Monday, 28 February 2011

58/365 Recreating characters from my childhood.... snow.
Remember Button moon? No? Here's a quick reminder:

And here is a brief list of things you should remember if you wish to recreate Mr. Spoon in snowman form (which obviously you do):

* DON'T. He has a head far far bigger than his neck. This is a far from ideal physique for snowmen construction. His head will fall off. You will stamp your foot. His body will then fall off because you are making him on a balcony and when you stamp your foot the whole thing vibrates. At least if you stamp a foot the size of mine it does.

* Is it windy? Then DON'T! Particularly if you are using a flimsy blue plastic plate for his hat. It will blow away. And you will have to run after it, in a foot of snow. And when you've retrieved it and go back to trying to get buttons to stick on his face, it will blow away again because you have failed to put something heavy on it. Dufus.

* If your prime snowman making spot is in plain site of the Spanish Embassy then you may wish to create your masterpiece either before or after 3pm, when they are all leaving for the afternoon and can come out and watch you from the carpark. Just a thought.

* Still determined to give it a go? Ok, I did warn you....

It's all worth it!

57/365 Snowy play

Sunday Morning:
Antique hunting with Ana and Art in Perth. Bought: One weaving themed tea-towel, one antique photo to send to a loved one and an awesome knitting pattern book from the 60s.
We will be returning to Perth though, as we missed out on the tourist attraction of choice: the Massive Cheese (more on that later in the year).

Breakfast buffet. There is something wonderful about a plate of cinnamon bun and fried potatoes.

A lesson in machine-sock knitting, how hypnotic is this:

And then a walk in the snow.

Evening: Tea and Betsy's delicious cupcakes.

A good day was had by all.x

56/365 A thrifting we will go...

(Blog from Saturday!)
The day started with an early alarm for the boy, who was determined to make it to the canal bright and breezy for a last skate before the thaw. The music blared, he got out of bed (shocking in itself), and I rolled over and went to back to sleep.

He returned.

Apparently it was 5am, not the required 6am, and I need lessons on setting the alarm clock. Oops!

Anyway, post skate we headed out in 'The Beast', and I spent a fab day thrifting in Smiths Falls.

Some of my haul:

It turns out that being upgraded to that enormous car was a great thing, the $1 thrift store sale is dangerous.

I have stacks of fabric, including the Mickey Mouse alphabet sheet you can see here. Two summer corduroy jackets, an awesome woollen-take-me-skiing in this sweater (bottom right), and a collection of picture books for Paul.

Jobs a good 'un!

Friday, 25 February 2011

56/365 Compact lottery

And the grand prize in the 'book a "compact" rental car' lottery this weekend:

Yep, this thing is compact, in the same way that I am compact! Its days like these that I miss that beloved rusty old fiesta (RIP).

But hey, managed to get it home without hitting any buses, so one up on last time!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

55/365 Pop Quiz (Part 1)

Is this photograph depicting:

a) The annual Sasquatch hunt. Surburban Sasquatch are chased down the river and caught in giant nets before they fall down the waterfall. They are weighed, tagged and set free in Northern Quebec to prevent them causing harm in Urban areas.

b) Preparations for the Giant Rainbow Salmon rush. Come the thaw these humongous fishes will head down the river to spawn at the bottom of the waterfall. Fishing Quotas allow 1000 of these delicious fishies to be caught, only to be sold in the Byward Market area of Ottawa.

c) The imminent dynamiting of the river. The ice is blown up by mysterious men in orange jackets who may or may not be part of conspiracy to end all winter fun in the Capitol region.

d) Mad scientists (rumoured to be a secret research group from NRC) using magic nets spun from beaver fur to catch rainbows.

e) All of the above. The four groups form a co-operative for the last week of February to pool their resources in the pursuit of their goals.

f) None of the above. Amy you've completely lost what little sense you had. Again.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

54/365 Lady in Red

I'm not a fan of lipstick, but Mrs. Cardinal whose been hanging out in the tree outside my window definitely wears it well. She also appears to spend more time on her hair-do than me, that's quite the quiff.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

53/365 Mammal spotting on Maple Isalnd

When we decided to move to a Capital city, I must admit to being a little unsure, I'm a country girl at heart.

