Welcome to my blog

If you enjoy finding a lot of different outlets for your creativity, then we may just be kindred spirits.
This blog is an outlet for my interest in miniatures, crochet, plastic canvas, and many other various arts and crafts.

I also love walking, taking digital photos, and most recently, have rediscovered an old love...bike riding! I purchased an amazing new bike, a comfy Townie by Electra this summer, and have been having a grand time exploring the area as though for the first time. It's like being a kid again!

If you enjoy any of these things too, pour a cup of coffee and tea, sit down, and join me.

Take care!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Crocheted Blue Budgie Bird

Crocheted blue budgie bird

I crocheted a friend for my cockatiel, Noel.   It's a cute little (big) blue budgie.  Noel was very impressed with this stuffy, lol.

I wanted to add more photos, but blogger won't let me.  I've been having trouble with the photo uploader all day.  I hope they'll fix it soon.

I found the pattern on Ravelry; it's called Budgerigars.  It's a cute pattern that works up in 4 pieces; the head and body are one piece, the tail is one piece, and the wings are 1 piece each.  I used pipe cleaners for the feet.

The pattern as written would make a very big bird, as it's all double crochet.  For my bird, I followed the pattern but did single crochet every place that called for double crochet.

My birthday, mall power outages, Father's Day, and mars craters, lol.

 I turned 51 on the 19th of June.  I had a quiet birthday with my immediate family.  We went out for supper and then back home for cake and fruit. 
Me and Dad
Here's Dad and I posing with the cake. The huge red candle is a family tradition; it's been used in lieu of birthday candles for decades, lol.

Between my birthday and Father's day, we ate out a LOT, lol.

Dad on Father's Day

The day before my birthday, my friend Albert and I decided to go for dinner and a movie.  We went to JK Sakura for all you can eat Japanese, Thai, and Sushi.  I do not like sushi but the Japanese and Thai food was delicious.  My favorite was the shrimp tempura, scallops, mango chicken, and General Tao's chicken.  There were other things that were yummy too but I can't remember the names of the food, lol.

The movie was a bust, because as soon as we tried to buy our tickets, the power in the entire mall went out.  Within minutes all of the cage doors came slamming down so we had to boot it to the hallway, lol. 
Lights out, power outage at mall
The emergency lights came on, and the skylights provided plenty of sunshine.
Power outage in mall
Almost all of the shoppers went  to the food court to sit down and wait for the power to come back on, but some just sat in the halls, lol.  Albert and I waited for about 40 minutes before we left.  We ended up going to the movie on Sunday.  We saw Jurassic World in 3D.  It was great, but man, the people who run Jurassic Park just never learn, do they, lol?

Food court during power outage
So, Albert and I went out for Japanese and Thai on Thursday.  My parents took me to my favorite Italian Restaurant on Friday.  I took my parents out for Wings on Saturday.  On Sunday I made my dad breakfast (bacon, eggs, tomato, toast) and then they left to take my uncle to Sudbury.  I bought my Dad various presents, fishing lures, coffee for his Keurig Machine, fishing hats, etc., but I think this was his favorite gift:
Certificate of Mars Crater Named for my Dad
I named a crater on Mars in honor of my Dad.  As you can see, I named it "Eric the Great Schopp".  When my Dad saw the crater online, he asked why I chose such a small crater. I assured him it was much larger than it looks like on the map, lol.  He's a big space fan so he was tickled by the gift. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juice Extractor

I love my nutribullet so much that I decided to try juicing next.  The nutribullet is wonderful, but sometimes i want a juice rather than a smoothie. 

It was my birthday on the 19th, and my parents gave me money in lieu of a gift and told me to buy whatever I wanted.  I chose this juicer, by Hamilton Beach.

I researched before buying, and it had the best ratings out of the lower cost juicers...5 stars at best buy, and 4.2stars on Amazon.  Which is pretty good considering over 900 people rated it there.

I watched Joe Cross's documentary, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead on Netflix, and it really made me want to try a juice fast.  I don't think I could do a 60 day fast like Joe did, but I'd like to try the 3 or 5 day fast.  I bought a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies and some mason jars, and made 4 different juices tonight.

