Friday, September 28, 2012

The Week End

Pool progress in 1 week.

I rather like how the jade plant and her eyes match

A Lindt chocolate shop opened up near my house....what better way to decorate than with chocolate!

I like planting Echinacea as first they feed the butterflies, then the birds as they go to seed.


Time to put away the lanterns.

The sun lit up my Banana Palm..heading inside for the Winter shortly.

It's finally the end of the week. Happily Frenchie is feeling better and has forgiven me for his day at the vet and operation.

I have always dreamed of having a pool. I am so excited to see it finished and spend time with my family in Florida enjoying the pool and garden. I see many happy days there with the kids and new Grandbaby.
We have a web cam overlooking the yard and can snap pictures of the construction. From leveling the yard to the hole dug and rebar in one week is crazy fast.  Fill date is expected around November 13th.

Today is Boy Child and DIL's first anniversary. Hard to believe that one year ago we were all in the Bahamas on the beach.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The French Patient

Our boy is quietly recovering from his surgery yesterday. It was a hard decision to make regarding this large mass on his left cheek. Surgery would be traumatic for this 12 year old boy who had already been through a lot this past 2 months. My goal upon adopting this old fella 6 weeks ago, was to make his twilight years comfortable and happy. He won't agree that surgery was the best thing for him, but the vet feels in the long run it was better to take care of it now rather than later. After a day at the vets, he refused to acknowledge me when I picked him up, casting disgusted looks my way, and spent the evening soulfully whimpering while resting in the living room. His regular bed didn't give him enough sprawling space, so he now has another pillow and several soft blankets strewn about to comfort him. In addition to his pain meds, he has had lots of snuggles and treats.

Frenchie will be accepting visitors during regular visiting hours tomorrow. Pass on the flowers, just bring the biscuits.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Working for a Rectal Surgeon

Two teenage boys are at an arena waiting for their hockey game to start. Their mothers are chatting and the boys discover that their moms work next door to each other in a medical building. One mum works for a Urologist specializing in impotence. The other (me) works for a rectal surgeon. The coach overhears the boys.

Boy 1. "Hey your mum knows my Mum"
Boy 2. "yeah, my mum works for the A$$ Doctor"
Boy 1. "my mum works for the D$(K doctor"

After starting with that little conversation, I added these flower pictures to soothe you. I've had so  many different types of jobs, you would wonder how the heck I ended up being a decorator. I've worked in ice cream shops, pancake houses, horse breeding farms, children's clothing shops, the Red Cross, designer furnishings, hospitals, and the head office of a major bank to name a few. For about 10 years, I ventured into the world of medicine as a secretary and medical office of the doctors I worked for was actually busted for billing fraud and I had to testify...but that's a story for another day.

The one job I had that I get more questions about is my job as the secretary to a very well known Rectal Surgeon. Rectal surgery is about 90% psychology, 10% medicine. It is fraught with stress and worry and of course embarrassment. People always want to know the nitty gritty...those Internet type stories of "weird stuff", but in reality it was all rather tame. We were a very professional lot and did everything we could to make the appointments pleasant (tea and cookies) and the patients as  as comfortable they could be with their pants down. The important thing here, that I cannot express strongly enough is NOT TO BE TOO EMBARRASSED TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. Colon and rectal cancers can be prevented and cured...

For those of you who have never had the pleasure, I can tell you that the experience is far better in person that what was in your head before you went. When you are first seen, the nurse or secretary will escort you into an examining room and take a brief history in the way of a form, followed by a brief chat with the doctor, and then the dreaded exam. For those of you who visualize yourself butt naked, shivering with cold and embarrassment, it's simply NOT that way. You will be asked to lean over the end of the exam table with your pants on. A paper sheet will be placed over your bottom half, and then you slip down your trousers to your ankles while remaining fully covered. A small slit is made in the paper to allow for the exam and the kind staff will chit chat your nerves away. Once done, you will be left to dress yourself and then chat again with the doctor in his office. 

In my few years there, I found there are 2 kinds of patients...those that don't dare talk about their bum, totally mortified to mention any of the "rectal" lingo, and those that JUST DON'T MIND AT ALL. As a front line person, I have been regaled with bum stories that the teller has NO qualms about revealing at detail and at great length.

Over the years, I was often asked to assist the nurse in a procedure, passing instruments, holding hands and yes, sometimes holding the "CHEEKS".

It never, ever struck me as odd. Medical staff see this all day and we really NEVER poke any fun, laugh at, or criticize a patient. The doctor I worked for was so professional and passionate about preventing colon and rectal cancers and his primary job and that of his staff was to educate.

If you were to ask the oddest thing I ever saw, it was a grown man who wanted his mother in the examining room with him...the Doctor wouldn't allow it given he always had a nurse present.

So PLEASE...don't be afraid to make an appointment to bet yourself checked out....early detection in colon and rectal cancer can save your life.

Loofah (Bath Pouff) costume How to.

