Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thrifting in Guelph

I thought I was finally finished all of the blocks for my Shirt Stripe Boxes.  I pressed and squared up the last of my blocks last night and discovered that I'm 24 3.5" blocks short.  Just one more shirt!

So Hubby and I headed out bright and early this morning and hit a couple of thrift stores.  There's five thrift stores that I enjoy visiting when I'm in the neighbourhood. 

Bibles for Missions is almosty hyper-compulsively organized - big, bright, and spacious.  They price their items intelligently.  However, I haven't found anything really spectacular there myself.  Hubby on the other hand, bought a beautiful London Fog leather coat for $18 there a few weeks back.  Nothing today -- it was closed!

St. Vincent de Paul's is also well organized, although space becomes a little crowded in the back room.  Prices are good too.  I have been able to find a couple of things -- a gorgeous pair of grey and black plaid slacks (name brand) perfect for the office, and today I found a pair of jeans, and a couple of vintage aprons that I am going to cut up for quilts.  No shirts, so off to our next stop.

Goodwill is a big store out near the junction of 6 and 7.  Aisles are nice and wide, but the racks are too crowded to have a good look.  My arms are aching after a few minutes of pushing hangers apart.  The prices are very high (in my humble opinion).  I did find two really good quality cutter shirts, and a couple of books.  Hubby found a shirt for himself.

Value Village - I could spend hours here.  A little pricey, but the variety of items is very good, and the stock always seems fresh. I didn't see anything I couldn't live without today, but then I didn't really spend enough time to have a good look -- and I wasn't looking for anything either, so there was no challenge of a hunt.

We didn't make it to Salvation Army this morning.  It's a very well stocked store compared to other Sally Ann's I've shopped.  I've had good experiences with the staff.  Once, I was buying a piece of glass, which was marked $2.99, which I thought was fair, but when the clerk saw the price, she wondered aloud what the person was thinking when he/she priced it, and only charged me $.99.  Another time I was buying some cutter shirts, and the clerk gave me a sale price -- even though I didn't see any signage about sales anywhere.

No big plans for New Year's Eve for me and Hubby.  Itty Bitty is playing a gig in Brantford tonight - so we're on our own.  The neighbours have invited us down for a party, to which we should make a brief appearance.  Maybe I'll ring in the New Year by finishing those last 24 blocks!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

I have been wishing away this holiday season - anxious to get back to work.  In fact, although the office has been closed this week, I actually went in for a couple of hours on Wednesday, and another few hours yesterday.  I took Itty Bitty with me, and put him to work doing some clerical jobs for me, and grunt work in general.  I can hardly wait to get back to work on Tuesday!

January will mean more time out of the office, and more time in the community.  I'm very excited about this opportunity!  I'll be spending Tuesday mornings at a local community centre which provides services and meals for people experiencing poverty, homelessness, and other inter-related issues.  People will be able to see me on a "drop-in" basis, and I will be able to connect them with the appropriate services, particularly legal services.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve ... and we're getting ready for our New Year's resolution a la Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Last Sunday, the three of us took root on the couch, and just lazed all day long, watching a marathon of the TV show "Til Debt Do Us Part" hosted by Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade with Jars

We wondered how she figured out all the numbers, and how to divide up the variable expenses into the five "Magic Jars".  By afternoon, I was surfing the 'net and discovered all of the helpful resources, and interactive worksheets on Gail's website.  By mid week, I had a 'hold' placed on her books at the local library, and last night, Hubby and I went to bed, each with a book.  Today we came up with a budget, and a plan.  It will likely take the rest of the week to get completely organized, but we're so excited! 

Turns out, we're not in bad shape at all -- I thought maybe we were paying way too much for housing, because rent it so high here.  But Gail says we can spend up to 35% of our net income on housing ( and utilities, insurance, etc.) and we're actually under that figure.  Transportation costs should be up to 15%.  Since I don't have to pay for parking, and my car only gets taken out of the parkade once or twice a week, we are well under that as well.

