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Sunday, February 28, 2010

I am so proud of my country!!

We got 14 gold medals...the most of all the countries competing.....including hockey gold!Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal 7:40 minutes into overtime as we won the Olympic title tonight, beating the United States 3-2 to become the first host nation to capture men's hockey gold in 30 years!

Yonge Street, recognized as the longest street in the world, with a length of 1900km or 1,178 miles -- roughly the distance from San Diego, California, to Seattle, Washington was partly closed out by cheering crowds.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Watermarks Part 2

The other day I posted about creating a watermark using Photoshop. I realize that program has become tremendously expensive over the years. So when I came across this while reading my blogs, I immediately knew I had to tell you about it:
"You can download a FREE program called to your computer, and the coolest thing about it is that it has a lot of the same tools and techniques as Photoshop, but it's free!"
Personally I'm happy with my Photoshop but if you need a photo editing software but don't want to spend a lot for one, maybe this is for you. Afterall you can't get better than free! Try it and let me know what you think.

And while you're at it. Take a look at this blogsite that I found. The Cutest Blog on the Block contains everything to make your blog stand out from the rest. Whether you need to create a new background, banner, or signature, it has everything for designing the perfect blog and that includes turning it into a book.

As for me, I'll be spending tonight setting up my tables for the annual Elmvale community sale that's held all weekend long. Unless I actually sell out, I think it'll be my last year for participating. With the economy the way it is, it's just too labor intensive to make it worthwhile.
On the other hand I'll be selling some of my candies, cheeseboards, Easter eggs and various other goodies at a show featuring handcrafted miniatures next month and I'm also in the process of setting up an Etsy store. Am I jumping from the frying pan into the fire.....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Photo Watermarks

Some time ago, I was told about the high rate of online photo theft. Even eBay is now allowing your images to be used for other listings. In the case of OOAKs, it's not too serious; or is it? We all want to show off our work. So what to do?

1. Make sure that you keep your photos to a small size and keep the resolution to about 72dpi. What this means is that your photo will remain sharp for everyone to see but not sharp enough for people to enlarge and print.

2. The other thing that you can did is to add a watermark. Now having used Photoshop for most of its inception, I'm going to use it to demonstrate on. If you use a different product, you're on your own. Sorry!
Pull up your image. (I'm using one sent to me by its owner.) Select the text tool. Then using whatever font, size and color you want, place your text and hit enter.Highlight the text again (still in text tool, click in front of the first letter and highlight all of it). Now from the top menu, select:
Drag either of the opacity bars to the left. Your text will fade. For this example, I'm showing "general blending" at 32%. You want your watermark visible but not detracting from your photo.

That's basically all there is to it. I like to rotate watermarks right across the photo, making it even harder to remove. Because make no doubt about it: it can be removed. But it takes a lot of work. Work that your average thief isn't going to bother with.
Now a small reward for all of you still reading. These 3 photos are by Jan Granai, an ex-park ranger who because of lay-offs has taken up photography and making clay miniatures for her roomboxes. We've discovered that we have the same quirky sense of humor:

I think Jan will do well, don't you? Maybe I'll even get to see her roomboxes one day. (Jan, if you're lurking: thanks for the chuckle!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Just when we've got all the valleys on the roof cleaned out, it snowed! And snowed! And then it snowed some more!! While it may look very pretty, I'm not in the mood. Spring is what I'm waiting for!
So it was a double pleasure to find a Sunshine Award waiting for me at Deborah's Daily Dish. Deb and I belong to some of the same forums. She makes the most fabulous dragons ...and yes, I know Christmas is past, but her Christmas cookies are just so plain cute!!! Check them out at her etsy store.

Thanks so much Deb. You've made my day!!