Thankfully, despite being able to see Parliament from our place (*) we also get our fair share of wildlife. Much of this has been seen on a little Island in the Rideau River at the end of the street. Maple Island is not only one of my favourite picnic spots, but we've been lucky enough to see Raccoons, Chipmunks, a Snapping Turtle (**), Red/Grey and Black squirrels, Muskrats and the odd chewed up tree as evidence of local Beavers.

Winter means less mammal spots however, and on today's stroll I only managed to see this example of Canus Awkwardus.

Otherwise known as Jasper the wonderdog.

Almost every day we take a little afternoon stroll to the same place to sit on a bench together and look out over the water. And each time he goes around the wrong side of this tree, and then looks back over his shoulder at me as if I'm the one that needs training.

I swear sometimes he winks too. And yet I love him. Funny how often in life the awkward ones are so dear to us.

(*) In the interest of honesty, you can only see the Peace Tower if you lean out of the window to a dangerous extent. Oh, and only in Winter when there aren't any leaves on the trees. But my point is, we're in the city.

(**) I am aware Snapping Turtles are not mammals and apologise for any confusion this list may cause.

Monday, 21 February 2011

52/365 Mondays are for...

....making Hippos. A friend has a favourite advert, you can see it here.
What better way to spend Family Day then by making said friend a North American House Hippo all of his own:

Paul has named him Cornet.

51/365 Why I like Winter in Canada.

I love the dry of the cold here, there is no way I would have left the house for a stroll at -17 in England. Minus anything in England was generally a damp feeling that got in your bones, whereas here the dampness doesn't kick in til you re-enter the house and your frozen snot melts!

I love the exercise options we have in Winter here, and being that I hate exercise that is quite a statement. Granted I don't make as much of them as Paul does, but seeing the glee on his face at the prospect of skating down the canal is great too.

I love the snuggle of winter-wear, jumpers and scarfs and hats and long johns and mittens and wool socks and duvets....

But most of all I love the blue blue sky.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

50/365 Obsessions.

Currently my obsessions are trifold and unsurprisingly all craft related.

I started a pair of mittens for Paul on Thursday evening and I love them, and am going to find it hard not to steal them away and keep them for myself because thats the kind of selfish moo I am. I expect they'll feature as a photo sometime this week.

The '11 sweaters in 2011' challenge continues and I currently have three on the needles, one of which is dangerously close to being finished, just awaiting a button delivery.

The project I'm making the most progress with is the Mario blanket though. It's based on Paul's favourite level of Super Mario 3, when Mario uses a Kuribo Boot. In the past I've cross-stitched and perler-beaded the character, and this time he's going to form a crocheted granny square blanket. Today, I laid out the squares I've made so far:

145 squares out of the final 335, almost half way. And when I arranged them today I realised its going to be HUGE! Plenty big enough to snuggle under, fabulous.

49/365 Despite what you may think...

...there is always room for Chocolate fondue. And even after two pints of cider I can be trusted to share without stabbing anyone (including myself) with the fork.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

48/365 Smiles

Many years ago (or at least 5 anyway), I had my palm read by a wizened old man in a village in India. Looking back I should have tape-recorded it, as I can now only remember that he told me I had a funny face. Sadly the shock of his comment means I cannot recall any of his other predictions about my life expectancy/financial future etc. However, after the many smiles I received on my walks to and from work today, it appears the man had far greater powers than I gave him credit for.

So why so many smiles today? I wasn't wearing my Estonia hat, and I don't think I was singing out loud. I didn't have toothpaste/chocolate spread/snot on my face (I checked).
I was wearing Paul's sweater as its National Sweater Wearing day in Canada and I thought I should make the effort.....but it's not a particularly funny sweater.....

