Dogs and Canoeing

Dogs can be unpredictable. Especially puppies!  We have recently acquired a new puppy.  Rider the adventure dog!  At the time where we decided to introduce him to the canoe he was about five and a half months.  I acquired a life jacket for him because I am a safe and responsible individual.  Also he’s not a super experience swimmer yet and if he jumped and swam to shore and got tired.  Too much safety isn’t always a bad thing.  To get him accustomed to it, I made him wear it around the house the day before and morning of.  He wasn’t super impressed at first but warmed up eventually.

The first thing on our list was to find a location with relatively calm water.  I didn’t want super big waves for the dogs first time in my canoe.  We found a bend on the South Saskatchewan River at the Fred Heal Canoe Launch. It was perfect with lots of sandbars.

 

I had purchased a cheap bathmat from the dollar store.  I, unfortunately forgot I had a large puppy and didn’t buy a bigger one.  I did this so that he didn’t slip around and had some stability.  It worked well and he was pretty much glued to it.  Initially my wife and I loaded him up and set off just off the shore.  As I suspected he promptly jumped in the water and swam to the shore.  Luckily we were only 15 feet away.  Next on the plan was to let the wife walk along the shore in case he did it again and row around with just him.  I constantly was speaking in a reassuring voice to keep him calm.  Eventually he settled in and laid down.

Once he was more comfortable I pulled over to a sandbar and my amazing wife hopped in.  Note the matching lifejackets.  Aren’t they cute? Completely….  planned..

 

Eventually he was good to go.  He even got back in the canoe after we stopped on an island somewhat willingly.

Problems we had:

It was a hot day and he would get thirsty and try to lean over and drink.  A 60 lb dog leaning over the side of a canoe randomly isn’t good for stability.  Next time I will bring some sort of water bucket for him.  I will try to fashion something that will hang down so that he can’t knock it over.

A lot of the problems we had were because of what my wife calls “Puppy Brain” .  Things like him wanting to swim, so he swims.  Gradually over time this should disappear as he gets older.

A couple more times out and I think he will be good to go for the canoe, furthering his abilities as Rider the Adventure dog!

Here is a picture of him doing his best muskrat impression.

 

Next up…. to teach him to fish.

Small pallet decorative box

For our wedding, we decided to give each of our three kids gifts during the ceremony.   The two boys got amazing multi tools.

I first used one of the knives to measure the size.  I just used spare pallet wood for all this and left the edges pretty rough.

I cut several pieces and one by one attached using brass corner brackets. 

More attaching on side two.

I had also acquired some little brass hinges.  This was the hardest part because I didn’t want to smash the box.







Demonstrating they work!

I used a little clasp to keep it closed.

Finished product.  They loved it and the boxes now store the knives when they are put away.  It’s more of a display than anything.  Which is what these boxes are meant for as the corner pieces etc don’t hold them together the best.

The inside.

Lavender Goats Milk Soap

Yes I know, it  has been a while and I’m sorry!  I have a bunch of updates coming in the next couple weeks though!  Since Valentines Day is here I figured I’d start with what I made for my wife.  I couldn’t post it till Valentines though since that would ruin the surprise! She like’s soap so I made a bunch of different soaps for her.

The first is goats milk soap.  I used:

Coconut Oil

Goats Milk Soap Base

Oatmeal

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender Dried Buds

Freshware Soap Molds

Here is a showing of the ingredients I used. Note the colouring

Here is a showing of the ingredients I used. Note the colouring

I melted the goats milk soap base and coconut oil in a double boiler. You can also melt the soap base in the microwave but I'm better than that.

I melted the goats milk soap base and coconut oil in a double boiler. You can also melt the soap base in the microwave but I’m better than that. Make sure you cut the soap into cubes or you’ll be waiting a while.

This is the lavender essential oil I used. I dripped about 18 drops into the mixture.

This is the lavender essential oil I used. I dripped about 18 drops into the mixture.

This is an action shot of me pouring the lavender buds into the soap and coconut oil mixture. You can tell it's an action shot but the camera blur.

This is an action shot of me pouring the lavender buds into the soap and coconut oil mixture. You can tell it’s an action shot but the camera blur.



After the essential oils and the lavender petals have been stirred into the mixture.

After the essential oils and the lavender petals have been stirred into the mixture.  Once it’s all mixed you pour it into the molds.

After pouring into the molds, I added the colouring. I put a couple drops in and swirled it around with a toothpick. I then proceeded to add oatmeal and do the same.

After pouring into the molds, I added the colouring. I put a couple drops in and swirled it around with a toothpick. I then proceeded to add oatmeal and do the same.  Don’t use quick oats for soap.  Make sure it’s rolled!

A close up view of the soap in the mold. After about 45 minutes I was able to take it out and let it solidify further outside of the mold.

