Sep 8, 2020

Finding Zen

 Of course I didn't find Zen (if you know me at all, you know I'll never be Zen-like!).  

But I did find my COVID19 critter!  Since it's not possible to go to any shows (and there are few and far between) and only online versions are available, I've been hunting for the perfect addition to my collection from home.  I browsed all the good shows as they came up (and can recommend the eBears shows and the Bearhugs4you shows) but I didn't find anyone who spoke to me.  I have to admit, imagination seems to be lacking, probably a victim of COVID19.   Anyway, finally in August things began to open up here in earnest and with safety protocols in place we could start to explore around Mount Forest.  Hanover was one of our first stops, which has a lovely main street and the Hanover Flea and Farmers' Market.   

And at the Market we explored the isles and on a top shelf I spotted a Steiff Waldi.  A Steiff in excellent condition!  I rolled him around in my hands, checked for moth damage, slid my mask down so I could sniff him for mildew or smoke, and debated his price.  He has his button, his yellow ear tag and original green leather collar too.  

I'm very familiar with Waldi as he has been a character in my life since childhood:  my sister has a life-sized one that was a gift from my grandmother.  It was therefore particularly nice that of all the Steiff out there I should find a Waldi of my own.  And I named him Zen because in 2020 that what you need most!   

So despite all the hurdles and being disappointed with the online offerings, I added one perfect pup to my hug.  

And thank you Rose for using all your reference guides in an effort to try to date my Waldi!  It seems that the 1970s were a time when Steiff didn't really record its creations well.  

And now?  With Hallowe'en coming, I'm looking forward to the upcoming Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween show on September 19!

Sep 5, 2020

Green to Gold

It's September already and I realize I never got around to sharing our beautiful garden!  

  This is our first Spring and Summer here so we had very little idea of what would appear in the flower beds.  We brought quite a few plants from the old house and dug them in here and there late last fall, but what would happen in Spring was a mystery!  

  And there was COVID19 to consider.  Because of COVID19 we ended up with a super LOVELY garden, not only due to all the time we spent working on it but also money.  Since we couldn't go on vacation, we splurged on the garden.

  In the Spring we planted Clematis along the fence.  They were a little too far along for Spring plants, so hopefully next year they'll be more in step with the seasons and fill out.

All around the deck and gazebo, we have a collection of hostas, many we brought with us from the old house.  

I needed a place for my memorial stones, and so here is the dog's memory garden.  This was where the former owners had their compost bins and was very neglected.  Starting from scratch after cleaning that all up (we now have compost pick-up once a week),  I wanted a flowering dogwood but learned they do not tolerate Black Walnut trees, so we selected a Cypress, a Staghorn Sumac and a Lemony Lace Elderberry.

Beside the doggy garden we were surprised by poppies, poppies, poppies!  We enjoyed clusters of poppies in early Summer all along part of the back fence!

I'd brought along the Evening Primrose and they survived the move, looking good!

There's this patch under one of the walnut trees that made a good spot for a faery garden.  I found these blue shiny stones BURIED in the front lawn... how they got there we'll never know.   But obviously they wanted to sparkle and shine again so here they are.

A friend gave us this exotic plant with lovely leaves and strange, intricate flowers... they look fragile but they are hardy and lasted a long time.  At the old house the plant was beneath a maple tree where it didn't get what it needed but here it came forth with this lovely crown of blooms!  (Thank you Olga!)

Over the course of the season, we watched the garlic grow.  The scapes developed into curled dragon heads which then opened and looked entirely alien!  The "garlic pearls" are now being eaten, but we planted a few too.

Another treat was this lovely phlox!  It's right on our driveway and smelt wonderful for a good long while.

And our vacation money?  It brought home for us this incredible garden rock.  Mom always wanted one, and here it is, all 1522 pounds!  It's not going anywhere.  

And we have Black-Eyed Susans, big clusters of them!  This was also a lovely surprise, and a glorious finish to Summer.  (Don't look at the lawn... it's all crab grass and weeds!  We're furiously pulling it out by clumps before the seeds spread!)

Jul 21, 2020

Taming the ruins

COVID19 has dashed all our plans to meet and greet the neighbours, explore the sites in and around our new town and left us with lots of time on our hands...
  So what did we do?  At least we could be outside so we gardened, a LOT!  The yard and gardens were a neglected mess with lots of interesting mystery plants in flower beds buried under weeds.  These gardens were loved at one time, and now we've worked towards restoring and enhancing this precious green space that we're spending so much time in...


Along one side of the house there were hip high weeds and some plants mixed in, and perhaps some stones??  We took on the challenge!  

Here is the complete transformation of the moss rock garden, from wild thing (all those weeds!, photo to the left) 

to bare spot (naked after removing all those weeds) 

to finding the “Roman Ruins (a previous wall of flagstones) 

to delivery of the moss rock (all 540 pounds) 

to building the new wall (using the old and new flagstones) 

to lovely garden (adding 3 shrubs and some thymes/other ground covers)!  
All we need now is some mulch. 

The moss rock is from Stones 'n More in Harriston, a small but lovely spot for plants and garden rocks, and very friendly service!  (They deliver!)

And then there was the patch in the backyard...

