Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End Is Near

Can you believe today is the last day of the first decade of this new millenium we were all talking about ad nauseum 10 years ago?

As usual, I am asking myself where this past year went, it seemed to fly by just as all the others before it have done. All in all, it was a fabulous year. I was fortunate to be able to go on three wonderful trips (to Puerto Vallarta in January, Milwaukee in June and Tucson in November), make new friends both at home and away (all of whom I hope will be a part of my life for a long time to come), explore new directions both with my jewellery and other art forms. Saying goodbye to my beloved Carly after 17 years of love and companionship was the worst part of this past year, I am still missing my little furball dreadfully.

When I look back on the decade as a whole, I am amazed at the various significant events that have taken place. For me personally, the most traumatic thing was losing my dad in 2005. Second to that was the horror of 9/11 in 2001. It's funny how both those times seem like just yesterday and also as if they happened a long time ago, they are just so interwoven into the fabric of my being. I've sold two houses in the past ten years and moved three times. I've travelled within Canada and the U.S. as well as to various spots in Europe and enjoyed one memorable month in Australia. I've had 3 different employers during this time and learned important lessons from all of them. I've lived through most of my forties, lost two grandparents and a few other relatives and close friends, gained four nephews, been in love a few times and had my heart trampled once or twice, discovered beading, endured a herniated disk in my back and said goodbye to my uterus, been gliding and hot air ballooning.

All in all, it has been an eventful 10 years and I am very much looking forward to seeing what the next decade has in store for us. There is just no way of knowing what lies around the corner but at this moment in time, I am feeling very positive about the future and ready to move ahead into the unknown.

Wishing you all the very best for a happy and healthy 2010, come what may.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And So It Begins...

Now that the festivity and flurry of Christmas has come and gone, my new sewing machine has finally come out of its box, been plugged in and put to use. I love it! It's amazing how much of the skills come right back to you as soon as you start using the machine, apparently sewing is one of those things that is just like riding a bicycle, you haven't actually forgotten how to do it, you're just a little out of practice.

I didn't have any fabric to start with so I took a trip to the local Salvation Army and Goodwill stores as well as the nearest Fabricland, which, lucky for me, is only minutes away from my home. I was amazed at the fabulous stuff I was able to pick up for a very minimal investment.

Over the next few days, I'll be sharing with you the fruits of my labour. In the meantime, I am frequently checking my friend Kate's Soul Clearing Sale II in the hopes that the long promised vintage fabric will soon be shared with us:

Here are some photos of my cat Max taken during the first sewing session: he was particularly interested in the bobbin winding process - check out the look of intense concentration on his face!

Most of the time, he hung out nearby, ready to spring into action as needed, never very far away.

But eventually, the excitement proved to be too much and he was overcome with exhaustion, falling asleep amid the fabric swatches.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aladdin's Treasure

You may have noticed that my latest Inspiration for Beadfx was posted to their website last week. You can follow this link to find the component list and to see the fabulous photos Dwyn took, including the one shown here in this post.

I called this one "Aladdin's Treasure" because when I first saw the beautiful beads Dwyn had picked out for me, all I could think of was that it reminded me of that cave full of riches that Aladdin finds. At least, I think it was Aladdin. Maybe I'm getting my fairy tales mixed up. Anyway, the lush colours of the amethyst and carnelian combined with the sparkle and gleam of the gold and crystals were so beautiful, I couldn't wait to put this necklace together.

I have really enjoyed making up these Inspirations for the store's website this year and I'm looking forward to seeing what my next challenge in 2010 will be!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Catnip Effect

Santa Claus happened to tuck two little items in my stocking for my cat Max. One was a little fake mouse and the other was a small square packet full of catnip. I packed these two items up with the rest of my stocking stuffers and didn't give them another thought until I walked into the room where I had deposited the bag of gifts upon my return home and found my cat Max with his nose deeply dug into said bag. He then proceeded to roll about on the floor and paw at the bag and rub his chin against it. Since he has never paid any attention to any contents of any bag I have ever brought into the house in the past ten years, I was at first taken quite aback to discover him so engaged, until I remembered the little package of catnip.

