Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Today's post is brought to you by the coolest pop singer ever. Polly Jean Harvey. Rock on!

Monday, August 30, 2010

No Life Coach Required

As the new school year begins, I've been reflecting upon my first three years teaching and thinking about the year ahead. I love what I do. Teaching isn't just a punch-the-clock kind of job. It's a vocation - a calling. Still, it's difficult and at times, emotionally draining. My biggest frustration has been the lack of balance between my working life and my family life. This is true for most people. And if you're a stay-at-home parent, you are working too. For you, the balance may be tipped so far away from yourself that you almost start to forget who you are.

Here are some ideas I plan to put into practice this year.
1. Do whatever it takes to eliminate unnecessary stress from my life. I've already started this one and found childcare closer to home which will eliminate the double-back morning rush of last year.
2. Surround myself with positive, like-minded people. Avoid people who are always negative or volatile.
3. Make a little "me" time each day, even if it's just some quiet time reading the paper or having a cup of tea.
4. Try to get some daily exercise. A brisk walk clears the head.
5. Get more sleep.
6. Remember to take vitamins.
7. Laugh as much as possible throughout the day and never take myself too seriously.
8. Listen to music that makes me happy.
9. Take up a new craft.
10. Hugs and "I love yous" with family.

Well, I'll stop there with ten. Here's a song that makes me happy: Chan Chan. I heard this song in the lobby of the hotel we stayed at in Ottawa and I was transported to Havana, watching those rusty old American cars roll down the street.

Here's something else that's good. I've mentioned this show in the past, but I've got to mention it again, because my husband and I find it utterly inspiring: Build a New Life in the Country. Watch the promo below. Does it resonate?

Once again, it's been repeated many times over on BBC Canada and yet, if it's on, we can't help but sit down and watch it. Basically regular people like us decide they've had it with the daily grind of commuting, etc. and they rebuild an old home in the country. We saw one of our favourites recently. A couple turn three old connected houses in St. Ives into livable space. The man is an organic baker and the woman is an artist/set designer who created the interior designs for the rooms in what would become a B&B called The Organic Panda. The couple were so hard-working and cool. We've bookmarked The Organic Panda with the goal of making it there one day for a holiday. Look them up. I've had trouble finding some of the cooler episodes of Build a New Life on YouTube, but here's a clip from one show where an English couple rebuild in Spain. I'd like to see newer episodes, but I'm sad that George, the original host is gone.

Oh look, one from Jan, 2010. That's pretty recent. Oooh, I want to move to Canterbury.

Back to School

I just got off the phone with Vonlipi. I interviewed her about her Pyrex collection knowing that she's the Pyrex Guru or Goddess of Canada. She needs a title. Anyway, Vonlipi is delightful although she took delight leading me to PyrexBoy's Flickr photos saying, "You won't sleep tonight after you see this." She was right. I just want to raid his basement and shop off his shelves. Visions of Butterprint will be dancing in my head tonight for sure.

Welcome to my latest follower, Jennifer. Thanks for following. I'm always thrilled to think that people enjoy what I'm doing. I really appreciate it. Erin

Here's a "before" picture of my new classroom. I've moved downstairs and will be teaching a 2/3 split this year. I taught grade 5 last year. I spent the day moving things around, but I still have to get the books neatly organized in bins so the kids can find great books to read. I'm using even more thrifted finds in the classroom, which I'll share soon. Eventually, I'll bring in the class pets and plants.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Show is so Us

My sister phoned me today to tell me about Kirstie's Homemade Home. It's hosted by Relocation, Relocation's Kirstie Allsopp and it's way cool. She's bought this rustic old house (huge) in Devon and she's learning how to make homemade objects of beauty to fill the house so that it doesn't look boring and cookie cutter. Does this not sound like what we're all about?

Kirstie thrifts and is taught how to make beautiful things by local artisans. She's trying to promote the crafts of the British Isles. We should all be doing the same thing regardless of where we live. I saw the first episode this evening. Kirstie learned how to make a fireplace poker with a blacksmith, she learned how to knit, and she learned how to make a lampshade.

I've uploaded an episode from YouTube, but I'm not going to watch it. I want to watch them chronologically. I'm even more inspired to learn how to sew and make things for house and family.

