Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas decorations

Bunny Ornament
     This year, I just bought a few new Christmas tree decorations, as CC and I already have lots between us and I have made a lot of origami decorations over the years.  I was born in the Year of the Rabbit/Hare, so the plush bunny ornament was hard to resist, plus it was completely adorable!  There were lots of other cute plush ornaments to choose from, but the little pink nose on this guy sold me.  In the same store, Chat Noir, I found a couple of other decorations that were must-haves.  I have always liked bird-watching, so the bird decorations were a good fit, plus they look quite charming and natural hanging amongst the branches.  The Christmas tree got full quickly, so the birds had to find roost in our front window begonia, which is somewhat tree-sized!  We also hung decorations on the Jade tree and the Rubber tree just to make the house more festive.

Birdy 1
     I have lots of old mercury glass baubles that CC put out on shelves  along with Pine boughs.  I also filled an antique pottery bowl with Christmas tree balls that I had bought years ago at Caban (remember that store?) - the colours go very nicely with the glazes in the bowl, with the colours of the painting behind it and with the surrounding furniture.

Birdy 2

Sunday, November 25, 2012


     I read the Globe and Mail and every day they have a photo contest, related to a specific theme.  Friday's theme was "Windows", and I decided to upload some images to the contest, which involved me having to get a Flickr account.  I didn't win : ( but it has got me interested in organizing some of the many images I have taken over the years into thematic sets.  I have included a few favourites here, but the rest can be seen at :  Let me know which one(s) you like best.

View from Work
Window Ornament

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fun with paper!


     Nothing brings out my crafty side more than the approach of Christmas.  For years, I have made paper snowflakes to hang in windows and set out doily-like on tables.  Although they are not "true" snowflakes in that they are not six-sided, I like the look of the less traditional, but easier-to-fold-and-cut four-sided symmetry.  Start with a square piece of paper, fold it in half diagonally, then again, then once more and you are ready to begin.  Use sharp scissors so the paper doesn't tear and so you get clean, sharp lines.  From there, just let your imagination take hold.  I try to cut as much paper away as possible and usually just follow my instincts.  The above snowflake (the first of the season!) was inspired by the Christmas Cactuses we have, and which are in the midst of flowering.  The "arms" are very like the serrated leaves with flower buds at the tips.  I have also used coloured paper to great effect and have also cut shapes that can be folded up to create 3D effects.  I will show some of those at a later date.
Origami Xmas tree
     As you may recall from previous posts, I like to make origami, and at Christmas-time, I enjoy making origami Christmas tree decorations for our tree and as hostess gifts.  I was surfing the web this year to come up with some new ideas and came across the following web-site:  His tree is much more involved than mine above and uses poster board.  I am lucky to have such a vast assortment of origami paper that I could use brown for the trunk, but because I was running low on green I could only do three tiers for the greenery.  I quite like how it turned out though and will definitely be making more for household decorations.  In addition, the individual units that make up the tree lend themselves well to Christmas decorations - see the side for the units (upside-down) and finished products.  I used paper that is coloured on both sides, which is important as the individual units would have white showing otherwise.

Christmas Tree Decorations

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Remembrance Day

Start of WWI
End of WWI
  As it is Remembrance Day, I thought I would post some old photos of family members in uniform.  Above are pictures of my father's father, William Ernest, taken at the start and end of WWI - what a difference a few years make!  He was a Sergeant in the cavalry and was stationed in Germany. He must have seen some awful things in his time there, but my dad says he never talked about his experiences, something which was probably typical of that time.

  The next image down is my maternal Grandfather, Horace Ernest Edwards.  I never met him as he died when my mother was in her early 20's.  He looks awfully young in the picture and there is a strong resemblance between him and my brother.  I don't know anything about his experiences during the first world war, not even where he was stationed or what rank he was.

     Next is a picture of my great-uncle, Stephen George Stroud, my Nana's eldest brother (he's the one on the left).  My Nana was one of eight and, sadly, Stephen died on the French battlefield mere weeks before the end of the first world war.  He is buried in a military cemetery in France, near the Belgium border.  No one in the family has ever visited his grave and, one day, I would like to make the trek there to pay my respects.  In 1919, his sister, Marie, died from the Spanish Flu, a not-uncommon experience for that time. Stephen's father was never the same and drank himself into an early grave sometime in the 1930's.