I then took the box with the catnip toy and tucked it into the top drawer of the metal four drawer filing cabinet in my office, closed the drawer and again forgot all about it. Until tonight, when I noticed Max sitting on top of the cabinet, rubbing his face against the lock as if trying to open it. Once again, he had figured out the location of the catnip and was anxious to get at it.

I find the effect of catnip to be quite amazing but I also wonder if it is safe for cats. It seems to cause such an unusual reaction, I find it somewhat alarming. I looked it up on Wikipedia and a few other places and learned that "Cats love catnip. It is an herb that triggers their senses that elicits a playful response. It is not dangerous or toxic to your cat, as the scent is inhaled and the plant is not usually consumed. So, catnip toys and scratch posts are fine for your kitty; let them have a little fun, and enjoy their treat of catnip!"

So, I'm off to take the toy out of the filing cabinet and let Max go wild with it. Surely that is what Santa intended!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Was Santa Good to You?

Hope you had a good Christmas, if you were celebrating that particular holiday. I thought I'd share a few random images with you from the past couple of days.

This first picture is of my sister, Janine, carving the pork roast she cooked up for us on Christmas Eve, using a recipe of my dad's that involves peaches and chili sauce - quite yummy!

On Christmas night, as we were walking down the street to have dinner with longtime family friends, I took this picture of another neighbour's house, which looked so lovely in the light of that (rainy) winter's evening:

Dinner that night included Derek's mashed potato creation:

and finally, this picture I took of the leaded pane windows in the front vestibule of their century old home - aren't they beautiful?

Hard to believe Christmas has come and gone again for another year and now we're counting down the final few days of this first decade of the new millenium. Doesn't it seem like just yesterday we were saying goodbye to 1999? Where does the time go??!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day

Or as I like to call it, happy turkey sandwiches day! Here's one more vintage Christmas card for your viewing pleasure. I can remember having a muff just like the one in this picture. At least, I think it was mine, perhaps it was borrowed from a friend. I can't remember what it was made of, probably some kind of faux fur or perhaps it was something real like rabbit. It was super soft though with a smooth silk lining. I wonder if they'll ever come back into fashion? Not overly practical for seriously cold weather but pretty chic all the same.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas!

Wondering what to wear today? Why not a festive holly dress, like this young lady?

(note the mistletoe accessory, this is my kind of gal!)

Wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Claus Comes Tonight

I can still remember being young enough to stay up late and watch out the window for some sign of that sled and reindeer. Our local radio station always gave bulletins of sightings throughout the night but somehow, I just never seemed to catch a glimpse. But I still believed.

Wishing you the magic of Christmas and the wonder of believing unlikely things might still be possible.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wishing You...

...all the very best for a very Merry Christmas!

I am heading off to my mother's tomorrow to stay for the next few days and will be travelling to the land of dial-up computer access, which tends to frustrate me too much to try to use it too often (who knew I could be that impatient?), which means I shan't be blogging live for the next couple of days. I shall be spending time with loved ones and old friends, eating turkey and Christmas pudding, get my ass whupped at Yahtzee and trying to make it up by winning at Boggle, and hoping for a white Christmas.

I wish you and your families a safe journey if you are travelling, and much love and laughter wherever you are and whatever holiday you may be celebrating. As this vintage card says, "May Joy Attend You."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lost Another Day

Alas, didn't get much done today in the way of finishing up for Christmas, as I've been feeling a bit under the weather since last night. Sore throat, a bit of a cough, a slight fever (nothing that seems to register on the thermometer, which turns out to be Celsius so at least I learned something new today, that 39 degrees C is the number above which you have to start worrying - I checked in at 36.4 which is normal) but feeling a little too warm now and again. Nothing major, but I did stay home from work this afternoon all the same, took a nice long nap. Still trying to get a few presents made in time for the 25th, which still seems just possible, but I haven't wrapped the last few gifts yet and I'm still debating whether or not I can avoid hitting the stores one final time. Also can't help but feel everything I am touching is now covered with germs, but I suppose that is the case no matter what!?

