Sunday, April 29, 2012

120 lbs of Chocolate Love

This is my new 120 lb Foster Boy. I picked him up yesterday after he was dropped off at neutral pick up/drop off zone....a vet clinic near my house. He's been the loving dog to a family for 8 years. Apparently he loved to roll around on the floor with the kids and they used him as a pillow while watching TV. He also had a best friend...a cat...with whom he lounged on the sofa. Apparently the dad got a new girl friend who had allergies, so he had to be re-homed. The whole getting rid of your dog thing makes me very sad. I can totally understand not being able to keep a dog. Financial, living, medical, work reasons come up and circumstances change. I just wish this boy couldn't have stayed at his home until they found him a new one. Plus, the girlfriend could be gone in 6 months.... Anyway he's so huge, he got stuck between the front passenger and driver's side seat while on his way here. He tried to get through to the front, despite me trying to stop him, and got properly sandwiched between the seats, causing me to have to pull over and try to push him backwards. He would't (couldn't) budge. I had to get out and pull him through to the front then bring him around to the back again. 

My last Foster Dog, Hunter made the transition very easily. Besides incidents such as eating 6 bananas from the fruit bowl, he was happy and relaxed. Not this Boy. I would have to describe yesterday as a day of mourning for him. He paced, panted, cried, barked and was generally very unhappy and upset all day. Which physically is very hard for him A) because a dog stresses leaving his home and B) because he is so overweight (35 lbs) he has exhausted himself from pacing and panting. He is having a lot of difficulty with the hardwood floors. I've had to make him stepping stones from rubber backed bathmats. He can't do stairs, although he managed to climb onto my white sofa!  I don't have to worry about the cat because she's no match for this 99 year old man. 

Despite belly rubs, lots of short walks, hand feeding him (he's too upset to eat) and a cozy bed in the office, he's still not happy today. He sleeps for 5 minutes, then grunts and groans and paces and then settles again, making little pining noises.  It's breaking my heart. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Perfect Guest Part 2

The perfect guest....
  • Arrives with a whole flat of strawberries and makes a batch of jam
  • Brings a slab of peameal bacon, large eggs and a loaf of grainy bread and cooks everyone a lovely breakfast
  • Takes themselves for a long walk each day to give the host some breathing room
  • Makes their bed every morning
  • Gathers seashells for your collection
  • Takes the morning papers first
  • Brings someone along unexpectedly
  • Leaves the sheets on the bed when they leave
  • Takes home the leftovers that they brought with them
  • Changes the plans you have made for them
Being a guest is a wonderful a Perfect Guest and you'll be invited back. What makes the perfect guest for you to host?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Perfect Guest

As someone who has previously owned a cottage, and now a vacation home in Florida, I know how many people love to visit. I do love to entertain, and I am always much happier with a full house.  But just as you may have favorite holiday homes to be invited to, I have a favorite kind of weekend guest. One thing I can tell you is, never arrive empty handled or sit idle. People often phone and say "is there anything I can bring?" Usually the shopping's been done and meals planned, so there's nothing really "necessary" to pick up. It's also awkward for the host to suggest something to bring. Who really wants to tell a guest to bring a 40 ounce-er of Southern Comfort. So, to help you out, Every now and then, I'm going to feature "Perfect Guest Fare", so you can get some tips and get invited back.

One thing I go through a ton of is soap. Many people = Many showers and I hate having soggy messes of wilted soap. Lovely fresh bars in both the powder room and main bath are a welcoming treat. My choice would be handmade bars such as these above (look at farmers and craft markets) or organic vegetable based bars from the health food store. Buy a stack...not just one or two. Bunch them together with a ribbon, or toss them casually into a re-used wicker basket and arrive with your fragrant gift and several bottles of wine and you're sure to have made a welcome entrance.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Victoria Sponge

Whip up a Victoria Sponge cake this weekend (Recipe HERE) and layer it with a really good raspberry jam and top with whipped cream. I made this one for my neighbor whose been quite ill. Cake and cream with a strong cup of tea should make her feel a little brighter. Keeping with the English tea time theme, I presented it on my vintage Queen Elizabeth Coronation plate. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cupcake Decor

Cupcake mania seems to have hit North America. I found these adorable little cupcake decorations in Homesense and put them on a baker's dozen of Vanilla Buttercreams for my friend Disey in lieu of candles. Once your over 10, it's just too many!. The only Vanilla cake recipe I use is the one from The Cupcake Cafe in New York. Perfect every time. You can get the recipe HERE. And speaking of dogs, I mentioned on Saturday I was to be bringing home another Foster Dog. Unfortunately, the vet discovered she was incontinent and I couldn't take her. Once the sort her out, I am still hoping to offer her a home for a bit.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brown Paper Packages.

