Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another knitting finish . . . woo hoo . . .

October 1 mystery dishcloth knitalong . . .

watch out . . . I'm catching up . . . LOL

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Oh Applesauce Mary . . . "

When we were in the Niagara area letterboxing last fall we happened upon a roadside stand selling bushels of fresh picked apples for $5.00.  We made room for a bushel in the back of the van.  A few days later Nanna, Mom and I made applesauce.  We had planned on doing some canned apples for pies and crisps but we were working so well and efficiently that we lost track of how many apples we were peeling and saucing.  We ran out of apples without realizing it.  We had a great time together.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Scrapbook layouts October 1, 2011

First wash cloth finish in quite a while . . .

You may recall that enjoy doing mystery knit-along dishcloths . . . but with all the crazy that is my world I've gotten behind.  This is the mid September 2011 mystery just finished.  If you enjoy this kind of project you should check out Monthly Dishcloths.

Scrapbooking With Sketches


The final proofs of my new books have just arrived which means they are now available to purchase.

Just click on the Book Store tab just under my blog title to view my books and ebooks.

Thank you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Scrapbooking Challenge

Here's a new challenge for you.  My friend and I were going through some old magazines and reminiscing about some older tools and techniques that we just don't seem to do any more.  Embossing, chalking, eyelets, deco squares were just a few of the things we saw and remembered fondly.  I'm planning on having some fun with some old techniques.  I challenge you to do the same . . . and I'd love to see what you come up with.

On January 1st I challenged you to scrap about a habit you have.  I finally had a chance to create my layout and order the photo I plan to use online.

My habit is my morning tea or coffee.  The photo is of my favourite coffee cup.  I chose it because it states something very true for me.  That truth about my sleeping in is also the reason I used a sheet of patterned paper covered in clock faces.

Letterboxing in Niagara Falls, Ontario

We woke up at the crack of dawn-ish on Sunday, September 25th, because we wanted to find as many letterboxes as we could in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  Our first find of the day was at 8:14 am.  Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-1 also had the honour of being our 200th find.  We also found the bonus stamp Republic P-47 Thunderbolt  "Bubbletop".

2 0 0 
 It was an easy find and we were back on the road again.  Our second find of the day was a particularly hard find.  We knew exactly where the box was, but retrieving it without being seen is another story.  Fortunately the sight of 2 boys climbing randomly all over the sign with a grandmother shooting photos gave us the cover we needed.  A Whale of a Letterbox was our 3rd find of the day,

When our boys were young we often packed a picnic and went on road trips.  We have carried on that tradition with our grandsons.  A two day trip (Rockwood & Niagara Falls) required 2 coolers -- one traditional cooler in the back with our meals and a plug in cooler in the front with our snacks and beverages.

My main job when we are letterboxing is to act as navigator.  I've gotten fairly good at reading maps and Hal's listening skills have improved as well . . . LOL . . .

Don't every have a potty emergency in Niagara Falls.  Our experience shows that businesses in Niagara Falls hide the bathrooms so that wandering tourists can't find them.  We were looking for a box near the casino and decided to go in for a quick break.  We wandered that stupid mall following stupid directions until we finally located washrooms.  The boys are waiting patiently for me . . .

Lucky 7's was easy to find but really tricky to get because the tourists were all awake and starting to wander around.  We discussed a few different plans and decided to use the photo dodge again.  We all stood in front of the letterbox's hidey-hole while Hal took our photo.  One of the boys reached in behind his back and grabbed the box.  We wandered off down the sidewalk nonchalantly until we felt we were far enough away to safely stamp in.  We managed to return the box in the same manner a short time later.

Our next find was The Skylon Tower.    We found it quite easily because the area was muggle free.

It was just after 10 am when we found The Niagara Skywheel Letterbox.  There was a lot of backtracking involved because we were walking from  the Skylon to the Skywheel so we had to walk back following the instructions in the clue.  I have to say despite the fact it was quite warm and we had been walking for over 2 hours by this point, the boys didn't complain at all.  Perhaps the stop at an air conditioned Tim Hortons at the Skywheel was enough to refresh them and keep them going.

It was a long walk back to the Skywheel and then down the road to the Parkway.  We turned right on the Parkway and began our search for the elusive Nikola Teslia.  Cameron threw a coin in the fountain and wished that we would find Nikola soon.   It was a very tricky find but we did it!

It was a bit of a hike back to the casino where we'd parked the van but we made it.  I think Hal was the only one complaining but the boys sure put on a show of ridiculous exhaustion as we climbed back up the hill.

Next stop was a quick drive to Life is Good, in Canada .  We missed the park but a quick turn around and we were on the trail.  Taylor huffs the stamp before using my back as a "flat" surface.  Yes I am a little sun burnt by this point.

