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Friday, July 31, 2009

Homemade Helpers - Ants

Lately, one problem we're having is ANTS. And nothing we've bought seems to be working, I noted in a past post, magnesium powder (found in some types of body powder, but read the ingredients to be sure). It seems to be working, since I have not had ONE ant on my bedside table since Adam sprinkled a border of power around me. Because I needed to keep water by my side (from all the stupid pills I had to take), I needed to have an area which was ant-free. They were getting into everything before! But magnesium only keeps them away; it doesn't get rid of them by any means...They then developed a thing for the kitchen counter top.

So, on to the next solution on the list. Adam ordered some boric acid. We can't get it here in Oz all that easily, so he had to order some online (from In North America, it should be pretty easy to access - it's called Borax, and you can use it for stain removal as well. Should be near the laundry stuff -? I have no idea. Anyhow, we're going to make a mixture of that with some egg yolk, which these ants seem to really go for, and hopefully get rid of the colony. It seems ants have discerning palates, and these ones don't have the problem I do - a sweet tooth. They must have protein tooth.

We had tons of ants in our N.Vancouver Slums apartment, and there was nothing that was working to get rid of them. So I used to just feed them - outside. Then they wouldn't bother to come inside. I used to leave pieces of fruit outside, on their trail, and sure enough, they'd stay outside. But who wants to feed ants for the rest of their lives? You might end up getting attached to them, poor little buggers.

So for a sweet solution ant killer, try a mixture of 1/4 tsp boric acid, 1/8 cup corn syrup, and 1.5 tsp water.

For a protein solution, I think Adam did a 1 to 1 ratio using only the yolk, but you need to make sure they can actually live long enough to bring the food back to the nest (ie. not too much boric acid)

The egg yolk mixture worked perfectly for a while. The ants loved it. We also tried the corn syrup mixture, which worked for a little while, but a day later they were done with it, and went back to the egg. We also tried peanut butter, but they didn't even touch it. Supposedly it takes a few days, up to over a week to see the results, but even 24 hours later there are significantly less ants. There was so many ants before, I couldn't even prepare dinner, and we ordered pizza instead.

One of the best ways to keep them away, is to barricade yourself with cinnamon. They HATE it. It works very well. They decided to make a new nest in my orchid, so I baited the pot, and then surrounded it with cinnamon, and they died soon enough, and no more entered. If you have an ant problem, it's a great way to keep them away...but they don't die...I'm not sure we'll ever get rid of these guys, but we're trying...

It's been months now, that we've had ants on the counter, but it seems like if you have the vigilance, and keep baiting, you should be able to get rid of them. We've succeed for the most part, but then they just come back if you leave some dirty dishes sitting out, so be diligent! But then, who actually knows if they left because of us, or because the seasons have changed...


Thursday, July 30, 2009

28 Weeks

Things are going well this week. I am now at physio once every two weeks. My physio therapist has also changed, which is fine, but I liked who I had too. He really pushed me. They've tested my strength again, comparing to the good side, and things are starting to equal out though I am still quite a way off yet. My new exercises are to balance on one foot on my tippy toes for as long as possible. Whew, that one is tough. I have about 30 seconds on my good side, and like 5 seconds on my bad side. I am also supposed to do heel raises on one leg now, which I can do now! I can't quite lift myself all the way up on my bad foot, but getting there. I can do about 12 in a row right now. I am also not getting that acute pain when I walk anymore either. Yay! I am still doing the knee to wall, and it's slow going. I manage to get about 4 cm consistenly now, but it's quite painful. But that's the one I need. I will hopefully start being able to run soon too. Possibly in 2 weeks we'll try. Anyhow, that's the update. Slow going, but getting there...


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vintage Card

Here is another scan from a vintage poster this time, made into a card. I got the image from a lovely book we have, California, Here I Come. I added the text in photoshop, and mounted it onto an orange card-stock background onto a blank card with my fav, eyelets. Boring I know, but it's so effective...


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcakes

I made these for Stef's 18th birthday, which she had in Australia, only a few days before she had to go back home to Germany. She was the third of three students my in-laws have had over the last 6 months, each staying for various periods of time since the new year. I felt so bad Stef had to have her big important celebratory birthday (like a 21st, or a 16th kind of thing) away from her family and friends, but I think we still had a nice night. She even saved a few cupcakes, and managed to take them home with her to Germany. She sent me a photo of her brothers back in Germany eating my cupcakes! Cute.

