want to put in this year will start, so it’s actually going to be a bit helpful for them to have dug it up, but it’s all still pretty much a mess. They are supposed to come back and replace the sod and other things, but it looks like they may finish this whole section first and then come back to fix the landscaping. At least all the warm weather has moved things along very quickly on the flower front. Our first daffodil has opened! I considered cutting it for having in the house, but it looks so pretty as it is that we decided to wait and maybe take a few of the larger group that is coming in.

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Happy Easter

It’s been a busy weekend, so I didn’t get much done in the way of baking. These little cupcakes are about all I got finished. They are all made with

Easter decorated cupcakes

a chocolate batter and two have a vanilla buttercream icing while the third also has chocolate in the icing. (with a hint of green buttercream as a decorative accent) The jellybean eggs may look a bit different but they taste like typical jellies. (what? I had to sample before use, it’s the responsible thing to do!) They may not be much, but at least we’ll have something to make dinner tonight a bit more festive. I hope you all are having a great time this long weekend!

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We had been a bit undecided about opening today. The huge pit is still out front, guarded by some concrete barriers and netting, as well

hand-decorated easter egg

as several pieces of industrial machinery so we figured things would be quiet. Along with it being the Easter weekend. The thing is, yesterday I was out working in the garden and had a surprising number of people stop by so, since I’ve got a ton of things to work on here, we decided to go ahead and open the doors. (I also really try to stick to my posted hours, so that was another good reason to be here) The weather is still incredibly lovely so people may want to go out for a nice wander. We’ll see. (I’ve included a photo of another of my eggs, just ’cause I like having a pretty picture in each entry!)

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