Hope you enjoy. This show is on HGTV in Canada. Check your local listings. Did I just say that?

Your Daily Cup of Eww - Gross!

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My good friend now knows what this fine actor looks like in his birthday suit. Eesh!

Contrary to what some members of my family might think, I don't actually blog about everything. I try to keep some boundaries, hopefully. Anyway, with that said, I thought I'd share a little story that's not connected to myself nor anyone in my family.

I was at a good friend's 50th birthday party on Friday night. She lives in a little semi-detached house the way we do. When we were sitting in her backyard, we couldn't help but notice this humongous Jacuzzi on the back deck of her next-door-neighbour's house. I'm talking about the house attached to her house. Not only was the Jacuzzi super-sized for the property, but the bamboo screen attached to it was covered in mold. Oh yeah, and it made a loud humming noise every so often.

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If that weren't bad enough, my friend said that the owner was very rude to her when he had it installed this summer and told her that he'd have to have her "ugly" back gate removed. She promptly told him that she paid someone to build the gate for her. His response was that she could have bought something better at Rona for $40.00 and that they'd temporarily remove the fence between the property instead.

The worst part of it is that the empty nesters now treat the Jacuzzi as an extra bathroom, parading around in the buff (the man looks like John Goodman if you'd like an image), cutting toenails, etc. Ewwww! And I thought leaf blowers were bad enough.

They also left an annoying bug zapper running in their backyard all night, even though they weren't outside. Honest to goodness, it sounded like the electric chair frying someone every minute or so and it cast an eerie blue light over my friend's garden. Eventually one of her friends hopped the fence and turned it off. Go girl!

Anyway, these are the perils of living within close proximity of your neighbour in a big city. I'm just glad we've got super duper people living on either side of us.

"People of Springfield. There shall be no more nail cutting by your backyard Jacuzzi."

"Sewing" The Seeds of Love

I ran out onto the porch this morning to take a few snaps of my new, old sewing machine. It's got to be from the seventies. Check out the flower-covered manual.

Down in the Sewer

What do you call a person who sews? Thanks to Linda, I realized that I called on sewers - HA! - in my last post. I've changed the wording. If you knit, you are a knitter. What gives?

I love this poem. It's called, Why English is so Hard

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese,
You may find a lone mouse or a whole nest of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But a bow if repeated is never called bine,
And the plural of vow is vows, never vine.

If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet,
And I give you a boot would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth, and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

If the singular’s this and the plural is these,
Should the plural of kiss ever be nicknamed keese?
Then one may be that and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren,
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim,

So the English, I think, you all will agree,
Is the queerest language you ever did see.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sew Sew - Not So So

My mother generously gave me her old Singer sewing machine this week. I have so many memories of watching mom making and repairing clothing. I used to love watching her foot on the pedal and the bobbing action of the needle. Now, I'm faced with the daunting challenge of learning to sew. I'd love to hear from Ana and anyone else who can sew. Do you think I should invest in a few sewing classes, or should I read the owner's manual that came with the machine and flub my way through it? I was equally hopeless in Home Economics as I was in Industrial Arts. I was always the student about to lose a finger. I like to think I'm less of a liability now.

My dad is so sweet. When he realized that the cover of the machine doesn't snap on anymore, he found an old belt and strapped it around the machine.

Oh, one more question: Does anyone have a ballpark idea what I might be looking at to have the machine checked out by a Singer dealer? I guess I should call for a quote. It may need a new belt and lube job.

Here's a sewing video. I love this song. I remember thinking the singer had such a cool haircut and funky style. Dig.
Thanks a lot.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Greetings & Men I Admire Pt. 1

Word up to Darrin of Dad's Dish Retro Blog and Nogrinnin of What to do When Your Head Falls Off. I'm glad I'm in the company of people with such weirdly wonderful blogs. I recognize that you have other choices of blogs to follow. Thank you for choosing Yard Sale Snoop. Refreshments coming right up.

Alright. I'm putting off a lot of work I should be doing right now. Instead, I thought I'd create a list of men I admire. Of course, this does not include my beloved husband, my son, dad, etc. That goes without saying. This is just a list of men that inspire, amuse, or entertain me.