I think maybe I was grinning to myself. Maybe that was it. I've been distracted for much of the day by a new super-hero I discovered this morning. Now languages aren't one of my strong points, but I am sure this word....

... refers to Wonder-dadido, a famous fatherly Spaniard with a tartan cape and spandex tights.....lets hope people can just see my goofy grin and not read my thoughts too.

47/365 Wednesday date night

Paul made the most of the latter days of winter and skated down the canal to meet me at the pub - I took the bus. Good food, a pint of Strongbow, free dessert and then off to the cinema for a double bill of documentaries with the added treat of Betsy's homemade cookies in the interval.

Oh, and a Scottish snowman to wave at on the walk home. Hoorah!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

46/365 Work in progress....

This, ladies and gentleman, is what happens when you try and take a twilight shot of Parliament whilst using a 12 pack of discounted double thickness Cashmere soft toilet paper as a makeshift tripod.

I knew I should have bought the Charmin.

Monday, 14 February 2011

45/365 Happy Monday

Well, it seems that my less than subtle advertising for Valentines Cards has failed. My romantic mail this morning consisted of my new Ontario driving license - complete with photo of Zombie me - and notice that we need to renew our overseas voting rights for the UK. Truly soppy post I'm sure you'll agree.....maybe the red envelopes were lost in the post.

Anyhow, I treated Jasper and I to an afternoon of Murder, She Wrote. We watched a classic episode in which the Millionaire's pet Beagle inherits his fortune much to the dismay of the greedy relatives. The dog is then trained to press the button which closes the mansion gates, on someones head - a cunning murder weapon indeed. Although Jasper seemed to be concentrating on licking his leg rather than the intricacies of the plot, as I started the next episode he rolled over and pressed the mute button on the remote control. The boy is obviously a genius, and I should probably keep in his good books.

I leave you with our dessert from this evening. We don't do Valentines, but we do do dessert.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

44/365 Another "red flag" Sunday

In our household we have a term for days on which everything seems fated to turn out wrong, ruining your best laid plans - and yet the day turns out unexpectedly wonderful. They are known as red flag days. This term is based on a day out we had whilst on holiday in Northumberland. We'd spent the evening before poring over maps planning a day of hiking, only to turn up to our chosen spot and find all the access roads closed for Army training. We drove around the area to enter from the North side, only to find the same to be true - and at each point we were greeted by a large red flag. The alternative hike we ended up having was truly memorable. And included a picnic lying on a heathered hill in glorious sunshine, whilst we let our trousers dry off from an impromptu hailstorm. Not at all what we had planned but fabulous nonetheless.

(I've just reread that and would like to make clear we were still wearing the trousers).

Anyway, that rambling preamble leads me into today. We had a rendezvous organised with friends to watch a re-enactment at 2pm as part of the Winterlude festivities. We were on time and I pulled out my phone to organise a meeting point. Unfortunately after reading the message I had just received, I realised we were on time at the WRONG museum. Because apparently in my pretty little head (war) re-enactments are obviously held at the Civilisation Museum and not the War museum. That's just common sense surely?!

In an attempt to salvage the situation we wandered around the Winterlude stalls in search of the snow sculpture competition entries we enjoyed so much at last years festival.......These sculptures were huge, so after failing to find any evidence I queried one of the security folk. This year there was no such contest due to funding cutbacks! The day was not going to plan.

But salvage the day we did.
with scarecrows in HASMAT suits....
Giant sculptures of eerie spikes heading into the sky....
Improv jazz featuring a violin, half a bass clarinet, guitar, singing bowls played with bows, vibrating sticks, magic black boxes, and all sorts of other jiggery pokery.
And cake.
And ice-sculptures on the snowy walk home.

For photo treats of all that goodness, head over to flickr for my photo today is of a graffiti hippo.