It's my friend Diane's birthday today... the kind of friend who brings homemade pasta to my kids when I go away, leaves a dinner on my doorstep when we've had to rush to the hospital with someone, or just drops by with warm cookies, or to spend an hour with my lonely cat. She's a sweetie. So I bought her some sugar cookies sprinkled in pink sugar and some little English soaps. 

Using my roll of brown paper, I stamped her name, a few stars and a little cupcake. A hot pink ribbon and I'm all set. Interestingly, although I find brown paper packages to be desirable, I'm not sure in the glitzy world of glossy gift wrapping if others do. My gift I showed you HERE was the VERY last one to be selected from the pile of 50 gifts by the pregnant mama at the baby shower be last Saturday. Ce'st la Vie.! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fashion Item of The Week

Although I love jewelry, I'm so not a Tiffany Girl. Sure diamonds are fun, but mass made jewels are not my cup of tea. I much prefer artists pieces...rougher lines, larger scale, unique and one of a kind. When I spotted this silver cross at Bamboozle in Passe A Grille Beach Florida, I totally fell for it. A hand made cross made with hammered silver, a seed pearl chain and a crude leather strap with turquoise stitching. Unfortunately I've forgotten the name of the artist.

I photographed it on another artistic masterpiece...a page from the beautiful book of photography by Oberto Gili called Home Sweet Home..... In this case a photo of a black brassiere at the home of Isabella Rossellini. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meddling with Eggs

My eggs and lovely wire work basket


Do you know what a real cage free roaming chicken eats?  According to Wiki "Chickens are omnivores and will eat grain, seeds, fruit, other vegetation, corns , worms and other insects".

And a battery hen, or even the misnamed "cage free organic chicken" usually eats pellets. According to Wiki here's what a commercial chicken eats  "Chicken feed ingredients may but not exclusively contain such grains as corn, oats, wheat, barley, sorghum, and general milling by-products. Protein concentrates including soybean meal and other oilseed meals like peanut, sesame, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed meal, animal protein sources meat and bone meal, dried whey, fish meal, grain legumes such as dry beans and field peas, and alfalfa.

With Omega eggs, the chicken get more omega fatty acids in the forms of fish oil. Good right? It may be good for you, but every so often an egg from an Omega eating chicken can taste like fish. Yes Indeed. Google it. It happens. We had a batch of eggs over Easter breakfast that tasted fishy. Awful. I was in a restaurant once and overheard the chef explaining this to a breakfast eating customer. Another example of food meddling gone wrong. A couple of us haven't eaten an egg since

Saturday, April 14, 2012



I've mentioned before on the blog that I'm not a supporter of the gift wrapping industry. I'm also stingy and save ribbons from old packages. I always keep a roll of brown kraft paper on hand for posting packages, and often use that for gift wrap if I really have to make something presentable. 

Today I have a baby shower for my nephew's baby to be. I wrapped the box in brown paper and then stamped it with a bunny stamp and black ink. You could easily do this with a potato stamp or craft paint and your kids sweet little hand or foot print if your kids are small enough. 

I also made them a card from white card stock, the same stamp and a pom pom tail. The hint of pink is my Mac blush applied with a paintbrush. It's a girl baby and I bought them this rug for the baby's room. I'm most excited because on the way home from the shower we are picking up my newest foster baby .....a new dog from Lab Rescue.
From Dash & Albert

Friday, April 13, 2012

Peak of the Week.

This is a typical Ontario farmhouse sadly on it's last legs.

I spotted this house last weekend near Orangeville.