- Prince. I know, I know. But he made a handful of really amazing records in the eighties that you've got to admire now.
Here's his duet with Sheena Easton. I remember I dragged my gothy first boyfriend to see Sign of the Times at the Cineplex at the Eaton Centre when I was a teenager. He said he was mortified, but I could tell he secretly dug the music.

Jack Black. Enough said. Here he is doing his best Michael Flatley on Yo Gabba Gabba, the most awesome kids' show ever.

Harrison Ford, before he became completely sanctimonious and married to his boring skinny wife. Maybe they're not married. Whatever.

Johnny Depp in Dead Man. What a great actor. His look in this film was interesting. Kind of primitive Victorian.

Alright, here's the last one. Anthony Bourdain and Bill Murray. Tony is aging like a fine wine and he's becoming more sensitive and less snarky with each episode. I like him like that. And Bill Murray is awesome. I like the fact that he wears his drunken golf cart in Stockholm arrest like a badge of honour.
That's it for now.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Strangest Etsy How-Tuesday Ever

I can't believe how much trouble they went to for this blood splatter effect. Still, the girls had a lot of fun. Where's Dexter when you need him?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Tray" Bien

Here are a few of the nifty things I picked up at Value Village today.
I've already got a couple of these groovy state cocktail trays, like the Florida tray on the left. It cost $1.99. I've never seen the bowl version. I love the quaintness of the Maine chip bowl. It makes me want to travel back in time and be in some log cabin in Maine, listening to jazz. The bowl cost $2.49. A bargain.

My husband liked the kitsch appeal, but I actually think they're really beautiful.
Look at all the detail included. I like the wood chopping man.

All that elegance makes me need a little vintage Japan before we move on.

Another crazy hodgepodge of cards for not much money.

I actually bought it to get these two packs of retro party invitations. My son's having a belated birthday party in September and I had to buy invites anyway. So what if they're kind of girly and seventies. They're Hallmark, so you know they're primo quality, even if the pack did originally cost only 50¢.
Also included were these stylish postcards of the Moscow Metro.

I thought these were plastic Easter eggs, until I got a closer look and realized that they were real eggs with hand crafted designs on them. We'll cut down some branches next Easter and make an Easter tree.
This one is my favourite.

Miraculously enough, only one egg was broken. I may repurpose the flowers. Now I wonder who made these eggs and how they ended up at Value Village with a $1.99 price slapped on it. I can't help get a little depressed feeling like some amazing crafter made them and when she/he died, none of the grandkids wanted them, so they chucked them in the trunk and dumped them at the thrift store. Maybe I'm reading into it too much. I'm always thinking about the people behind the treasures. I have a very rich internal life. Ha!

What did you find this weekend?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Most Boring Thrift Ever

Some thrifted finds are truly exciting. Others are pleasant. Others still are totally boring. If they handed out awards for boring thrifts, I would win top prize. What I bought today was utterly bland, and banal, yet essential.

If what I thrifted was

... a colour, it would be beige
... a movie, it would be Waterworld, The Postman, or any other movie Kevin Costner made after Field of Dreams
... a song, it would be "If" by Bread
... a performer, it would be Celine Dion
... a car, it would be a Honda Civic
... a vegetable, it would be celery
... an adult drink, it would be lite beer
... a politician, it would be Stephen Harper
... a radio station, it would be E-Z Rock

Anyway, you get the point. Last night, Ken was rinsing out the coffee maker carafe. I was holding this huge skillet and I spun around and cracked the carafe with the handle of the skillet. I didn't realize what a mean skillet handler I am. The sad thing was that we needed a new carafe.

So I bought one at Value Village for a lousy $2.99. And it fits.
How is it that I can't live without something this boring? I'm sure this thought goes through Ryan Reynolds' head every morning.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yet More Happiness...

My bird story just keeps getting better. Lydia, from Koby's Cache already has a budgie that she rescued several years ago. She's kindly offered to take my rescued feathered friend. Isn't that great? We're going to drive out to Brampton today to make a special delivery. Don't you love a feel-good story like this?

