Thursday, 31 August 2017

Baby Things

On Sunday 08.27.2017 at 8:44 p.m. in Boulder, CO our grandson was born weighing in at 9 lbs 3 oz and 21.5" long. I think he is just the cutest. Actually I think that about ALL our grandchildren. I can hardly wait to cuddle with this new little addition to our family. To celebrate we bought a few little Happy Birth-Day Gifts for Liam. 

He's a baby, so couldn't care less of course, but I am excited to see him snuggled in his new little sleepers wearing these soft little moccasins.

Aren't baby things just the sweetest? Who can resist?

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Our Anniversary Getaway

We celebrated 32 years of marriage this past weekend with an overnight stay at the Breadalbane Inn (pronounced "bruh-DAHL-bun") in Fergus. We drove there after work on Friday taking our Z4 convertible since the weather promised to be clear and sunny.

We started our evening with a complimentary glass of Prosecco. It was lovely sitting by the fire pit on the patio sipping on 'champagne' whilst contemplating 32 years together. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner of bruschetta and pizza with red wine. After dinner, we returned to the fire pit with our wine where we chatted with a nice young couple enjoying an evening out while their 1-yr old stayed home with Grandma.
The next morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the Inn while reading the weekend newspapers. Actually I read the comics, it's my husband who reads newspapers. 
After breakfast, we checked out of the Inn before strolling along the main street (St. Andrew St. W) in Fergus and along the river to see the sights. I was hoping to find a dairy free matcha tea latte - my brew of choice now that I no longer drink coffee. There were plenty of quaint little shops worth exploring but no matcha tea lattes. 
Our next stop was Elora where we found two shops serving matcha tea lattes. Elora is more touristy and popular so I wasn't surprised. We spent the afternoon happily wandering around town shopping plus relaxing with lattes and free wi-fi in cafes.

We were pleased to find these cool new squashy hats made of kangaroo leather and mesh. These hats are comfy, cool, sun protective and squash down for easy packing ... perfect for travel.
We also bought a beautiful round glass art piece similar to, but smaller than, the one in the photo below at Hanscomb Glass Studio. We hoped to hang it in the opening between our kitchen and family room and were thrilled to discover it fit perfectly. It makes me smile every time I look at it hanging there ... such a treasure.
After scoping out all the restaurants in town, we made reservations at the Elora Brewing Company where we met our son for dinner. It turned out to be a good choice - the food was delicious. My husband took this snapshot at the restaurant. He claimed I looked like an Argentine cow herder ... funny I don't see it.
We thoroughly enjoyed Our Anniversary Getaway ... so totally relaxing and rejuvenating.

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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Three More Lambs

I am slowly working through my stash making mostly lambs. Here are Three More Lambs I made this summer.

This pink fluffy yarn was challenging because it is difficult to find the stitches amongst the fluff. I used a 4 mm hook with this chunky yarn making a slightly larger little lamb. She is quite sturdy on her feet. 
This brown lamb was made using chunky wool. Wool is difficult to use because it tends to fray and break when sewing the pieces together. Also I ran out of brown wool, so switched to a similar looking wool in purple. I like how this switch created a dapper little lamb wearing purple pants.
This little lamb was made using worsted weight acrylic yarn. He is slightly smaller than the other two yet cute as can be.
These three lambs loved posing for photos. I followed this free pattern for each little lamb, but using different yarn weights and colours completely changes the look. Each little lamb is one-of-a-kind ... special and unique.
I hope you're not tired of seeing my little lambs because I started another using different colours. I promise to share photos when done.

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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Another Lamb for Liam

I made another lamb for Liam. This little lamb was made using the same free pattern as all the other lambs I made this summer, only this one is teeny tiny standing only 6.5" tall. 
This little lamb was made using super fine acrylic yarn with a 2.5 mm hook instead of the usual 3.5 mm hook with worsted weight yarn. I love how changing the yarn changes the whole look and feel making each crochet creation unique. Working with yarn from my stash keeps things interesting. I am never completely sure how it's going to turn out.  
The first Little Lamb I made for Liam was 10" tall. See how different they look. The first one is perfect for squishy baby hugs while the second fits easily into baby hands. I expect Liam will love both little lambs equally.

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A Doll Named Blanca

This summer I have been working entirely with yarn scraps. I made this little doll for our granddaughter from my stash. I think the yarn is DK weight, but can't be sure because the ball bands were missing. 

This crochet doll is special because her head turns side-to-side. She even has a cute little nose, ears and belly button. I kept her look simple using off white yarn for the body and off-white crinkly yarn with a hint of rose for her long curly hair. This doll stands about 7" tall.

I showed my daughter this picture asking for name ideas. She suggested "White". White wasn't quite right, but when I heard one of our summer students from Spain was named Blanca, I knew THAT name was perfect.

Introducing a Doll Named Blanca. Isn't she cute modeling her simple summer romper? Blanca twirls around to show off her outfit. Her top sports a green button closure with a green ribbon decorating the bodice. I used a matching green ribbon to gather her long hair into a pony tail.
Blanca can stand, twirl, sit and even climb trees. Our granddaughter is sure to have lots of fun with Blanca. I think she will love her to bits.