A close up view of the soap in the mold. After about 45 minutes I was able to take it out and let it solidify further outside of the mold.

 

Obligatory dog photo of Weston the super dog enjoying snow.

Obligatory dog photo of Weston the super dog enjoying snow.

Finished product! I hope she likes it.

Finished product! I hope she likes it.

 

Wall Hung Jewelry Cabinet

Do you have a cat?  The Missus has a cat.  The cat likes shiny objects.  Objects like her jewelry.  Thus the lady requested I make her a wall hung jewelry cabinet to counter the mischievous cat. (I suggested just to get rid of the cat but I was informed that wasn’t an acceptable option).  Luckily her birthday was coming up and it worked as a wonderful birthday gift.

Handmade Jewelry cabinetWall Hung Jewelry Cabinet

My parents just recently put wood slats on their ceiling and had a lot left, so wood was taken care of,  I acquired some dowel (two different sizes) and I also used some molding to hold it all together.

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The wood slats had nice little grooves that the wood fit into.  I added wood glue to hold them together like a boss.  Note my amazing G-shock watch that my fiance gave me as a engagement gift. It has a compass and everything!IMG_9714

I used finishing nails for this project. This is the door from the backside.  The moulding is on the front holding the boards all together.IMG_9719

Front side of door.  See how fancy it is?
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To install the dowel for the earring holding area I used a drill press and drilled two measured holes on each side for the dowel.IMG_9717

Then used glue to hold them in and give some extra support.IMG_9718

I don’t have a picture of it but I had clamps on the sides to push the dowel in together.IMG_9720

I installed moulding on the inside for extra support for the sides as well as the top and the shelf. I did use a clamp to hold it all together while I nailed it.  I also used wood glue for extra durability as we have three kids in our house and things fly all over the place.
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The start of the production of the interior shelving units.  I used a large dowel for a watch holder.  I used the same method for this as the dowel for the earring holders. These ones however I also screwed in from the ends since the dowel was much bigger.IMG_9723

Holding it all together with clamps.  If there is one thing you take away from my blog is that clamps are amazing and you should have many many of them.  This is wisdom passed down from my father that I will pass down to my children as well.  Note the shelves I cut a little diagonal chip off the corners to account for the moulding.  In hindsight I think it would have been better to cut the moulding into pieces but this worked.  Nailed it all together again.IMG_9724

The barewood inside.  On the right of the watch holder area I will be putting in something for ring holding.IMG_9726




This is giving you an idea on what it will look like eventually once the hinges etc are all on.
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I also made a drawer for the bottom out of the wood.  It’s not shown here as it somewhat frustrated me a little. I also installed two pieces of dowel sticking out to hold bracelets.  You can see them in a later picture.

I used chalk paint to finish it.  I’ve never used it before. I got it from Mable and Martha’s vintage shop here in Regina.

 

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Painting in progress.  Outside done.  Note the bracelet holder dowels.  They’re exciting! You can also see the drawer in this shot.IMG_9729

Finished painting!  Letting dry now.  Next step is the waxing after the paint dried.IMG_9735

This is the hard to see wax I used. I also bought from the same paint place. It’s made from beeswax and gives a pearl finish.IMG_9737

You have to use a fancy wax brush for this.  When cleaning the brush after use hot water as it will melt the wax right off.IMG_9736

It’s all waxed and painted now.  It is time to install the ring holder cushion. I bought a seat pillow for my cushion and some canvas for my wrap.  I cut the cushion into four pieces and wrapped them in fabric.  I used glue to make them stay in place.   IMG_9741

Here the ring holder is in place.   Note I also made a couple earrings for the cabinet as well.  You can see them in the background (little balls in hoops).  Although it’s been over a week and I still haven’t seen them in her ears.IMG_9742

Time for hinge installation.
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No my hands did not get feminine all of a sudden.  My daughter aided me in this part.  She drilled the pilot holes for the hinges and then screwed them in.  She’s a good little helper for things like this.  By little I mean she’s almost as tall as me by the way.IMG_9744

More proof those aren’t my hands. I don’t wear stuff like that.IMG_9745




Finished, assembled and installed on the wall.  She loved it and my mission was accomplished.  This is after she started to add stuff to it.  I put it on the wall with three screws.  Had to anchor two of them but it’s on there solid.IMG_9749

Closed.  Note I did add a knob too.  You always need a good knob.IMG_9750

I have all the stuff I used (including some jewelry) in my easy to use Amazon store.  Go visit and buy stuff!  I’ve got a wedding and schooling to pay for!  Also this stuff costs money!

 

 

Wash bin Pond

I had always wanted some sort of water feature in my backyard.  I came upon this washbin and containers and decided that this was the time.  I wanted one where the little containers poured into the big container.  Just had to figure out how to do that.