Just because it made me smile.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

43/365 A new sport....

.....shadow skiing. My shadow seemed so much more graceful and agile than I felt. And neither does she appear to have any blisters.

Fab morning skiing again, a full 20 degrees warmer than the last time we ventured out. The snow looked particularly glorious when the sun snuck out from behind the clouds, and we even made it to a cabin where we sampled soy milk hot chocolate offered by fellow adventurers. Can't say I'd drink it by choice in future but it served to warm the cockles before we headed out again.

Back home we snuggled up and spent the afternoon napping through Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger, waking up each time Dr-Quinn/Princess Farah let rip one of her trademark blood-curdling "eek there's something scary made out of plasticine" screams.

Just been for a wander down by the river as the sun set over the forming snow-dunes, and now for a cuppa by the fire. Winter Saturdays are fine indeed.

42/365 A day of rest and an evening of Music

I succumbed to man-flu in the morning. Nothing worse than a heavy cold and fuggy head but the answer was the sofa. A beautiful stroll with Jasper on the Island at lunchtime, and neighbourly-knitting and film (oh, and baileys coffee!) in the afternoon meant that I was mentally prepared for an evening out.

We first saw Jim Bryson at the Folk Festival last year, and his style was a little different when accompanied by The Weakerthans this evening. I must admit that my preference is for the folkier side, but it was a good night nonetheless. Select but grand use of cowbell and trumpet added to my enjoyment. You can't beat a bit of cowbell.

Friday, 11 February 2011

41/365 Language barrier

Other members of the legal profession are welcome.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

40/365 Hockey Champ

I did very very little today. Some reading, knitting....the usual.
Then in the evening I wandered down to watch Paul play hockey - and this time he was actually out on the ice, not in the clubhouse swigging beer.....As evidenced by this shot, at least some time was spent with his bum on the ice, but I can attest to the fact that he's definitely improving.

Which is much more than can be said for me!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

39/365 Blue

The sun is out,
The sky is blue,
It's -16, whats a girl to do?

Go a walking,
And then make a sweet potato-curry pie with home-made rough puff pastry and scoff it with char grilled asparagus and a coriander flavoured's a good food week this week, hooray!

NB. On the way home I saw a man walking along eating snow. He had it all round his face like melted ice-cream....finally I know who the 'Never eat yellow snow' mantra is for.

38/365 Monday's recipe for pud

When your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/pet/self gets home from a hard day at work (late), it is nice to serve him/her/whatever a glass of wine to aid relaxation, encouraging a speedy acclimatisation to the non-work world once more.

When he promptly spills the glass of (red) wine all over the (cream) sofa, its time to pull out the big guns - dessert.

For this evenings effort, melt a lump of butter in a small pan. When fluid use a pastry brush to paint the butter onto a couple of sheets of filo pastry and set aside. Stir in a shake of brown sugar to the left over butter and then a glug or two of (cheap) brandy. Add a peeled and sliced apple and a couple of pitted prunes. Simmer away til the fruit is soft then transfer the fruit to a small pie dish. Add small strips of the filo pastry to the top and then pour over the remaining brandy-butter concoction.

Stick in the oven at 180 degrees C (erm.....sorry, don't know the Canadian for this!) and bake til the top is crusty and the smell means you can't control yourself any longer.

Add a dollop of double cream and a grating of dark chocolate.

Eat it.


Sunday, 6 February 2011

37/365. Fug avoidance.

Today was long, lazy and frustrating. Three knitting needle cables broke - three! This does not a happy Amy make. The fug came in and the stomping came out. I stomped to make tea, I stomped to fetch the duvet, I stomped until I realised Paul had his headphones on and the stomping was serving no purpose other than hurting my feet....

