what we’ve been up to lately…

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Vintage Bicycle Makeover

Vintage bicyle makeover 1 2

A few weeks ago my youngest daughter had a birthday, and we thought it’d be nice to get her a new bike.  I was chatting with my mom about it and she said she had an old one in her garage.  I don’t think  either of us realized quite how old it was…but it had a certain charm to it.

Bike makeover 2

We gave Maddie the choice of a bike makeover or a new bike, and she thought she’d like the makeover, since she’d be able to choose the colours.  So we bought some spray paint, new handle grips, one new inner tube, since the bike had a flat, a new bike seat cover, a pretty wicker basket, and some steel wool.  My husband removed the tires for me, and I worked on the rusty wheels.

How to remove rust 2

After a little research on-line, I learned that you could remove rust with a little cola and some tin foil or steel wool….and lots of elbow grease.  After much scrubing, we were pleased with the results.

How to remove rust 1

They didn’t come out perfectly, but they were much improved.  Once the wheels and handle bars had most of the rust off, we sealed up our work with a little car wax to hopefully keep the rust away for awhile.

How to paint a bicycle 2

Next it was time for some spray paint. We found the prettiest colour of teal blue, and began taping up the frame.  We made sure to cover the seat, chain, pedals, and handlebars and then started spraying.  I began with the bike upside down best to master the technique on the bottom which will show less.  I gave the bike many, many light coats to try and avoid any drips.

How to paint a bicycle 1

After letting it dry over night, we finally removed all the tape.  It turned out to be so pretty.

Wicker bike basket with flowers 1

Our final little project was to make a retro inspired basket for the front, perfect for bringing Maddie’s teddy bear along for a bike ride.  We wanted to add some flowers to the basket, but didn’t want to do anything permanent, in case Maddie wanted to change it in the future.

Wicker bike basket with flowers 2

Our solution was to hot glue the flowers to a piece of ribbon and then tie the ribbon around the top of the basket.  It still slid around a bit, so I added a few quick stitches with some fishing line to hold it in place.

Bike makeover 3

Maddie loves her “new” bike, and so do I.  I’m so glad we did the makeover.  My favourite part?  Hearing Maddie say while I worked on it in the garage one night, “Mom is the coolest”.  It’s the little things.

How to paint a bicycle 4

I’m not sure which is Maddie’s favourite part…the basket, the shiny new bell, the pretty colour, or that she can now keep up with her older sister.  With a Vintage Bicycle, life really is a party!

Match Jar

Match jar 1 1

Yesterday was Victoria Day here in Canada, the first long weekend of summer and the un-official start to all summer activities, like barbecuing, gardening and camping.  I thought it might be fun to share this little camping hack idea with you today.  It’s super easy, but also super practical.

Match jar 2

When I was a little girl, we had a trailer in the woods, and almost every weekend of the summer we made the two-hour car ride to sit by the campfire, swim in the lake and hike in the woods at our little family get-away.  There was no electricity, no water, and no indoor plumbing.  But, we loved it that way.  We had a little gas stove in the trailer, but unless it was raining, my Dad pretty much always had a campfire going.  For those rainy days, or at night when we needed to light the lanterns, we had a match jar.  It sat by the stove in the trailer, and always provided dry matches, and a place to strike them.  It was a little thing, but like most great life hacks, it sure made life easy when you needed to light a match.

I recently accidentally left a box of matches out on our deck over night, and the dew ruined the cardboard box, it got me thinking that I should throw out the old wrecked box, and make myself a match jar.  Here’s how I did it.

You need:

  • matches
  • a mason jar
  • sandpaper
  • cardboard

Match jar 4

All you need to do is use your jar top to trace out a circle on your sandpaper, and then again on the cardboard, and cut them out.

Place your matches in the jar, insert the sandpaper circle into the lid of the mason jar, and then back it with the cardboard to give it a little support.  You might need a drop of glue, if it isn’t a snug fit.

Match jar 3

Next time you need to light a match, use the sandpaper lid as your striking surface.  The jar will keep your matches nice and dry, perfect for camping, or even just around the house.

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.

Match jar 6

With a DIY Match Jar, life really is a party!

Almond Cake with Raspberry Jam

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I have eaten this cake far more times than I have baked it.

It is a family recipe, on my husband’s side.  You don’t think much about the food you’re marrying into when you choose a spouse.  Inevitably there will be some things around your husband’s family favs that you love and other’s not so much.  This cake was like a marrying bonus,  and everyone in my husband’s family loves it.

Almond cake 2

It’s made by my sister-in-law Keers, and it doesn’t always appear at family functions.  If it’s going to show up, it’s probably someones birthday, but even then you can’t be sure of it.  When we see the almond cake my other sister-in-law and I get excited.  This cake and a cup of tea is pretty much all you need for a least a moment of happiness in your day.