     Both my father and Uncle served during the end of second world war.  My dad was a meteorologist in the RAF and went all over the world including India, Ceylon, the Cocos Islands, Australia and Japan.  Let's all take some time to remember what all of these brave people did and are still doing to ensure we live in a better and safer world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Aberfoyle Antique Market

     This past Sunday, CC and I went to the Aberfoyle Antique Market.  We went down early in the morning and it was bright and sunny with a pleasant coolness that made wandering around the grounds perfect.  I had seen a couple of white metal Art Nouveau pieces and some Cornish ware on previous visits and was in the mood for some shopping therapy.  The Art Nouveau pieces were gone and the booth that sells the Cornish ware was closed, but we had a good look around the whole place and made some purchases.
Manhattan glass cream and sugar set
     Firstly, I found a booth that had a Manhattan glass cream and sugar for only $15!  I already have a Manhattan vase and a couple of candle holders and always check out the one booth that sells lots of Manhattan, but they are pricier than I like.  Even though we have an abundance of cream and sugar sets in all sorts of materials and styles, I thought the sugar bowl would make a nice little vase for cut flowers.
Late 1800's Ironstone plate
     Inside one of the barns, they were having a sale for 30% off everything inside. I found a black and white ironstone dish with a neoclassical motif.  We already have quite a lot of blue and white pottery so I was drawn to the black and white.  It has a nice weight to it and CC has already gone out and found a plate hanger for it, so it's up on the wall in our bedroom, above some black and white prints.  Not bad for $45.
Imari birthday present
     While I was buying the plate, CC came across a booth that was just putting out some items, including a beautiful Imari dish.  He bought it on the sly for my upcoming birthday as it had small rabbits on it (I'm a year of the rabbit, doncha know!).  Of course, he showed me soon after and it was a steal for $20!  We have bought other Imari pieces this year at considerably higher prices, and the few pieces we have seen at Aberfoyle always run into the hundreds of dollars, so not bad.

     At a stall that always has interesting art, I saw a painting that I have admired over numerous visits and asked the vendor what he was selling it for.  He said that he had sold other pieces by the same artist on eBay for close to $300 but was willing to let this one go for $150.  I said I was just curious and wasn't going to buy it today.  He told me that if I took it today, he would sell it to me for $100!  Well, I couldn't pass that up now could I?  It is by an artist named Mary Gold (?) and is very reminiscent of Cezanne in terms of brush strokes (brighter colours though) and was completed in '77 (presumably 1977).  It needs to be reframed as it is quite out of date, but it is a lovely piece nonetheless and I can't wait to hang it with all of my other Canadian, female painters' works.

While, we were in that stall, CC saw a small, framed postcard of Rose of Sharons that tickled his fancy and he got it for a mere $5.

     On the way out of the area, we had a quick look at the tables set up near the parking lot and CC found a cut-glass bud vase with a sterling silver base.  Originally, he was going to buy it for a friend of ours, but once he got it home and cleaned it up, he decided to keep it - it now sits on our chest of drawers.  It was only $20!
     This Saturday is the big sale at Aberfoyle and we are returning, along with another couple, to see what strikes our fancy this time...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vancouver - part 3

     After a fitful sleep, we had an easy morning then walked over the Van Dusen Botanical Garden, a favourite childhood haunt of CC's.  It now has a new, modern building at the entrance which fit in nicely with the landscape.  We felt young amongst all of the wrinklies and there were many beautiful plants and flowers organized according to region of origin, and of course I took many photographs.

       I particularly enjoyed the maze which had a Monkey Puzzle Tree at its centre - clever huh? We had a good long meander through the gardens and afterwards, lunched at the restaurant there, Truffles (hideous name but the food was very good).  We both had pea soup and I had a beef brisket vietnamese sandwich which was fusion at it's tastiest.  CC had a quinoa salad, also very flavourful.

