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Jun 20, 2018

Recovering a Patio Lounge Cushion


We've had the new dogs home for about six weeks now, and everything is going along fairly well.

squad goals

There are some ups (the new dogs don't have to be on leash when we go outside in the backyard) and some downs (I threw out the living room rug this weekend because I am so tired of steam cleaning out the bathroom "accidents").

We've also come to realize that, like most-two year-olds, they still need a lot of supervision or they get into mischief.

We spent a lovely Sunday out on the back deck a couple of weeks ago. Everyone was having a good time, and Scarlett discovered the joys of basking in the sun on the lounger.


Sweet face, right? Don't be fooled, there's a devil lurking in there. A few hours later, while we were inside eating dinner, we heard the two little dogs galloping back and forth, jumping over things and chasing each other. But then there was a loud ripping noise and we ran out to see what had happened.

We found this:


They were so proud of themselves. Tom had to hide his laugh behind his hands. I wasn't so happy because I love that lounger. Our neighbour gave it to us and the cushion is thick. Like six inches thick.


How do you replace that? Well first, you spend your lunch hour the next day searching every online site that delivers to Canada. Then you visit several stores after work. But you end up with nothing that even comes close. Unless you want one custom-made for $$$$.

I was preparing myself mentally to just suck it up and settle on a thinner cushion, but decided to take a stab at repairing and recovering the ruined one instead. I went through my fabric stash to see if I had anything suitable for outdoor use and found some patterned material that was sturdy, yet still soft and velvety.


I restuffed the cushion with the foam and batting that had been torn out, then used thick thread to sew as much of the shredded fabric back together as possible, just to give a framework for the new material. (No pics, sorry.)

At first I only recovered the damaged section, and I was pretty happy with that.

recovered patio lounge cushion

But then I started thinking it would look even better if the entire side was the same. So out came the fabric and sewing machine again, and I covered the top section as well. Hey, I was right, it did look better.

recovered patio lounge cushion

I'm so happy with it now. It looks intentional. It almost looks like I know what I'm doing or something. :-) I hate to admit it, but I even like it better than the original. Should I thank the little hooligans for making it happen?

recovered patio lounge cushion

recovered patio lounge cushion

recovered patio lounge cushion

recovered patio lounge cushion



May 15, 2018

Welcome to the Family (Dadli Dogs)

Our trip to Antigua a few weeks ago wasn't just for a beach vacation. It was to adopt these two adorable ragamuffins. We're happy to introduce you to Scarlett (previously named Unity) and Zac, our newest family members. They are Native Antiguan dogs (or NADs). NADs are also called "Dadli Dogs" after the original name of the island (Wadadli). They are true mutts; every dog is a little bit different.


PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

When we were on Antigua last February, we spent a day at the PAAWS animal shelter walking the dogs and playing with the puppies. PAAWS Antigua is a no-kill shelter that relies solely on donations (no government funding) to keep it going. The employees have little time to walk and socialize the dogs so they welcome tourists and visitors to come by and help out.

Our Chloe is getting older and isn't up for playing much anymore. Last summer we started thinking about getting a younger dog so that Sasha would have someone to run around with. We tried adopting through a few of the local shelters and rescues, but were turned down either because we don't have a fenced property (we have 15 acres of rural land) or because they wanted their dogs to go to a single-dog home.

Of the many dogs we walked last year on Antigua we had taken a special liking to Unity. She's a sweet little thing who was found wandering in Parham in 2016 at only 8 weeks old.

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

We contacted PAAWS to find out if she was still available and (sadly and happily) she still was. They told us she was very close to her kennel-mate Zac though, and asked if we would be willing to take both. How could we say no?

We were familiar with Zac as we had walked him last year when we walked Unity. He'd also been at the shelter since 2016, arriving a few months after her. He's outgoing and energetic and in love with everyone he meets.

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

So began the long process of getting the dogs to Canada. The biggest obstacle to adopting an island dog is the cost involved. There are:
- the medical expenses (making sure they have all of their shots and paperwork),
- the flight costs (more than twice as much if they are unaccompanied), and surprisingly,
- the cost to send a travel crate to the shelter (it costs the shelter over $300 to buy one on island).