Starting January 1st, we start our "cash only" lifestyle. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday Adventures in Wellington County

Hubby and I went on an adventure yesterday to explore Wellington County before the snow gets deep.
Our first stop was the Wellington County Archives and Museum.  It was once the House of Industry and Refuge (The Poor House), and later a Home for the Aged.  I was here recently for a meeting, and the building is on a beautiful piece of land, on a beautiful track of road, and guess what?

That's exhibition of quilts!  And all of them Log Cabins.

There's Hubby -- intently examining the antique needlework.

This sampler was stitched by the grandmother of John McCrae, the author of "In Flanders Fields", who was a native of Guelph, ON.  It dates to 1820.

And speaking of "In Flanders Fields" there was another very impressive exhibition at the museum: "Far from Home: A Soldier's Life at the Front 1914-1918".  This major gallery installation features a life-size trench and takes an in-depth look at the young soldiers who served in World War I. A unique feature of this exhibit: descendants of Wellington County soldiers were used as models for the mannequins and painting in the gallery.
You walk into the trench, and see the scraps of wood and tin holding up the walls, and rats crawling around.  There's barbed wire over your head, and flashes as bombs explode overhead.  The sounds of battle are all around you. You can climb up for a peek through the periscope and see the German front.

It was incredible to me to see the photos of the descendents of the soldiers, and how much they looked like their great-grandfathers, and great-granduncles.  It's hard to tell in this photo, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Another poignant and interesting exhibit that we spent at least an hour examining was "If These Walls Could Speak: The House of Industry and Refuge, 1877-1947.  I didn't take any photos of that.

Here's a scene from a 1920's kitchen.  My mom has told me dozens of times about her grandmother's "Hoosier cupboard" - that was always just a little bit different from every one we saw in museums and antique shops.  I wonder if this "Eatonia" Kitchen Cabinet is like Gramma Sassie's.

Next we were off to Elora where we had a delicious lunch at The Cork.

Pretty fancy Cheese Burger, huh?
As we were leaving, we were given coupons for $10 for the Grand River Racetrack slots.  Why not?  We came out ahead $2.50! :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Heard of Pook Dukes?

I saw these mittens in the window of a shop while I was out this afternoon, and made a sharp 90 degree turn right in - I HAD to have them!!!  I got a pair for me and Itty Bitty - his face lit right up when he saw them!

They are called Pook Dukes, and they are Canadian made (eh) - and don't they just scream out "I AM CANADIAN!!!"  They are wool socks, but the lining is fleece.

Yes, Itty Bitty is here for a day or two, studying for exams, getting some home cooking. We hadn't realized how much we missed him!

Friday, December 2, 2011

City sidewalks...busy sidewalks...

Hubby and I went for a walk after dinner last night, with the sole intention of capturing a photo of this store window display.  I was so impressed by the creativity of this "tree" in the window of a consignment shop!

 And didn't we laugh when we saw this special lamp in another window! 

It brought to mind my favourite holiday movie: A Christmas Story
Here's one of my favourite scenes:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekend Warrior!

 Fourth Fridays in Guelph means celebrating the creative, neighbourly, interesting, cool, welcoming vibe of Downtown Guelph on the Fourth Friday of each month, to join in a culture crawl taking in a variety of interesting artistic happenings -- art galleries, musical performances, etc.  Hubby refused to partake of any spoken word events (what?  come on!  you can brag to your friends that you went to a poetry reading!) but we did catch some ice sculpture taking place out in our front yard - stopping to watch a man carve a lifesize reindeer with power tools. 

Then we headed just around the corner for a wine tasting event at the Red Brick Cafe, with our neighbour Mike.  We spent a couple of hours there, trying four different wines from Italy, Spain, and California - 1 white and 3 reds.  I'm not much a wine drinker - but we were provided with tasting notes for each wine -- I didn't think the white tasted like grass at all, but I did notice the lemon-lime finish. 
Hubby has gone 'home' to St. Thomas today, so I spent the afternoon at the office putting in some "lieu time" (I want to take Tues. afternoon off) tidying up some files, clearing off my desk, finishing up some documentation. 

Tonight I'm cutting up fabric for Shirt Stripe Boxes and listening to CBC radio.  I love CBC radio - especially Saturday nights - first Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap and then Saturday Night Blues.   Take a listen to the podcasts available on the websites and see if you don't become a fan!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hubby is a Funny Guy

That Hubby of mine is a really funny guy.  I have to share some Hubby-isms.  (I bet you have one just like him at home!)