     We went back to the house and I managed to talk to my dad who had talked to my brother on the phone and said he sounded quite lucid and chipper (this after having a three hour operation to have a brain tumour removed the night before!).  After some time relaxing and reading, we caught the bus downtown to Broadway and Granville and met my friend SE for dinner at Portobello.  SE and I had lived in the same house in the Little Portugal neighbourhood of Toronto many years before and have kept in touch over the years but hadn't seen one another in about six years, so it was a reunion of sorts.  While we were getting caught up, an obtrusive waiter kept coming by to see if we were ready to order, and we had to keep sending him away.  I had melon and prosciutto for an appetizer and pasta with salmon and a cream sauce for a main.  After a good long meal and chat, SE drove us through East Hastings (eek!) to an industrial area that had the International Ice Cream House.  It was a mob scene there and once inside I could see why.  After buying a token at the cash which determined what size of ice cream/gelato/sorbet you wanted (single, double, etc.), the real fun began.  You could get small sampling spoons of any flavour you wanted and there were well over 200 to choose from!  Not only that, but there were many odd and delightful flavours to choose from including maple bacon, vegemite, basil pernod, etc.  I have never seen so many happy people in my life and you could feel the energy in the room.  CC had seaweed, SE had porcini mushroom and I had a double of durian and black sesame - wow!  We sat outside in a beautifully lit courtyard, finished our tastes of heaven, then SE brought us home then left us with promises to see one another again soon.  We were in bed soon after.
Bring it on!
     After a good fry-up for breakfast, and a quiet, restful morning, Aunty J took us to the Vancouver Yacht Club for lunch, along with CC's ex-sister-in-law, AC.  It was a loverly, sunny day and we sat out on the deck, overlooking the harbour with great views of West Vancouver across the water.  AC was a bit late and somewhat breathless but calmed down once food was ordered.  I had Fish and Chips in keeping with the water theme of it all.  Afterwards, CC and I went down to the pier and walked to the end of it and back.  After a group photo, we went our separate ways.  Although CC and I had planned to go downtown to see the Vancouver Art Galley, we decided to put on our swimsuits and go down to Jericho Beach for a swim in the water, our first time this trip.  The water was quite shallow and there was lots of seaweed in it, but it was saltily refreshing.  I went in and out a few times and after about an hour, we headed back to the house.  After changing, we headed to downtown Kerrisdale, so CC could buy his mum a birthday card and we could get Aunty J some chocolates from Purdy's.  We also stopped in at Hill's and I bought four t-shirts that had out of print book covers on them (  We then had dinner at the White Spot, a local hamburger joint, walked home, had our evening scotch on the rocks and chatted  until it was time to go to sleep.

     The next day was pack-up day.  We left around 9:30 for a 12:00 flight home, said our goodbyes to Aunty J and Vancouver and talked about when we would next visit.

Scary Apple-head Doll

Monday, August 20, 2012

Vancouver - part 2

     On the holiday Monday, CC, Aunty J and I met CC's brother and sister-in-law, Miss Kitty, at a Dim Sum restaurant, The Flamingo.  I gave Miss Kitty an origami spinning top I made and then we set down to business!  We ordered a few things from the Dim Sum carts, but had the two-course Peking Duck (my first time!).  The first course is the crispy skin with bits of meat still attached that is placed into a thin pancake with some brown sauce (Hoisin?) - droolarama!  There was quite a wait for the second course as a mistake was made but it was well worth it - the duck meat is stir-fried with chestnuts and other goodies and placed inside iceberg lettuce wraps - crispy, watery and succulent - did I say drool?  If we had ordered the third course it would have been soup made from the bones - nothing wasted here.  For dessert we had some warmed up black sesame mochis (glutinous rice cakes filled with black sesame seed paste - not too sweet but very tasty) and mango pudding (topped with condensed milk - oh god!).  We then said our goodbyes to JC and Miss Kitty and came back to the house for a rest.  We then went for a walk in the neighbourhood, had a Scotch and chat with Aunty J, ate a light dinner of grilled cheese and avocado sandwiches with greens then hit the sack.

     On Tuesday, we went on an adventure with GS.  She pulled up in a silver mustang convertible (but wanted to rent a jeep!), loaded us up and headed off.  First stop was Hycroft (the University Women's Club of Vancouver) of which she is a member.  It was once a private residence and there are still many architectural features extant.  It also has a lovely garden, much to CC's delight.  We drove through downtown, across the Lion's Gate Bridge, and ended up at Wycliffe Park.
Wycliffe Park
     It was a quick hike down to the beach which afforded a fantastic view.  We crossed a rocky path in the water over to an island and I Billy-goated up the rocks to take pictures and admire the vistas.  Got a close-up of some Arbutus trees and couldn't get over the red bark.  We headed back to shore and beachcombed (saw a cool, old, rusty piece of metal that looked like it had come from a ship) then went up to the cafe for some lunch.

     It was then up along the coast with mountains on one side and the water on the other - I felt quite vulnerable being in the back of the convertible, but was happy for the unobstructed views.  We turned around just past Squamish and stopped at Shannon Falls for a quick break and photo-op.