My new juicer

I tried carrot juice first, because I like carrot juice but don't like it in the nutribullet.  I also don't like it when it's too thick.  I was really impressed with my new juicer; that's three carrots worth of juice in the photo above; impressive, and  big improvement over the old juicer I had back in the 1980's.  6 carrots made a big glass of juice, and it was delicious!  So sweet and good!

For my next juice, I tried some cantaloup and pineapple that I had already cut up in the fridge; left over from my birthday dinner.  Oh, my gosh; it was so yummy!  That little bit of fruit made half a mason jar full of juice, and it was so good I drank it right down.

My camera died, but I also experimented with Joe Cross's Mean Green Recipe, which I halved because I didn't want two servings. It's basically cucumber, celery, kale, lemon (I used lime), and ginger.  It was very good right out of the juicer, but I read that it tastes better cold so I put it in the fridge or an hour and I liked it a lot better right out of the juicer.  It tastes much stronger to me now.

I tried a beet based juice from a recipe I found on Joe's website. It's called Anti Aging Beet Grape Juice, and it's got a nice sweet, beet-y flavor.  I like it, or I did fresh out of the juicer.  It's in the fridge cooling and I"m hoping the taste didn't change too much.

I made another jar of juice similar to the Mean Green, but minus the ginger, with the addition of a tomato, fresh basil, and a carrot.  It tastes a lot nicer than the mean green.

I couldn't take any more photos because my camera battery lost the charge, but if you imagine a row of mason jars holding orange, green, and a pinky-purple juice lining my fridge shelf, you'll have an idea of what I ended up with.

I think it's a great way to get nutrients I wouldn't usually eat into my system.
So far though, I'm not convinced that leafy greens belong in smoothies or juices.  I much prefer them in salads :-).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Baked Rapa (rapini)

Garden full of rapa greens
I have been dying to try baked Kale chips, but I forgot to buy Kale today!  My truck won't start and my neighbor was nice enough to take me shopping, and I forgot.  I have no way to get back to the store for Kale, however, I do have a garden full of what we call Rapa, and what I think other people call Rapini.  I ran out and picked some.

Rapa Greens
Washed it.  Dryed it.  Put it on a pizza pan, spritzed it with olive oil spray, and put it in the oven at 200 for 10 minutes.

Baked Rapa
There it is in the oven, crispy and ready.
Baked Rapa
Here it is in the bowl. I sprinkled it with a bit of salt, bit into one...and the verdict:

Yummy but insubstantial.  It's like biting into a fall leaf; a paper thin dry leaf; the kind that crumbles into pieces when you touch it.  Now, I've never actually bitten into a fall leaf, so I'm guessing here,lol.  The taste was surprisingly good, but there was hardly any chew factor.  I picked big leaves but I should have picked smaller ones because fitting the entire rapa leaf into my mouth would have been easier and neater, lol. 

I did enjoy them; they were yummy and a healthy substitute for chips, but I wanted something more substantial, more there.  I haven't yet tried Kale chips so for all I know they're like bites of nothing too.  I would definitely eat these Rapa chips again because they were so tasty, but I'd have to make a lot more than two pans full because they are definitely not filling, lol.  Next time I think I"ll try sprinkling them with some garlic and parmesan cheese.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Plastic Canvas Windmill in Memory of my Dear Aunt Cobie

Plastic Canvas Windmill

I stitched up this sweet plastic canvas windmill in memory of my dear aunt Cobie, who passed away after a year long battle with brain cancer.  I found the kit on ebay only 2 weeks before she passed, and it only arrived in the mail a few days before she died, so I couldn't stitch fast enough to finish it before she was gone.  I gave it to her husband, my Uncle Buck, and he loves it.  There's a music box built in but unfortunately the music box doesn't always work.
Me and my aunt Cobie
That's me in the lilac top, in the photo above,  with my aunt Co; on my birthday a few years ago.  She was already sick at last year's birthday.
Me, David, and Cobie
In the above photo we're at a family wedding. 
My beautiful aunt Cobie
She was the kindest, sweetest woman I've ever known; beautiful on the inside and out.