I'm kinda glad this week is drawing to a close. It's been one of those weeks when it seems chaos reigns and things feel like they are falling apart. I'm fine, but I feel all around me, the people I love and care about are having a rough ride. Friends are battling illness, my dear mother in law has to go into a nursing home- as hard for my FIL as it is for her. Girl Child moves into temporary digs today after the flood. Her job interview turned out to be some kind of a shady scam - watch out if you post resumes on Monster. Luckily she did a bit of research, and knew it smelt beforehand and decided not to go. To top off her bad luck this week, something sentimental was stolen from her apartment during the disaster clean up. Everyone I see and talk to this week has had a crappy week. 

Maybe Friday the 13th will be the peak of the week.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What would you save in a Flood?

This is the hallway..looks like the Titanic.
When your phone rings at 5 am, it's never good news. As my daughter was sleeping last night, a 4" water pipe burst 5 floors above her in an empty unit under construction. While she dreamed it was raining outside, she awoke to ankle deep water. Her brand new apartment that she has only lived in for 3 weeks was completely flooded. She tried to escape through the stairwell, only to discover a cascading waterfall. That's when she called me. I suggested she grab a coat, boots, cell phone and keys and head to the other stairwell and call the fire department.

4" of water disappeared into the units below.
 Over the next several hours the 4 inches of water disappeared into the unit below. 47 units in total were damaged, hers one of the worst. Some of her furniture will be OK, rugs are ruined, all the flooring, baseboards, bottom 3 feet of wall board, bathroom vanity and the entire kitchen has to be replaced. Her poor landlord and poor her.

Tomorrow the Fire/Water loss people pack her entire place and put it in storage while she is camping out at the hotel across the street. She has exams for the next 2 weeks and a job interview tomorrow. Soldier on Sweet Pea!.

And what do you think she saved of all her belongings?
Her entire shoe collection was safely stowed in the bathtub.!

I know I was promising to show you her Petite Maison on the blog, but I'm now delayed on that front.
Several hours later, the water is almost gone. The baseboards and kitchen cupboards have started to swell and burst.
All base boards in hallway off and tossed
This is the residual water under her flooring. Her sofa may be Ok, fireplace wet and likely won't make it.

Tribal Rug


I've been searching for a rug for my living room for a while now. I had a perfectly acceptable Indoor/outdoor rug in here that was purchased with the elderly dogs in mind, however now that I am pretty well dog free, I've been looking for something a little less "daycare" and more interesting. 

I am cautious about finding natural fibers for most things, so wool was a natural choice for the rug. Which led me to a tribal rug from an online source because there is nothing more tiring than looking in shops for an Indian or Middle Eastern rug. Literally hundreds of sizes, styles colors etc. which is exhausting. I found a company ecarpet gallery that offers free shipping in Canada and the USA, and searching enable me to eliminate colour categories, sizes and styles. My search criteria.
  • Thin - I have a french door that needs to open into the room
  • Vintage or older looking
  • Between 7 & 7.5' wide
  • At least 10' long
  • 100% wool
  • Inexpensive
  • No center medallion (can look dated and if your layout isn't symmetrical, it can make things look off.
I found one I loved with very little effort and it arrived yesterday. I couldn't wait to remove the existing rug and lay the new one down. My favorite thing about it is that it looks old. It has a worn and faded look, even though it is new. I have many of these Tribal rugs in my house and find them to be the best rugs for staying clean looking and ease of cleaning. My local cleaners have a service for washing, drying and stretching them back to shape. Which worked really well the time I took in a stray dog whom I fed, bathed, belly scratched, walked and watered, only to have him lift his leg and pee all over the one in the TV room. If you want to have a look, HERE is their link.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


We had a guest over Easter whose parents are Buddhist, but she rather enjoys a traditional Easter dinner of turkey and mashed potatoes (and our company), so she was invited to join our feast. She's such a sweet girl....the college room mate of Boy Child and my DIL, and gets on famously with Girl Child and any other guest we may have in the house. Delightful girl that she is, Poppy brought me a dear little parcel stuffed with little soaps that are really just too pretty to open. A double celebration since Poppy has just graduated (again) and landed a job working in her chosen field with autistic kids. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Grandad's Cup

Silence had descended on the house this Easter Monday morning. All I can hear is the huffy breathing of Hannah cat. My nest has emptied once again and a niggle of melancholy is setting in. Order has been restored, pillows fluffed and little bits of pastel tin foil from chocolate eggs removed from the coffee table. 