(Sorry for the crappy photos, I didn't have time to take proper ones)

These were my normal chocolate cake recipe, and a regular butter cream icing. I added teal food colouring, and marshmallow flavouring. I then topped them with chunky sugar crystals. I used the closed star icing tip as well. And of course, everything is from Bake It Pretty!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thread trick

I don't know if this is common knowledge or not, but I never see it on store-bought products. I learned it from the man who we bought our industrial sewing machine from. He included a lesson the night we picked it up. The lesson, I have found, has been invaluable! I use all his little tricks in my normal every day sewing, not to mention the upholstery I've been getting into. This trick is great when you want to make sure your threads are secure, and also, when you don't want a back-stitch to show. I used it to make those notebooks (1 & 2) look a lot neater on the front.

Stop sewing at the same point where you started. You don't want to sew over the thread at the beginning. Cut your work loose.

Pull on the loose thread at the back, or hidden side, of your work, which will start to pull through the top thread.

Once you see the loop, insert a pin, or seam ripper, or something small and pointy, and make the loop bigger, pulling the top thread through to the underside.

Then tie the threads together as close to your work as possible, and cut the ends. In this case, I cut the ends short, so they are hard to notice, but if you use this technique on the underside of your work which will not ever be seen, leave the threads as long as you want, in case they do decide unravel.

Obviously, back- stitching is a quicker and probably safer method, but when looks matter, this is the way to go.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stef's Notebook

I made another note book - WEEKS ago. This one was for Stef, the German exchange student. Since I had one practice, and then Shadê's, this one was neat and tidy! I picked some different colours too. I also printed on both sides of the papers, to make turning the notebook pages a little nicer looking. It made for some fun times trying to figure out how to get the lines and margins to line up on both sides of the sheet. Might have been easier to BUY a notebook, and then punch holes in it. I made a matching tag with Cath Kidston sticker labels too, which I love! Anyhow, I really like these little guys, and I am still planning to make a few more, maybe a nice leather one next...


Friday, July 24, 2009

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins

I have my computer back, if only for a short time, but we'll see. Apple is so great. I talked to a customer service rep, and my wonderful little life-saver of a laptop should be good as new, as soon as I can take it in again. Long story short, the repair place I went to went out of business sometime in the last two weeks but never bothered to call me!? AND wrecked the closing mechanism to keep the lid shut!! Apple was not impressed, and are paying for the repairs, even though it will not be worth the hassle (for them). Anyhoo, on with the show...

The strawberries are so fabulous right now. I am so glad I've been able to go grocery shopping the last few months, and I didn't miss out on ALL the fruit. Pears too! My favorite milkshake (thickshake, for you Aussies) is milk, ice cream, a pear, and pile of strawberries, oh and a splash of vanilla! So good.

But today I am sharing the muffins I made. I almost had a near disaster: the recipe called for "SR flour". I thought the SR was the brand name! You know how companies like to specify brand names on their cut-out-of-the-package-recipes, even though its completely unnecessary? The second before I added my ricotta and strawberries, I wondered aloud how come this recipe had no baking powder and salt. Then it hit me. SR means self-raising! I rarely use self-raising flour, and like I have said before, for some reason, sweet recipes in Oz almost all use self-raising, compared to N. America. I decided to chuck the batch, instead of adding baking powder and salt, since I would then be mixing the dough WAY too much, and we all know that muffins need not be blended, just moistened. Good call, on my part I think. Rather than waste a whole punnet of strawberries and ricotta on inedible rock-hard muffins, I just very quickly made a new batch of batter. And I am glad I did. They are one of the better muffins I have made, says Hubby.

250 g strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped.
2 1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup castor sugar (or fine grained sugar, if possible)
2 eggs
3 tsp melted butter
1 cup milk
1 cup ricotta
demerara sugar (raw cane sugar), to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF
2. Line 12 muffins tins (this batch made 18 muffins for me).
3. Sift flour and cinnamon into a bowl. Add sugar and mix together.
4. Lightly beat eggs in another bowl, and add milk and melted butter. Whisk together.
5. Make a well in dry ingredients, and add liquid to dry ingredients. Stir just until combined.
6. Add 3/4 cup ricotta and strawberries to the mix, and stir lightly.
7. Fill muffin cases and top off with a dollop of ricotta and a strawberry, and sprinkle with raw sugar.
8. Bake 20-25 minutes.

These turned out so nice, and are very moist. I think I would have also preferred the ricotta in larger chunks in the batter too. Not sure how to effectively do that, but possibly use cream cheese instead? I also thought the one small dollop on top looked a little weird after baking. I think if I do it the same way, I will put more on top, and less in the batter.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weeks 24, 25, 26 & 27

These are notes I have been taking over the last 3.5 weeks, feel free to not read this :)


I wasn't going to keep posting progress notes, but I might find it interesting later on...and you don't have to read it anyhow. I know it's boring. This week has also been slow. And I am so sick of this. I am having dreams where I am running on the beach, and I had another dream last night where I was hiking, and I was so strong I was carrying other people down on my shoulders. *sigh*

I tried riding bike last week, and that was good. Except our tire pump broke, so can't ride again until we get a new one. I also tried to walk down to the beach. I didn't get very far, like, not even to the beach. I really am hating this. I'm so tired all the time, I can't get enough done to keep ahead of the game, and I just get so down on myself. I can easily sleep for 12 hours a day, and have a nap somewhere in the middle.