Almond cake 3

I’ve added my own little twist to the cake recipe, made it a triple layer and added raspberry jam.  It’s a winner.  Although, it’s great with just icing too.   And, as cakes go, it’s pretty simple to make.

Almond cake 8

Almond Cake with Raspberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Begin by creaming together the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Next, add in the wet ingredients -the sour cream, eggs, almond and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients -the flour, almonds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over mix.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Divide the batter between three 8-inch cake pans that have been buttered or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  7. Bake for about 30 min, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before icing.
http://www.lifeisaparty.ca/2015/almond-cake-with-raspberry-jam/

I used my favourite buttercream icing, but added a little almond extract to it.  I divided the icing into three bowls and added red food colouring to create three shades of pink icing.  I spread each layer with a thin layer of raspberry jam, and then the icing, from darkest colour to lightest.  It turned out so pretty, and simple.

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We enjoyed the cake for a joint celebration of Mother’s Day and my little sisters birthday over the weekend -see I’m hijacking for my family functions too now.  And now, writing this post, I want all the leftovers.

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Julia Child said “a party without cake is just a meeting”.  This cake ensures it’s no meeting!  With a yummy cake like this, life really is a party!

The White Garden

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When I was a kid, I thought gardening was stupid, a stupid waste of time.  My mom’s a big gardener and I can remember lots of summer days spent playing while she gardened, or being forced to help by weeding.  We had a big veggie garden, which even then I understood.  But flowers, they seemed like so much work for nothing.  And the chief task is trying to get one thing to stop growing -the weeds, and another to grow -the plants, a losing battle it seems.

Now that I’m a little older…I get it.  It’s worth the effort.  It’s even a pleasure most days to get your hands into the dirt, to see things grow, to enjoy the beauty of something so fleeting.  There are lessons to be learned in the garden.  It’s a place that teaches you patience, hope, plan B, diligence, and even how to take pleasure in simple things.  Gardening has become a joy to me.

Garden path 1

I have quite a few little gardens around my house, especially considering how small my yard is, but my very favourite is my white garden.  You probably shouldn’t have a favourite…it’s like a mother having a favourite child, but there’s something about it.  Every flower in it is white…or at least pretty close to it.  It’s situated between my house, deck, fence and pergola, which forms a bit of courtyard.  It’s shaded in the morning, and sunny in the afternoon.

I have loved hunting for white flowers, it’s such an easy deciding factor at the nursery.  It’s white, I don’t have it, I should get it, lol.  Well, there’s always the price range issue, and at this stage in the game I’m pretty much out of room too.  After about 5 years now, I’ve even started taking out the unruly, or underperforming plants as a way to make room for the new, or more of my old favourites.

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I thought it’d be fun this year, to do a little series on the white garden, and follow it through the season.  I hope to post every few weeks and show you what’s in bloom.

White garden 4

Yesterday morning I went out to do a little weeding before taking photos (I wanted her to look her best for you), and before I knew it, it was noon and I was only half done!  How time flies in the garden.

White garden 3

The overview of the garden gives you an idea of each section, it’s divided into four by the intersecting pathways.

White garden 1

What’s blooming right now?

Primroses.  So pretty.  The standard variety, and the drumstick.

White primrose

White drumstick primrose

Snow in summer, a pretty little rock garden plant.

White garden spring 1

The dwarf iris are about to burst forth in bloom, just a couple peeking out now.

White dwarf miniature iris

The bulbs.  We do have some chipmunks and squirrels around so it’s a bit of a challenge -there were lovely white tulips but over the years I think they’ve all become snacks for my friends.

I have a sweet little clump of white narcissus under the French Silk Lilac tree.

White narcissus

White narcissus 2

The white grape hyacinths are blooming too.

White grape hyacinth

One other sweet spring bulb is flowering, the “Spring Snowflake” -I had to look up the name.  It’s pretty bell-shaped flowers are so beautiful.

White spring bulb spring snowflake

The miniature fern-leaf bleeding heart is just starting to flower too.  It’s easy to grow and so pretty, and likes the shade back by the garden gate.

White fern leaf bleeding heart

The larger white bleeding heart is not quite blooming yet, almost.

White bleeding heart

And another spring favourite just about to bloom is the Lilly of the Valley.

Lilly of the valley

Another one that will be covered in blooms in a matter of days, this pretty little spring flowering almond bush.  My mom gave me this one, she started it from a bush that was my grandmas, and it always makes me think of my mom, and her mom when it blooms.

White garden 6

White garden 5

I took most of the white Japanese Anemone out last year, but there’s still a few pieces of it left.  It’s very, very pretty, it just has a tendency to take over.

White japanes anemone

That’s what’s blooming right now, but there is much more to come.  After weeding for the photos, I saw lots more jobs to do -like adding more pea gravel to the path, mulching, putting out the bird bath, and trimming some things back.  I’ll be sure to post another up date soon.

With a pretty white garden like this, life really is a party!

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