The rules for this award are to pass it on to six bloggers. That's the hard part! OK let's see....
....maybe I need to do the same thing that Deb did: eeny meeny miney moe, here we go... I pick:
Cia of Briarwood Miniatures,
Cate from Solet Luna Studios and
Ara who writes about the Addams Family.
These ladies belong to the AllThingsMini Forum with me. Cia makes country style furniture that priced really reasonably....well worth a visit to her etsy store. Cate also has an etsy store filled with the most remarkable rugs and people. And Ara's store is filled with unique furniture worthy of more than just a browse.
Julie Old Crow definitely needs some sunshine. Seems she lives out in the wildest of the wilderness. You can read about it and her potato experiments at her northerncrowcountry blog.
Gotta give an award to Jody of Peach Blossom Hill if only for the nice comments she usually leaves me. If you go to her etsy store, you'll see the most amazing "thread" painting.
And one to Elly way out in snowy Amsterdam who's coping with a very sick kitty. She's is a very talented doll maker and needlepoint pillow maker whose blog is entitled EllyInAmsterdam. Sending positive thoughts to you, Elly.

Wow that was easier than I thought!

Monday, February 22, 2010


How many of you have ever tasted gooseberries? I'll bet not too many from N America! That's because the selling price's not worth the cost of picking them.
We always had gooseberry bushes in the garden when I was growing up. You knew they were really ripe & sweet because the type that my parents grew would turn a lovely deep reddish purple. Oh....and the size! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
So here's your tutorial of the day:
Take some white and translucent mixed clay, add a tiny bit of leaf green; just enough that you can see a hint of green in the clay. Roll it into a fat short tube.
Roll some white and some leaf green clay into 1/8" thick ropes; roll them together but do not mix. Now place eight of the ropes onto your greenish tube equally spaced around its diameter. Condense your tube until it's just a bit thicker than an 1/8".
Of course you know that with this type of canework, you squeeze your tube thin. You do not roll it thin because that'll smudge the effect you're trying to achieve.
Cut off pieces just longer than your rope is thick. You want your gooseberry to be oval rather than round. Now comes the hard part: close in the ends! Take your best clay tool (your forefinger and thumb) and gently squeeze the end together. Because these berries are so small, it won't matter if you get them entirely closed. You really won't see it that well. But in any case, take your worst end and add a scraping of ochre clay to it. That's all there is to it.
Happy claying! I'm off to make some bread and one or two sponge cakes or angelfood cake as it's known here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Alice in Wonderland Day Invitation

Ever since we've been back from Cuba, I've been playing catch up with my Google reader! Today was going to be a clay day...Ken was off babysitting and I had 3 swaps coming due soon. But first I was going to read all the blog postings.

Debbie from Tiny Treasures is having health problems again and so I took some time to find a nice "hope you're feeling better" card. And then I read some more. Didn't get too far before I got to Pappillon bleu over in Kent, England. She's anxiously waiting for the new Alice in Wonderland movie and in honor of that, she's holding an Alice in Wonderland party. Here's what she writes:

"this time I will present everything in a slideshow.
YES! you will all be
the featuring stars!!!
If you want to join in , just let me know by leaving a
comment or you can directly contact me.
Make anything you want, a doll,
a painting, take a picture, have a tea party, make a mini
You can pass on the news with a link to this post.
On the 8th of March, I will make a post with links to your lovely blogs in order to create our own WONDERLAND MAZE and present the slide show."

I love Alice in Wonderland! One of these days, I'd like to make some of the playing card soldiers. There are so many characters that I'd like to try....even a roombox! But today was supposed to be a finish-started-items day. Except....somehow my fingers and the clay wouldn't co-operate. So may I present the tea party dormouse:
He's just under 1-1/4 inch tall and both he & the comparison dime are sitting on top of a prescription bottle. It was harder to make a hollow teapot than it was making the mouse. The poor little thing is whiskerless. I forgot!

It's going to be a great party! Come and join.....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Had to go up to Midland on Monday to meet a lady who will probably be my driving buddy for the September workshop in Nova Scotia. I'm having a really great wasn't paying too much attention to the few cars sharing the road with me. I mean come on, how many people need to take hwy 93 at 2 in the afternoon.
Too late I saw the cop car pass me. In my rearview mirror, I see him do a Uie with his flashers on. Half an hour later, I end up with a ticket for doing 83 in a 50....

Ed comments: In Ontario it is OK to do 10km over a posted speed limit and on the 400 series of highways the norm is 20km over the posted limit.