Knee to wall was still the same. 3cm, if I can even get that. But it has been more consistent. Last week's physio was really good. They tried a few other techniques, which did work really well. It's amazing. I was having a really sore and stiff day, barely getting the knee-to-wall, but they put a small wedge under my heel near the arch of my foot, and suddenly I could do an easy 2cm knee-to-wall with no pain. I was walking better and faster, and it felt great! They then taped me up using sports tape, and I am told to keep it on for as long as I can. It feels great. The pain has shifted, and is more acute, but I feel stronger and more stable, and I am walking almost without a limp. I love physio. The ski boot has been downgraded!

But, all in all, I just want to get off these nerve drugs, and see some dr's at the pain clinic and get back to NORMAL. Normal would be so nice. I haven't touched the ocean in 24 weeks. I haven't done a whole lot of anything in 24 weeks.

I touched the ocean! Week 25 has been quite good! I even cried. It felt absolutely amazing to walk on sand again! I didn't realize it, but I was kind of holding the ocean as a goal, as a goal that means I am almost better, since walking down to the ocean on my beach is no small feat for someone with a broken ankle. It's deep and steep sand that you have to walk over to get to the water. I was so happy. I am so happy. It's still a long road, but I am feeling up to the challenge again.

I had a day of a lot of walking, and it was pretty difficult. I was very sore, and tense. I kept waking up with cramps in my foot that night. It's brutal. I find it hard to do my exercises because my foots twists and cramps up very easily. I've had to rope hubby into some foot massages, which seem to help a lot. I tend to tense up while I walk, since my foot gets quite sore while I walk. As you put all your body weight onto your foot, it spreads out, and I find that quite painful still. Pretty much all my waking hours feel like I have just moved from an uncomfortable position, and need to stretch.

Physio was great this week, and not quite so intensive. But now we're getting somewhere. I don't know what triggered the sudden improvements either. I might be leaving that plateau now. I am now able to do everything more or less normally too. I got 5cm away from the wall in my knee-to-wall exercises too, which was so great!


SIX MONTHS. I can't believe it's been 6 months to the day (minus about 3.5 hours). What an ordeal. I never expected this. The night I fell, I thought, "crap, but whatever, I will home tonight, and have a cast for 6 weeks. It's going to suck, but it'll be over shortly". Ha. Actually it's not funny at all. Anyhow, the worst is over, I hope!

I had another good week! And Physio was informative for me too. I am now moving onto more strength training, and intense exercises, like balancing on my bad leg, and once I can do that, balancing on my bad leg while standing on a pillow. Then I move to balancing with eyes closed. Already I can now balance on my bad leg for 15 seconds! I am doing heel raises, and moving onto single heel raises (by raising my heel while on my bad leg - ie. standing only on my bad leg on my tippy-toes.) I am walking pretty much normal speed, but sometimes I am reduced to an old lady limp. I am now being cut down to physio every two weeks! It's so great, I am finally getting somewhere! I have also cut back on my nerve meds by 1/3 and so far so good. I've been on the lower dose for 6 days now, and I seem to be coping with that, which almost makes me want to cry. I was so scared of developing chronic nerve pain (which I still might), but it seems to be lessening now that I am getting even more back to normal. My flexibility has noticably impoved a lot in the last two weeks as well.

I went for a real walk in the sand today, and it was hard, but good! My joint *feels* perfectly healthy and strong - I hope it really is. It just seems my muscles still need some development. I kind of feel like you do when your foot falls asleep, but you need to get up and walk anyhow. I don't mean the tingling, but the careful placement of your foot so you don't hyper-extend anything. It's like you semi-trust your joints and muscles to carry you, even if you can't quite feel what is going on. I can feel everything, but I walk like I can't. I just make a step and hope I keep stable. But I am feeling a lot stronger now, able to lead with my bad leg and trust it to carry my full weight by itself, if only for a few seconds.

So, I am once again hopeful I will heal nicely!

I am only half way into week 27, and once again I am disheartened. I am having such acute pain in my joint, I cannot walk sometimes. But when the times are good, I can walk almost normally. It seems to be either really good, or really bad. I am not liking this more painful experience. I don't feel as sore all over, but I definitely get pain a lot stronger now, but only in one area. I am getting stronger and stronger though, and I keep noticing that. I need to keep positive. I am still having trouble with my sleeping too. I am constantly tired from the anti-depressants, and I just cannot wait to get off them! Anyhow, I have some beautiful photos to post, but my computer STILL isn't back yet from the shop...