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Eureka!  I figured it out!  I used some 90 degree brackets for this.  However I didn’t want them at 90 degrees.  Out came the blow torch. I heated them up and slowly bent them with pliers until they were at the angles I wanted.  Note the lack of level on the camera shot.  It’s hard to hold a camera, blow torch and pliers at the same time!IMG_5548

This is where they sat on the bottom oval container.  IMG_5549

Screwed in. I have a habit of using what I have a home. Also I’m broke and thus didn’t want to spend money so thus boom random bolts and nuts used! IMG_5551

Final placement for oval container number one. It is on an incline, I promise!  Also looks like I have mastered gravity.IMG_5552

 

Number two attached.  Still looks like I can control gravity.  In fact.  Lets say that.  I control gravity.IMG_5558

I covered the bolt heads with silicone to help seal it.  I did the top and bottom just to be sure.  Waited a good 24 hours for it all to dry.IMG_5559

Dry run before everything is added.  I found a simple nozzle from Home Depot for the fountain part at the top. I also picked up a very small pump from Canadian tire similar to this one at Amazon. However after researching a bit I wish I had gone for this solar fountain pump. Oh well. I ended up installing a electrical outlet back up behind that log in the top right for this project.  Luckily I figure I can use it for the lights on my tree as well.  So I guess it’s not all bad.IMG_5565

Here it is all done in all it’s glory. I put a piece of limestone in the bottom for extra weight just in case.  It also helps hold the pump down. A couple plants for oxygenation purposes and three goldfish that all look differently so that Damian can name them and tell which is which.  Apparently this is something the pet store hears often.
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Here is one of the yet to be named goldfish poking his head out from under the rock where he likes to hide.  I will update and let you know the names when they occur. I know you’re on the edge of your seat awaiting.IMG_5569

Backpacking the Elk Trail at Prince Albert National Park

I had some time this last week to go on a solo backpacking trip. I’ve done a ton of solo hikes before but never anything over night so this would be a new experience.  Initially the plan was to do Grey Owls Trail in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, however once I got up there I discovered that the road to the trail head had been washed out and the nearest place to park was about 40 km away.  I was disappointed to say the least.  I moped around the townsite of Waskesui for about an hour trying to decide what I wanted to do.  The park office had suggested another trail on the south end of the park so I decided that would be the route I took.  Originally I was expecting about 12 km hiking with my full pack to a site, then 15 to Grey Owl’s and back to campsite with a smaller one.  Easy peezy.  This new hike was described as 13 km to the campsite but I didn’t think that extra kilometre was that bad.  After notifying the proper people of my change in plans I set out to the trail head of the Elk Trail


This is the Elk Trail that I hiked.  I GPS’d it myself.  Strangely enough my GPS said it was a 15km hike into the site and the park said 13km.  Someone is lying.  I believe the GPS more.  I started in the southeast corner of this map and trudged north west passed Sandy Lake and onward to Fish Lake for the night.
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It was a trip of firsts.  My first overnight solo, my first backpacking trip in years and years, and my first night sleeping in a hammock out in the woods. I wasn’t sure about the hammock yet as I had never done it before so I actually brought a tent with me as well.  Once I got to the site I setup my hammock and took a nap.  When I woke up a very fit lady in her 60’s or so showed up at set this up.  I didn’t feel like being shown up so hammock it is!

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I didn’t take any pictures of my hammock setup for some reason.  However here is one I sent to make people at home feel jealous of my relaxing outdoors.  It’s my beautiful feet.  In the end I did have a tarp strung up over top of me in case of rain.  It was a good sleep.  The hammock is a double so I could cocoon myself into it to fend off scary mosquitoes.  IMG_20160607_142758

I learned a lesson about backpacking on this trip.  Since I am usually doing canoe trips I hadn’t backpacked in a long time. On a canoe trip I can take a lot more stuff.  Unfortunately I packed like I was doing a canoe trip, which meant I took way way too much.  I was pretty tired when I made it to the site.  The trip out was even worse.  It took me just over three hours to get in and five hours to hike out.  At the end I was taking a break every twenty minutes.  It was rough.

The trail was pretty good.  It wasn’t a lot of ups and downs.  They apparently don’t maintain it but it looked pretty maintained. It would be a good trip via snowshoe in the winter as well methinks.  Here is a couple pictures from the trail.

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Here is one from one of my frequent breaks on the way out.  I was tired.  And sore.IMG_5531

This is a panoramic view of the campsite.  Mind the mess on the tables.    IMG_20160607_154452_panorama

The park office told me the trail and campground weren’t maintained.  They had a brand new outhouse stocked with toilet paper.  Also if you look closely you can see the wood is also neatly stacked.  Pretty nice for “not maintained”

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These are some shots from my site the night.  The lake seemed to be rather high.  I’m not sure if it was due to high water levels in general or beaver activity.  It ruined all opportunity to fish though and I wasn’t happy with that.  Also the lake was filled with leaches which also isn’t fun.
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The next morning I took this one.

