Tuesday, March 30, 2010
My prezzie went to Maia in BC, Canada and I was to receive one sent from Torina, Italy by Annalisa. Mine came today:The card is hand-made.
I'm itching to open the little box & sit what's inside!
I'll be good, Caterina. But boy, it's hard to wait until Easter.
There's a mask, a set of pail, watering can and tiny jug, a shield and sword, 4 birds and their birdhouse, a hedgehog, a mole, grey squirrel, and bat (all 3 are flocked).
It's a little hard to see so here's a close-up of the bat:
Thank you so much Nicky. Check out more of her creations at her blog.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
And today another email arrived in which she talks about visiting a garden center. You can't imagine how envious I am. While pussywillows are also sporting catkins here,
my one lone little primula is keeping its head almost buried in last years leaves presumably to stay warm
We've had a pilated woodpecker make a mess in the willow growing beside the driveway. I'm afraid that the next big storm may bring it down .....possibly on top of one of the cars.
It's super cold by the lake but at least its completely open....one week sooner than last year. The water level's low. I guess in part because we had so little snow. Look at the front dock section; the ice lifted it almost entirely out of the water.
I've asked Heike to send some warmth & sunshine over here. Maybe soon....
Thursday, March 25, 2010
My friend is old; between you and me, I'd say she's dying! Yet she still struggles valiantly to please and accept todays modern ways. She's useless! Way too slow to keep up to me. Yet we've been together for an awfully long time.....longer in fact than several of my husbands combined. You might even say I've outgrown her!
I been there thru operations that were undertaken to keep her youthful. But I think finally the time has come where nothing more will help.
Today was the day to get her out of my life. I've been putting it off for months now. In fact I've already found a new friend. In the last couple of years we've been together more & more. I can take my new friend places; my old friend suffers from agoraphobia. She never wanted to leave home.
I can do all kinds of things that I couldn't with my old friend. The time it took her to get ready was absolutely mind boggling!
I'd put it off long enough. Today was D-day. I took back the last few items that were mine & still important to me. ....and then I dumped her! Unceremoniously!
I still can't believe it! It's just not like me! And even though I've no room for her in my life, I know where she's at. She'd take me back in a heart beat.
Here's a photo of my old friend:Can you make her out, sitting in the corner with her face all shiny?
and here's my new friendlooking ever so sleek and sophisticated.
Hello is this Hoarders Anonymous? Hi, my name is Karin and I am a hoarder......
Monday, March 22, 2010
Here's what it looked like tonite:
The far end is competely submerged and the nearest one was pushed halfway up onto the shore.
I thought maybe this year we were going to be in for an easy ice-out! All week, open water along the shoreline widened. We had a new school of fish... Then today the wind started up and drove the ice onto shore.
Last year we had to retrieve the entire 3 piece dock from five properties away. Guess we should pull our dock onto shore in the fall like everyone else!
I've placed my order.
I have an idea what I want to do with the garage and I have 2 months to get it finished. It something I've read about but never done; I hope I can manage it! I'm not even thinking about winning. There are just too many talented miniaturists out there.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I've had this picture in my ideas folder for a year or so now. I have the scale gas pumps. I even found an old building near by with all these great logos painted along the one side
So when Greenleaf came out with its 2010 Spring Fling contest featuring a garagefor only $30 and for another $15 you could get this addition to it
I nearly jumped for joy. Here's what the ad said:
This is a special offer to friends of Greenleaf for use in our Spring Fling Contest. In an effort to increase participation, we are offering the Winners Garage at a greatly reduced price with the additional savings of FREE SHIPPING anywhere in the US. *If you are ordering outside the US, special pricing has been added so you can participate too.And when you go thru the order form, it seems like shipping to Canada is $9.00! But like all things that seem too good to be true.... it wasn't!
When you get to the payment page suddenly an additional shipping charge shows up. Apparently shipping will be done by UPS for another $17!
Now you're probably wondering what the problem is; this is a $50 dollhouse discounted by $20 ...which should cover shipping.
For them to tell me that I'll be paying $9 in shipping on page 1, and on the final order form page to add their normal shipping cost, constitutes false advertising to me!
What I resent most is being told that I as an international customer am getting a special shipping price when actually I'm paying their normal price!! And on top of that for Greenleaf to use UPS instead of USPS means that they obviously know nothing about how their postal options work. Occasionally I get that from eBay sellers as well.
United Parcel Service (UPS) can afford to give their users great international rates because of the hidden fees that get added at the other end. They force all mail to go thru the country of destination's customs department since this then allows them to add on brokerage fees. (I have this info on good authority from the people working in our post office) Those fees are horrendously high! And of course customs adds on sales taxes....in our case close to 15%!
So the garage with add-on that appears to cost $53 would end up costing me close to double. Is that garage worth $100? I don't think so! And if you do, then you have more money than....
I can custom make a garage for considerably less than $50!
I certainly won't be looking at any Greenleaf dh promotions again!!!