Not one word spoken by the officer had any tonal inflection. His entire spiel sounded like it had been memorized by rote.
As far as I'm concerned it's all a game! During the rest of my trip there, I saw 3 more cop cars and 2 on the way back. Musta been quota time for Feb.
So yesterday, I get to Excoppers, a storefront shop run by ex-policemen who mediate in the courts on your behalf as they obviously know the system. I hold up my ticket & ask can they make the points go away; I explain that I got the ticket on a road that went from 70 to 50 to 70 in less than a km....and suddenly a voice comes from the office saying that he knows where I got the ticket. Sure enough he got it right. Takes one look at the officers name on the ticket & says, "oh I know him. He's so anal that when he goes home for lunch, he takes great delight in ticketing as many of his neighbors as he can." I tell about the officer's final remark (Keen was his name, wouldn't you know) how he'd hoped I'd have a great rest of the day and the gentleman from the office says that there really had been no need to rub it in.
Long story short: the ticket was 4 points & $240. Excoppers cost $315. They don't guarantee anything ....obviously.... but I've used them once before, maybe 10 yrs ago & they got some points reduced back fingers crossed. They pay the fine so any reductions means more money that they keep.
And yesterday evening as I was driving home from the market, a tire iron came flying out of the pickup truck in front of me and put a really good crack in the windshield. Good thing windshields are made of tempered glass or it would have gone right into the car.
And to make matters even worse. We'd had a big leak thru the kitchen ceiling while I was out. Our kitchen is on the other side of the house to the earlier leak. Fortunately it was while John, our builder was there and he immediately went up on the roof & cleaned out that ice dam. So now the roof dilemma is: what's causing the problem? We've had a fireplace tech come & he figures it's attic ventilation; John says it's the fireplace pipe.

I'd say the current motto for my life should be: "it never rains but it pours" but I'm afraid I'd jinx myself.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow... a damned 4 letter word that should be outlawed, and banned. I actually had this drafted 3 days ago!!

I'm almost caught up with all my blog readings and still seeing so many postings regarding all the snow that's been received this winter. Even while we were in Cuba watching CNN (one the 2 English TV channels that we got), it was all about the blizzard in Oklahoma. Several days ago another storm hit most of N America and on the weather channel, the Gulf Stream showed up down around the top of Texas. I never knew that Texas ever got snow!! Last month it was Europe that got dumped on. What's going on????
Is it really only because it's an El Nino year? Is it because of Global Warming?
I'm almost ashamed to admit that we only got a dusting of snow last week and for all of this year, we've had maybe 1/3 of our normal snowfall. Now don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled!! We own 2 snowblowers and at least one set of snowtires for each vehicle. We are prepared! But Ken's only used the blower twice....for all of this season!!!!
The groundhogs have predicted 6 more weeks of winter :-{ and even Sandra Morris of Towerhill Dolls over in England wrote about them and their predictions. I mean, come on. Groundhog Day is a N American tradition that admittedly started in Europe with Candlemas day and used hedgehogs for prognosticators. The world sure has gotten small when the UK knows about Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil...the 2 more famous groundhogs.
Our weathermen are forecasting 10 straight days of above zero weather for much for the "winter!" olympics:

We were among the 3 billion people who watched the opening ceremonies from their living rooms. Hopefully some of the people who believe the old adage that Canada is a land only of ice and snow will see how wrong they are.

Happy (New Year/Valentine's Day)

(Have a Prosperous and Happy New Year)

"May The Golden Tiger bring you lots Of gold In your health and wealth"

Hope your Valentine's day starts off as good as mine: I received a lady bug made of Belgium chocolate and a lovely card this morning and we'll go out to dinner tonite.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

random thoughts...

Personally I hate a book that leaves you hanging, wondering what happened next. So my apologies: that offending fireplace pipe is single layer; it is legal and no we will not be putting it thru our insurance. We'll bite the bullet. Just when I thought I could keep my house clean for a while longer and not have plaster dust coating every nook & cranny.... oh well.