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Overall I’d probably do the trail again at a later time.  I still want to get back to do Grey Owl’s again.  Hopefully the road will be open again soon.

Update on potato and strawberry planters

If you look back in time at my previous posts, I have created a stand up strawberry planter and a stand up potato planter. I thought I’d post an update after stuff grew on them!

 

Here is the strawberry planter with genuine strawberries in them!  Well actually there is no strawberries yet but they’re growing.

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Here is the stand up potato planter.  It’s got plants growing out of the top and the sides cause that’s the way potatoes roll.

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Ginger Rhubarb Jam

I have a mutant Rhubarb plant in my backyard.  It’s only the beginning of June and I have had to cut it back four times already!  I have been able to pawn off a lot on my retired mother who in turn supplies the family and neighbourhood with rhubarb crips and pies.  This time however I have taken it upon myself to make rhubarb jam.  I like a good jam.  Occasionally a jelly.  But I’m really a jam guy.IMG_20160612_125113

I cut my mutant rhubarb plant (I call him Stan) today.  This was the haul I got today.   Probably cut less than a quarter of it down.  I used an Odouls can for scale.  I did let my mother steal more from today’s haul.

The Recipe:

8 cups rhubarb all chopped up into bits and pieces

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup shredded ginger

Lemon zest

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Here is the Rhubarb all chopped up and measured out.IMG_5541

I zested the lemon with a cheese grater because I am resourceful and responsible.  I then cut the lemon and squeezed it to juice up the mix.

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A nice shot of all the mix together. Sugar, lemon, rhubarb, ginger all together on the stove ready to heat up on the stove in medium heat.

I have at this point also got the big pot boiling with the jars that are sterilizing.

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I also took a quick snack of rhubarb and sugar.  Well maybe a couple.  This may be a reason why losing weight isn’t happening…

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I also made a batch with added strawberries as a side project.  I hope it goes well.    I only used four cups of rhubarb and one cup of sugar for this batch.

I proceeded to fill jars, then set them gently in the boiling water pot and boiled for a whopping ten minutes.  Then removed, set on the racks and waiting for the lids to pop.  All jars successfully made the lovely popping sound.

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In total I got five jars of the Rhubarb Ginger Jam and two of the Strawberry Ginger Rhubarb.  Once I eat them  I will let you know how tasty they are and you can salivate at my descriptions and fume with jealousy.

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I even made the most hip jam labels imaginable.

Open Letter to Governments

Dear Municipal, Provincial, and Federal, Governments,

 

After the event last night, I felt that I must write something about the conduct of our government.  This isn’t just about #elbowgate which trended directly after incident.  I am proud to be Canadian.  Canada is Open Letter to Governments traditionally, polite, kind, and reserved.  I have not seen this lately.    This open letter is about how the government acts as a whole.  All governments, municipal, provincial and federal.

After watching the video, I noted that the NDP MP’s were blocking the Conservative whip from getting through to delay to vote.  Then the Prime Minister angrily walks across the floor to grab the whip from the group and pull him out, accidently elbowing a female NDP MP in the process.  Keyword here is accidentally.  What the Prime Minister did is unacceptable, he should in no way have grabbed the whip physically and moved him.  However, at the same time it’s also unacceptable for the NDP MP’s to be trying to block another person physically.  They should equally be ashamed of their actions.  The video didn’t portray upstanding professionals, it portrayed childish behaviour on all parts.  The opposition parties continued to attack the Prime Minister on his behaviour during his apology without acknowledging their actions as well were not becoming of professionals. Unfortunately, a historic apology was made the same morning as the incident that was overshadowed by an event blown out of proportion.

The rise in attack ads seems to be very prominent as of late as well.  I have three children. How do I explain to them that making fun of others or straight out insulting people is unacceptable when the leaders of our country are doing it on a regular basis?  I would love if one of these parties would come and explain why this is acceptable behaviour to my children.  How do they explain it to their own children that they can go to work, insult people and act unprofessional?

I have thought about taking my kids to go see a debate live.  However, I don’t know if I would like to expose them to this behaviour that I see exhibited regularly by our members of government.  I have heard of teachers that have quit taking classes to see debates because of this behaviour as well.  My parents raised me to be respectful and generous to others. Didn’t yours?  This should be a wake up call for governments that how they behave isn’t appropriate, but instead they are too involved with yelling, insulting and being rude to anyone that doesn’t agree with them.

I’m not picking sides or a preference for an individual party in this letter. I am directing this at all politicians.  You are not just the leaders of our country, you are the inspiration for a lot of young people.  Please learn from your mistakes.  Act your age.  Be role models. You are the face of Canada.  You were voted in to represent all of us.  Act appropriately.

 

Sincerely

Matthew Thompson