Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stripped Piano

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that a beautiful old piano had been left out by the garbage bins at one of the thrift stores I visit from time to time.  I guess they must have assumed that it would be a tough sell and considering how many pianos show up on freecycle, maybe they were right.  I went back today with my camera for a few pictures and found all ivory keys completely gone.  Old pianos are one of the few relatively abundant sources of legal - and often free - antique ivory.  Obviously someone had seen the opportunity here and taken what they could.

The inside of the piano had gorgeous lettering and graphics from the company.  B. Shoninger was apparently one of the first major piano manufacturers, opening in 1850.  This piano had the serial number 5356, making it a very early model.  According to this website, the company had made over 25000 pianos by the 1950's.

It's sad to see a wonderful, antique instrument left forsaken in a grungy parking lot.  Honestly if I had a bigger house, I would have at least a piano or two.  We had one growing up and I learned all about music from plunking away at those old keys and deciphering my grandmother's ancient sheet music.  Ah well, everything must come and go, I suppose.  Maybe I'll have to get a storage unit and start a piano rescue.  Imagine that!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fixing a hole?

Rainy October Night, originally uploaded by bossbob50.
And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong/ I'm right/ where I belong I'm right/ where I belong

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

They Say it's Your Birthday

Hello, hello!  I'm back again, after a long hiatus.  It is indeed my birthday (yay!) and I'm looking forward to a fantastic new year.

But first I want to look back at a great little nature walk I took with my family in Winnipeg's Assiniboine forest.  Assiniboine forest is a park/preserve of the natural woodland in this area, right in the city.  I love it there.  We went in the middle of November, which is usually frigid here but was unseasonably warm this year (thank-you, El Nino!).  The leaves had mostly fallen but the moss was still green and "flowering" - it was a beautiful day.

Lovely, isn't it?  It's amazing to think that the whole city was once a natural boreal forest!  We've seen all sorts of wildlife at the forest, including deer, beavers, many birds, and of course, insects.  It makes me sad to see nature increasingly marginalized, even though I do appreciate the comforts of modern life (especially in the -20C weather we are now experiencing!).  I am very happy that there is this tiny portion of the past can be preserved, and that I can share it with my son.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Recent Knitting Projects

BRRRRRR!  All of a sudden I'm starting to believe winter is on its way!  Only two weeks ago we had 30 degree weather here in Winnipeg, now we're into the single digits with frost at night.  I have to admit, though, that it's nice to feel like I can bake again in our non-air conditioned house, and to have that motivation to once again pick up my knitting projects.  My theme this fall seems to lean towards greyed out natural colours like mossy green and a weird brown-charcoal, with pops of bright primaries thrown in.  Right on trend, according to one of my favourite websites, the Pantone Fashion Color Report.

I've been working on a new design of cabled fingerless glove which came together very nicely.  They are very fitted and came out very well for my first attempt at designing a knitting pattern that isn't a scarf.

I have also been working on a lace scarf in bamboo/wool for my son's daycare provider.  I just need another skein before I can finish the last half.  Bamboo/wool blend is fantastic - silky but not splitty,  light and not itchy at all... I can't sing it's praises enough.

Off to put on a pot of tea!  Enjoy the autumn weather!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Living in the Moment, or for those of us who remember the nineties, There is no spoon, ha ha ha.

I had been looking for a sign from the universe.  What should I do next?  Where should I be going?

Here is what I got.

A message in a bottle.

Things have been such a struggle lately.  I have been trying so desperately to move ahead with opening my business.  Instead of enjoying it, I have been feeling so negative and constantly running into roadblocks.  Why was I always stuck?  Why couldn't I just act in the here and now and stop worrying about being a huge failure?  In what seems a comically desperate move, I typed "how do I live in the moment?" into google.  I ended up on a message board where everyone seemed to be suggesting this book by Eckhart Tolle called The Power of Now.  The message of the book is so simple and so difficult.  Just be.  All we ever have is now.  The past and future are illusions.  Stop worrying about the things that aren't real and connect with what is.
I impulsively decided to try the book out - not in character for me at all.  Somehow it ended up on the shelf at the library, despite there being nine requests for the book and it being shown as unavailable in the online catalogue.  Weird, huh?  Or is it?
I'm honestly not quite sure where things will go from here.  But I guess that's all right.

Here are some fall images from my neighbourhood:

Doesn't this log washed up on the shore look like a rock?  Amazing colour.


The weather here in Winnipeg is beautiful right now, but the leaves are still falling.  I just love the light in the trees.

I have been really enjoying macro photography lately.  Perspective can be such an interesting thing to play with.  Lichen is actually pretty spectacular up close.

This hawk sat on a branch directly above me for about ten minutes.  Now that's humbling.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don Draper is now following you...

This gave me quite a thrill!
Maybe I should get drunk, phone his house and ramble incoherently.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Things I learned this week:
1. Skeleton keys are now extremely expensive.
2. I need to practice bidding on ebay if I ever intend to win anything there.
3. I should be checking my favourite sellers more often!

I was definitively crushed while bidding on skeleton keys on ebay this week.  Can you believe that nine skeleton keys went for over $20?  I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.  Seems those amazing keys are everywhere lately, on necklaces, altered art, books, cuffs...  Oh well.  Maybe I'll luck out at an estate sale or something.

The saddest news of all is that I missed out on this fab cape from one of my favourite ebayers, Coronetweeds.  Arrrrrrrrrgh!  A gorgeous 1930s black wool cape lined with orange satin.  And it only went for $51.  So choked!

Well.  After I recovered from the immense disappointment I decided to look for a similar vintage cape.  That led me to a new Ebay favourite, timelessvixen.

What an amazing cape!  It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine.