Here's the thought of the day for you:
Once upon a time long long ago, in a real life kingdom, I was the social secretary for an over 40s singles club. The members had gotten together because in these hectic times it's sometimes difficult to find a social network to hang out with & fill those off hours when other non-singles are home with their families. Originally the idea was for someone to host a get-together...card party, theatre, hockey/super bowl party, etc on a weekly basis. In the early days it was great with lots of activities, then slowly the people who were most active found partners and dropped out of the club. By the time that I was elected social secretary, there were fewer & fewer people who would host an event or even just sign up for a gathering. There weren't even enough people who wanted to stay late after the meeting to chat at the local coffee shop. But boy, the complaints never let up:
Q:Why weren't we doing XYZ?
A: because not enough people signed up.

Q:Why isn't there someplace to go to on Sat?
A:because no-one wanted to go to the trouble to host it!

And so it went until I got fed up, had met Ken & quit. Shortly afterwards the club folded. Every so often I hear rumors about starting up another one....I still meet for dinner with a bunch of the club ladies.....but rumor is as far as it gets.

This past week I received an email from someone in a forum that I belong to, asking me to pleeese pop in more often. The same people are there to chat as when it first started. Every so often there's a new member but they disappear just as suddenly. Now don't get me wrong; they're a great bunch of people & I love to hang out with them. But for some of them it feels like there should be more, I guess.
They are for the most part happy to chat & that's it. I've put myself into their faces & suggested a swap. Stuff like that gets people excited...if for no other reason than to think about what they could be making. But then again maybe that's just me. It also brings in new members. Unfortunately in todays society we already have so much on our collective plates that it's sometimes hard to find the time or the energy that a swap brings with it.
We'll see where all this goes.

...and oh yes, the thought for the day:
You get out of life, what you put into it. No one's leaving alive so you may as well make it count.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There are any number of ways to make bunches of grapes. You'll have to figure out which will work best for you. Mine's the easiest, probably, in one way but harder in another.
We're making green grapes today:
3 parts translucent
1 part white
just enough green to get the color right (remember to buy some grapes so you can get it just so.)

Now the way Angie Scarr does it is to run some of the clay (very softened) thru a clay gun with a tissue blade attached...that's the one with all the little holes. She extrudes just until the surface forms the little bulges, then cuts it clean; curls the circular clay section under on 3 sides to form a little triangle. Using that as a base she adds her tiny individual grapes on all sides that show.
Whereas the way that I learned to make grapes is simpler: just take some of your clay & roll it to approx. 1/8" and start forming teeny tiny balls. Don't worry about getting them nice & evenly round since most grapes are longish in size rather than completely round.
Make a semi-circle using 5 "grapes"; to that add other grapes, staying in a triangular shape until you have a long enough bunch to suit, then add even more grapes on top of your bottom layer until you have a nicely rounded bunch of grapes. And that's all there is to it. So now you might be asking why I said it's also the hardest method...
That's because if the grape doesn't adhere enough to its neighbors, your grape bunch will fall apart after it's baked. That's sometimes hard to do without squishing the grapes. Usually you'll get 3 grapes clinging together, sometimes you'll have a single grape. ....and that's OK! It'll just mean that your DH people have already partaken. LOL
If you're planning on showing your grapes with other fruit all within a bowl, you might like to show them artistically draped over the edge. In this case, take some fairly thick tin foil & curve it over your forefinger; lay your grape bunch onto this curve and bake. If you have a grape bunch that's fallen apart, this is the ideal way to show those grape bunch segments and fill in some "holes" in your arrangement.

Seeing that I've made you wait so long, here's some strawberries as well. I had thought of chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine's but once again real life got in the way. So here are some....not quite entirely ripe berries to get you started. We've still got almost a week for the chocolate covered ones.
Start out with a equal mix of carmine & red. Roll it out to between 1/8" and 1/4". You'll be using your most valuable clay tool...your thumb & forefinger to shape the berries. Then using a needle, make indents all around your strawberry to indicate the seeds.
To form the little green tops, you could punch out tiny 5 sided star shapes. Mine are made simply by picking up a minuscule portion of green with my needle and adding enough green to the strawberry to look correct.
Oh and before I forget: I've used some of the leftover green from the grapes, rolled out and a small section added to the top of the strawberry. Carefully blend the green into the red and continue as before.
I've seen someone else make strawberries that were entirely the pale green color and then paint the lower part with red but until my brush stroke technique improves, I'll just have to, as Frank Sinatra used to it my way!
This is also the reason why I don't do more of a pictorial demonstration. There are any number of extremely talented people who have tutorials on their blogs or on YouTube. You've got to try them all until you develop your own style...the one that works best for YOU!