Friday, March 19, 2010
The only theatre showing Alice in Wonderland in 3D as well as Imax is located in the north of the Toronto while my grandkids live at the western end. To get from one to the other I needed to drive thru the city.
Toronto or the GTA as it's now being known, has a population of more than 2-1/2 million. Driving at noon Wednesday, I could have sworn that at least 4/5 of the population were on the road with me.....90% driving in big humongous trucks. I kept wondering why more people weren't at work, either in an office or a factory instead of playing chicken behind the wheel of their cars.
I got to my daughter's house early and for a while the 4 of us watched a 3 yr old show of Ice-T's rap school until I got bored and suggested we make a start. Taking our only toll road which had increased its fees yet again meant we arrived with an hour to spare.
I should have remembered what March Break (school holiday) is like, but in my defense, I haven't been to a movie theatre in years. At home, we have a wide screen, hi-def TV and movies on demand so generally I prefer to watch in the comfort of our pull-out sofa rather than a hard uncomfortable seat with some little brat behind me kicking the back of it.
We had a wonderful time looking at all the animals at a near-by pet shop until with a 1/2 hour to go, we made our way into the theatre. .....only to discover a tremendously long queue for a sold-out viewing. Thank goodness I was smart enough to have bought our tickets online 2 days earlier!
At the door everyone got their 3D glasses which unfortunately we had to give back as we exited later. Like the little kid I am at heart, I wanted to see what TV would look like with them on. Of course with so many people in line ahead of us, there weren't 4 seats together but at least all our seats were in the top of the theatre. I'd heard stories of some people being sick to their stomachs from sitting too close to the screen. Gotta say Imax is just as good as I remember but WOW! 3D sure has improved. The little girl sitting next to me kept reaching out to see if she could touch the credits as they seemed to float towards us while I kept dodging the dragons "flying out from the screen" during the trailer for another new movie. Seating is comfortable even if it did come with the traditional brat behind me and even he became engrossed with the movie sooner than my need to strangle him.
Thankfully for once I wasn't disappointed with the show. Usually there's so much hype and fluff that the actual movie comes off as not worth the effort.
I loved it! Helena Bonham Carter is a wonderful Queen of Hearts...big head & all! Johnny Depp definitely did his daughter proud. Britain's comedian Matt Lucas as Tweedledee & his twin Tweedledum is brilliant & just as funny as I've seen him on British TV shows. I loved everyone; the animations were fabulous. If I make another dormouse in a teapot, I'll have to show him as having white fur. The only thing I wasn't impressed with were those soldiers made of cards....from the way the little girl next to me grabbed hold of her mothers arm, she obviously wasn't either. Those soldiers were just too modern to suit me.
And all too soon the Queen of Hearts was banished, order restored in Wonderland and Alice having climbed out of the hole arrived back in Victorian England only a bit disheveled from her adventures. I wasn't impressed with the last bit of ending but that's only because I am too much of a history buff to realize that real Victorian girls did not sail off into the sunset. I wanted the "real" Alice to meet a Victorian gentleman who looked unmistakeably similar to the Mad Hatter from Wonderland but for that to happen I may have to wait for the sequel, "Through the Looking Glass" or maybe even the 3rd book, "What Alice Found There". OooooOh I can hardly wait....
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I had to hunt quite a few Imax locations before I found one showing this movie. I hope the travel distance will be worth it. I'm sure my 3 grandkids will think so. I'll spend the night down there and make a flying visit to my mother as well.
And since some of my clay creations....baked & unbaked have been knocked off my desk by little adventuresome paws...or worse broken, missing for good...possibly eaten, I thought I'd better finish the current ones I'm working on.
Here's a sneak preview. Remember they're prototypes to be either enhanced or made even smaller:
This little egg pretending to be an Easter bunny is just 1-3/4 inch tall. He's holding out 2 tulips.
This little rabbit and the 4 eggs that he's currently juggling is barely an inch tall and was designed to fit either on the Easter table or on a baby's nursery shelf.
Both are listed for sale in my etsy store.
I'm still learning the ropes over at etsy, so shipping for either is free with any additional purchase.
Sorry, gotta run....the movie starts shortly.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Folklore has it that Indians were the first to discover 'sinzibuckwud', the Algonquin word for maple syrup. In the early days of colonization, it was the natives who showed French settlers how to harvest the sap. In colonial days, maple syrup production was especially important since other types of sugar were hard to find and expensive.
Maple sugaring begins at the start of the spring thaw in regions of woodland containing large numbers of maple trees. A maple tree lasts at least 30 years and must be 12 inches in diameter before it can be tapped.Holes are bored into the trunks of the trees, taps inserted into the holes and a bucket hung from the protruding end of each spout. Depending on the tree's diameter, it may be fitted with as many as 3 spouts. Tapping does no permanent damage to the tree; many trees having been tapped continuously for more than 150 years.Sap slowly fills the buckets. Maple sap is thin, barely sweet and as colorless as water. It seems that each fall, the tree produces its own supply of starch to act as an anti-freeze for the roots in winter. With the melting of snow, water enters the roots and begins the circulation of 'sugar water' through the tree in preparation for the growing season. As a result, sap runs in fits and starts from the first spring thaw until the buds turn into leaves, traditionally from mid-March until April. Warm sunny days (above 40º F) and frosty nights are ideal for sap flow. The maple season may last 4 to 6 weeks, but sap flow is heaviest for 10 to 20 days.
