My New Project – Handmade in Canada

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Over the last few months I have been sharing art, photography and knitting , but one thing I have yet to share is the new project I have been working on in the background. The project is a website called Handmade in Canada. It is a website designed to profile Canadian artists, artisans, writers, musicians and growers. After months of work, the site went live this evening on the internet. Now I get to grow and nurture the concept, and I think it is a pretty exciting project.

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The whole project came about through my hand knit items. Prior to the knitting and art portion of my creative endeavors, my main business was photography. Photography was easy to market; yellow pages ads, websites and local advertising all worked for promoting photography. Knitting and art were a whole different ball game. They weren’t the type of services and products¬† that a customer would look for in the “yellow pages”. Markets were a possibility but the season is short and the weather often not predictable. Approaching individual local shops I enjoy (and will continue to do so), but I felt as a person working in a handmade industry I wanted to also reach further.

leaf red black smallFor months I mulled over the scenario of the handmade industry. I also talked to people (and listened) and realized the scenario was the same for almost all artists, artisans, writers, musicians and growers. We were all the same industry with the same challenges. We all had great products that we need to promote. We all have websites floating out there in an internet of millions or billions of websites. We also needed to get Canadians buying Canadian products.

I started to think about the situation more and more and realized if we could present ourselves as a collective, on one site, we would have more presence. Also by presenting ourselves together we would create cross-over business; a person buying a book, may also buy a handmade art card and purchase some home-grown honey. A site with everything together would make buying handmade and Canadian easy.

With all this in mind I created the site Handmade in Canada.

handmade in canada badgeI invite everyone to take a look at the site, and pass it on to any artists, artisans, craftspeople, writers, musicians, growers and edible producers you know.

I want to make this site a great success, and in turn help handmakers across Canada promote themselves and sell to broader markets. I know this could be fantastic for us all.

(Please remember the site is in its infancy!)

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Another Leisurely Weekend (not…)

I sometimes wonder if we just can’t do weekends “right”. On T.V. and in movies people seem to have these leisurely relaxed weekends of people reading books,¬† lounging on decks, and generally kicking back. Even people we know in real life seem to have down time. For some reason we fail at the “relaxed weekend”. If I were to look over the last few weekends, we had the “strip the house down due to a mouse invasion” weekend, followed by “drive out to the coast and work on the tub” weekend, with the next one being “plant the trees and reinforce a rotting floor” weekend. This weekend followed the trend, we shall call it “the epic pruning” weekend.

sunflower growing out of the roof

sunflower growing out of the garage roof

It all started innocently enough. Earlier in the week I started clearing tree branches away from the garage roof as I would like to have it re-roofed. Some simple branch cutting with loppers and clippers, while our youngest played in the backyard. Quite manageable, nothing too intense.

the trees before pruning

the trees before pruning

On Friday we had a child home from school sick, so we decided to spend the weekend at home instead of going out of town. We thought it was a good way to finish off the little bit of tree trimming we had left.

On Saturday everything was quite civilized. Even though the trees were quite a jumble we were still able to tackle the project with loppers and clippers. Some trimming from the ground, some from the ladder, and some from on top of the roof. We cut up the tree bits we had pruned, saved some pieces to make wooden buttons, and decided to do the “last little bit” on Sunday.

raking 6 inches of dirt off the  roof

raking 6 inches of dirt off the roof

Sunday afternoon we head out to the backyard expecting an hour or two of work. We cleared everything we could clipping by hand and stood back to see how it looked. After clearing away some branches we realized we needed to rake debris off the garage roof. My husband soon discovered that there was dirt six inches deep in spots where leaves had composted on the roof. He indicated that “it looks like really good dirt”, so into the flower bed below it went. I guess that dirt explains the sunflowers growing out of the roof!¬† He also mentioned that in 20 years of being in the roofing and exterior industry he had never seen a roof like ours. I guess that makes our roof “special”.

our "vintage" garage roof

our “vintage” garage roof

Once the dirt was cleared we could see there were still some large branches (some laying ON the roof) that needed to be pruned. Out came the chainsaws. This is where the pruning job transformed from a little maintenance into a very big job.

First we cleared the branches laying on the roof. Then it was the larger branches around the roof so that the roofers will have better access. Of course seeing that we had the chainsaws out we may as well take care of some of the dead wood in trees. This also gave us the opportunity to turn an old trunk into a nice flat little spot to place a drink with a slice of the chainsaw.

the garage area after being pruned

the garage area after being pruned

Once we removed the dead wood we saw there was A LOT of work to do. We realized that our trees had grown so large that they were blocking most of the sun coming in our yard. This year our yard never dried out from rain due to the shade, we have had grass and mud all summer long. It was time to fix that. We started cutting back branches here and there so that light would again filter in. Then we started thinking about problem areas if we had a heavy snowfall, after all it is better to trim now rather than sort out a mess later. We trimmed all the trees over hanging the fence, trees brushing against the house, tree branches laying on the hedge, and tree branches threatening power lines. Hours and hours of whirring chainsaws with flying wood chips everywhere. As evening approached we decided we were “done”, then we stood back and saw this…….

pruned branches in the backyard

pruned branches in the backyard

and this…………………..

pruned branches by the garage

pruned branches by the garage

Huge mounds of branches everywhere. Branches larger than a lot of trees. Even after hours and hours of cutting it still only looked as if we had tidied up the trees in the backyard, it didn’t look like a crazed afternoon of chainsaws had occurred.

We then embarked on the task of sorting out the branches. We saved the larger pieces for “projects”, one pile for me and the other for my dad. I should be able to make a lifetime supply of wooden buttons while my dad can turn a lifetime’s supply of pens. We clipped the branches into manageable pieces until 10:00 pm when we decided to leave the rest until the next day. There are still several more hours of sorting branches ahead of us.