Friday, February 5, 2010

I felt guilty this morning because while most of you are busy making minis for Valentines' Day, I've been lallygagging trying to catch up on blog reading and photo editing. So right after lunch I decided to make some strawberries dipped in chocolate as well as those grapes that I promised last month.
Fortunately or unfortunately....depending how you see it, I needed to get something from the spare bedroom first.....where I discovered a steady water drip coming from the same spot on the ceiling as the leak we had before having that expensive metal roof installed!! This time however the water managed to lift up most of the parquet so we'll need to install a new floor as well as patching plaster. The only good thing is our roofer who unlike a lot of contractors, actually finishes his work, doesn't ask for money in advance and stands behind anything he works on.
I only had time to mix my fimo colors for the grapes before John arrived; so hopefully I'll have a grape making post tomorrow. Long story short, it seems that a fireplace pipe caused an ice dam that backed up nearly to the top of the roof valley and water finally found its way inside. We're not sure if the offending pipe that runs thru the attic & out the roof isn't a single layer pipe...that's not legal! So much for living in an old house that's been renovated by non-professionals....a bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.
It could have been worse. All this could have happened while we were away.

Look at those roofs! No snow. No ice dams...and that pockmarked stone...An old building beautifully preserved:and who'd have thought that I'd find a Canadian bank building way down there. All I can say is: wish I were back there!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I certainly never expected to find any minis in Cuba. These shots were taken from inside a tobacco store:

Good thing I don't smoke. Cuban cigars are enormously expensive!
Here in Ontario, people are prohibited from smoking inside any buildings, restaurants, etc and in order to smoke outside, you must be 30 feet away from any building entrance. You're not allowed to smoke inside your car if travelling with children...altho I don't think that one's enforced.
Until we travel, it's easy to forget just how nice it is to live smokefree altho I will admit Mexico was worse than Cuba.

Monday, February 1, 2010

I'm baaaaack! the land of snow and ice. We arrived into Pearson airport at 11pm Saturday evening and were home by 4am Sunday having had to get to Stony Creek (1 hour each way) first where our car was. I drove most of the way as Ken'd taken a sleeping pill at the time we boarded the plane, so he could sleep during the ride & be fresh to drive home. Unfortunately the pill didn't kick in until we landed.
We came home to a spotlessly clean house where for the first time in my life I'd actually not hesitate to eat off my floors and to a freshly laundered bed. My best friend had agreed to housesit while we were gone and I can only say wow, how can I ever thank you, Heike!
I also came home to 500+ emails....which I've finally gotten thru! and close to 1,000!!! blog postings. So once I read most of the week's worth of postings, I'll start back into my March Beatrix Potter ATM swap and more foods.
I still need to make crackers for the cheeseboards as well as grapes. Not sure if I'll add pears. What do you think? Then they'll probably be put up for auction at MOA.
I've also got Angie Scarr's tutorial for pineapples. Looks really good! I can hardly wait to try them.
And I still need to look at my holiday snaps. So never fear LOL you will be getting the old proverbial "holiday slide travelogue" that everyone used to hate but always had to endure from their friends.
Baby Yuki has grown to twice the size that we left her a week ago. Luna appears to be suffering from an abandonment issue and even Kitkat appears a little kinder from his normal hissy fit self....but only with me. He's already bitten Ken twice.
It appears that we were left out of that winter storm that hit Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, etc. I was told we also missed the rain that turned our driveway into a skating rink. We must have used up an entire bag of cat litter before we could drive the pick up. We're supposed to have some milder weather towards mid week....certainly not the 22-25C that we had in Cuba.
Well better go. I have a ton of laundry and some suitcases to put away.