I'm thinking of vintage Christmas cards tonight, perhaps because I am using one in one of the gifts I am finishing. I found this image on the Internet, isn't it sweet?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Only 3 More Shopping Days

I think I might need every minute of them. I am usually done my shopping by now but somehow this year, things are different. I'm having trouble remembering which day is Christmas, I keep thinking it's Saturday instead of Friday, and I seem to be doing more at the last minute when I would prefer not to be even going near the stores at this point in time. They said on the news tonight that it would be a 10 to 15 minute wait for a parking space at the shopping mall nearest me if you were so inclined, can you imagine?? I'm not in a "bah, humbug" frame of mind, I'd just really like to avoid the crowds if possible.

In the meantime, there are lots of good Christmas shows and movies on TV to watch, if you have time. My favourites include "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (the original, animated version narrated by Boris Karloff), the Mr. Bean Christmas special (the one where he gets the turkey stuck on his head, each year I can never remember exactly how that happens) and the eternal classic, "It's a Wonderful Life".

I hope you are enjoying some of your favourite things this week, amid the hustle and bustle.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Missed A Day

Okay, it finally happened - I missed posting a blog entry last Friday so now it is official, I don't necessarily blog every day. And I'm okay with that! :)

If I had posted on Friday, I might have told you about the delicious banana bread that my friend Annette brought me on Thursday night when she came over to for an art play date. She made it herself and had to bake it in the oven when her bread machine broke but I'm not sure I would have noticed the difference, it was completely yummy. And there were cranberries in it, an excellent addition. Thanks again, Annette - you can come visit any time!

Or I might have told you that the Olympic torch finally made it to the City of Toronto on its travels across Canada. It was making its (very slow) way through our fair city from the 17th to the 19th of December. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it in person and as you know from reading a couple of my posts in the fall, I didn't get picked to carry the torch in the contest held by my company. Which is just as well, given how bloody cold it has been for the past several days and since our family Xmas party was yesterday afternoon, I would have had a scheduling conflict anyway. Only 54 more days until the Games begin in Vancouver, the excitement is definitely building. Click on this link if you'd like to see the interactive map and track the torch's progress across the country:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can It Really Be This Late?

I am just logging on to prove that I am awake at 3:36 a.m. Those of you who know me will be amazed to learn that I am just getting home after a long day of socializing and bar hopping (but you won't be surprised to learn that I didn't even have one drink, since I was the designated driver!).
We had our company holiday party today, which started at noon at the Academy of Spherical Arts, which is a fancy name for an upscale billiards parlour. There was a lovely buffet lunch and we played some pool and did the chit chat thing with work colleagues from various local offices. Then a few of us went to an Irish pub nearby, followed by a trip downtown to a bar called Pravda where we met up with a few more fellow employees who had gone there directly after the party. Then 4 of us went to a pub for some dinner, then to another pub uptown a bit to shoot some more pool and ended the night with a trip to a nightclub where we did a little dancing. Getting to the nightclub involved squeezing 5 of us, me and 4 guys, in a pizza delivery car that offered us a ride when the cabs wouldn't take 5 people in one car! Talk about funny.

I know, it's so not me, isn't it? And I have to tell you, it was so much fun! But now my body is starting to realize how late it is and that maybe my back is going to be a little sore tomorrow and it's time to get to bed. Luckily, I don't have to get up too early tomorrow but I do have a family Christmas party to go to that involves a two hour drive in the early afternoon and taking an appetizer for which I do not yet have the ingredients, but luckily I won't be the one driving, so it's all good!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Sale Continues

Kate McKinnon's Soul Clearing II and Exploding Pipes III sale continues - click on the link on the right for her website and look for the sale link in her blog postings under "Journal", you'll be glad you did.

Here's what I've bought so far:

(1) a ruby glass riveted ring that is just the sweetest little thing. I don't know for sure if it will fit on my finger but if not, it will make a great pendant for a necklace.

