Pioneer Days



Last year I made my grandson Kevin a Redcoat costume to attend the Re-enactment of the War of 1812 and whilst the kids were helping me,  Morgan wondered if I would make her a pioneer outfit for a field trip her class was taking the following May. Naturally I said yes, especially with ten months notice!  We even bought her one of those funny caps at one of the craft vendors at the Re-enactment.

I’ve been gathering materials and accessories  since then , and last week finally decided to get on with it.

First off, round up all the supplies gathered in the last nine months, have a mini-fit when you can’t find the $10 cap bought last August, then calm down when Morgan finds it buried in her toy-box.springtime activities 018.JPG

I had done quite a bit of research on the internets looking at period costumes, so I had a pretty good idea what I wanted the final get-up to look like. I drew a very rough sketch to show Morgan, mainly to give her a bit of confidence in my ability to produce this costume (misplaced confidence by the way, because I really didn’t think I would be able to pull it off). Three year-olds would be happy running around the house wearing a cardboard box if you told them it was a pioneer costume, but a nine-year old knows better.springtime activities 019

Using Morgan as the model (obviously) I fiddled-faddled around, draping yards of material this way and that until I was ready to start cutting. This is always the scary part since I never use patterns. I must say that she was pretty patient, getting up on the chair for fittings, lifting her arms, turning around and around for me. Although at one point she did ask if I even knew how to operate the sewing machine thingy!springtime activities 015

Getting that cap to stay on proved a little bit difficult, I think I will have to hot glue a hair-comb inside of it to secure it in her hair. Did you think I was going to say I was going to hot glue it to her head??

I used an old dress for the bodice because it had the perfect collar, but it was four sizes too small, so I just cut the sleeves off and opened up the seams. We found a nice sheer blouse with three-quarter sleeves at the back of my closet that she can wear. I was going to cut the sleeves off the blouse and sew them onto the costume, but decided instead to take the easy way out and just let her wear the blouse under the dress.

Next I sewed the skirt to the bodice and attached Velcro to the back seams.springtime activities 016

Now it all it needed was a pinafore, so I cut out a one-piece out,  straps and ties included.

Now all we need is appropriate footwear.

19th Century pioneer girl meets 21st Century digital-savvy girl!springtime activities 022springtime activities 002




Two-tier plant table

Getting ready for the opening of the farmers market at the  Fort Erie Racetrack in June has been an extremely busy time for us. It was unseasonably cold for the whole month of April. so I had to start everything indoors. I took over the dining room, which had easy access to the deck. Every morning I hauled 15 trays of succulents and about twenty potted arrangements outside, to get some sun, and then brought them back in again every evening.

When the temperatures picked up (the first week of May!), we took everything down to the garden, but it was still too cold at night so they all went into  the two cold-frames in the vegetable garden.springtime activities 106

We also have about one hundred perennials potted up, so keeping all this lot watered was becoming a back-breaking  chore. When the rain barrel ran dry and I had to hike it round to the other side of the house to fetch water from the other barrel my back started to complain. I was going to have to use tap water to save my back. Or was I?

We have two big piles of skids waiting to be turned into rustic wood signs, so I thought we might as well use those to make some tables. When I say we, I really mean Pat. I’m just the designer. One of these days I will get him to show me how to use all the equipment, you know, when we get five minutes to ourselves for some woodworking lessons.

Adding that top part was pure genius on his part as far as I’m concerned. He cranked three of these out in about three hours. Next up, move all the plants and that’s my job.

From the cold-frames to the tables. Watering is going to be so much easier now. Especially since it rained all night and the rain-barrels are  full. Everything is coming up roses!










Trash to Treasure

My better half is always bringing stuff home that he found at the side of the road. I don’t know about other women, but I enjoy a good challenge. Ninety percent of the time I can turn this roadside trash into treasure.

Just recently the Parks and Rec crew from the Town Hall were across the street at the empty lot cutting down trees.  I was home at the time and didn’t even notice. Pat, on the other hand spied the mess when he came home from work and went over for a look-see. he came home with this specimen and wondered what I could do with it.

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Obviously it was screaming out to become the latest planter in my garden.

First off it needed a base, so Pat got to work.

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Now it is my turn. Fill with loamy soil (I put in some miniature daffodil bulbs first), grab a few plants from the garden, squeeze in as many as you can and voila, latest addition to the patio.

Get the old man to carry it to the bottom of the garden because it weighs a ton.

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Fiddle about for twenty minutes deciding where to put it.

As this stump decomposes it should provide the plants (all perennials) with nutrients for quite a few years.


Blue grass, black-eyed susan, sedum, forget-me-nots and I have no idea what that spotted leaf one is called. I inherited it from my mother and she didn’t know either!