A pretty silver cup, filled with hyacinth from the garden sits on my mantle. This little cup has a certain power over me. Sometimes it's sentimentality brings tears to my eyes. It belonged to my Grandad, engraved with his initials and birth date. It remained paired with one other - my Granny's christening cup - for over 60 years, and sat on their mantle, always filled with little blossoms from their garden, for their entire married life. A glimpse of this cup brings a flood of memories for me of their wonderful home and love and devotion our entire family had for them. 

When my grandparents died, the cups were gifted to my children who were the first great grandchildren. My Granny's cup I gave to my son, and my Granddad's to my daughter. Boy Child has his on his mantle at home and one day shortly, I shall send this precious one over to Girl Child to love and treasure as I do. Although separated now, these cups are still connected through the bonds of brother and sister, and one day, I hope their children will fondly remember them filled with little posies.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The White Girl Wobble

Kinda how we all feel this morning

Here we are, Easter Sunday morning. I'm the only one up. It's dead quiet in the house as it was a REALLY late night. The house is scattered with mixed debris. Shoes, overnight bags, cell phones and lap tops, plates and glasses. Someone's taken a bite from one of my 2 chocolate fish, gifted to me this weekend. The sour cream coffee cake has been polished off and it looks more like the weekend is over, not the most important day just beginning!

Easter weekend coincided with my birthday this year, so I've been honored with my children being home for the weekend along with 1 spouse, 1 friend, a sister in law and her boyfriend, so I have 6 "kids" here between the ages of 24 and 27.....and it's interesting to say the least. High energy.....loads of conversation, high food consumption and of course lots of wine, beer and fruity vodka drinks. They made yesterday "My Day" and took me downtown for a stroll, lunch, a little shopping and then cooked a big supper for us all. They all went out last night and since I have difficulty sleeping anyway, I offered to spare them the cab fare and picked them up from a bar which was met with lots of laughter and "I can't believe my mum is picking me up" conversations. It did feel a little reminiscent of their high school years. A detour on the way home for pizza to eat with a 2 am bottle of Prosecco, followed by an intense hour of trying to master the White Girl Wobble (as seen on YouTube HERE) and to bed so as to be rested enough to tackle the turkey this morning. The Impromptu gatherings are always the best. I can't say enough how much I love having a house full. I'm quite sad at my empty nest some of the time. But always grateful when we can all be together. I think there may be a few of us with a bit of a wobble this morning.

Happy Easter to all. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pretty in Pink

I couldn't resist tying this pretty organza ribbon on my sister's dog Tabbie. She was handsomely rewarded with treats.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Quick as a Wink

My Sweet Mama lives in a nursing home, and doesn't get out to shop too often. Except at Christmas, when we descend on the shopping mall and do a complete gift shop, I do the gift shopping for her. And for some reason, I do her shopping for me too. Which is great because I can pick a little something from her to me that I know she will take great pleasure in giving me. She's not that interested in giving me things like a new camera card or Starbucks card, she likes something more tactile and pleasing to the eye.

When I spotted these pale and pretty Denby coffee cups at Home Sense recently, I snatched them up quick as a wink, knowing they would make the ideal gift from Sweet Mama to me. Not only can she admire her good taste in gifts, she can enjoy her favorite cappuccino with me in one of these delightful cups. The pattern is called Natural Pearl. 

Natural Pearl coffee cup.

I am a glutton for books, reading at least 3 per month, but I also have a passion for design books. I bought this book Pale and Interesting by Atlanta Bartlett a few months ago and have just sat down to read it through. By chance it was on my coffee table when I was snapping my photos, and I noticed that the cup and milky coffee looked particularly nice alongside the book.

Book + Coffee = Very Pretty

Photo styling by Razmataz

I couldn't resist grabbing a Ginger Biscuit to enhance my little photography session a wee bit more.