(2) two clasps (one sterling silver, one fine silver):

(3) and this item, which Kate calls the "Screwty Felty Ornament/Pendant", which I just love for its groovy purpleness:

She is also offering up treasures such as this owl necklace, which I thought was exquisite but not quite my style. It has already found a new home, but you should keep checking out the link over the next few weeks, just in case there is something with your name on it!

All photos by Kate McKinnon, reproduced with permission (to the best of my knowledge and belief).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Present for Myself

My mom gave me some spending money for my birthday last month and I thought you might be interested to know what I bought with it. I treated myself to a brand new sewing machine! Here's a picture of my new toy, the Brother LS 2125 model. I haven't taken it out of the box just yet, wanted to read the manual first. Here's a photo of Max checking it out:

It seemed an appropriate way to spend the money, since my mom was the first example I had of a sewer. She used to have a beautiful sewing room set up in the laundry room of my parents' house, complete with custom built drawers for patterns and thread and other sewing notions and supplies and cupboards full of fabric, and a beautiful avocado green Singer sewing machine. When I was growing up, she used to make some of my clothes and I can still remember the beautiful dresses she used to make me every year for my annual piano recital. Over the years, my mom has kept busy with other pursuits and the sewing room has been used for other things but the memories remain.

I learned to sew in Home Economics class in Grade 7 and 8. Way back then, girls had to take Home Ec, it was a required course and in those days, girls weren't allowed to take woodshop, which is what the boys took while we were learning how to cook and sew. By the time my sister got to Grade 7, eight years later, kids either had to take both classes or got to choose.

I think the first thing I ever made was a bean bag frog. (Amazingly, the directions to make one are easily found on the Internet, you can look it up!) Then we all made a smock. There must have been other things that we had to sew, but those are the two things that stick out in my memory.

The reason for this purchase will be revealed in later posts. Suffice it to say, I'm very much looking forward to putting this machine to good use!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Old School Music

When I set up my new bookcases last week, the other thing I did was set up my record player. Or should I say, one of my record players. I actually have two. One I've had since the late 70's, I can remember having it with me at university, but it has been packed up in its box for several years now since last time I checked, I wasn't able to find a new needle for it and the one that's in there now also dates back to 30 years ago! The second one I got from someone who was getting rid of theirs and just happened to come with a supply of several extra needles. I've had it for a couple of years now, I even had it sitting out for a long time, I just hadn't ever hooked it up before. When I moved a year ago, I told myself I was finally going to hook up that turntable and start playing my record albums again. It only took me a year, but I've done it!

I have two plastic milk cartons full of albums. One appears to be a lot of soundtracks and classical music. If memory serves, I think someone left a lot of these albums in the laundry room of the building where I used to live and I brought them into my apartment, knowing they'd be good to have some day when I got that record player set up. There is quite a selection of what I would call the type of music your grandmother might enjoy, there's some Mario Lanza albums and an Englebert Humperdink and several piano and classical albums. They are also some real gems in there - "Porgy and Bess" with Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge, "My Fair Lady" with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews (the Broadway version), "High Society" with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. (Hmm, wonder if I should be hawking these on eBay?)

The second carton is all the albums I collected as a teenager and in my early 20's, back in the days before CD's, when they still made record albums. My very first record album I ever got was The Partridge Family Album. It was released in 1970 so I must have been about 9. I was SO excited to get that album, I think it was a Christmas present. My parents were probably sick to death of hearing it, I played it over and over again. I'd get together with my girlfriends and we'd sing along and pretend we were in a band, with an ironing board for a piano and (wooden) tennis racquets for guitars and a hairbrush for a microphone. Not to mention, I had such a huge crush on David Cassidy. Isn't it funny how you remember those things? I pulled out that album the other day and I could remember it all, just like it was yesterday.

The only record I was vaguely embarrassed to pull out of that box was The Captain and Tennille, "Song of Joy". That one came out in 1976 and I recall playing that one over and over again too. I would have been about 15, so perhaps I could be forgiven for my questionable taste. Luckily, I also had almost every Beatles album, including the White Album (I think Rubber Soul might be the only one I'm missing) and my parents had the Rolling Stones' "Goat's Head Soup", CCR and James Last to groove to, so it wasn't all teen pop for my musical influences growing up!

