Historic City of York

Two years ago we went back to England to enjoy the nuptials of Pat’s sister Mitzi, and whilst there we visited the City of York to soak up some ancient history. Actually, we always visit York when we go back because we love it so much.

York is a walled city at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence. this is a long view of york minster taken from the castle walls, give or take, a 2 mile hike.

This magnificent building took 250 years to build and was consecrated in 1472. It contains England’s greatest concentration of medieval stained glass, including the great east window which, measuring 186 square metres, is thought to be the largest area of stained glass in the world. (courtesy of  http://www.visityork.org/information/history-of-york.aspx)

Here’s an interior view

Enough of the history lesson, here are some photos we snapped on our 2 mile  trek  around the city walls.

We needed a good cuppa tea after that hike, so off we went to the Shambles in search of afternoon tea and some shopping.

These are some pictures I took  of the past and the present juxtaposed. The English don’t bat an eye when seeing these kind of things, but  I just find it extremely amusing and in the case of the Pizza Hut and the Starbucks outlets, just downright sacrilegious.IMG_20140529_094418IMG_20140529_092630IMG_20140529_074459IMG_20140529_074307

Here we are enjoying some post-ceremony drinkies at Mitzi’s wedding.







Ballet Recital Time

It’s that time of year again, when little girls and their mommies spend every waking minute at rehearsals.  It’s been a long, long time since this was my daughter and me, altering the costumes to fit snugly, getting the hair and makeup just right, going over all the routines again and again, and then one more time just for the heck of it. I  knew the steps so well I could’ve danced there up on stage with her. In fact, I did one year and  I have to tell you it was absolutely nerve-wracking. As soon as you get on that stage and the lights go on, your legs turn to jelly, you forget the routine and you don’t even know your own name!

My daughter, Becky danced with the Ballet Plus School of Dance and her instructor, otherwise known as “Miss Lorna” was a great teacher and a lovely person. I’m not sure, but I think she is still going strong. Anyways, Becky now has a little ballerina of her own. And, the circle of life goes on.


Betty is the blonde.

My other granddaughter, Morgan, also dances  and when she saw that I was painting ballerina signs she requested a purple one. Apparently, that is her favourite colour.


After posting a couple of pictures on the local buy and sell page and seeing there was a bit of demand, I decided to go whole hog and just do ballerinas for now.

Everything was going swimmingly, and then as usual my impatience took over and I managed to spill half a jar of white paint, over everything. I mean, everything. The sign I was working on, the table, the floor,  and I also managed to pour it all down my front. Brand new top absolutely ruined, not to mention I now have “white-washed” boobs. Sorry, no picture of that!!022

Anyways, good luck to all the little dancers everywhere, may you always find your “spot” on the stage.




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



Mother’s Day Tree



When we built this house 27 years, money was tight. Three kids, two cats and a dog all took precedence  over any available monies that were left over after paying all the bills. Needless to say the garden took a back seat and we lived with the builders mud pile he left us for two whole years. Wish I had a picture of that to share with you.

I managed to put a bit of money aside in those years, enough to get the front levelled (ten yards of soil needs a bulldozer that’s for sure) and I got a good deal on some sod. We have a hundred foot frontage so that ate up all the “garden fund”. I was happy just to come home to a green front instead of the giant mudpile we had been living with.

And then, on Mother’s Day that same year, my children bought me a magnolia tree!  it was about three feet tall and had six blooms. I was over the moon. I picked the spot, they dug the hole and in it went.

Every year for the next ten years I counted how many blooms it produced, because it was growing so slowly I wanted to make sure that it was actually growing. Then we moved away for the next ten years and I didn’t want to be one of those landlords that showed up every five minutes checking up. The only time we went over was the great ice-storm of 2006. My poor tree, which had grown quite significantly in my absence, was destroyed!

Pat wanted to chop it down (see previous posts about his tree-chopping abilities), but I wouldn’t let him. We pruned all the dead branches off and what we were left with was literally just the tree stump. I was devastated but hopeful, it wouldn’t be the first time I had brought a “dead” plant back to life.

Three years later we moved back and I’m happy to report that the magnolia has become a magnificent specimen and there are way too many blooms for me to count!

If you’re wondering why we call it the Mother’s Day Tree, you would be wrong if you thought it was because my children gave it to me on Mother’s Day. Last year I was telling this story to Morgan, my nine year old granddaughter when she asked me the name of the tree, the tree that she loves to climb by the way. When I was finished she said,  “Nana, you should call it the Mother’s Day Tree”.

There you have it, the harbinger of Spring in the Young household!










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 http://www.facebook.com/plantsandcrafts/

signs1 009


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?