I was trying to think of a beautiful video with birds in it, to celebrate the occasion.
Here it is: Mae Moore's "Because of Love." You have to fast forward the first few seconds of director's information. Mae sends out the lyrics of the song using carrier pigeons. Love it.

Cheers, Lydia!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Happy Ending

Thank you ladies, for your kind and helpful comments regarding my last post. The bird saga played out all afternoon, but had a happy ending.
I put my thinking cap on and here's what I did. I took one of those scrunchy storage bags and dumped some bird seed in the bottom. After that, I realized I might as well stick the whole bird feeder inside it. I hung the bag on the birdfeeder hook and waited patiently for "Blue Flyer," as Duncan named the bird.
Eventually, the bird went down into the bag to get the seed. I snuck up and put this mesh over the top of the bag. Our next-door-neighbour's adult son was over for dinner and he helped get the bird out of the bag and into...
a gerbil cage - which I use to put the little critters in when I'm cleaning out their regular cages. I got the cage at a yard sale a couple of years ago for $1.00 (see, there's always a yard sale connection). I phoned animal services and they told me to make a perch and give it food and water.
Tomorrow, we'll say farewell to this little beauty. We're going to take it down to animal services, where I hope it will be adopted. We've got two cats, four gerbils, a hamster, and three beta fish. We're a bit maxed out with animals right now, otherwise I'd take it.

I was thinking of putting up a few signs later on saying where we're taking the bird.

That's all. What an adventure! I feel like I've done something good today.

Bird Help Needed

This morning, I was standing in our still-being-renovated kitchen talking to my husband who was about to start plastering. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an unusually-coloured bird by our birdfeeder...

We're not tropical bird experts, but we think it's a budgie that either escaped from its home, or was released by its owner.
Amazingly, I was able to get very close to it without it flying off. We've been watching it at the feeder all day. It's so strange watching a domesticated bird interacting with the sparrows. It reminds me a bit of the story Stellaluna about the bat that is taken in by the family of birds.
Isn't it beautiful? I'm worried that if I don't rescue it, the bird will not survive the cold, Canadian winter. I tried catching it with Duncan's butterfly net, but that didn't work. I'm not sure how I can catch the bird without hurting it. I have an empty gerbil cage I can put it in briefly, if I'm able to catch it. I was wondering about trying to throw a light-weight sheet over it. Any thoughts?

Scooter Madness

This morning, I discovered something enchanting in my backyard. I took pictures and will share later.
After doing a bit of school planning for the fall, I went out to Valu Mart (a not-great value grocery store near me that I only go to out of desperation) for a can of coffee. Across the street is Value Village, my neighbourhood thrift store. Alas, there was still nothing going on at VV. I'm kind of glad because until next pay cheque, I really have no business thrifting, even for something super cheap.

Anyway, two eventful things happened while I was out: an elderly woman was singing along to CCR's "Proud Mary," at VV and I nearly got run over by a morbidly obese man 0n a scooter. There should be speed limits for scooters. This guy was thundering down Danforth Avenue (a busy street), and he was weaving in and out of pedestrian traffic while blowing nasty cigarette smoke in everyone's faces. Ick.

So to recap: something magical happened, something funny happened, and I nearly got flattened like a pancake by some hairy-backed smoking machine.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hot Nuts

Yesterday, my husband got some hot nuts. I wasn't sure if I'd like them, but I did. Man, were those nuts hot. The nuts were so hot and spicy, they cleared out my sinuses. Ahhh, I can breathe again.
Have you had hot nuts?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More Disturbing "Manly" Photos in The T.O. Star

The Toronto Star really enjoys getting in those gritty, manly man pictures. I present you exhibit A. You'll remember this from a few weeks back. I dedicate the man hammock picture to Shara, who was equally amused and mortified by the lack of "Brazilians" in the French Alps.
And then, on the front page of today's paper: the Sunday Star nonetheless!

Two dudes socking it out.
This looks like a sport that values pain inflicted on the netherlands of men's bodies. I'd rather be sitting in a café in the Netherlands. Thanks, TorStar. I almost spat out my morning coffee.

Now here's something that will make you smile: the guy from the eighties group Men at Work doing a cameo on Scrubs. Very funny. Love the last scene.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Body, Mind, Spirit - Pole Dancing!