The options were either 1) have them shipped as cargo, or 2) fly to Antigua to get them. Of course, we would then be paying for our own flights, but we would also get a vacation out of the deal. We spent quite a bit of time working it out with the shelter and watching flight prices until we finally decided to fly there in April. We managed to find two used travel crates on Kijiji (like Craigslist) for $50 each - a shout out to Free Korean Dogs for selling them - and packed one suitcase between us so that we wouldn't have to pay for extra baggage.

Once we were on the island, in between some hiking and beach R&R, we spent time taking the dogs to the vet for their rabies shots, helping out at the shelter, and visiting the government vet to get the final paperwork approved.

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

I'll admit that I didn't really enjoy the last couple of days of vacation as I was so stressed out about the return trip. But it ended up being so easy. We got the dogs checked in, paid our fees, and then tried to relax before the flight. The flight itself was a bit bumpy and there was a medical emergency on board that we thought might re-route our plane to Miami, but it ended up going smoothly. Once in Toronto we visited border security to have our paperwork inspected, paid our fee, and we were on our way home.

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

Since then it's been very busy at our place. The dogs eat in shifts and we go outside for pee breaks a lot. The new dogs have an entire room to themselves right now (with a DIY gate!) so that we can keep them separated from Chloe and Sasha when we aren't home (We don't need any arguments to break out without a referee present!)

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

It's been nearly three weeks and Scarlett and Zac are gradually getting used to their new home and becoming part of our "pack".

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

They're venturing out to explore the rest of the house more, getting into everything, and just yesterday Zac tried to get Sasha to play with him for the first time.

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs
PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

We're so happy to have them here. And so happy that we could do a small part to help the animals of Antigua. If you would like to adopt or donate, you can contact PAAWS Antigua directly.

And if you are vacationing on Antigua, or know someone who is, consider being a flight volunteer to get one or more dogs to their forever home. It costs you absolutely nothing and the shelter will handle all of the paperwork/arrangements at both ends of your flight.

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs

PAAWS Antigua dadli dogs





May 6, 2018

Antigua - April 2018

Hey All! We just got back from another amazing trip to Antigua. You may remember that we vacationed there last February for the first time (for a refresher: recaps one & two).

antigua english harbour shirley heights

This time we did a lot of hiking, a bit of beach-going, and spent a few days with the local shelter dogs.

We stayed at the Jolly Beach Resort again (now the Starfish Jolly Beach Resort) on the southwest side of the island. It's an all inclusive resort that was central to all of the places we wanted to go. The grounds are beautiful and it has the best beach on the island.

starfish jolly beach resort antigua


We had a lot we wanted to do in a week so we got to hiking right away. We tried a new trail this time - from Wallings Dam on Fig Tree Drive to Rendezvous Beach on the southern coast.

wallings dam antigua

Wallings Dam was built in the late 1800s to supply 13 million gallons of water to the surrounding towns. In the early 1910s, after several years of drought, the reservoir was drained and the area has now become a historical site with picnic facilities and hiking trails.

wallings dam antigua
wallings dam antigua
wallings dam antigua

In the picnic area are different species of trees with informational plaques about each. How about these frightening looking ones with spikes on their bark?

sandbox hura crepitans wallings dam

And the size of this one with the above-ground root system.

wallings dam antigua

It took about 2 hours to hike to the beach - first it's a short distance uphill and then way, way, way down to sea level.  While you're going downhill you're trying not to think about that uphill hike you're going to have on the way back. (Tip: take three bottles of water - two was not enough!)

wallings dam rendezvous beach trail antigua

The trail leads through rainforest, then a lemongrass field, and through another drier forest before coming out onto Rendezvous Beach. There aren't any roads to the beach - you can only get there by boat or by hiking - so the beach was deserted. Unfortunately the sargassum seaweed was heavy that day so the swimming wasn't enjoyable.

rendezvous beach antigua
rendezvous beach antigua

Around the point from Rendezvous Beach is Pebbly Beach. Aptly named, as the area above the tide line is covered in smooth rocks of all sizes and colours.

pebbly beach antigua

Pebbly Beach Antigua

We spent a morning in St. Johns - the capital of Antigua - visiting the shops and mixing with the cruise ship crowd. My target that day was a store called The Tailor's Daughter - a gourmet shop featuring the art and creativity of Antigua - food, linens, wood products, and books. Unfortunately the St. Johns' store had closed, but I did manage to find their new store at the airport on the way home.

