Tuesday, 18 September 2018

A New Lithop


Today I was walking by Dynasty In front of the store they always have a tray full of cactus and succulents. Today they also had some lithops. A different colour of lithop than I already have. So yes, I came home with one.

Lithops (commonly called „flowering stones“ or „living stones“) are true mimicry plants: their shape, size and color causes them to resemble small stones in their natural surroundings. The plants blend in among the stones as a means of protection. Grazing animals which would otherwise eat them during periods of drought to obtain moisture usually overlook them. Even experts in the field sometimes have difficulty locating plants for study because of this unusual deceptive camouflage.


This one will be joining the two which I already have. These ones have brown tops. They split into new growth earlier this summer. The lithops I have always seen before had only two sections. The one on the left has four.


Here it is in it's new home until I can find a better pot to plant it in.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Making a 5 Strand Braided Wrist Band


Today I became brave and decided to do a 5 strand braided wrist band.  I didn't start out to do a 5 strand braid but as I didn't have a ribbon crimp (to clamp the ends) small enough to do a 3 strand braid for the width of suede I had bought.


I started by putting the 5 strands of suede together and crimping them. This is tricky. I found it doesn't work well to lay them on a surface and slide in the ribbon crimp. It's better to hold them together in your fingers, set the crimp over them and then crimp.


Here is the braiding diagram I used.


In the picture below you can see that the farther along I went, the better I got. The braid is loose at the top and much tighter below. As I had the rhythm, I undid it all and started again.

I found after going through the steps above, the last step leaves 3 strands on the left and 2 on the right. Now you can begin the rhythm. The side with 3 strands, take the outside strand, put it over the next and then under the one after. Now the 3 strands are on the other side. Do the same:

3 side, over under
3 side, over under


I tightened the braid after each over, under movement. Much better.  


I made the wrist band longer than it needed to be and crimped the end. Then I measured the length it needed to be after affixing the clasp.


I tried different ways to clasp it, so it would be easy to put on and take off. The larger lobster clasp I had worked the best.


And here it is!


As it was my first time doing this, it took awhile. Now that I've done it once, it'll be easier the next time. I just have to remember, outside over under, outside over under ...

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Homemade Bumbleberry Pie


Recently we had a bumbleberry pie from Mabel's Bakery on Queen Street W. It was delicious so I decided to make one myself. I found a recipe for one on the Broma Bakery website. As I wanted to make it as low calorie as possible, I used Stevia instead of sugar. Also, I didn't want a huge mess, neither did Teena, so I used frozen pie crusts instead of making my own.

Bumbleberry pie originated on the east coast of Canada. Some recipes use apples and/or rhubarb, although this one does not.

Here are the ingredients:


1 package of frozen deep dish pie crust (two to a pack)
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, thawed (you can use fresh but frozen is cheaper!)
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
4 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup fresh blackberries (I had to use frozen as no fresh ones could be had)
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/3 cup of Stevia)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Let's get cooking!

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Defrost both pie crusts.

Defrost all the berries in the same bowl. I added the fresh blueberries to the mix, hoping for all the flavours to blend.


When they have thawed, mix in the sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt. After adding each ingredient (I added them in the order listed), stir them in thoroughly before adding the next.


Scoop in fruit mixture with a slotted spoon, but not the juices as it will make the pie soggy.


Place the second pie crust over the first and cut holes or slots in it. I put an egg wash on it to help it brown.


Bake for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and let it cool for at least 45 minutes to allow the juices an mixture to thicken.


Time to enjoy!


The pie turned out a little more runny than I wanted but the crust was not soggy, which is a good thing. Next time I will try to drain the juice better before putting the mixture into the pie shell.

This bumbleberry pie exploded with flavour. It seems to be a little tart but at the same time sweet. No one berry comes through. When I made it, I was afraid the blueberries might take over but that's not the case. Instead the berries come together in one unique flavour ... bumbleberry?

Bumbleberry pie is definitely worth making and Teena said I can make it again anytime.

Hmm. I wonder what bumbleberry tarts would be like?

Friday, 31 August 2018

Book Review - Luminous Ink: Writers on Writing in Canada


I finished reading Luminous Ink today.

Twenty-six writers in Canada were asked to contribute pieces of original work describing how they see writing today. From Atwood’s opening, through writing from Indigenous writers, the reader is given a sense of how twenty-six of the country’s finest writers see their world today. With an introduction by the editors, Dionne Brand, Rabindranath Maharaj, and Tessa McWatt.  

Contributors include: 
Margaret Atwood -         Michael Ondaatje -         Madeleine Thien, 
M G Vassanji -                Lawrence Hill -              Pascale Quiviger 
Nino Ricci -                    Sheila Fischman -           Heather O’Neill 
Camilla Gibb -                Eden Robinson -             Lee Maracle 
Rawi Hage  -                   Michael Helm -              Lisa Moore 
Rita Wong -                     Hiromi Goto -                George Elliott Clarke 
Nicole Brossard -            Judith Thompson -         David Chariandy 
Richard Van Camp -       Marie-Hélène Poitras -   Stephen Henighan 
Greg Hollingshead -       Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

I found Luminous Ink to be an eclectic, enjoyable, exceptional read. Some writers are white and born in Canada. Some are black and born in Canada. Some immigrated to Canada while others are expatriates.

Each writes from their own angle. Some talk about their current lives. Some tell us a story which comes from their past. Some explain on how they came to write. And some give their views on issues of great importance to them.

Some are humorous, some angry, some profound, some make your think but all of them are worthwhile to read.