Family Support


What started out as “just something for me to do” after I retired last year has morphed into something quite different. How does one go from propogating plants, turning them into planter creations to be sold at the local Fort Erie Racetrack Farmers Market to using reclaimed wooden skids to make rustic wood signs?

Well, lets see. Towards the end of the market season in late October I added fall planters to my collection of succulent planters. This led to crafting an upside-down tomato cage into a rustic front porch decoration. Which, in turn led to making Christmas Trees out of cages using grapevine and decomesh. Which led to making wreaths.

Someone spotted all this new product on the last day of the season and invited me to exhibit at a Craft Show in Welland. I was hesitant at first, because I didn’t really want to drive out of town in the middle of winter. We have to use a trailer as well as the back of the vehicle to cart all this stuff back and forth and who knows what the weather will be like on any given day in this part of the world.

My husband Pat talked me into it, so I threw myself into making as much product as possible. This was a big two-day show with about a hundred vendors and I’d heard it had a great turnout. We ended up having a very successful weekend, so naturally I figured why not do some more shows?

I stayed local with the next two shows, which were small but my “trees” were selling like hotcakes!  I had stopped making succulent planters because i was running out of succulents. The few that I had left at the end of October I brought into the house. At this point, some 4 months later they are a sorry looking lot I can tell you. But at least they’re not dead.

We had been making long planter boxes out of skids all along, but I thought they were too big and clunky. Pat disagreed, you know how guys always think bigger is better. Takes a good woman to convince them that is not always the case! (yes that is some tongue-in-cheek humour, I think I’ve got away with it). Anyways, I got him to make me some scaled down ones using a different design and I made outdoor Christmas planters. Taking this one step further, I started painting the boxes, then after a visit to Michaels Craft Store, I spotted some stencils, bought some decent brushes and started decorating the boxes.026

Nearly there, bear with me. My daughter-in-law Katie saw that I was quite gung-ho about the painting and asked if I could make her a sign for her laundry room!

And there you have it, one thing led to another and now I’m producing about 5 signs a day with a lot of support from my family, including my new facebook page at

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100_2486Jen: Founder and head  creative person



Pat: Director of Acquisitions, in other words scouring the Town for pallets and turning them into sign boards.




Rich:  Head of IT Infrastructure


katie 1376661_10151069752173367_247659060_n1a (139x136)Katie, Bryan and Becky: Marcomms Team

IMG_20150523_163422This guy: Department Head/Communications


Who says that the “cottage industry” is dead?



Craft Room

There comes a time when you realize that you have outgrown your first workspace. Mine was in the garage, limiting me to working out there for 8-9 months of the year.


When the winter set in, i decided to move the operation into the house. We have a fairly large family room in the basement, so i took over one half of that. As long as Pat can watch his soccer games on the giant-ass, big-screen TV he doesn’t care that he is surrounded by absolute chaos. I worked down there until last week, when I decided that I couldn’t take the clutter anymore or indeed the sports commentary,  and decided to move everything up into the spare room. A room that I can close the door on.

I started by pushing the twin bed over to one wall, put a table on the other side of the room, repurposed some shelving I scavenged from other areas in the house and took the chair out of another bedroom. Ideally I would be sitting on  an office chair so  I can roll from one space to another and it will be  more comfortable. That chair is as uncomfortable as it looks.


This worked for about a week. As you can see this is a fairly small room, measuring about 9×11 feet. So, since I had already made a start, I decided to go the whole hog and remove all traces of “bedroom”. First things first, get rid of the bedroom furniture. Fortunately my daughter-in-law Katie, was quite happy to take the twin-size bed off my hands for my grandson Kevin’s bedroom. Then I scavenged some more in the shed, the garage and under the stairs. It’s below freezing right now, so I pretty much froze my butt off, not to mention there was 6 inches of snow on the ground and I was carrying all this stuff by myself in very slippy conditions. I had visions of Pat coming home from work and finding me on the ground, frozen, but still clutching my treasure!


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I started by clearing out the closet. Those cubbies will be full of mesh when I bring in the rest of it from the garage.

Once the bed was out of the room I could bring in all the extra shelves and another table.

blog 003This is everything that needs sealing right now. I made a “light-box” that I use for taking better pictures and it’s quite bulky, but it fits great under that table.


blog 010I also made the top shelving piece into a drying rack by angling the shelves. I’ll be on the look-out for a few more shelves to fit in there.

It took a few days to finally get it just the way I like it, and it will probably take another month before I have everything in it’s proper place but I think it was worth it.

2015 Year review

100_3543I haven’t posted very much in the last two months, what with  the market, craft shows, and Christmas preparations.  I had every intention of blogging about all the Christmas shenanigans, took loads of pictures, and then, never actually seemed to have time to sit down and write. On top of everything else I got sick on Christmas day and that laid me up for six days.