This morning I woke up with a bizarre thought in my head.  I was remembering a TV commercial from my childhood for a toy called "Digger the Dog".  Still lying in bed, I asked Hubby: "Do you remember a commercial from a long long long time ago for a toy called Digger the Dog?"

He immediately starts singing: "Digger the Dog -- he likes to go with you -- when you explore..."

I couldn't believe my ears!  I laughed myself silly, and jumped out of bed to check youtube and see if he had it right! 

A couple of weeks ago, I guess Hubby had had quite enough of my bad attitude.  He looked at my left wrist tattoo, which says "Strength & Purpose", and suggested: "Why don't you get "Patience & Understanding" on the other wrist?"

Last night, I was merrily sewing away on crumb blocks from all the scraps from the Shirt Stripe Boxes blocks that I've been working on.

HE: Are you still working on that same quilt?
ME: Yep  (...well, technically not -- but it was too complicated to explain that I was merely using up the scraps that "that same quilt" had given birth to)
HE: You've been working on that for awhile.
ME: Yep
HE: It's taking a long time. I would have thought you were done by now!

(sigh)  That Hubby....he's always cracking me up!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday morning

I did a block count this morning, and I'm nearly at the halfway point - 198 blocks towards a total of 406.  And I have used 9 shirts so far.  I've also been peicing some crumb blocks from the left overs.

Out of the blue, I baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies last night, and fed warm, chewy cookies to Hubby right off the baking sheet.

Gibson is sitting on top of the dining room table, about 15 feet away from me, looking at me as if I'm nuts.  That's fair, because I spend most of the day doing the exact same thing -- looking at him and wondering if he is nuts.  He does the weirdest stuff.  This morning he has played hockey with a bottle cap, writhed in unadulterated pleasure on a towel on the bathroom floor, chewed happily away on a tiny strip of fabric, and pawed everything he can off the coffee table. 

Actually, now that I think about it....probably what he is thinking is...."Get off your ass and clean this dump up!"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

'cuz Itty Bitty said so

I've run out of shirts again!  Good thing Monday is 50% off day at Value Village.  It even opens early at 7am - which means I can run in for a quick shop before heading off to a morning of hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job?  I've been completely SWAMPED this past week with new intakes, and this coming week I've already got myself booked much more OUT of the office than IN the office.  Sound stressful? Well...yes...but it's incredible to be so busy, and get so much work done.  I feel like a professional star hockey player -- everything is happening so fast, whipping back and forth, but when that puck goes in the net?  SCO-O-O-ORE!!!!!!!!

And I don't think I've mentioned how much I love my new city.  Hubby and I went out this morning to a Christmas bazaar at a chuch just a block up the street across from our apartment, then strolled down another block to have a lovely breakfast.  On the way home, we stopped at the market to pick up a few ingredients for tonight's dinner, and ogled the beautiful holiday decorations in the shop windows.  Grabbed the Saturday morning paper, and came back home to just relax and nap and putter around.  Doesn't that sound amazing?  I love my life!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blog I've discovered

JulieKQuilts - I love the quilt in the photo header of her blog.  And just looking at her post for today is ample proof that we share a great deal in quilty common.

I definitely have to look for the book that has that header photo quilt in it!

a perfect dismount!

I gave a presentation today to some mental health support workers all about the Residential Tenancy Act.  My boss was coming along to handle the tough questions, and to make sure I knew what the heck I was doing, I reckon!

I was laying in bed this morning, wondering what I was going to do to "wow" the crowd, and decided I would add my own personal flourish to the regular power point, and include some slides on Human Rights Code. 

I think I scared the bejeeezuz out of my employer - ACK! UNVETTED CONTENT!  UNVETTED CONTENT!

But I landed a perfect dismount.  The crowd went wild.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bus Drivers are big jerks...just sayin'. Conversations that will make my weird family laugh.