The points of view are all varied and it's so wonderful to have such a diverse collection captured under one cover. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Making a Braided Leather Cord Wrist Band


Sunday I made a 3 braid leather strap wrist band. I knew it wouldn't be my last project and perhaps I may have found a new hobby. Today I headed back to Michael's to by some more material and another tool.

My newest project is a fairly easy one. I made a corded wrist band for my Medic Alert ID. I figured that if it didn't work out that I would at least have a cool wrist band to wear.

Here is what I needed. On top is my newest tool, split ring pliers, to cut through those small connector rings called jump rings and help separate split rings, flat needle nose pliers, magnet clasps, (In the picture below they are closed on top row left and separated to the right), crimp closure with an eye, split rings and jump rings and the leather cord.


I tightly crimped the closure onto one end of the cord. I put a jump ring on the eye with one end of the magnet clasp.

Then I measured the length the rings and magnet took and doubled it, as I would need to do that on the other end. I subtracted that from the length of cord I needed to wrap entirely around my wrist. I cut that length of cord and set up that end.

At this point, if you weren't adding anything to it, you are done. The magnets are extremely strong, so there's no worry about them coming apart on their own.

If you are adding something like I did, there are another couple of steps. First of all, don't do anything yet to the open end.


This part I found tricky. The double wound split ring needs to be wound through the hole in whatever you are attaching. For me, it was my Medic Alert ID. There was some swearing as I performed this task.

After putting one on each side, I threaded the cord through it and attached the magnet assembly to the other end, same as the first.

There! Done! Yes, I know I took a picture of it upside down.


The magnets have a very strong connection. They are a bit of a pain to work with as they attach themselves to loose rings, connectors, or the tools you are trying to work with.


I think it looks good. Now ... what to make next?

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Making a 3 Braid Leather Strap Wrist Band


Since my operation, I now have to wear a Medic Alert Bracelet but decided I really didn't like the chain it came with. When I suggested to Teena that I was going to order one with a leather strap, she suggested I make my own. Great idea!

We went to Michael's where she showed my different ways I could create one of my choosing ... or maybe a small collection.

I decided to start with a braided wrist band with three braids.  I must admit that since we first met I have promised to learn how to braid her hair. After more than 16 years, this is my first attempt at braiding.

This is what I purchased for my first project: flat leather cording, lobster clasps, jump rings and ribbon clamps.


As I plan to make a few, I bought a small tool kit.


The first thing to do is measure the length that you need to comfortably fit your wrist, including the rings and clasps. For me, this also included the alert medallion. Make sure you cut the leather a little longer as you will lose length from the braiding.

Place the three straps evenly side by side and attach a ribbon clamp.


Tape this end or put a heavy weight on it to be ready to braid. Here is the braiding diagram.


Take the strap on the left and place it over the two straps to the right.


Then take the right side and place it over the two straps on the left.


Tuck the strap you just moved under the left strap.


Take the left strap and put it over the middle strap and under the right side.


I found as I went this was the procedure to remember. left strap, over middle, under right. The strap that is now on the outside right, move over the middle and under the left. Then repeat, over the middle, under outside. Back and forth.

Finally, you end up with this.


Attach the jump rings and lobster clasps where you would like them. I attached them to the medallion so I can switch it between straps. Clamp the straps together.


Now it's ready to wear.


Okay. It's not a thing of beauty but looks pretty good for a first attempt.


I ended up making two as I thought the first one was too small. When I made the second (top picture ... notice it's made much better!), I made sure I used longer straps and cut them to size after the braiding.

It turns out after I attached the rings and clasps, the first one fit best. Ha!

Looks like I have a new hobby. I'm looking forward to making my next one.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Building a Royal Outhouse in Alberta


I was flipping through a book, The Great Canadian Bucket List, and in the section on Alberta was a sidebar, The Royal Throne, which I found humorous. It told the story of the preparations for the 2011 honeymoon of Prince William and the now titled, Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge, who we all refer to as Kate, at Skoki Lodge in the Rockies.

The lodge is located in Banff National Park on an eleven kilometre trail from lake Louise. In fact, hiking the trail is usually the only way to reach the cabin. The lodge has no indoor plumbing, phone reception or electricity. Guests had to hike to an outdoor outhouse to conduct their business.

All of that, of course, had to change for the royal couple. The cabin was completely outfitted for the couples one night stay away from the paparazzi.


And that included building a royal bathroom. According to the British news outlet, Daily Mail,

"The log cabin, built in 1931, has no indoor plumbing. Guests have to use an outhouse bracing bears and clouds of even more fearsome mosquitoes. By the time the Duke and Duchess arrived by helicopter on Wednesday, however, a fully fitted bathroom had been installed, flown up by helicopter. 

The highlight was a 'tacky' $3,000 bath with painted bronze claw feet, a red, glass-frosted shower door, a glass sink described as 'dark and mottled, almost granite like' and a cast iron fireplace.

One fellow guest, Dennis Garnhum, told the Calgary Herald that he discovered a group of six builders working frantically on the bathroom just before the couple arrived.

'We're like, they're building a bathroom in a back county lodge?' He said. 'But the thing that made it super weird was when they six, seven people working were done they popped a bottle of champagne. They were all standing around taking pictures."

A new gas heater was also installed. Oh, and forget the hike from Lake Louise. The couple were flown in by helicopter.

Their stay was less than twenty-four hours and as soon as they flew off, the bathroom was quickly demolished, the tub and toilet destroyed and the area put back to it's original condition.

Now that I'm older, I'm very much the same as them. I need an indoor bathroom when I travel, especially for those midnight trips.