The motivation for doing all this is a little bit more than just putting a new roof on the garage, even though it is in dire need of needing one. We have decided to tackle the garage as a “project”.


garage before painting after a quick fascia board replacement

The garage is 1946 or older. A classic specimen. For years we talked about tearing it down and replacing it, mostly because that is what people “do” with old buildings. The more we thought about this the less it made sense to us, I personally could not send all that good wood to the landfill. We also have the situation of having to conform to current city rules on placement and such if we rebuild which gets very tricky on a non-conforming lot; old neighborhoods and new city rules generally don’t get along too well. We aren’t exactly “park your car in the garage” people, so we started to think about what function we wanted the garage to fill. We determined we needed storage, and a workshop space would be nice. A studio space away from the house would also be a bonus. After a lot of thinking and discussions we have decided to renovate the garage.

garage after a quick paint job

garage after a quick paint job

This is going to be a BIG project over a few years. I gave the front a quick paint job with left over paint a few weeks ago just to get the ball rolling. The roof will hopefully be replaced soon. After the roof is done we will replace the doors. The plan for the new doors is a sliding barn door style on a track; we think this will function better in the winter when we are dealing with piles of snow.

Something is eating our door!

Something is eating our door!

After the doors are replaced, which really need to be done as some critter has decided to EAT them (we’ve never seen that before!), we will then begin to evict the squirrels and start framing it in. It is a massive job, yet bound to be interesting. I like the idea of renovating rather than bulldozing.


Collecting Dye Stuff

Yesterday we collected bits for dyeing from our garden. Arbutus bark, fallen eucalyptus leaves and dead headed marigolds. Perhaps the makings for an eco dyed scarf or a “stuff and store” if the recycle depot has a good jar.

Apple Blossoms

Our neighbourhood is in bloom with pink and white blossoms everywhere. This selection of images were all taken on a short stroll of about 200 feet. As you can imagine our neighbourhood is pretty picturesque this time of year.

(please click on the above images to view full size)

Into the Garden

Spring is finally here. The snow is finally gone. Here is a peek at what is growing and blooming at our garden at home.

(Please click on the images above to view pictures from the gallery full size.)

Water Drops

water dropsSpring is finally here which means working in the garden. I was out weeding the other day and happened to notice that drops from the rain the previous night were still sitting on the plants in the flower bed. Judging from the location the drops might be on one of the Columbines, but I am not 100% sure.

plant, water drop and bugThis water drop had a visitor. There is so much happening in the flower beds when you get up close.

plant, water drop and bugEven the tiny plants were sparkling with droplets.

water drops on plantsSpring may have been a long time coming this year but perhaps it makes us appreciate the new growth more.


On a side note, for readers that follow all my blogs, last night I made the decision to deactivate the most recent blog, . To quote my three year old it was “not working”. It is a good move that will free up time to paint, stitch, shoot and garden more plus eliminate being involved in neighbourhood politics. Perhaps this will allow me to get more interesting blog posts up on this blog, on Island Home, and on Debra Hunter .

Something Dirty Going On


It is always a good day if dirt is involved. After all if there is dirt there probably isn’t snow….or at least as much snow!


One end of our backyard looked like this, which is fine, because the flowerbeds near the house have finally started to melt off. Finally!

flowerbeds melting off

As I looked around the flowerbeds I found a lot of new growth had popped through the ground. This is quite remarkable as we have only had three or four days of warm weather.

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Even more remarkable was the fact that I was cleaning up the flowerbeds as my daughter did snow angels next to me. That is just a little surreal.

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I am never quite sure of what is coming up. Some plants and bulbs date back way before we had the house. Some of the bulbs are leftovers that my mom donated to me. It will all be a great surprise when they actually bloom……..well that is if the deer, moose and rabbits don’t get to them first.

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One thing that is for certain is that the beds were MUD. Sloshy and sticky, the sort of mud you sink into if you accidentally step off the grass. By the time we were done everyone had mud on them…..and was soaked through as well.

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I did notice the chives are up this is good news as chives out of the gardens are wonderful for cooking.

Watching the ladybugs.

Watching the ladybugs.

By the end of the afternoon we did have some excitement, exciting enough to even stop making snow angels. We found ladybugs.

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That is a sure sign that spring is here!

Indoor Gardening – The March 25th Edition

March 25th and it is STILL -16C outside with windchill. Winter is definitely dragging. At least our indoor gardening project gives us a little virtual escape from all the ice and snow outside. Here is how our growing is going:

lettuceThis was our lettuce on March 3rd.

lettuce march 25 2014This is our lettuce on March 25th. There is still quite a bit of growing to be done before we have salad, but it looks promising.

radishes march 3 2014These were the radishes on March 3rd.

radishes march 25 2014


radishes march 25 2014

Now the radishes have really grown. Let’s hope the radishes form under the soil. Time will tell.



The peas had just barely sprouted on March 3rd.

peas March 25 2014They are doing nicely now after a few setbacks due to altercations with a three-year old. I popped a few more seeds into the pot this week to try to increase our chances of peas to eat.

chives & basil?Meanwhile the chives did basically nothing except a little weed at the side of the pot. I did add in some basil seeds that also seem to have done nothing. I am racking the failure up to one of two things: I may have two lots of bad seeds, or “someone” may have dropped the pot throwing dirt and seeds onto the floor. Evidently this “someone” doesn’t live in our house but I keep finding oddly placed piles of soil in the family room. Hmmmmmm……………did I mention I have a three-year old?