Now this cape is probably one of the coolest pieces I've ever seen.  Except it has monkey fur on the collar.  That's a deal breaker.  Too bad.

Oh my god!  Betty Draper!  Too bad my rib cage is gigantic in vintage terms.  I would never make the 34" bust even if I never ate again.  But if you're more petite, feel free to scoop up this beautiful 50s cocktail dress.

Isn't it wonderful how sometimes a loss turns into a win?
Now if only I could find a gorgeous beaded silk sheath in slate blue.  Oh well, back to the Ebay trenches!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


It's been one of those roller coaster weeks.
The dizzying highs, the terrifying lows. I've been spending a lot of time soul searching lately, mostly about my career choice. The doubts are creeping in.

On a more positive note, I picked up an Argus 75 yesterday at a local place here in Winnipeg. It's not in perfect condition but I've been experimenting a bit with it for TTVF (through the viewfinder) photography. Looks like it should be amazing!

I also found this cool French book. I'm not quite sure yet on the publication date but it's gorgeous!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Future Fashions vol.80 (1936)

Here's a peek at a gorgeous vintage knitting pattern book I picked up yesterday.

What a lovely inside cover photo. The former owner wrote her name and the date she bought the pattern book.

I believe the correct term for this is "jaunty". As in, "My, Lillian, that is a jaunty blouse!". The entire outfit is knit on size 2 needles. I do like the lace pattern, though. Looks like "lamb's lettuce" from my "Mon Tricot 1500 Patterns" book.

I am in love with 30's style. It's definitely not Hollywood glamour, but still fabulous! Can you imagine the time and yarn that would go into making this outfit? Can you imagine how heavy it would be?

There was an amazing surprise inside: three typed knitting patterns 'signed' and dated to 1937!

I might try some of the sweaters in here, once I figure out the sizing. I'll post the patterns when I do!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Little Surprises

I found this tiny abandoned nest in one while picking berries in our yard.
What a nice little surprise!

Friday, August 14, 2009


It's safe to say that I am secretly an old lady in a twenty-something (okay, late twenties, but still) body. I love knitting, I collect doilies and old books, and then there's the whole tea obsession. So now I'm taking it one step further with sewing patchwork.

I tried out this patchwork ball tutorial from purlbee.com yesterday. I hardly ever sew, and this is only my second attempt at patchwork. I nearly declared a Jihad on my sewing machine but we resolved the issue peacefully in the end (with much swearing on my part). I think I did pretty well, though I did make some mistakes. One of the fabrics should have had some interfacing as it was unraveling at the points. I should have left the opening for stuffing in the middle, not at the end, and I didn't cut as perfectly as I needed to. My patchwork ball is sort of shaped like a mutated football as a result. I definitely need more practice and better fabric/cutting tools.

Oh well. It's kind of like those first pathetic knitted swatches a person makes, where you end up with about three extra stitches on one end and a wonky part in the middle. And you love it anyway.

All in all I had a great time with this. I get tired of the pressure of only crafting for sale and gifts... sometimes it's nice just to try something out for fun of learning a new skill. It only took a couple of hours from start to finish (I'm sure a more skilled seamstress would be able to do this a lot quicker... less time spent yelling at the sewing machine) and required very little material. I may even try more. Every granny needs a quilt, right?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dumpster Diving and Procrastination

I came across this amazing gas can in someone's garbage this morning. Super fantastic! Check out the decal close up.

There's just something I love about retro primaries with peeling paint. Ahhhhhh...

Here are some photos of "as-is cameras" for etsy!

My eumig S3 zoom.

I have about three old Polaroid cameras to sell, if I ever get the product photos finished.

I've become addicted to Drop7, a tetris-like game on the iPhone. That has been eating up a lot of my time, not to mention my batteries. Lord I hope battery life improves sometime in the next gen or two.
Anyway, I need to get some knitting done! I've been putting it off because we're finally getting summer weather here and who wants to work in the sunny summer time? Isn't that when "the livin's easy"? I think they made a song about it ;)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Homemade Marshmallows!

Do you like things that are sticky?
Do you like things that are sweet?

oh.... no... I don't mean... that.

I'm talking about homemade marshmallows! I had been itching to try the marshmallow recipe from joyofbaking.com as part of my obsession with getting away from store-bought stuff and heading in a more old school direction with food.

Go homemade!!!

So, do you have sugar? Corn syrup? Gelatin? Vanilla? Well, you've got pretty much everything you need to make marshmallows!

This recipe was perfect. Everything worked out the first time through, even without a candy thermometer. And I'm definitely no candy expert. Every time I've tried making fudge I've ended up with a dismal ultra-sweet mess-in-a-pan... yuck. The instructions at joyofbaking.com are awesome and very precise.

Here is the syrup cooking away. Even though the sugar seemed to be getting quite caramelized, the marshmallows turned out gorgeous and pure white.

I even overcame my fear of this lovely KitchenAid mixer. The syrup needed to be whipped for 10 minutes and you can bet your ass I was motivated to try anything that would allow me not to use the hand mixer. My husband gave this to me for Christmas -wait for it- three years ago (!) but I had never used it. How stupid! It was so easy to use and worked like a charm.

Here's the finished product. The edges of these marshmallows are extremely sticky and need to be coated with something to keep them from being pulled apart or drying out. I rolled some marshmallows in plain toasted coconut, some in macaroon mix, and the rest in cocoa powder.

This recipe makes a lot of marshmallows. They're not really the kind of thing you can eat a batch of in one sitting. I think they would make a nice little gift wrapped up brown paper and tied with a pretty ribbon. People were very intrigued by the fact that you could make your own marshmallows and they are lovely and old fashioned.

Happy baking!