The sap-collection buckets were emptied into large barrels mounted on sleighs or wagons, then returned to the spouts, and the process repeated for as long as the flow of sap remained "sweet". As the weather continues to warm, a maple tree's normal early spring biological process eventually alters the taste of the sap, making it unpalatable.
The harvested sap was hauled back to a base camp, where it was boiled over a fire until it reached the desired consistency. The distinctive maple taste comes only through boiling. Forty gallons of sap produces 1 gallon of syrup. This process was so time consuming and labor intensive, that small camps were built for protection from the elements and often, whole families moved into the woods together so that by the mid-1800s, the "sugar shack" or "sugarhouse" evolved and the production of maple syrup became the farmer's off-season way of making extra income.
From the Indian's clay pots to the early settlers wooden buckets to today's tubing methods, production remains basically the same.
From here the photos are mine...locally photographed:
Altho the sugar shack is still in existence, it's now located near the owner's house and the collection method has definitely become less labor intense. Collection is made using tubing systems, and the sap is pumped directly from tree to tree to the evaporator house.This method of collection yields more sap, reduces the manpower required and allows for more trees to be tapped.
The art of sugaring is centered on the evaporator. Sap deteriorates and must be boiled the same day it is gathered, so a hot and steady fire is kept going at all times. The "boiling down" process is slow and evaporation that's too slow or too fast will affect the color, flavor and texture of the syrup. Most of the 66% of the sap is water that needs to evaporate to produce concentrated maple syrup.Maple syrup must be filtered to remove the impurities that could affect its appearance and flavor. The syrup is then bottled while still very hot. The heat sterilizes the containers and prevents the formation of mold.
Maple syrup is boiled even further to produce maple candy. It takes one gallon of syrup to produce eight pounds of candy. Tradionally the way to make maple candy is to pour the hot syrup directly onto the snow.
But of course, like the necessity of using snowshoes, making maple candy this way is hardly ever done anymore.Canada makes more than 80% of the world's maple syrup; most it coming from the province of Quebec. In honor of the maple, since 1964, our flag carries it's image:
I was truly excited by how easy we got off this winter. Everywhere around us got dumped on with snow while we had nary a flake....that is until that last big storm that passed over the Eastern seaboard.
When that was finished, we had almost as much again as we'd gotten all winter. So I was really surprised at how warm the temperature has gotten this month. Absolutely perfect for maple syrup making. Warm (relatively speaking) days and cold nights. Elmvale has for years, closed off it's downtown to hold a maple syrup festival. More to come on that later....
So as I was saying...this weather trend is all a bit early for us. I was expecting to read all your blogs showing me photos of lovely spring flowers while we put up with more cold! But look what I found......can you see right behind Santa? I have daffodils coming up!!
Soon I'll be able to start my daily garden walk-abouts again to see what made it and what's in flower. Can't wait!
They do say it's an el Nino year; so that should mean lots of heat this summer. And with that in mind, my claying will soon need to end....unless it's something not too intricate that requires cool hands and not too much handling.
I've been busying making Easter baskets, and cookies and eggs...large & small to fill the baskets with. I may be able to get in on a hand-crafted artisan show this Sunday. Either that or I'll put them in my (currently empty) Etsy store. You'll have to wait til next week for photos.
I already have plans for my summer mini-ing: Santa's workshop inside a see-thru paint can, a garden shed roombox and a vintage kitchen on baking day inside a old wooden breadbox.
I've emailed Cir-Kit regarding lighting as I'll need four types of light inside my bread box: strong sunlight shining thru an open doorway, weak light appearing from an unseen window upstairs, a flickering coal fire (still not sure of the what I want to show as my bake oven yet) and a general unseen light to light the entire scene.
I've gone thru my stash of bits and bobs to include in this scene and bought all my furniture. Some of my friends from the AllThingsMini forum are helping out:
In exchange for some of my cheeseboards, Cia has kindly provided me witha bread board, rolling pin, plate cupboard and a bird house. The bird house will be perfect in the garden shed roombox. Thank you Cia.
I'm providing links to both her blog and her etsy store as well as her Artfire store. Cia has some amazing painted country furniture for sale there. Well worth a look.
I've also spent some time looking thru Grazhina's New england Miniatures blog for some inspirational photos of vintage kitchens. This bread box kitchen is one that will sit on a shelf in my own kitchen so I want it to be absolutely perfect.
(Karin Corbin...I'm aiming for your standards! So I hope you'll keep me in line. LOL)
Off to mail my Beatrix Potter swap and snap some maple syrup making photos...if I can.