It's funny how looking through those old albums of mine can take me back to the exact time and place I first got them. Like the Bob Seger album ("Night Moves") that I won as a door prize at a school dance in grade 9, where Max Webster was the live band playing. I didn't even know who Max Webster or Bob Seger were back then! Or Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" which was the only album we had to play at summer camp one year and we nearly wore the grooves out of that one. Luckily, it was a double album! And Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" album, which we always played at parties in the summer of 1980, long before MJ got himself a glove and a bad reputation.

Several of my old albums have since been duplicated in my collection on CD but I am really enjoying having the turntable going and that sound as the needle drops down on the record and the scratching noise that accompanies the songs as they play on the turntable. And especially the little click and whir as the needle comes to the end of the record, lifts itself up and glides back to its resting place. That's something that a CD or an MPG can't provide and I didn't realize how much I had missed those sounds until last week when I heard them again. Sometimes, going "old school" isn't a bad thing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gingerbread Season

For some reason, gingerbread cookies are associated with the Christmas season. According to Wikipedia, this is a more of an American thing, to serve gingerbread in the winter time, perhaps because it tends to be rather a "heavy" cookie or cake and doesn't really suit the light and fluffy summer season. Unfortunately, this write up doesn't quite explain how the cookies came to be part of the Christmas tradition but perhaps that is just one of life's great mysteries.

Last week, this Christmas card arrived at our office, sent by one of the law firms with which we do business. Every "cookie" has a picture of one of their staff members. It's such a cute card and we all got a chuckle when we saw it, going through the faces, trying to pick out the people we know (although they had their names printed on each one in very tiny print, just in case people couldn't recognize them with their new icing hairstyle, I guess). Apparently they all liked the way their pictures turned out, except for one guy, whose cookie doesn't have any pants. Perhaps, as a lawyer, he's a little concerned his clients will be nervous he'll showing up wearing just a vest and three gumdrop buttons to court one day. :)

This week, our annual Christmas gift from this firm arrived. You know how a lot of corporate gifts involve a gift basket or a bottle of alcohol? Not these people. They are a classy and unique bunch. They send a tray full of cookies. Not just any cookies either. One of the lawyer's husbands actually bakes the cookies himself. Can you imagine? I don't know how many of these trays they send out but you gotta believe, that's a lot of cookies for one guy to make. They are delicious too!

Lo and behold, this year's tray featured two special gingerbread cookies just like the ones on the Christmas card. Isn't that fabulous?

The funny thing is, the majority of those cookies disappeared within about an hour of delivery, even though it was just before lunch (the guy in my office who suggested we wait until after lunch to open the tray was quickly outvoted) and the rest were gone by late afternoon. All except for...the two gingerbread cookies. And then, next time I looked (for the tray was conveniently, albeit dangerously, located only a few feet away from my office door), the pink dress cookie was gone (I suspect my boos took it as she left, as we'd been discussing those little silver balls people use for decoration - I thought they were called "hundreds and thousands" and my boss only knows them as "dragées"). When it was time for me to leave, Jeanne's cookie was the only one left. Of course, I had to bring it home with me, I couldn't leave it there all alone to get stale and soft overnight.

Which reminds me, it's time for a snack! Yum.

Jeanne, whose face adorns this cookie, is married to the guy who makes the cookies. Unfortunately, I don't know his name but well done, sir, and thank you!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Getting Organized - Again

If you will recall from my post of December 3rd, I mentioned that I almost forgot to blog one night. The reason was, I paid a visit to IKEA that evening and picked up two new bookcases in which to store all of my beading and art supplies. My sister and her friend (who owns a van) met me there around 7 p.m., we had a bite to eat in the restaurant and tried out the cinnamon buns, then got the bookcases and took them home. It was close to 11 by the time we were all done and that's why I was so busy, and wasn't thinking about posting on my blog!

I have really been feeling the need to get my ever-expanding bead stash and collection of art supplies organized, as it felt like the disorganization was stopping me from making anything new. It was as if I wouldn't let myself make jewellery or create any art until I spent some time putting things away where they belonged. Only, I didn't really have a spot to put them, at least not one that seemed to do the job efficiently enough. Hence the need for the bookcases.