I've been worried about my favourite street person.  I hadn't seen him around the neighbourhood for about a week.  Finally on Friday, I went up to the central bus stop, where several city buses all gather every so often to transfer passengers.  This just happens to be in my 'front yard'.  Anyway -- a couple of drivers were standing on the sidewalk, having a chin wag.  I interrupted:

ME: Excuse me.  Have you seen Carlo around lately?  I haven't seen him for awhile, and I'm starting to worry about him.
HE: Oh yeah, he's around.  I saw him last night.
ME: Oh that's good.  I work down at the legal clinic, and he's usually in front of my office window everyday.
HE: Well, it's getting colder.
ME: Oh.  Does that keep him indoors?
HE: No.  But when it gets colder, we let him drive the bus.

I saw him today - singing his lungs out next to my office window.  So, I went out to talk to him

ME: Where have you been?  I've missed you!
HE: I be right here! You dinna bringa me coffee for long time!
ME: I'll bring you a coffee when I come back from lunch.
HE: How long you gonna be?
ME: About an hour.
HE:  About an hour.  Okay!  I wait. RIGHT HERE!

Got a work story.  I work in an office with ALL women.  We can be silent all day long, nose to the keyboards, working straight through until close.  Occassionally, a strange conversation will erupt.
So, it was a lovely, fair day.  Sunshine and mild temperatures.  Not typical November weather, that's for sure.  But I slipped out this afternoon to move my car, and the skies had clouded over.

ME: Looks like it could rain.

A little while later, a volunteer comes in.

SHE: Looks like it could rain.

A few more minutes later, and a colleague comes in.

SHE: It's not gonna rain.  It's clearing up.
ME: (I start singing)

ANOTHER SHE: What's that? Fiddler on the Roof?
ME: Alice Cooper.  1971
ANOTHER SHE: I was never a big Alice Cooper fan.
ME:  I was a big Cooper fan.
ANOTHER SHE: I can't see it.
ANOTHER SHE: Me neither

ANOTHER SHE: I could totally see Nancy---outside an Alice Cooper concert... handing out clean needles, or something...

ANOTHER SHE: Yeah, doing some community outreach maybe.
ANOTHER SHE:  That sounds about right.
ME: Shut up!  I used to be cool!

Backwards Blogging

All my photos loaded last to first, so I'm going with it.  I'm just gonna blog backwards.  Hubby and I picked up a beautiful pair of lamps for $5 each at Goodwill.  All they needed was shades.  Today I slipped over to St. Vinny's and picked up some shades at 2 for $5.  I'm really happy how they look on my bedside tables!

Occupy Guelph has moved from my front yard.  The tent city came down sometime last week, and at least part of it is now moved to Royal City Park.

Hubby and I happened to be down visiting the park to feed the ducks yesterday.  And what a gorgeous day it was -- and today was a replay!  Sunshine and mild temperatures.

Here's a Mr. and Mrs Mallard in the centre of the photo.
The gulls are im-'bird'-inating ducks.  It worked, 'cuz we fed them too.

I also did a little sewing - racked up a few more blocks for Shirt Stripes Boxes - The Sequel.  I am now out of blue striped shirts - which explains my sneaky trip to St. Vinny's on my lunch hour!  I guess this isn't a backwards blog post at all -- more of a full circle!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Early morning sewing

I was up before the crack of dawn this morning, and sewed some more blocks for Shirt Stripe Boxes - The Sequel!  I did some calculations the other day, and it looks like I'll have to make this version 50% bigger than the first version I made, which was 33% bigger than the book instructions.  Go big or go home!

I can't express how much fun it is to put these blocks together.  I don't always get the stripes perfectly matched up, and in fact, the instructions give permission to let the stripes wave a little -- but it's so exciting when they come out perfect!

Rough day at work...whew!  Glad to have my bra off, and my slippers on.  I've made myself a cup of tea, and I'm going to catch up with this week's episode of "House".

Monday, October 31, 2011

I've got a confession...

I've been reading trash again. I've already confessed to my guiltiest pleasure -  an unwholesome attraction to trashy historical romance novels. 

I've now sunk to even lower depths.  I've stumbled upon a series by Lauren Willig, which mashes a good old bodice ripper with (gulp...dare I say it?) chick lit!