      There was a lot of traffic on the way back into Vancouver, and after a coffee stop, we went to Vij's restaurant.  
The art of Vij's
     Even though we were there early, there was a 90 minute wait for a table (they don't take reservations).  We sat and had wine while they served us nibblies and got a table after about an hour.  The wait was worth it!  There were so many incredible sounding dishes to choose from and the scents coming from the kitchen were heavenly!  I started with Eggplant with rapini in a thick yoghurt curry, CC had curried chickpeas and sweet potato-ricotta "cookies", while GS had Jackfruit in black cardamom and cumin curry.  For mains, I had Rajasthani style goat meat with mildly spiced vegetables, CC had pork tenderloin on mushrooms and pearl barley pilaf with braised pork hock, tomato and mustard seed curry, while GS had splitpea and spinach mash and spicy millet/bulghar dumplings with vegetables sautéed in pomegranate curry (!!!).  What can I say?  The best Indian food I have ever had.  We rolled out of there to our first rainfall and I had a good chuckle watching the other two try to figure out how to secure the convertible top.  Home then bed.  *Also found out that my brother was taken into emergency earlier and had to have emergency surgery to have a brain tumour removed!*

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vancouver - part 1

New tree growing out of old stump
     For our summer vacation, CC and I flew out to Vancouver for a week where he has family and we both have friends. I had only been there once before and was looking forward to seeing it through CC's eyes, who has been there many times before.  I managed to use all of my Airmiles points to get us both there and back and we stayed at his Aunt J's house in Kerrisdale, so it was a cheap holiday.
     We arrived in Vancouver (courtesy of Air Crapada) mid-afternoon on a Friday and took a cab to his Aunt's place.  She's an animal lover and there are many trees and shrubs on the property and many birds at her bird feeder.  Saw my first Stellar Jay ever - looks like a punk Blue Jay!  We unpacked and walked to downtown Kerrisdale to pick up some much-needed supplies (Scotch) and walked back through Maplegrove Park where there are remnants of some giant trees.  It was an early night for all of us as we were cream-crackered.
The Kitsilano Beach on English Bay
     On the Saturday, we walked from Kerrisdale to downtown, a three hour hike through lots of interesting neighbourhoods with tremendous gardens.  It was spectacular seeing the view to the harbour with the mountains in the background.

     In Kitsilano, everyone was enjoying the sun and the water and I loved the air and the smell of the water.  We continued through Vanier Park, past the Museum of Vancouver and across the very Art Deco Burrard Street Bridge.

     We ended up on Robson Street and stopped for a much-deserved lunch at a Korean restaurant, ApGuJung, and had a seafood and chive pancake, small pork dumplings, shrimp skewers and vegetarian BiBimBop - all very tasty and filling!  We then walked some more and took the bus back to Kerrisdale as our dogs were barking.  After a rest, a chat with Auntie J with some scotch, we walked into downtown Kerrisdale and had dinner at a neighbourhood pizza place, George's.  It was then back home and another early night.
Ready for dinner
     Sunday was our day for making dinner for CC's family, so we went to the grocery store in Dunbar, got our supplies, then headed back after a detour along the coast and past UBC.  CC prepared dessert while I prepped the vegetables during which Aunty J and her friend, I, came in.  Being ladies of a certain generation, they had lots of comments for  CC on his pastry and then talk turned to what the best apples are for apple pie - Northern Spy apparently!  I made a leek and cauliflower gratin with bacon and prepared the mushroom, sun-dried tomato and prosciutto filling for the chicken breasts.  It was a team effort cutting, stuffing and tying up the chicken breasts.  CC set the table while I prepared the fresh apricots with blue cheese, which were to be broiled.  I also folded origami cranes for the table settings, and threw together a quick cucumber and yoghurt salad and a simple green salad.  Auntie J came upstairs and then CC's niece, brother, sister-in-law and friend, GS, arrived.  We had a nice bottle of champagne with the appetizers and wine with the dinner, which went very well.  The family stories were very entertaining and CC's cake was a hit!  After everyone left, we cleaned up and hit the hay.

To Guelph Lake and back.

Guelph Lake
     Catch-up time!  On July 27-29, I had two old (as in a long time!) and very dear friends come and stay with us for the weekend, which is becoming something of an annual visit.  I have known them for 30 years plus as we went to Nelson High School together in Burlington.  They now live in The Big Smoke, so it was good to get them out into some fresher air and idyllic countryside.  They came to farmer's market with us on Saturday morning, but we didn't buy Gherkins and get their help with making Dill Pickles this time around.  There were a couple of interesting events that made the weekend memorable.  1.  We were in a book store together and I found a humorous book containing odd photos of people and their pets ( - check it out for some laughs.  Well, we left the store and right after we saw two large people  walking along the sidewalk, each carrying a 25 lb. cat!  From there, we entered the mall and saw a young, pinky woman with a lizard on her head!! Talk about coincidence.  2.  We checked out my old high school year books and were chuckling at our pictures and the comments they had written to me many years before.  The following day, we went to the Aberfoyle Antique Market and found a stall that had two old yearbooks from our high school.  We flipped through them and were amazed to see many of the teachers we had as younger versions of themselves - some didn't look much different and there was a difference of 10-15 years.  On the Sunday, we got up early and hiked out to Guelph Lake to get some exercise and fresh air.  There are lots of different vistas along the trail we took and it took us a good three hours to get there and back home.  They left later that day and I'm looking forward to their next visit.