May 4, 2020

I did it!  I quilled!!!  Yeah!  

First, though, I had to be foolish and try to create something free-hand.  After so long, it was a mistake to jump back in and attempt an original project.

So I set it aside and pulled out one of my many books, choosing Quilled Flowers by Alli Bartkowski.

I needed something with good and complete instructions for a project I could sit and finish in a few short hours.

Cherry blossoms were perfect, and seasonal too, so I sat down and enjoyed making this little branch...

...which I actually could easily display in the studio when it was done!  Ta-da!  It felt great!

I love books!  

Apr 29, 2020

Rise up!

So what to do during self-isolation...??  While we still have fixing-up jobs to do around the house (and haven't yet started the guest room re-paint), and a lot of sorting and organizing from the move, some days you just want to MAKE something.  I'm so out of touch with my creative side that I'm having a hard time getting started with any projects, so instead I bake.  

Baking with yeast is such a magical pleasure...

It grows before your eyes and smells so good!!!   You have to care for it and treat it right...

And then you get to beat it with a wooden spoon and stretch it to your will...

You then bake it, literally killing it, and eat it!  

The perfect relationship!  Is my COVID19 frustration showing?  Oops!

Then I made oatmeal-ginger cookies...

Then cinnamon pull-apart breads...

And sent some of each to my favorite essential worker, my sister!  Enjoy, Doris!

Apr 16, 2020

Golden memories

Our new house has less storage space so I've been motivated to go through all my boxes of magazines and recycle/bring away a lot of them to make some much needed wiggle-room.  While doing this, I've discovered some old gems, the most touching being the re-discovery of the first magazine I ever subscribed to:  The Miniature Magazine.  I bought an issue in 1981 (when I was wee!) from a magazine rack (remember when stands in stores had all kinds of neat, strange things to offer?) and was hooked!  I already was enjoying miniatures but this magazine opened up the mini world (and the world in general) in such a deep and profound way that now, almost 40 years later, I remember almost every page, every picture!  It was a bizarre and beautiful experience, to go through page by page and have a clear recollection of what would appear when I turned the pages.  Obviously this magazine made a very lasting impression!  

One article in particular about a stunning house called Laven Dell was very helpful in that it talked about how expensive miniatures were and how to embrace our creativity to make our own items from inexpensive things.  

The lasting power of the printed word...

Other magazines were remarkable in how much they changed over the years.  The Teddy and doll magazines all SHRANK an incredible amount over the decades, and now sadly so many have completely disappeared or gone online only.   

For example, Haute Doll:  this magazine was the "Vogue" of the doll community, a bit risqué and avant garde and beautifully photographed (whether you agreed with the contents or not).  In its glory days, an issue would consist of 114+/- color pages.  Then, in May 2011 it merged with Doll Reader and the two magazines together only numbered 64 pages.  2016 seems to be when the name was dropped entirely and now only Dolls Magazine continues as a printed and digital publication.  Is there any magazine out there that replaces Haute Doll?  Let me know please!

Closer to my heart, the Teddy magazines didn't fare any better.  In the years that I subscribed, Teddy Bear and Friends was a full-bodied magazine, half black and white, that ran about 120+/- pages.  June 1997 had 144 pages!  Then things started to whittle down and by 2014 they were printing issues with only 46+/- pages.  So sad!  

Teddy Bear Review was always somewhat smaller and more a light read but it still had just under a 100 pages or so before they also shrank.  It merged with Teddy Bear and Friends in 2012 and then Teddy Bear and Friends just in the past year or so merged with the British publication Teddy Bear Times.  There is still a printed issue (but you can preview a virtual one here).  Other magazines like Teddy Today disappeared all together.  
(I did not follow the British or Australian magazines so I have no insight into their publications.)

I would like to add that I was honored to appear in various Teddy magazines numerous times:  my most treasured memory was seeing my Quin the Rat in Teddy Bear and Friends in 2003 (see the page to the left) and then being interviewed for a spotlight article in Teddy Bear Review in 2007! (see the three pages below)

Do you have a favorite Teddy, doll or miniature magazine that is still being produced?  If so, please leave a comment so we can take a look and support what remains of our printed community!

Mar 23, 2020

Cabin and Spring Fever!

So just when it was time to come out of hibernation:  COVID-19!  I'm so bummed, we were really looking forward to exploring our new area and all the wonderful Springtime events, like the maple syrup fests... now we're stuck in our house and getting a little stir-crazy.  The pups are keeping us on schedule, though, and long walks help our mood, as well as some of the wonderful things being shared online, like this: 
When I heard some folks were turning their Christmas decorations back on, though, that made me shiver.  Christmas?!  I want Spring, I want flowers, I want mud and birds and green!  So I decorated for Spring, here are our front windows:

Bunnies!  Tulips!  Sunshine!  If you'd like to do the same, there are hundreds of bunny templates online but you're welcome to use mine.  They are about 20 years old, so I don't recall which ones I hand-drew and which were found online...  for your personal pleasure please use them to spruce up your home with seasonal color and fun!  Just print them on a full sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper and use them as templates on cardstock or whatever paper you have in your home.  

Enjoy!  Shine on!  Stay well, both physically and mentally!