I made Blanca following this free pattern by blogger Beth (another blogger named Beth!) at By Hook, By Hand. I am impressed with Beth's skills and all the intricate details she incorporates into her dolls. If you're interested in making dolls, do check out her site. She shares lots of free patterns and tutorials. Her work is absolutely amazing. 

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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Big Bike Fun

Last week my husband sent me an email asking if I might be interested in joining their Big Bike Team "Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change". They had 11 spots left. Their ride was scheduled for August 23 at 2:30 p.m. not far from my office. Something that supports the Heart and Stroke Foundation AND promises a ton of fun, of course I was interested.

I work for London Hospital Linen Service, a not-for-profit linen processing corporation providing clean, fresh linen to major hospitals, community health centres, and long-term care facilities in Southwestern Ontario. My boss was happy to support the cause, so yesterday afternoon I rode this Big Bike. We started near Jack Astor's on Richmond riding along Pall Mall to Wellington to Queens Ave. to Richmond ending back at Pall Mall.
This Big Bike weighs one ton, but was easy to pedal with 25'ish riders. We had music blaring, siren sounds, cowbells, cheering and laughter ... lots of laughter. Our ride took about 20 minutes from start to finish. My favourite part was taking the corners at speed, not something I normally do. If you're looking for a fun event - the Big Bike is perfect for companies and groups interested in supporting critical research.

I copied the following information straight from the Big Bike - Heart and Stroke website:
* * * * * 
What is Big Bike?
It’s a heart-pumping, cheer-thumping, crazy big, fun ride!

For 20 minutes, 29 riders power one Big Bike. On event day, one of our drivers will accompany you as you pedal through your community and celebrate your accomplishments. While you pedal, you literally stop traffic to support critical heart disease and stroke research. But be warned: The minute you stop, you’ll want to climb right back on. It’s that much fun!

Donated Dollars make a difference
When you support Heart and Stroke Big Bike, you’re making a difference in your own community — and communities across Canada.

Why Your Support Matters

It’s clear that you want to help. We need people like you! When you donate or raise funds for Heart and Stroke Big Bike, you help ensure that critical research in hospitals and universities across Canada can continue. And you’re helping us work towards our shared vision: Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke.
* * * * *
The Heart and Stroke Big Bike has been in operation for 24 years and now raises more than $8 million each year to help fund research.

The team I joined - Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change - raised more than $1,600 riding this Big Bike yesterday.

If you would like to start a team, join a team, donate or volunteer - just go to the Big Bike - Heart and Stroke website for more information. Any and all support is welcomed and appreciated.

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

July Flew By

Our July started off with a weekend of parties. First a neighbourhood party at my parents' place to celebrate Canada 150 followed by a family party to celebrate our son's 21st birthday.

We have gone to my parents' neighbourhood Canada Day party for the past two years. It is so much fun, we were happy to join in again.  

Last year's meal centred around a pig roast. This year's potluck featured beef brisket cooked to perfection in a smoker. An assortment of delicious salads, fries, snacks and sweet treats were made to accompany the brisket. All the food was amazing and delicious as always.

I loved the look of these Canada Day cupcakes made by one of the neighbours... so festive and colourful.
Everybody is encouraged to wear red for the occasion.
My parents' driveway is perfect for setting up tables for the party. Tents kept everything dry during a brief rain shower. Luckily the weather cleared and everybody had a fabulous time gathering about eating, drinking, chatting and laughing. 
Thanks to my parents and their neighbours for including us in their Canada Day celebrations again this year. It was fabulous as always.
Our son's birthday is July 2nd - the day after Canada Day. He turned 21 this year. As usual, we celebrated with a family dinner. I wrote more about it here if you missed it.
After our weekend of parties, July was set to be relatively quiet. Instead we received the best surprise ever when Jorge (pronounced Hor-hay) from Spain joined our family for the rest of the month. I wrote more about our change of plans here

Jorge's week days were filled with morning classes, afternoon activities and one full-day excursion per week. Our time with him was limited to evenings and weekends. In the evenings, Jorge would talk to us about his day, he liked my cooking and enjoyed walking with Sadie and and me. 

Jorge also liked watching movies, especially scary movies. On weekends, we watched the "Hannibal" movies with him - Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising - all good. On week nights we watched season one of 13 Reasons Why including Beyond the Reasons. Jorge had watched this series in Spain with his Mom and recommended it. This show provides a good opportunity for families to discuss bullying, suicide and depression. It is well done and worth watching. We're looking forward to season two although it won't be the same without Jorge here. 

Jorge was good company. We loved spending time with him.
This year my birthday fell on the same day as a barbecue we hosted for my husband's work, so we kept quiet and celebrated after everybody left. We invited my parents for leftover tacos and cake too of course. 
I loved these red roses Jorge bought for my birthday .. so sweet.
Jorge's second excursion was to Niagara Falls. He sent me a few photos.
Since Jorge loved pancakes and it's not something normally eaten in Spain, I prepared a special pancake breakfast every weekend including berries, maple syrup and bacon ... very Canadian.  