In the Life is Good clue was a mention of a great place to see the Whirlpool and it was very good advice.

Living Waters Wayside Chapel was the only box we did not find.   We were able to search for a bit and then we had to back off as a bus or van full of tourists pulled in.  I don't think this little chapel is a big secret.  We wandered, took photos, had a snack and waited . . .

When there was a break in traffic we found the exact location mentioned in the clues and the box was gone.

Our next stop was The Totem and it was in a very muggle-infested area.  We unpacked our lunch and had a rest in the pavilion while discussing how to outwit all the muggles.  A game of catch around the hiding spot netted us the box fairly easily.

The clues for Niagara Circle Route Trail were quite easy but a little scary.  We sent Hal in to get the box while we stayed back on the trail.  Not that we are chickens or anything.  But I was a little concerned of what our son might say if we didn't come back with all three boys.

Our final find of the day was For What It's Worth in Port Dalhousie.  We had a picnic supper and then rode the merry-go-round a few times before heading over to the tiny jail.  It looks like they are either renovating it or moving it, not sure which.  We searched and searched and nearly gave up.  We decided to try one more time, changing our thinking about the clue . . . and we found it!

After this find we began the long drive home to St. Thomas.  It was probably one of the best letterboxing days I've ever had with the boys and Hal.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Box ON 2011: Mind Bending Clues - September 24th

We had to leave St. Thomas quite early (by my standards) to attend this event, hosted by Fiddleheads, in Rockwood ON.  We still managed to be a bit late but in time to attend the workshop of solving ciphers and other interesting types of clues.  I have to admit I'm not all that great, especially with the really tricky stuff but the boys have minds like steel traps so we were pretty sure they would be able to help us find all the boxes when we headed out after lunch (pot luck and fabulous) to start solving some mind bending clues.  The boxes are hidden in the Rockwood Conservation Area, a fabulous park that we really enjoyed exploring.  Right beside the parking lot is this abandoned mill.  It looked more like a castle and the boys had an amazing time exploring it.  I was able to get some really nice photos like this one here.

And then it was time to get serious and find some letterboxes.

Our first find was Harris Woolen Mill Ruins.  We solved the clue, found the box, found the second clues, solved them and found the second box.  Absolutely fabulous carves and tons of fun to solve.

Our next find was Gilbert MacIntyre Memorial Area.  We had a great time finding this box as well.  Solved the clues and there it was.  Found the second set of clues.

The second set of clues required some serious ciphering.  We teamed up with these ladies and each took a section of the puzzle to solve.  We did it.  And found the box as well.

You just never know when Hal's flashlight is going to come in handy.  It certainly was useful when the boys decided to explore some very interesting caves.

When they came out we solved the clues for Mind Bending Clues:  Caves and found the second box fairly easily.  Next stop was to solve the clues for Mind Bending Clues:  The Pavilion and that bonus box as well.

We were very sad that we had run out of time before finishing the final boxes in the series but we will definitely be back again.  The reason we were leaving was to check in to our motel in Niagara Falls, get supper and have an early night so we could spend Sunday letterboxing in Niagara Falls.

We stayed at a very interesting motel on Lundy's Lane which had family rooms with 3 double beds, fridge, microwave and couch at a very ridiculously low rate.  I wasn't expecting much so I wasn't disappointed . . . LOL . . . at least we had lots of space.

The air conditioner didn't fit in the window frame so they had duct taped newspaper all around it.  The tape had let go so the newspaper was fluttering about, letting in heat and bugs.  When the first bee flew in I had had enough.  Hal went down to the front desk to ask for towels and duct tape to stop the fluttering.  Even though we registered 5 people in the room there was only enough towels for 3.  A very short time later a young man came to the room with towels and duct tape, handed them to Hal and then left.  I guess he was skilled with duct tape and figured Hal would do a better job.

Other than that everything went well.  We ordered pizza and wings for supper and I produced a big cake with icing for dessert out of my never-ending cooler of food.  We were all very tired and after a quick board game we called it a night.

It wasn't until the next day that we realized we had been charged twice for our room.  It took over a month to get the charges corrected.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mad Hatter Tea Room, Orwell ON

My Nanna was turning 95 on January 2nd and we thought tea and shopping at the Mad Hatter Tea Room was the perfect gift idea for the lady who has everything. "We" refers to my husband, youngest son & girlfriend and myself. We refused to tell her where we were taking her but she seemed pleased when we pulled into the Orwell area business. Above are a couple of photos taken at this event.

We all ordered pots of tea and scones from a nice young lad who was running the tea room single-handed. Service was slow but not awful. Tim, Krystel and Hal wanted sandwiches but despite what the menu said, the only sandwich available was roast beef and cheese . . . so that's what they ordered. Hal didn't tell me until later that the bread was dry. The tea was lovely and hot and our server came back with hot water and refilled the pots when we emptied them. The scones were fresh and warm. We had a fairly lovely time. And Nanna had a great time wandering through all the collectibles and antiques for a couple of hours.