Monday, July 13, 2009

Cachet Cakes

Ok, I was able to sneak a few more minutes on the computer (ok, it's not that bad) and I thought I would post a real quick one about my very talented little sis. GO HERE! Cachet Cakes! I know there are a few Chilliwackians and Vancouverites who read this blog Lauren for your next gig. She's sure to please. I was so totally impressed by her latest cake. Check this out:

And she does some real elegant ones too. Go to her site to see everything she's done so far. Beautiful. And I'm not biased.


Thursday, July 9, 2009


My computer is sick probably no posts until it gets back. I'm on borrowed time right now; Hubby is out helping Father-in-law, so I can use his computer while he's gone...but I had a few things to post, and now they will wait in the queue until I can get back to them.

In the meantime, I was very saddened to see that a copycat shop has opened up online, stealing business because of brand confusion, from my favorite shop. I have been raving about Bake It Pretty for months now, on this blog, and to anyone who will listen, or anyone who has paid a compliment to my cupcakes. I searched all over the internet for a cute, quirky, baking supply shop that wasn't a mega company, like Wilton, or something. All of the other baking supply online stores were a major rip off, didn't have everything I wanted (even though they had thousands of products), or made another killing off the shipping prices. Even shops here in Australia don't compare (none that I have found). Australia is TRULY lacking in any sort of niche market supplies. You should see the "craft and sewing" store which is meant to service the entire Sunshine Coast. It's a joke. Though Bake It Pretty is based in the US, it was way cheaper for me to go through her, than even the larger supply companies in Australia, and they didn't even have the supplies I was after anyhow.

When I found Bake It Pretty, I was the most excited I had been in a long time (this was during my bed ridden days). I ordered myself some supplies, and then ordered another package to be sent to my sister for her birthday. Dealing with Bake It Pretty was easy and she always answered my questions almost immediately (despite me not knowing this little business is keeping her, her husband and her sister employed full time). Great customer service! It was so nice to deal with a mom&pop shop, actually be able to email someone when I had a question, and actually have them email me back! Not to mention paying for two orders which needed to be shipped to two different countries. No problems at all (a lot of online companies won't ship to an alternate address than your credit card billing address).

I came across this message board from reading the Bake It Pretty owner, Amanda's, personal blog. Turns out someone has opened an online shop almost exactly the same as her's. It's so sickening, and I can't believe people do this. What blows my mind is hearing about all this copycatting in CREATIVE FIELDS! Isn't that an oxymoron? I am so appalled, I thought I would blog about it, and try to get others to see what is going on, even if it is only a few people. Have a look at the Bake It Pretty shop, and consider supporting the hard working individuals who have invested years in research and development, who are trying to make it work by themselves, and who only supply the best products (at very reasonable prices too!).

Shop Bake It Pretty! They are the Original!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vintage Card

Here is an example of one of the vintage cards I have. I scanned it, and added the "happy birthday" text in photoshop. I sent two of them to friends who both recently had their 30th birthdays and were born in '79. I mounted it on brown card to try and give it a real 70's feel. I thought I would kindly remind them of the decade they came from :)

Had a busy weekend...more projects and recipes to come...


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shadê's Notebook

Well, I am kinda into these little notebooks lately, hopefully doing one for myself one of these days too. The latest was for the lovely exchange student my in-laws had for the past 6 months; Shadê, who is from Brazil. She was such a delight to have around. Very funny, smart, indepenent, and so fun to be with, always joking. After the journal-y thing I did for Amy, I wanted to do something a little smaller, with a more general purpose, and I was also thinking one with a spine would be nice. As luck would have it, THE SAME DAY I googled "book binding", and while waiting for the page to load, checked out my regualar blog list, I came across this post, and tutorial. Perfect! Though, I wasn't smart enough to understand all the instructions, and didn't have any of the right materials, I made do, and it turned out pretty good! I'd love to get my hands on some binding tape, but I have a feeling, like everything else in Australia, it's not avaliable locally, and if it is, it's a total rip off. I have another one to make for the second exchange student, Steph, from Germany. I will try and do a step by step with my more meagre supplies.

For materials, I used red & silver sparkle vinyl, red poly/cotton and some interfacing for the spine, 1" hinged rings (bigger ones would be nicer, but I can't find them in this two-horse town), industrial spray adhesive, cardboard from a ceral box to help with rigidity for the covers, and eyelets used with my birthday present from last year, a button / eyelet press. I also sewed along the edges of the covers. I'll try to show how-to photos on my next one. I also printed off more paper patterns from the same places as listed in Amy's journal post linked above, and finished it off with a cute little feather and some organza ribbon for presentation.