This holistic health/spiritual healing place recently opened up in my community. Just as I took the picture, I realized the staff were sitting at a desk a few feet away from me, probably wondering why I was taking a photograph of their storefront. What do you expect?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vintage Shoe Shine Box

This afternoon, I had a little time to kill, so I popped into my local Value Village store. I bought this terrific shoe shine box. The roto shine shoe buffer was missing, but I was happy enough with the wooden box for $4.99. We're always looking for a place to put the boot polish and shoe brushes. Now we have a place. Strangely enough, my dad used to work for Ronson when I was a child. We had a Ronson blender for years and years.
I like the little foot rest on the top. They'd never make a wooden box to hold an appliance anymore.
In the box fit the other things I bought: a book on mountain goats... I know, I know. Curb your enthusiasm. "MOUNTAIN GOATS - YES!!!!"
And this...
Metal shoe savers. Sweet.

Post Traumatic Tile Disorder

If you haven't checked out Ana's blog, i made it so, do pay a visit. It's full of beautiful photos of homemade goodies and images from around her home. I just know her home smells good. It's like Mom Wald's home. I've never been to her house, but as they say in The Wonder Boys, it looks like, "the kind of house you want to wake up in on Christmas morning." Ana's blog is linked over to the right and it's easy to find because it has a little blog photo of her at work.

Now that I've righteously embarrassed Ana, I thought I'd share a link that she posted in the comments of my last post. I bought that funky bird tile trivet in St. Catharines yesterday.
Ana had the exact same one, but it got smashed up and the story went from bad to worse.
poor little birdie
This is only the beginning! (Reprinted from i made it so, with permission from ana)

It's sad and hilarious all at once. And it makes my little broken Howe Caverns plate seem insignificant by comparison.
This is exactly the sort of thing that would happen to me.

Here's your Friday funny. During my first year teaching, I was in a constant state of stressed-outness. Rather than stick my finger in an electric pencil sharpener, I used to watch this Abba parody from Not the Nine O'Clock News. I'd giggle my sides off at lunch, have a coffee, and get on with the day. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mom's Gift of Pyrex on HER Birthday

Today was my dear mother's birthday. We converged in St. Catharines (a city near Niagara Falls) to celebrate and smother her with love. My mother is amazing. She's so smart, kind, resourceful and sensible. I still turn to her for advice all the time. She's in the process of writing her family history. I thought that maybe she'd written a few pages. She says it's up to 105 pages. She's done a lot of research into her mother's side of the family, which we don't know too much about since her mother came over to Canada from Ireland as a Barnardo child - essentially an orphan. I loved my grandmother very much. She too was an incredible woman.

Happy Birthday Mom! You're the best. I can't wait to read the family history.
I was showing Mom The Pyrex Collective. My family thinks I'm a little blog mad, but when they see what I'm/we're up to, I get respect. I read my post about the Constellation divided dish aloud and my mom told me rather nonchalantly that there were a couple of old Pyrex bowls in the hallway cupboard. Really? I can have them? As you can see from the photo above, I am now the proud owner of the jumbo-sized Crazy Daisy bowl. Mom says she's had it for a long time and couldn't remember exactly where she got it from. My sister Lise gave me the mini mixing bowl of the same design for my birthday. Yeah - another collection. I'm so excited. Thanks again!

I knew that the picture of the lime green bowl wasn't great, but it is seriously blurry. You get the idea. Mom said she got this at a thrift store in Goshen, Indiana, where my brother used to live. She remembers paying $1.00 for it. I believe I have the rectangular lime green oven baking dish to go with this. When our kitchen is finally completed, I can bring down all my Pyrex pieces that are packed away upstairs and take stock of what I actually have.
I nipped into Goodwill to see if there were any treasures. I didn't see much, but I did like this funky sixties/seventies Made in Japan bird trivet. It cost a mere $2.00.
My dad bought these very old electrical wire insulators for Lise, who was interested in collecting them. Apparently, they're quite sought after. Dad got them at a rummage sale at a church he said was tiny and out in the countryside. He said he paid $2.00 for the five pieces. See? This stuff really does run in the family.

About Me

My photo
I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.