So I recommended the tea room to my Mom and she went there for lunch with friends. Her comments were similar to mine . . . quaint, slow service and nothing spectacular but still nice and enjoyable.

Groupon came out with an amazing coupon for 71% off the price of the Royal High Tea for 4 (value $120.00. You must see the photo used to advertise the coupon!!!! Doesn't it look fabulous?

And according to the offer the Royal high tea service includes the following:
Glass of non-alcoholic bubbly cider
Two home-baked currant scones
Devonshire clotted cream imported from England
Various finger sandwiches
Belgian chocolates
Choice of home-baked desserts and cakes (one per person)
Choice of specialty loose-leaf teas (one per person)

Sounds grand, doesn't it?

We arrived at the tea room about 1:20 pm and were seated at a huge table with a ratty old un-ironed tablecloth that was too small for the table. That in itself was enough to drive Sandy and Nanna both a little nuts. Shortly after our server arrived to take our tea order. A while later she came back with menus so we could select our sandwiches. I would have preferred just having a selection and not individual orders . . . but that was the least of our problems. Have you noticed that we still haven't received our tea yet. All we had in front of us were 4 chipped little dessert plates and a pile of 3 napkins. Mom ripped her napkin in half and shared with me.

This photo was taken at 1:51 pm (31 minutes after our arrival). We still have no tea or anything else.

Finally our tea arrived and was soon followed by a 3-tier server with our 12 "sandwiches" and 4 (not 8) scones as well as 2 dishes of jam and one of Devonshire clotted cream imported from England. The sandwiches were thin slices of baguette with a teaspoon of filling on top. They looked awful, the bread was dry and crunchy, the filling fell off when we tried to eat them and there was no butter or margarine on them. We each got 3 of these tiny "finger sandwiches" which equals 3-6 bites total. To avoid total starvation we each grabbed a scone, quickly coated them with cream and jam, and they were lovely and warm. At this time we asked for napkins.

When our server returned I politely asked if we weren't entitled to a little more food since each serving was supposed to have a $30 value. We were entitled to 4 more scones she said, but they were out and it would take at least 20 minutes to make more. And, by the by, we were eating the REAL clotted cream and not the fake stuff. Seriously?!? I can hear you asking why they didn't start baking more when they ran out. I forgot to ask that question. I did ask what we could substitute and she mentioned cheese scones. Well I'd had them on my last visit so I asked her to bring them. I also asked for hot water.

A very long while later the 4 cheese scones arrived and a while later a dish of butter appeared. By then, though, the scones were gone. We were starving. At that point I believe we finally received our 2 ounces of cider. Nanna disappeared shortly after that because she'd had enough of High Tea and much preferred wandering through the store.

Have I mentioned yet that the server frequently reached across us to place things on the table and to pour cider and such. I guess it was easier than actually walking around the table and doing it properly. I can't remember when the napkins arrived but we did receive a pile of napkins at around this point.

I was still trying to be calm which I don't do well when I am the victim of horrible customer service. Sandy said my face turned pink at least twice but I never did lose my temper. At one point I got up with my empty tea pot and headed for the kitchen for some hot water. I was met half way there by my server who promised to bring it to our table quickly. A while later our hot water finally arrived. Soon after that a chipped dinner plate covered in desserts arrived . . . two huge slabs of chocolate cake (definitely not homemade); two pieces of banana pie (freshly made according to the server) but mushy and greyish bananas floating in the filling and topped by undrained maraschino cherries so that red syrup was all over the plate and soaking into the desserts; 1 blueberry tart still in its tin foil liner; and 4 marshmallow and something concoctions which resembled a cookie that Nanna makes but apparently was dried out and hard according to Mom. There was nothing to serve the cakes a pies from the plate like a cake server or something and no fresh dessert plates to put them on and guess what else was missing . . . forks! So we had quite the giggle as we used our knives and tea spoons to slide the cakes over onto our dirty lunch plates.

I threatened Mom that if she left a tip I was going to be very mad at her. Mom did leave a tip though because she is a lady. I guess I'm not so lady-like. So dear servers, please don't take the tip on the table as an indication of our delight in the food or service, its just there because my mother isn't mean enough not to leave one. We never did get our Belgian chocolates.

We enjoyed browsing through the store and then we were off for home.

I called Groupon today and they very quickly returned Mom's money for the 4 teas we had used as well as the 4 teas we had no intention of ever using. Thank you Groupon for your excellent service.

Mad Hatter Tea Room . . . you need to be ashamed . . . you need fresh food, properly prepared and served . . . you need to train your staff on proper service.