Despite this moodiness, Paul was determined to leave the house this evening, and surprisingly chose to drag me along too rather than choosing to escape the grumps. We headed first to a story and poetry evening in a bar in town, entitled The Dusty Owl Reading Series. We've been meaning to attend one of the huge variety of story-telling evenings for a while now, and with a name like that we were drawn in......sadly twas not to be. We arrived to find a collection of people standing around, the readers were there, the poets were there, the audience were there. Sadly the bar-owners were not and it was all locked up - very disappointing. The fug hovered menacingly once more.

To ease our pain we headed for food. And ate our fill at The Imperial. I am pleased to say that a good plate of fat chips and a pint of cider did wonders for our mood. Especially as it was accompanied by some crossword time....

(5 down read 'Campanology', it appears I had supped my cider a little too quickly and got confused. It still works I think).

And what then readers? Home to bed? No no. It was by now only 6:30pm and we were off to a cosy Sunday evening gig at The Umi cafe. A fine cappuccino, banana cake and improvisation organised by the lovely IMOO. Tonight on offer, the enchantingly haunting music of Adam Saikaley, who used a casio keyboard, countless pedals and a mixer to create electronical wonder. I closed my eyes and drifted away, as my big toe reverberated to the deep deep notes. I liken the experience to listening to a version of the Buddha Machine whilst enveloped in the Luminarium, but thats just me....

And on the walk home, a chance to wander round the ice sculptures of Winterlude. The judges have yet again picked the wrong winner, but I'll let them off. My favourites were those featuring a Jack-in-the-box and children-dressing-up. I adore the ice-sculptures, and hope to make it over the river to see the snowy ones too - before they melt.

And so home and back to the sofa. If you'd told me that the cure to the three-needle-fiasco was to clock up ten miles (no, really), wandering round town and zoning out to electronica I probably wouldn't have believed you. But I've been wrong before, and if tonight is anything to go by I'll be wrong again. Happily.

NB. There may have been an embarrassing moment this evening where I gushed at my jazz hero Linsey Wellman about how much I loved his stuff like an awestruck 80s teenager on meeting one of Bros. What can I say, the man is a talent. And wears nice jumpers. This does not need mentioning again. Thankyou.

36/365....I like to doodle....

And for a long time my doodle of choice was Percy the pigeon. He became a recurring character appearing on the corner of many University notes, letters to friends and other scraps of paper.
Last night he appeared in the snow....

An appropriate ending to a creative day of card-making with the Ladies. Fabulous.

Friday, 4 February 2011

35/365 I spy....

....out the window today, A horse-drawn cart complete with jingle bells. Its been past twice in the last half an hour. Feels very Christmassy for early February.

And a bonus shot today, Jasper misjudged the depth of the snow today and went in right up to his chin poor love. Check out the action shot ears though- he's wonderdog!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

34/365 Busy Busy....

Between the babysitting, blue-sky admiring, dog walking, spin-practising, learning to weave, cup-cake/Vietnamese/coffee/pizza, catching up with friends, art n gibberish, Vonnegut listening, mitten knitting, book reading and snuggling, I managed to find time to take photos of sculptures in the snow.

I really want some red shoes.

(As ever more photos on flickr)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

33/365 Let it snow...

and snow and snow. I shovelled at 11am, its 3pm now and the snow is ankle deep once more - at least its good exercise, and you get to make great big drifts to jump in later.

Jasper has been abounding, and now we're back to the sofa - both as happy as Larry. Not a whole lot of action going on today, but chickpea curry for dinner and more Vonnegut readings from the radio and the evening will be a fine one indeed.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

32/365 Women are persons too

On my wander home from work today I popped into the grounds of Parliament to hang out with the women statues. I've taken far too many piccies of these ladies over the last year or so but there is something very appealing about giant bronze women drinking tea and celebrating their triumph over discrimination. Apparently the protesters depicted were known as the famous five. Definitely not the famous five that I grew up with but despite the absence of Timmy, and the substitution of cups of tea instead of lashings of ginger beer, I love them anyway.