St. Johns Antigua

What we did find was the best doughnut shop I've ever been to. It's called Donut Ace and it's just about a block away from the cruise port. I know doughnuts don't seem to embody a tropical vacation, but I don't care - they were good. Just look at all of the interesting flavours to be had:


Donut Ace Antigua

A beach we'd never been to before was in Half Moon Bay on the east side of the island. This beach is on the Atlantic side, but it's protected by a reef so stays calm and is known for better snorkeling than in other areas. We spent a few hours there, swimming and reading in the sun, and decided to pack up just before a brief rain shower hit. Perfect timing.

Half Moon Bay Antigua
Half Moon Bay Antigua

We also made a little friend at the beachside grill.

hermit crab

On the way to Half Moon Bay we had stopped at an antique store in Liberta (The Posh Pirate). The owners suggested some beaches to us, including one near Turner's Beach - back near our resort. It was down a little road named Boot Hill, and as far as I can find on any maps, it doesn't have a name.

Coral Beach Boot Hill Road Antigua

The man that lives nearby cleans the beach of seaweed every day and has built some benches from old pallets (a man after my DIY heart). We found the beach - after having to wait for some cattle to cross over the road - and were amazed at the coral that was everywhere. Much like Pebbly Beach, this beach is completely covered above the tide line, but in sun-bleached coral.

Coral Beach Boot Hill Antigua

We also hiked Jones Trail and Carpenter Rock Trail, the same trails we hiked last year. Jones Trail leads up to Shirley Heights, and then Carpenter Rock Trail leads down from there to the Pillars of Hercules and Pigeon Point Beach/Galleon Beach.

Galleon Bay Antigua

When we hiked the trails last year we wandered a bit, lost the path a few times, but then eventually found it again. This year we knew what we were doing and it seemed much easier. Even the long hike back up the hills didn't seem quite as bad this time. Are we finally getting in shape?

Carpenter Rock Trail Shirley Heights Antigua
Jones Trail Shirley Heights Antigua
Carpenter Rock Trail Shirley Heights Antigua

The views from both trails are so beautiful - every step is worthy of a photo.

Carpenter Rock Trail Shirley Heights Antigua
Carpenter Rock Trail Shirley Heights Antigua
Carpenter Rock Trail Shirley Heights Antigua
English Harbour Shirley Heights Antigua
Carpenter Rock Trail Shirley Heights Antigua

After climbing across the rocks to the Pillars (a majestic limestone rock formation), we took a break to snorkel at Pigeon Point Beach. This beach is in Freeman's Bay, near the entrance to English Harbour. Once we'd cooled off we retraced our steps back over the hill to the car. How is it possible with all of this hiking that I still gained 5 pounds during the week?

Pillars of Hercules Antigua
Pillars of Hercules Antigua
Pillars of Hercules Antigua
Pigeon Point Beach Antigua

Galleon Bay English Harbour Antigua

We spent the balance of our vacation at the PAAWS animal shelter in Parham. This is the same no-kill shelter that we visited last year. They receive no government assistance and rely solely on donations to fund their work. They welcome visitors daily to walk the dogs or even just play with the puppies and kittens. The animals spend most of their time in kennels and need as much socialization as possible to get them ready for their forever homes.

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter dadli dogs

One day that we were there they were working on making the cat stable a little more fun for the residents. Tom got right in there and took down some shelves (by hand!) and then hung floating beds for the cats to relax in. He even got the generator going and built an adapter so that they could run their power tools - taking down wooden shelves with a rusty hand saw wasn't easy!

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter
PAAWS Antigua animal shelter

I sanded down some wooden slats that were then attached to burlap straps to create a wobbly bridge going from shelf to shelf. And I carried a watermelon. (Congratulations if you got the joke - you're old!)

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter
PAAWS Antigua animal shelter

But don't think it was all carpentry work - on another day we walked the Dadli dogs for a few hours and played with them in the courtyard.

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter

We got to know so many dogs during the week - and I took hundreds of pictures. Here is just a sampling of the sweet puppers we met (all available for adoption):

PAAWS Antigua animal shelter

We also had another very special reason for visiting the shelter and I can't wait to tell you more about it!








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