and back

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A visit to the Toronto Islands

Waving from the Ferry
     This past weekend, CC and I went down to Toronto to visit our friends, T and J.  It was a super-hot weekend and there was not much relief to be had, but we did venture down to the Toronto Islands.  We had luck with the subway AND the LRT and there was hardly anyone at the Ferry docks when we bought our tickets.  We headed over on the Centre Island ferry and had a great view of the downtown and even had a slight breeze.  There was an India festival on the Island so we saw lots of colourful outfits.  We walked down to the water's edge and walked along the boardwalk until we arrived at our destination, The Rectory, the only restaurant on the Islands, as far as I know.  It was quite busy and there was some great people watching and listening to be had.  I had the grilled Calamari followed by a pulled pork Panini - both very tasty.  We all tried a gingery cocktail to start, which helped cool us off ever so slightly.  The air was very still though.  We then walked over to Ward's beach and then over to the ferry dock just minutes before the ferry arrived to take us back downtown - this time there was even a bit of a breeze.  Toronto looks great at night from the Islands, so keep that in mind if you ever visit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hop and be Free!

     So, the other day, I'm walking in the back yard, look down and think I see a beetle crawling through the grass.  On closer, inspection, it turned out to be a baby toad!  I saw more that day and have seen others since then and I can't get over how happy it makes me.  It seems our still pond was a successful nursery for toad tadpoles (toadpoles?). There are still a few left in the pond and many have limbs, so they will soon be ready to leave and find new homes.  I can't get over how small and perfectly formed they are and wonder what on earth they eat.  Nice to know we have contributed to the amphibian life cycle and it would be great if some set up home in the front yard's stone hibernaculum.  Now there's a word of the day!

Good camouflage!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Canada Day at Lake Kawagama

    Yeah, yeah, I know, I haven't posted in ages, but it has been a busy late spring and early summer, but I will endeavour to post more frequently.
     This past weekend, CC and I drove up with the P family (P, D and E) to our friends' cottage on Lake Kawagama.  We went up on Saturday morning and the traffic wasn't too horrendous (except through Barrie, as expected) and although DP got a bit green towards the end (fragile flower that she is), she wasn't actually sick.  JM met us at the Marina and we loaded up the boat and headed over to the Island where their cottage is, enjoying some water spray along the way.  BM met us at the dock (her new nickname is "drama clown", much to everyone's delight), we unloaded and saw their cottage for the first time.  CC and I luckily got to stay in the bunky, whereas everyone else stayed in the main cabin.  It's on a peninsula, so every window has a view of the water.  We had a quick bite to eat, as we were all ravenous, and then had a tour of their land.  We then went down to the dock to enjoy the water.

     I'm something of a water baby, so I spent a great deal of time splashing around, swimming and jumping in off the dock.  We also enjoyed some G and Ts and snacks, before heading back up to the main cabin.  The island is home to many, boisterous red squirrels, which I watched with great delight, which also delighted drama clown - she enjoyed seeing my boyish side!  Dinner was mixed grill and homemade strawberry shortcakes!  We chatted, listened to music and played some cards and then collapsed into bed.

     We awoke to another glorious day and had our morning coffees to revive ourselves and a bit to eat then I was back in the water, where I belong.  Drama Clown put us to work collecting stray branches, trimming dead wood off the trees, etc. in order to have a big bonfire for later.  We worked up quite a sweat, so I HAD to get back into the water to cool off.  CC and I prepared some barbecued veggies and chicken for a salad which we wolfed down.  That afternoon got quite cloudy and it rained for a while, at times quite heavily, so we sat indoors and read, napped, snacked and played games.  For dinner, DP prepared bow tie pasta with smoked salmon and salad.  As it started to get dark, we prepared a roaring bonfire and had 'Smores.  I was back in the water and swam from dock to dock as the sun was setting.  Towards the setting sun, the water was reflected in orange, whereas the water reflected purple in other directions.  The mossies were out in full force so we hit the hay early for our last night in paradise.

     We were up early on the last day and after breakfast I had a quick dip (go figure!), and then we packed up, thanked our generous hosts, went back to the mainland, loaded up the car and drove home.  We left early to avoid traffic and it worked, so we were home in good time, and were able to relax, do laundry, etc.