On our second weekend together, we visited Stratford where we walked through the park and downtown taking photos along the way.
One of the main attractions in Stratford is the Festival Theatre. We toured the gardens and posed with some cool looking statues.
We also toured Art in the Park and chatted with this friendly soap stone carver who gave us some 'scraps'. We plan to polish these treasures.
Some of our meals were photo-worthy. Jorge liked this one featuring barbecued ribs.
Jorge sent me this photo from his trip to St. Mary's Quarry, Canada's largest outdoor freshwater swimming pool. He enjoyed swimming there assuring me it wasn't too cold.
Jorge and I walked with Sadie (our poodle) to the Sifton Bog a few times. Jorge took this photo of a duck with her babies. It was so peaceful watching the baby ducks snooze while listening to frogs sing as the sun was setting. I went back with my camera a couple weeks later after Jorge left to take a better photo. Unfortunately the ducks had moved on. 
Every night after dinner Jorge would make his lunch for the next day. He also made his bed every morning. Finally on the last day, I asked if he made his bed every morning at home. His response - "Yes, of course". Except sometimes, if he has to get up and leave early, he makes his bed when he gets home. A kid who makes his bed every day ... amazing!
On Jorge's third weekend, we visited the Western Fair Farmer's Market and Wisdom Cafe on Saturday. We love Wisdom Cafe's extensive selection of very reasonably priced loose teas.

Saturday night we were invited out to dinner at friends. Tracy and Jim served appetizers (shrimp and rolled cheese burek), barbecue steak and lobster tail with baked potatoes and salad. The food was delicious.
We thoroughly enjoyed our evening with friends. Us three ladies went to school together grade 6 through high school ... so many happy memories.
Jorge asked to invite a couple of his friends to our house for pizza and a movie while we were out. My Mom brought a book and chaperoned. When we got home, Jorge told us all about the scary movie "Hush". The girls had been scared, so appreciated my Mom offering to turn on the lights.

On Sunday, we went to Port Stanley for the afternoon. My husband's cousin and his wife have a sail boat docked in Port Stanley, but we had never figured out exactly where. We decided to explore along the river and literally bumped into them within 5 minutes. They gave us a tour of their boat ... very cool.
My Mom's birthday was also on Sunday. To celebrate we took them to Thaifoon. We love Thai food and thought Jorge might too ... he did. 
After dinner, we returned to my parents' house for cake and gifts. Happy Birthday to my Mom ... 72 years young and looking fabulous.
A couple days later we enjoyed another photo-worthy meal ... pickerel bought in Port Stanley. Jorge liked this fresh water fish.
My parents invited us for dinner another night for smoked salmon linguine and salad... very tasty. Earlier in July we were invited to dinner at Lee's parents' house. With eleven of us around the table chatting and laughing, we forgot to take a picture.
Sadie (our poodle) loved spending time with Jorge too.
Jorge enjoyed his trip to the Pinery. I didn't get pictures, but he told us they went kayaking, canoeing and biking - all fun activities. 

Jorge's final and most exciting trip was Canada's Wonderland ... exciting because of the rides. Again, I didn't get pictures, but Jorge told us he went on everything except The Bat because the queue was too long.

On the final Friday night, the school held a dance at Huron College for the students. They dressed up and had a great time ... alas no photos. 

On the last Saturday night, another family hosted a party for the group serving hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. The kids roasted marshmallows in the fire pit and lit sparklers after dark. Jorge shared a couple photos from that party.
On our last Sunday together, we decided to take Jorge to Point Pelee the southernmost point of mainland Canada.

First we stopped at Colasanti's Tropical Gardens in Leamington to explore the gardens and visit the petting zoo where we fed the deer and goats. We didn't feed the silver foxes, but did get a good look at them lounging in the shade trying to stay cool. It was a hot day.
Next we stopped at a nearby friend's house to see their little puppy ... adorable. We couldn't stay long as we wanted to see everything at Point Pelee and make it back to London for dinner.
Finally, we made it to Point Pelee where we fought off biting stable flies swarming along the trail to the beach at the Tip of Canada. 
Jorge signed the guest book ... not a lot of visitors from Spain.

Next we toured the Point Pelee Marsh Boardwalk ... such a pretty spot. Thankfully there were no stable flies there.
We made it back to London in time for dinner with my friend and Gonzalo (her Spanish 'son'). After dinner the boys invited Blanca, another Spanish student staying nearby, for a final swim ... such a perfect way to end their stay. We will miss these kids.
The next day I made one last pancake breakfast for Jorge while he packed and got ready to go. We sent him home with plenty of maple syrup so he can make pancakes to remind him of his stay in Canada.

Back to the school we went to wait for the bus. I signed Jorge's Canadian flag and took a few photos trying not to cry. All too soon it was time to say "Good Bye". 
Jorge gave us this card to express his thanks. I love what he wrote.
Our July Flew By. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with our Summer Son from Spain and look forward to keeping in touch. Spain is definitely on our list of places to visit when we retire in four years. Thanks Jorge for making this July so special.

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