Geraldine, Me, Jess, Co, and Mom
Everyone loved her, and she is greatly missed.

Mom, me, and Cobie

Smokey the African Grey loves Lilacs

Smokey and the lilacs
Smokey gets a special treat this time of year; fresh cut lilacs.  She absolutely loves shredding them, along with the branches, and they are a wonderful bird safe treat for her.

Smokey and lilacs
Here she is enjoying her fragrant bounty.
Smokey the bird
And here she is looking at me through her rings.  She's such a smart, clever girl.

Crocheted Keyring Pouch

Crocheted Keyring Pouch
I made this simple little keyring pouch so that I could go for walks without needing to bring my purse.  The pouch is large enough to hold my keys, my Ventolin rescue inhaler, and my bank card or some money.  I wrap the strap around my wrist and away I go.

Crocheted keyring Pouch

I found the pattern for free on Ravelry; check it out if you'd like to make a handy pouch for yourself.
Crocheted Keyring pouch
It works up in only minutes, so it's a fast, functional project.

Crocheted T-Shirt Edging

Crocheted Shirt Edging
 I love this pink t shirt, but it shrunk lengthwise after washing and wasn't as long as I liked any more.  Also, I hate my upper arms and wanted longer sleeves, so I decided to adapt the shirt by adding crocheted edging to lengthen everything.
Crocheted Shirt Edging
 I picked a free edging pattern from Ravelry
Crocheted Shirt Edging
It's called the Irish Crochet Edging No. S261 Pattern, and can also be found on the Free Vintage Crochet website.

I used a Supersaver yarn because it matched the colors perfectly, and it worked well, but the pattern would look nicer if worked in crochet cotton.

Crocheted Yellow Cat

Crocheted Yellow Cat
 I've been blogging about things other than crafts lately, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten about them.  I've been crocheting, and working plastic canvas quite a bit; I just haven't been great about taking photos of them and getting them onto my blog, so I'll do some catch up now.
Crocheted Cat
 I made this sweet little cat with intentions of giving it to my cousin Linda while she was in the hospital.  She got out before I finished and I haven't seen her yet, so it's still here.
Crocheted Cat
I used Beth Webber's free pattern, which can be found on Ravelry or on Beth's website .
Beth is a talented pattern designer and she freely shares her patterns, so take a look if you get the chance.
Ravelry is a wonderful place to find both knit and crochet patterns, both free and not free; it's your choice.

I love crocheting Amigurumi and really must remember to order some bigger cat eyes :-).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Treats or Trick?

After 3 days of eating healthy, including nutribullet green shakes and lots of green salads, I had to go out of town for some doctor appointments.

I left on Monday Morning and managed to eat healthy at lunch; I had a lovely green salad with strawberries, sesame seeds, grilled chicken and blue cheese...but by the time I finished my appointments, got lost, checked in to my hotel, and had a swim, I was famished.  I went to the Hotel Restaurant intending to have another salad, but...
Perkin's in Sudbury
 the menu at Perkins was filled with so many yummy looking things, including breakfast all day, that I indulged.  And by indulged, I mean I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and fries, with gravy on the side.

The burger was so big I couldn't bit it; my mouth wouldn't open wide enough.  It was amazing.  I don't know if it was fatigue or stress or what making me appreciate them more, but the fries were the best I'd ever tasted.  The place had free wifi so I watched Supernatural on Netflix while I ate; bliss.

The next morning, I didn't have the energy I'd enjoyed for the past 3 days on nutriblasts, but I chocked it up to a very poor night's sleep. My room was full of a chemical smell from the hotel cleaning staff and my window wouldn't open. I was up 5 times with asthma attacks and at 4:30AM I just gave up and went outside to breathe the (not so fresh) Sudbury air.  I asked to see another room, but it had the same smell as mine so I didn't bother switching.  I'd assumed that the windows didn't open in any of the rooms because my window didn't even have a crank, but I was told that all the windows open, and mine must be broken.  The desk clerk sent maintenance to my room to fix the window.