This first picture shows how things looked before my trip to IKEA. I had one small bookcase, situated beside a lovely little dresser/cupboard that used to belong to my great-aunt Alice. Several boxes piled up on the side containing various bits and pieces of miscellaneous jewellery supplies. Everything sort of jumbled together in a small, contained area but not a very practical setup. It seemed that every time I needed something, it was a big hunt to find it - whatever it was always ended up being in the last place I looked, or in the box on the bottom of the pile.

As you can see from this after shot, there are now two tall bookcases installed, pretty much filled up, with most things put away where they belong, easily viewed and readily accessible at all times. The small bookcase has been emptied and moved into the living room, now tidily holding my CD collection and there is now blank space on either side of the pretty little dresser to show it to better advantage.

The table is clear in the photo but probably won't stay that way for long, as now that my supplies are better organized, I'm eager to get back to work!!

Many thanks to my sister and her friend for going to IKEA with me and transporting the bookcases back to my home, and to my sister for helping me put them together. Do you know, we put both bookcases together in just under an hour and that was without the benefit of one of those Allen keys that I thought came with every single piece of IKEA furniture?! Hard to believe, I know, but true!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Vanity Fair Exhibit

I went to see the Vanity Fair Portrait Exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum last night. I was quite looking forward to seeing this collection of photos, as I've always been a fan of Vanity Fair magazine and admired the stunning photos that they showcase. I am especially in awe of photographer Annie Leibovitz, who took several of the amazing photos that appear in this show. But she has not been their only notable photographer in recent years, as this collection clearly attests.

I was not disappointed, it was a very entertaining exhibit, on many levels. It also made me nostalgic for past visits to the National Portrait Gallery in London, England, also a collaborator in putting this show together.

There are approximately 150 portraits altogether, displayed amongst the sharp angles of the new Crystal addition to the Museum. The photos are divided into two time periods - from 1913 to 1936 and also from 1983 to the present. Of course, the older photos are all taken in black and white but that only adds to their appeal, as far as I am concerned. As much as I loved to look at the pictures themselves, I also enjoyed reading the little writeup that was posted beside each, describing both the subject and the photographer.

I didn't recognize many of the names of the older photographers or even some of the subjects from that day, certain writers or ballerinas or choreographers that must have been very popular at the time but haven't remained familiar to all but a select few of today's audience. Others, especially the movie stars from that golden age of Old Hollywood, as well as the subjects of the majority of the newer photos were immediately recognizable. Some of the pictures are positively iconic - the Demi Moore shot with her holding her naked and very pregnant stomach, Jack Nicholson hitting golf balls in his bathrobe. It got me thinking about the nature of celebrity, a topic that has sort of been on everyone's mind this week as the whole Tiger Woods infidelity saga has unfolded. It's definitely a double-edged sword these days - no doubt being famous has its perks when things are going well, but when things are bad, you'd probably rather be invisible than have to have everyone watching and commenting on every intimate detail of your personal life.

There is also an exhibit by Canadian photographer Nigel Dickson currently showing, a collection of portraits of famous Canadians such as athletes, prime ministers and prominent business people, including former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson (left), who was being phtorgraphed for Owl magazine - hence the large owlish glasses! Individuals who are probably not nearly as well known to anyone who is not Canadian perhaps, but celebrities in our little world all the same.

I bought the book that goes with the Vanity Fair display and I'm looking forward to going through it slowly to savour each photo again (although unfortunately, the little descriptive stories posted beside each photo are not reproduced in the book.) The cover shot, shown above, is of Gloria Swanson, whom I only knew from the movie "Sunset Boulevard" so I was fascinated to see this photo of her at a much younger age.

Both exhibits are worth seeing but if you're interested, you'd better hurry - they're only there until January 3, 2010.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thanks, Stephanie!