Anyways, I’m on the mend now and thought I would review the amazing year I’ve just had. Things started happening around the beginning of June when I decided that I would finally retire after working at the same company for thirty years.  Six weeks later all the paper work was finalized and I spent my last day at work on July 18th.  My co-workers threw me a party and presented me with a gift basket full of gardening goodies, since they know that gardening is my passion.


On July 21st I set up my very first exhibit at the Fort Erie Racetrack Farmers Market. I decided to go with my strengths and sell plants. Mostly succulent planters and some perennials.


I was amassing quite the collection of succulents through propagation and needed a good sturdy work bench, so my husband Pat built me a great potting table.

Woebegone. Did I really just write that?

In early August we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.  I know its a cliché, but I seriously don’t know where the time went. Good times.


I spent a busy week with two of my grandchildren during the summer holidays. They always know I will have lots of crafts for them to do and they get stuck right in.


Morgan with some of her artwork, that she is about to apply to that painting on the wall behind her

Kevin with his lego creation

Kevin with his lego creation

Fort Erie celebrates the War of 1812 every year with a re-enactment taking place on the grounds of the Old Fort. We always take Kevin to it because he loves to see all the soldiers. This year I made him a Red Coat costume, and we spent the day wandering around all the displays.

He’s definitely on the side of the British!!

In late September we took some time and flew out to the west coast to spend some time with my daughter, Becky. Thoroughly enjoyed two sunny weeks in the  San Francisco area.

Becky and Betty

Shortly after our return, I had a mishap with a piece of glitter and spent 14 hours in three different hospitals, but these three girls took good care of me.

Florence Nightingales

Florence Nightingales

The Market, ran right  thru to Thanksgiving Sunday.Since it was so close to Halloween, a couple of us dressed up and had quite a good time.


I’m the one in the black and red cape

One of the girls invited me to be an exhibitor at an upcoming craft show, so I thought why not. Good opportunity to sell my left-over stock. I had also been selling wreaths and Christmas trees the last few weeks of the market, so I went in to over-drive  and produced enough stock for a two-day show.

I did so well, I exhibited at another two shows leading up to Christmas. Because I had pretty much sold out at the first show, I had to fire up the production line again. Luckily for me the weather was unseasonably warm and I was able to make quite a lot of bespoke products outside.

Halloween was just around the corner as well, so Morgan and Kevin came over to help me decorate.


they did a fine job

Before you know it, December 1st rolls around and its time to decorate and get ready for Christmas.  I always go all out and this year was no different. Well, except for the fact that I decided I needed one of the “flocked” Christmas trees. Two weeks before Christmas they came on sale, so I treated myself. Best tree I’ve ever had.


All in all, a great year. See you in 2016





Christmas Displays around the house


I love Christmas and I love decorating, so, the last week of November I haul out all the storage totes from under the stairs, pile them up in the family room and try to organize what goes where. At the end of the season I try to pack away according to displays in different areas of the house, thinking it will make things easier next year. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.


Greens, tulle, glass jars, deer and ornaments all nestled in a tote

This year I started a bit earlier because I’ve been an exhibitor at a few Christmas Craft shows and I decided to re-purpose some of the stuff that I haven’t been using. Turns out, I’m guilty of being a Christmas decoration hoarder, even I couldn’t believe the amount of decorations that filled the family room. There was no room to move, it looks like someone has dropped a bomb in there.  I should have signed up for ten craft shows.

By the time I had thinned out the supplies I still had fifteen totes left. After much humming and hawing I decided to put out the display I usually put on the dining room table, that way I will stop using the dining room as a crafting area.

The base for this display is a restaurant-sized pizza tray (garage sale find).  We also use it to serve pizza!


Glass jar with tulle for snow

I actually bought these two blue trees from the dollar store this year, even though I really didn’t need them.  If you’re on a budget and don’t like to pay the prices at Michaels Craft Supply Store, the Dollarama has some good finds.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the crafting  supplies at Michaels. I just can’t justify their prices, unless of course, you have a 25% coupon off already reduced at 70% merchandise.  Anyways, I stuffed some tulle into the glass jar and nestled one of the newly acquired trees in there.

Next, I joined three branches of greens into a circle, fluffed them out and laid on the tray, adding the other tree and some battery operated lights (also from the Dollar store).

100_3551_Fotor_Fotor_Collage As usual, even though I pack the deer into boxes, the antlers always get broken.  Try and use porcelain glue to repair, not the glue gun, otherwise  you won’t get a good join .

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Add deer, ornaments and more trees

After you’ve repaired your broken ornaments (I cant bear to throw things away), start arranging them on a tray. Guess what other trees came from the dollar store?  I just keep adding things until the display looks ‘just right’, or, until I absolutely, positively can’t fit anything else on the dish

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And that’s it, a Christmas ‘tablescape’.  #tinyflashesofdelight indeed.