 I was the first in line when the doors to Perkins opened at 6:00 AM.  They give you an unlimited pot of coffee for only $2.99, and it was the best coffee I've ever had at a restaurant.  Hands down best.  I watched more Netflix before heading back to my room.  The maintenance guy had left the window open and the air quality was already a bit better.  I spoke to the cleaning lady and asked her to please not clean my room; I explained about the asthma and she told me she suspected the carpet cleaner to be the problem.  She said it affects her breathing, too.  She promised not to use any cleaning solutions in my room at all.

My appointments on Tuesday were long and I was stressed out from getting lost driving in Sudbury. I went to the big Mall in Sudbury and wasn't impressed; our Station Mall, here in the Sault, is MUCH nicer.  Prettier, too; situated on the waterfront as it is.  I bought some ginger body wash at the body shop; I love the Body Shop because it has the only fragrances that don't affect my asthma, and I LOVE the ginger.  I stopped at the Walmart and bought a mini watermelon, a knife to cut it with, and some containers to keep it in, and headed back to the hotel.  After my swim, my tablet and I went to Perkins where I ate chicken strips and yet again more fries (they truly were delish), and watched Third Rock from the Sun (soooo funny!).

I slept a lot better last night because the open window let fresh air in, and the chemical smells had gone down quite a bit.  I had planned on going for a swim this morning, but was just too tired.  I ate some of my watermelon for breakfast, and headed back to the Sault.

I stopped at Wendy's for the strawberry chicken salad (half size; yum) and kept driving.  I had to stop 3 times; I was so tired.

Bruce Mines
Bruce Mines

I went for a walk in the park behind Bobber's Restaurant in Bruce Mines.  I had to do short bursts, from bench to picnic table to the next bench to the next table, lol, but I managed to walk to the marina and back without having an asthma attack by resting often,  and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  It was a lovely day.

Elantra rental car

Here's a photo of my rental car, a spiffy little Elantra.  I loved the thing; it was so comfy and drove like a dream.  At one point I looked down and realized I was doing 140 km per hour. I freaked, as I don't normally go faster than 100 km/hour in my Blazer.  I didn't feel the speed in that car at all.  It had one of those things on the keyring to lock/unlock the car/open the trunk/ring an alarm to help me locate it, and I absolutely LOVED those features (I even caught myself telling the car "Thank you" for opening the trunk, lol).  I'm going to miss that car, a lot.  The car people drove me home and my dogs and birds were thrilled to see me.  I ate the rest of my watermelon and some pepperoni for supper, lol.

I had lots of treats, but they really did a number on me.  My idea of treats is an actual trick of my brain; I like the idea of the non nutritional foods, I like the taste, but boy, those foods don't like me.  

I"m so looking forward to having my nutriblast tomorrow.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tropical Delight Nutriblast

Spinach Pina Colada Blast, lol


 I LOVE my Nutribullet, and I LOVE this nutriblast.  It may not look like a pina colada, but it sure tastes like one.

I used:
I cup spinach
4 large strawberries
2 small pieces of frozen banana (less than half a small banana)
Handful of frozen pineapple
2 tbsp coconut
It's amazingly good, thick and smooth and cold.  I think this is my favorite so far.  It's not something I'd want for breakfast, but for an evening snack it's perfect.  It was so hot and humid today, and this really hits the spot.

It's hard to believe that in 3 days I've eaten a huge bag of baby spinach, a big container of mixed spring greens, and half a bag of dandelions, but I have.  Between the nutribullet and salads, I'm managing to get SO many greens into my system, along with healthy fruits and berries.

I'm so glad that I bit the bullet and bought the bullet, lol.

Tomorrow I have to wake up at 6 AM so I can pick up my rental car by 7:30.  I was supposed to drive to Sudbury today, but the brake line on my truck broke when I was only a block away from home, so i had to turn around and come back.  I couldn't get a rental for today, so I"m leaving in the morning.  I have an appointment at Sudbury Memorial at noon tomorrow.  It's a 3.5-4 hour drive, so hopefully I'll get there with some time to spare.

Hope everyone has a good evening!