My friend Stephanie, a.k.a. The Dixon Chick, gave me a Christmas present the other night and told me I had to open it right away, rather than wait until the 25th. Since she is a Crystal Ambassador for Swarovski, I had to ask her, as I gave the prettily wrapped box a shake, if there were crystals inside. Her answer was, "Something better than crystals!" Hmm. Intriguing. What could be better than crystals to us beaders, I wondered? Then I asked if it was chocolate. "Even better than chocolate!", she replied. Of course, now I was completely flummoxed, as what could possibly be better than both crystals and chocolate?

Quickly realizing the box was too small to contain George Clooney, I then opened the package and discovered, to my delight, that she was quite right, it was something much better then I could have ever imagined. It was a page-a-day calendar for 2010 entitled, "A Year in France"!!Stephanie said as soon as she saw it, she knew she had to get it for me and I am so delighted that she did, for now I have the perfect calendar to help me count down the rest of the days (only 251 left) until my trip to France in August with Kate McKinnon.

Of course, if you'd like to join us in either Paris, Durfort (in the south of France) or when we leave France to go to Barcelona, Spain, click the link on the right to go to Kate's website and read all about the trip and then let Kate know you are interested. We'd love to have you along, it's going to be a fabulous trip!

In the meantime, thank you, Stephanie, for getting me this lovely present that is indeed so much better than crystals or chocolate!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shopping Anyone?

Just a quick post to let you know that Kate McKinnon is having another Soul Clearing sale. She is going to begin posting items this afternoon and carry on until the end of the year. In case you missed the first one, let me tell you - you're going to want to check this one out. I have a feeling there are going to be some amazing treasures unearthed and offered up to the buying public. The last one ended much too early, if you ask me, although I did manage to get some lovely things before it did. You can read my thoughts on that first exciting sale here:

In her own words, "I’m accumulating pieces, parts, and collecting photographs of the finished jewelry that is available from the Mixed Media book. I have vintage fabrics, components, incredible metal art beads by Bob Burkett… all in all quite a pretty stack." The lovely necklace and earrings shown in the photo below are just 2 examples of what will be available:

Head on over here to check it out: and have your credit card or Pay Pal account ready for action!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Have You Heard?

Guess who's coming to town? Yeah, yeah, Santa Claus is coming but do you know who else?? Marcia DeCoster, that's who!! But you're going to have to wait a little bit longer for her arrival, as she's not coming to Toronto until next summer. Actually, she's coming to Dundas, which is about 45 minutes or so west of Toronto, down towards the Hamilton area. She'll be teaching classes at Beads of Colour (see my post about this fabulous store back on December 5th). I don't believe the exact dates have been determined as yet but watch this space for more details:

Bead guru extraordinaire Marcia is the author of this fabulous book:

which is a delightful visual experience, even if you never undertake any of the beaded projects within - but I'm pretty sure that once you see the gorgeous pieces, you're going to want to make one or several for yourself.

I am really hoping that she will teach her ringlets course (see photo below) because they're not in the book and I think they're fabulous!! My sister and I were discussing the pink and orange colour combination earlier today - I love it, it's one of my favourites!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let It Snow

We're under a winter storm warning here in Toronto. The snow is finally said to be on its way and should arrive within the next few hours. By morning, depending on who you listen to, we should have between 2 and 12 cm of the white, fluffy stuff on the ground. Followed by warming temperatures that will turn the snow into rain and probably do away with any accumulation on the ground. Then we'll just have to wait and see if it all freezes. Of course, you know what that means - the morning rush hour will be a madhouse, because for some reason, everyone forgets that we just went through this all a mere 6 months ago and they act like they don't know to drive in wet, frozen weather any more. The police are already suggesting people should leave an extra hour earlier in the morning to get to work, can you imagine??

I'm hoping the snow will put me in the Christmas mood, because so far, I'm not really feeling it. My day started with my cleaning lady being half an hour late, which means she arrived at the same time as I was meant to be getting to my own job. She did not apologize, but instead, very righteously informed me that it wasn't her that was late, it was the BUS.