I am getting loads of emails about how to make this bath puff/loofah costume that my daughter wore last Hallowe'en. This is a no sew project that anyone can make. It is made in 2 pieces and can easily be removed to use the toilet if needed. You will need a tank and shorts or body suit in nude or similar color to your netting. Younger children could wear leggings and a gymnastic leotard. 

My 6 easy steps are written below along with a mock up for photos.

There are a number of ways you can make this. Essentially you need to make smaller pouffs of netting (make them with netting as you would make a pompom) and attach them to yourself. You can tie them onto a couple of pieces of elastic that goes around your waist and middle, or attach them onto a body suit. The gist is, make small pouffy bundles and attach them to yourself, kind of like how you would make a pompom. My directions are below but you can find out how bath puff #2 made hers HERE

You need 20 -25 yards of netting from Fabricland, JoAnns, Hobby Lobby or other fabric shop. Apparently Michaels does not have NETTING Please do not buy Tulle.... You need NETTING. It comes on a bolt I think is 36`tall and already folded into half.  DO NOT UNFOLD IT. It is too much to manage that way. You will also need enough elastic to make a loop around your waist and another just below your bust line. As well you need 1/4 " elastic. 8 - 10 pieces about 8" long each piece or ribbon to cinch the middle of the puff (pom pom) and tie it onto the waist band. You can add a nice corded rope to the finished pouff and a bar of soap.  Below are my instructions, with photos of a mini version I made to show you how to do this. Essentially you are making 2 waist bands to go around your middle and then attaching little pouffs (pom poms)of fabric to these waist bands all the ways around to create layers of pouffs. You can experiment to find the right length to fold them. If it hangs too low, untie the pouff and refold it into more layers to make it shorter. Different bodies will need different lengths and numbers of pouffs.

You will end up with 2 little "skirts of fabric. You put the elastic around your waist as you would a skirt. One layer will sit on top of the other. The girls in the photo are petite. If you are bigger you can make your pouffs a little longer or add a few more. You can wear leggings, shorts, bodysuit or whatever is comfy underneath.

I made a mini example with some netting. See below.
Cut 1 piece elastic to fit you waist. Cut another one to fit under your bust. Tie in a knot.

1. First take 20 yards of your netting (some of you may need 25 yards so you will have more sections )and cut it into 90" lengths. Make sure you are leaving your netting doubled 72" folded over to be 36"H (it comes that way) 

You will have eight (or more if you wish)  90" W x 36" H double thick sections.

2. Fold each of your 90" pieces into  half, and then half again so it is 4 double layers thick. and will measure about 22.5" W (or fold it into 5th's if you find your pouffs are too long) Once you fold it it will be 22.5" wide and 4 double layers thick. but you can may need to fold it smaller so it ends up 20" W. so the pouffs are shorter. You can make some shorter, some longer. Up to you.

3. Take one of your 1/4 elastic pieces (you can use ribbon if you prefer) and tie the netting in the middle. You will have a 11.25" above the knot and 11.25" below. (IF YOU FIND IT HANGS TOO LOW REFOLD IT INTO 5THS AND MAKE EACH END 10") It will be like a bow tie or a pom pom. Same idea. If you find it too floppy make it 10" each end (20" total width tied in middle)

4. Tie 5 bundles to the waist elastic. Tie 3 bundles to the bust elastic. If you find this is not puffy enough or you need more coverage you can simply tie on some extra pouffs. IF IT HANGS TO LOW, UNDO THE POUFFS AND MAKE EACH ONE SHORTER BY FOLDING INTO 5THS NOT 4ths.

5. You can cut some of the folded edges to make it pouffier if you like.

6. Pouff your self up. Wear at least two layers of pouffs. You can add another layer and more pouffs at any time to accomodate your figure.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Flowers in my MESSY House

I'm most definitely not the formal flower arrangement kind....rounded bouquets with evenly dispersed springs of baby's breath between a still arrangement is not my cup of tea. I much prefer a single type of bloom in a container rather than a vase and a loose, untidy arrangement that goes well with my loose, untidy house. 

Gladiolas remind me of the Mennonite ladies who set up little stands outside their rural Ontario farms farms in August and September, with bundles of glads tied up with twine and sitting in a plastic bucket of water with a little box to collect the money on the Honor System. These I found at the supermarket, although they are locally grown according to the sign. $3.99 a bunch. I bought 2, so quite a deal for $7.98.

Not having a tall enough vase, I opted for my poor man's tin champagne bucket, and posed them for their photo shoot. Once I looked at my shots, I realized how untidy my kitchen table was. A bag of cat food, a fabric sample for a client, a tin of dog biscuits and a host of other Bits that clearly needed putting away before I could safely photograph these beauties and enter them in Jane's Flowers in the House party today. For much tidier houses and arrangements pop on over to visit Jane over at Small But Charming.

Oh...I couldn't resist snapping one of Frenchie as he observed the shenanigans ........

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vintage Cow Sweater

My Handknit cow sweater...complete with pink udder

And a sassy pink tongue.

A Three year project.