Purple Smoothies are yummy

Spinach, blueberry, banana, walnut smoothie

It's noon and I finally got to make my nutriblast smoothie.  I blogged earlier about how much I was craving one since i woke up this morning.  Everyone else slept in until 11:30 so I waited so the nutribullet wouldn't wake them; it is pretty loud.

This smoothie has: 1 tightly packed cup of spinach,  half a small banana, a handful of frozen blueberries, yogurt (I small container), and 2 tbsp of walnuts.  For liquid, I used unsweetened almond milk, which is only 30 calories per glass.

 Wow, is this smoothie thick.  It has a nutty blueberry flavor; I can't taste the spinach or banana at all.  It has the texture and mouth feel of a very thick icecream shake. It's delicious!

It's incredbile to me that in one easy meal that takes seconds to make, I'm getting: greens, fruit, fibre, protein, and all of the vitamins and nutrients found in the various foods. The walnuts are full of healthy omega 3 fats and vitamin E, and I never usually eat them so it's a good change.

My Dad is making bacon and eggs and it smells incredible; I love bacon, but there's no way I'm having any now; I'd be way too full and I still have more than have of my nutriblast to drink.  I have to drive to Sudbury pretty soon, and it's a 4 hour drive, and I'd rather travel feeling energized by my smoothie than weighted down by fried eggs and bacon.  Not that I have anything against bacon and eggs; I had eggs yesterday :-}.

Day 3 of adding Smoothies and I woke up Craving One

I find it hard to believe, but after only 2 days of adding veggie/fruit smoothies to my diet, I woke up this morning, on the third day, craving one.

I put on my coffee, decaf, and as it perked, I found myself actually craving a spinach and fruit smoothie.  I think my body was starving for nutrition, which seems weird given that I need to lose 100 Ibs or more.

I know how to eat healthy and I often do eat healthy for long periods of time but I have never craved veggies.  I love fruit and have sometimes craved oranges or watermelon, but more as a treat craving, a "wouldn't it be nice to have some" craving, not a demanding drive to consume like I'm having now for a green smoothie.  Those horrible cravings are usually reserved for something like chocolate, or pizza, or hamburgers...you know, those cravings that won't go away until they're satisfied; the ones that drive you mad?  That is how I'm feeling about a smoothie.

I'd have one but I don't want to wake everyone up by using the nutribullet.  It's pretty loud.  As soon as the rest of the family wakes, I'm going to have a nice spinach and fruit smoothie.  I wouldn't have believed this could be possible, not for me.

I weighed myself and I"m down 3 Ibs in 3 days, just by adding smoothies.  I read that smoothies would make you want to eat more healthy foods but didn't believe it, but yesterday, I chose to eat:

Green smoothie for breakfast, made with 1 cup of baby spinach, plus blueberries,1/2 a  banana, yogurt, and water.
Salad for lunch, with 2 cups of spring mix greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, hot peppers, 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, and 2 tsp of low fat bacon ranch dressing.  It was yummy and I'm making myself hungry writing this, lol.
I was still craving greens so for supper I had loads of fresh dandelion greens sauteed with a bit of olive oil and garlic, covered with 4 eggs and scrambled together. I had to put extra eggs in (2 for me, 2 for the dogs) because the dogs were going crazy begging for the meal while I cooked it.  I also had two pieces of rye toast with olive oil flavored becel.
Last night I was craving another smoothie so I had another one, made with 1 cup spinach, strawberries, 1/2 a banana, fresh mint, almond milk, and some chia seeds (which I tried for the first time; yum!).

That's a LOT more food that I normally eat, and more greens than I sometimes eat in a week, but it was also less than HALF the weight watchers points that I normally eat.  I'm allowed 40 points per day and even with all of that food, I only ended up eating 23 points.   Basically it's because the fruits and veggies are 0 points.  I had a blast filling out all the ingredients in my points calculator and seeing all of the 0's line up, lol.

Normally, after a day or two of "being good" I am craving sugars and sweets, or salty foods, or baked goods, or a combo of all three.  I've NEVER craved more veggies.