After work, I went to the post office to mail gifts to my brother's family in Alberta. I was told that one small envelope, containing a single DVD, would cost $14.00 to send, because it wouldn't fit through that little plastic letter box slot simulator they've got. Never mind that the package was being sent to a post office box and would never have to actually be inserted through one of those thin slots, a rule is a rule. Needless to say, I took the package back and shall be re-wrapping it in a plain, unpadded envelope and taking it back to the post office, where I'm told I shall be able to mail it for a mere $1.96.

I just don't have the energy to do it right now. Instead, I'm going to put my jammies on and curl up with a good book before calling it an early night. Maybe we'll get so much snow overnight that I'll need to stay inside tomorrow and hibernate for an indefinite period...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Getting Organized

When we were down in Tucson a couple of weeks ago, we made a trip to the Michael's store and picked up a few things. Stefanie and Heather picked up these fabulous organizers but there were only two left, so alas, I couldn't get one.

Lo and behold, I was at my local Michael's store (in Dixie Value Mall) this past week and they had them in stock. And they were 30% off! So of course, I had to get one. They were available in three colour choices - I went with the zebra stripes.

Don't you just want to rush out and get one and fill it full of...stuff???

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Debi was right, that scone that I picked up yesterday at Taylor's Tea Room in Dundas was Delicious with a capital D. I ate it this morning with the peach jam and Devon cream. At first, I told the waitress that I didn't want the cream but Debi made me take it with me and told me to give it a try and boy, was it good! I've had high tea with scones and cream before but as I remembered it, the cream was not very sweet but this stuff was so tasty and really went well with the peach jam. Although now that I read this Wikipedia entry, I see that I had my ingredients layered on the scone in reverse, I should have had the jam on top of the cream: I don't think it detracted from the taste one bit!

As you can see from this photo, the scone was huge. Debi had warned me that it would be filling. She suggested I not eat it unless I was able to take a nap afterwards!

I ate it off my King George and Queen Elizabeth I plate, drinking milk from my Queen Elizabeth II mug, while watching this week's episode of Coronation Street on the CBC this morning. I know, I know, it should have been tea for it to be the proper British experience but I don't drink tea (or coffee), so milk it was.

Like I said, Delicious with a capital D!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Back to B.O.C.

I finally made it back to Beads of Colour in Dundas today, which I have been meaning to do since my first visit to this lovely bead store with my friend Heather back in August (see post of August 19th -

Since then, I have met the owner of the store, Debi Keir-Nicholson, although I had to go all the way to Tucson to do it! She also attended Kate McKinnon's PMC workshop in November, so today's visit was planned so I could return a vest to her that she had left behind in Tucson and we could do lunch. Which we did, at a lovely little tea shoppe called Taylor's Tea Room. The food was delish and I brought back a scone with me which comes highly recommended, along with some peach jam and real Devon cream to go with it, which I am planning to savour while I watch Coronation Street tomorrow morning to get the authentic British scone experience!

We then took a stroll along King Street in Dundas. Lots of beautiful old buildings and storefronts, I had to keep asking Debi to stop so I could take another photo. I loved this old post office building, which is actually for sale, if you can imagine! (I bought a lottery ticket on my way home, just in case). Wouldn't you love to own a building that has a clock tower? I don't know why but for some reason, I believe I would.

Check out these three storey buildings. Dundas must have been a prosperous town back in the day when these main street structures were built, as 3 floors seems quite a lot for that time period. Debi took me inside one of the stores in this section, Heirlooms, which is currently a bridal shoppe but used to be the hardware store. It still has all the old wood inside, including the counter and beautiful wide planked wooden floors. Even the ladder that they used to use to climb up onto the shelves to find some piece of merchandise. There is also a beautiful wooden staircase at the back of the shop. A lot of the wood is painted a baby pink now, which is rather a shame but at least it looks pretty with all the wedding gowns. Sadly, I didn't take any photos inside - I know, what was I thinking? Or not thinking, in this case! Next time.

After checking out a few more stores, including the thrift shop (where I picked up several old books to use for art projects in the near future and Debi got a little electronic piano toy for her grandson), we then strolled back to Beads of Colour, to spend some time chatting with Chris, who works with Debi and where, as you can see, I did remember to take some photos inside the store.

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon! Thank you, ladies!