The Gap version....available 2012 at the Gap
About 27 years ago, while preggars with Boy Child, I had a notion to knit him a sweater with a cow on it. Being a lover of black and white cows, I decided it had to be a good old fashioned milking cow. I found a pattern and after about 2 years (if I remember correctly), and many, many hours of frustration the Cow Knit was done. It was a very tricky knit...carrying the various colours behind the knit to make the cow. Once my children were grown, it went to a family member in New York, where the mom was literally stopped a few times in the street to see if she would sell it or knit one for them. She didn't hand it over, but it was lost in the shuffle of a divorce for a bit. Through a bit of good luck the sweater was returned to me. Just in time for the Raz Grand Baby to wear it.

Now you can just go to the Gap and buy one...I saw them there the other day. No need to buy one from a kid off the street or get your divorce lawyer involved.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


My lovely new (old )brass candlesticks.
I like the red of the Coke next to the blackboard wall.
Embellished elephant....pom poms, beads, mirrors and bells.
Nespresso coffee pods...I warn you it's addicting
Camel door knob adornment
Jars of seashells from past vacations..Cottonelle
Brass bells on beaded strings hanging from the doorknobs...I can't resist.

Totally missing Florida this week. We arrived home to cool weather (18 C) and some rain. I was most excited to be home to see the animals however, who were very well taken care of by my niece and neighbor. Frenchie has a large lump on his bum. It was there when I adopted him, but is troubling me a bit, so we are off to the vet today. He's terrified of both the vet and the car after he was manhandled a little after a small procedure at another vet. Today I am walking him to a new vet and have made a pre-visit to ask them not to force him up on the stainless table or on the weigh scales today. He had a big panic attack last time, so I want to ease him into this new vet and I am hoping he doesn't have to have any more procedures, poor bubbie. 

If any of you in the USA are looking for cheap airlines, check out Allegiant Air. They fly in and out of small airports around the country. We flew return to Florida from Niagara Falls, NY for $140.00 each, taxes and carry on luggage included. On time and quite comfortable.

I do like my Bits, and display my vacation shells in jars in the bathroom. I also have thing for the little bottles of Coke you can find in the US. It seems to taste better than from a can don't you think? If any of you are looking to buy a single serving coffee pod machine, I highly recommend the Nespresso....the coffee is just like espresso from a good cafe....I make sure I order it online so we don't run out in Florida. I made a fabulous purchase while down there at a second hand store. I bought these huge, heavy, brass candlesticks for $10.00 for the pair. They look like they are from India. They go well with my little Indian camels and elephants that I find in a local shop downtown. They are beautifully made and covered in trim and pompoms and mirrors and bells. I have several now and hang them on the door knobs along with beaded strings of brass bells, much to the Raz Man's chagrin.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


The house when we bought it. Wooden stockade fence, overgrown pathways.

2 months after purchase we opened up the "compound" by added a wrought iron fence.

Old pavers will form the new pathway from the gate to the street.

Clearly the eaves need cleaning...

I wasn't sure whether to jump for joy or weep yesterday after my jungle of a garden was removed to make way for the pool. I sure felt like we'd clear cut a forest and immediately missed the dense, overgrown Florida garden, but I was also excited to see how large and bright the yard actually is.

Our agent originally bypassed showing us this home because a pool was in our search criteria, and  there is no backyard at this house. When this house was built, the bottom level was the garage and the top an apartment. The "tower", as it is known, is the front right of house and contained the staircase to the apartment. The fireplace is upstairs, in what is now the master bedroom. Behind the house is a parking pad/courtyard that backs onto the alleyway for access.

I fell in love with the inside of this Monterey style house, and was convinced that the yard could be used in an unconventional manner to house a swimming pool in the South facing front yard. Local building codes were on my side and we got approval to do so. There were a few issues with the yard itself. First was the dark and overgrown jungle then the wonky, sunken patios made from antique brick and then there was the wooden stockade fence that made hid the house and made the yard dark and creepy. Sitting in the yard was like being in a compound with no view outside. 

The first thing we did was removed the front fence and replace it with a wrought iron one to let in the light and give us a view. This visually expanded our property. We have another 21 feet of yard between the fence and the sidewalk. In the next few weeks, the pool will be installed and the old brick will be used to create a meandering front path that is offset from the gate. This means we can establish privacy for the pool with creative plantings, as well as make use of our "front" garden on the street side of the fence. Our yard service removed all of the vegetation on one side replanting one foxtail palm on the front (front) yard and, then dug out 2 enormous, over 20 foot palms and replanted  these also on the left side. Once the pool is complete, we will plant a row of bamboo between us and the neighbor, as well as replant the front side of the fence. If my design plan works properly, we will still be able to somewhat see out to the street, and maximize sunshine, but from the street side, you won't be able to see the pool because of the plantings. I am hoping this will give the house more curb appeal and make it look much tidier.

The neighbors are already joking that they will be using the pool while we are gone. I cautioned them to hang their towels on over the security camera first.