I think my body is trying to tell me something.  I stayed up late last night because I had so much energy. I only slept 6 hours but woke up feeling alert and energized.  I usually am exhausted when I wake up.

I'm going to keep drinking my green smoothies every day.  I'm not consciously doing anything else; I'm not restricting myself from anything (except caffeine, because of my health).  I just want to see what the addition of green smoothies will do.

Yay; I hear people waking.  I can go make my smoothie!

Have a nice day.  :-)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Late to the Green Smoothie Party but happy to be here!

Since I joined Weight Watchers Online on January 2nd, I have lost 17 Ibs; gained 8, lost 8, gained 10, lost 10, gained 6...you get the picture.  I've been trying but struggling to lose weight.

I have severe, chronic asthma and it has been completely out of control.  I was in the hospital twice last week and needed 5 treatments in a row.  I'm on prednisone, 50 mg per day. 

I know I have to eat more healthy foods but I really have a hard time getting enough veggies down.  Since January I've had no trouble eating my fruit; I bought a yonana machine and have been enjoying faux "icecream" made only of frozen fruits whenever I have a craving for ice cream.  I like veggies but can never seem to eat enough of them to make a difference.  Since a kitchen gadget helped me substitute frozen fruit for icecream, I wondered if there was a gadget that could make me eat more veggies.

I checked out Walmart.ca and found several potential gadgets that could help.
THIS is the one I bought, on sale for $88.00 Canadian Dollars at my local Walmart:
 I started making green smoothies, or "nutriblasts" yesterday. 

For my first "green" smoothie, I used:
 1 cup of fresh baby spinach, 4 pieces of frozen banana, and a few handfuls of frozen blueberries, and some yogurt.  I added cold water to the max fill line, like the instructions instructed,  pushed down on the bullet until it pulverized everything, and ended up with a PURPLE smoothie. 

First nutriblast, spinach, frozen banana, frozen blueberry

 I was very uncertain about drinking a smoothie with spinach, even though I love cooked spinach, but I needn't have worried as the banana and blueberry totally masked the taste of spinach.   It was actually delicious; like a blueberry shake.  The banana and yogurt made it creamy and smooth and it was soothing on my sore throat.

I read more about healthy smoothies on the nutribullet website and learned I should be adding what they call "boosts" to my blasts.  Boosts are:  chia seeds, ground flax, cacao,  raw nuts; things that add protein, good fats, and nutrients, basically.  So today I ran out and bought chia, flax, nuts, and hemp hearts.  I have no idea if hemp hearts can be used, but I was completely carried away by my foray into healthy eating and bought them anyway, lol.

Last night I was hungry after supper and decided to try to make an actual green, green smoothie, with no fruit.  I figured the extra veg would be good for me, and I decided to try to make something similar to V8 juice; only thicker.
For my second nutriblast, I used:
Mixed spring greens, cucumber, 1 tomato, garlic, dash of salt and pepper, a few ice cubes, and water.

 I forgot to take a picture, but if you imagine a frothy green sludge, you'll have an idea of what I ended up with.  The taste was terrible, so I added a drop of katsup, and some hot sauce, and then it was OK.  Not nearly as good as V8 juice, but OK.  I think it could have really used some carrots and celery to add to the flavor.  I'll try it again soon.

For my third "nutriblast",  I used:
Frozen spinach, frozen banana pieces, frozen and fresh strawberries, a handful of fresh mint leaves, 2 tbsp chia seeds, and then added unsweetened almond milk to the fill line.
I learned that the nutribullet does NOT like to deal with all frozen foods; it took forever to blend this concoction. 
Nutriblast made from spinach, frozen banana, strawberries, fresh mint leaves, chia, and almond milk.
 This blast came out an unappealing orange-y brown color, but the taste was fresh, minty, and delish.  I was really pleased with the flavor of this blast. 

I posted a picture of my first blast on facebook and learned that I am VERY late to this party; it seems most of my friends have already been doing this...or some version of this.  About half are doing smoothies, like me, and the other half are juicing.  We all seem to be trying to get more fresh, whole foods into our bodies. which I think is great. I just wonder why it took me so long to hear about smoothies, lol.