I can't 'do' chick lit - post-feminist fluff, with too many pages devoted to lighthearted chit-chat of lip gloss, fashion, shopping, cocktails and the self-depricating inner voice. But I'm hooked. 

The hook here is that a contemporary romance story is laid over the historical story, as grad student Eloise Kelly researches the League of the Pink Carnation among the private papers of the devastatingly handsome and rich Colin Selwick.  That love affair is yet to be requited, but each book has ended in the happily-ever-after marriage of another historical couple.

I've already read the first five in the series:

      The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (spring 1803)

      The Masque of the Black Tulip (spring/summer 1803)
      The Deception of the Emerald Ring (summer 1803)
      The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (autumn 1803)
      The Mischief of the Mistletoe (winter 1803)

...and after work tonight, Hubby and I walked over to the library and I picked up the next two books in the series.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What another nice weekend!

I spent today sewing more blocks for Shirt Stripe Boxes.  I even pieced together a few "odd" blocks with left over triangles.  Looks like Sundays are turning into my favourite day to sew! 

See...I still don't have a design wall, or a sewing room for that matter, so I have to drag my gear out to the dining room table, so any day but Sunday is out of the question.  It's just not worth the effort to bring set everything up, just to have to turn around and put it away again! 

I even tried my hand a making some "crumb blocks" but nothing ready for the camera!

Friday night, Hubby and I joined the neighbours for a couple of glasses of wine...which spiralled into a couple of bottles of wine...and when the Tequila shots started, it was darn near time for me to go home to bed!  The neighbours are really nice kids, and they think we are "the best neighbours we ever had!"  Wonder who our competetion was - LOL!!!

Saturday night (the adult Hallowe'en) we went to Brantford to see Itty Bitty play a gig at a little bar there.  He hooked up with the other three members through an add on kijiji, and it has worked out to be a really good part time job for him while he's at university.  We only stayed for one set - but they sounded pretty good!  Itty Bitty is definitely the baby among the group -- the drummer is old enough to be his grandfather (and I asked him to look after the wee laddie for us).


We came home to a ...uh... bustling downtown about 11:30 last night.  The sidewalks were filled with university students, under-dressed, and over-drunk.  The costumes were bizarre.  Why is it that young women chose to dress up for Hallowe'en as prostitutes? The most outlandish costume I saw was the Sexy Holsteins.  Imagine, cow ears and horns, a tiny mini skirt -- thank goodness their udders were covered! 

It seems the city buses were rerouted to accomodate the huge influx of party goers that filled the streets downtown.  We were stopped by police on our way into the downtown core in a "Ride Program".We had to walk from our parking garage around the block because the interior doors and elevators that we usually use were locked, so we got to enjoy the sights and sounds.  There was even a 3 piece band performing right on the sidewalk in front of my office! I'm sure the sidewalks were awash in vomit this morning.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hot Flashes and Heart Burn

Rough night -- hot flashes AND heart burn. How is this fair? Finally around 3 am I had enough, got up and opened a window in the living room, took some heart burn medication, and laid on the couch with a chilly 6 degree breeze blowing on my feet.  I did manage to get a few hours of sleep before that damn alarm clock (Gibson) starting going off (meowing, because he knows when its time for him to get a dish of cream).  Spoiled brat.

So, I'm out in the country today, doing some community outreach.  Glad I brought some work from the office, because I haven't seen a single client all morning!

Monday, October 24, 2011

On the Floor

What a fantastic weekend I had! 

This might sound strange -- but I didn't feel like I HAD to try to relax really hard to get it all in.  I actually got to just relax.  Weird, eh?

I puttered around, stayed in my jammies most of Sunday - - my housework is all caught up - - and I got some reading in - - On Saturday, Hubby and I went to a rummage sale at a nearby church, and picked up a pair of great lamps for our living room, and grabbed a coffee on the walk back to the apartment. 

Plus!  Yesterday, I took my sewing machine apart, gave it a throrough cleaning, changed the needle, gave it a drop or two of oil, and did some SEWING!!  I've gotten some more blocks done for Shirt Stripe Boxes.  Three shirts in so far, and I've got a fourth cut up, and ready to go!