Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My last nod to Christmas. This is a wee convenience store near me. I love the way it looks:) Almost magical, makes you want to walk through that door.

My daughter's dinner party was a great success. A bit hairy at the end getting the pasta together. She had doubled the recipe and it called for 30 oz of spinach. That's a lot of spinach! It was overwhelming until it wilted down. It was delicious!

I want to wish you ALL a prosperous and peaceful New Year:) May the bluebird of happiness sit on your shoulder all through the year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fries with that?

Looks good doesn't it:) Vacation food. Actually this was taken in August at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. We stopped in to have some lunch and poke about. I often take a picture of what I am eating when I am out and about. Hmm, what does that say about me? I like food too much. Anyway, this sort of meal is going to become very rare. I plan on doing an overhaul of my diet. I am sure I am not the only one:)) More veggies, fibre, nuts and fruit, less sugar, fat, refined food and maybe gluten free too. I have a feeling I will feel a lot better without wheat. Here in North America our diet is predominantly wheat. It is in practically everything. I have a few friends who have tried going gluten free and they say they feel so much better.

I am planning on really starting in January. My birthday is Jan 8th so it is always a good week for me to begin things. Fresh starts. Lists, goals and dreams.

Tonight my daughter is having a "dinner party" for her girlfriends. She is bashing around the kitchen as I write this:) They have to dress up and she is cooking. Funnily enough, we each gave each other a Jamie Oliver cookbook for Christmas! So from hers, she is making tagliatelle with mascarpone cheese and spinach , sticky toffee pudding and plain iceberg lettuce wedges with vineagrette to start. The table is set with candles and pretty napkins. Nice to see teenagers do something a bit different. Not just watching movies, texting and facebooking all at once:)

I was also nominated for "One Lovely Blog Award" from one of my favourite bloggers:)
ChichiBoulie! Thanks Gretchen:)) She is a delightful artist who lives in France and paints whimsical watercolors, does embroidery patterns, rubbber stamps and a myriad of other artful projects:) I really appreciate it !

December Views

Monday, December 29, 2008

last night's adventure

Yesterday, my mum heard an interview on CBC radio in the morning about a man who has been decorating his wee bay window every Christmas for the last twenty years. He starts the beginning of November. It is in a very rundown and quiet area of the city and all the people in the neighborhood look forward to seeing his display. We drove in last night to have a look. My picture does NOT do it any justice at all.
On the spur of the moment, we decided to knock on his door to thank him and tell him how marvelous it is. He graciously asked if we would like to come in and wow, what a sparkly and amazing place!!! Even the blades of his fan get the Christmas treatment:)

This is Mr. Bowden. He lives directly across from St Georges Round Church, a round wooden church built by Queen Victoria's father, the Duke of Kent. He was sitting on his front steps June 1994, the night it caught blazing fire and nearly burnt to the ground. The minister stood next to him, crying his eyes out. What a night that was.

Here is is demonstrating the songs on his latest addition, a carousel.

His dog Daisy lies in front of the TV. His last dog, a German Shepard lived to be 17 years old.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I bought this wee painting as a holiday gift to myself. Just love it. Rustic black olives. Reminds me of the Mediterranean and warm sunny climes. It is by friend of mine, English artist and photographer, Tim Burns. Painted on a piece of driftwood, there is even a hole in the top left olive where the pip came out. You can't really see it in this pic.

Also, here is the Ginger Cake recipe from Mrs. Baird written so many years ago. At least what I could make out from the hastily scrawled recipe.
6oz margarine
3 oz lard
2 oz sugar
1/2 pound sultanas
2 oz currants
1 egg
1 Tbsp syrup ( maybe Lyles Golden?)
1Tbsp treacle
1 tsp bicarb of soda
10 oz flour
pinch salt
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp jam ? ( or 1 jam spoon of pepper?)
pepper? (It looks like 1 Jam . pepper, so make of it what you might, I'm really not sure what it means) EDITED: 1 tsp Allspice ! whole Jamaican pepper= allspice

1. Melt margarine and lard in pan.
2. In big bowl, mix dry ingredients
3. Drop in egg and half the melted lard, beat well
4. Add the rest
5. Put into prepared tin and bake 2 hours. ( I imagine at 350F)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

McCall magazine cover picture 1940. George Eastman collection.

Love this, I'll be posting more as the days go by. I'm thinking about lifestyle changes as the new year comes closer. All I've been doing lately is eating chocolate and cheese and chips and dips and creamy concoctions and I need to STOP now! Ack. I made some squash soup with ginger and lime today hoping to have something to eat that won't fast track me to the blubber bin.

We also have a new Wii and that is fun. I have been doing the fitness and balance stuff and it certainly is an eyeopener. I love how it tracks your progress. It even talks to you. I had gained a pound since the last time I stepped on it and it asked me if I had been snacking! lol. "Um, yes!!"

Friday, December 26, 2008

Remember Mrs. Baird in an earlier post?
Here's what my mom wrote to me. The bold is mine.

On reading your blog I see that Mrs Baird's Ginger Cake (and I would like that recipe) is written by Jessie (my grandmother's sister). Mrs. Baird was a friend of hers who was a rich farmer's wife . She lived about a mile away from J's house at Bridge of Dun , near Montrose. She was a big lady with a deep voice and a hearty laugh, who always seemed to wear an apron. Mrs. Baird had three daughters and a son. I remember the names Cathy and Moira but can't get the others. Her husband ( they were always called Mr and Mrs so I never heard their names) looked like an exact replica of her in male form. I remember walking down for afternoon tea at their house, lovely scones, strawberries etc. Yum!. Good memories indeed.

Jessie's husband was the rector at Bridge of Dun, Scotland. He, Jessie and their daughter lived in the manse there and my mum tells many happy stories of going to visit them at the "big" house. One day he ran away to Africa to be with another woman, leaving behind his wife and young daughter. It was a Sunday morning, and my Great aunt had to speak to the congregation herself and tell them what had happened. Jessie then moved in with her sister, my grandmother and they lived together for the rest of their lives.

December Views

Thursday, December 25, 2008

December 25

xoxox Merry Christmas xoxox

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

This is my grandmother's well used cookbook. I love to imagine her poking through it looking for a recipe to try or go back to. In it are taped bits of paper with handwritten recipes and notes. Rhubarb chutney, a newspaper clipping....Kitchen Hints for Scots Houswives, taped on the front page, her Xmas pudding, a real classic and handed down from her mother. Ingredients like 1 gill of brandy, 1 pound of Demerara sugar, sultanas, mixed peel, almonds and shredded suet. It was made by my mother and I have made it too. Let stand 12 hours, boil for 8. The smell of the house when it is on the boil represents Christmas:)

I wonder who Mrs. Baird was:)

Have a Happy Holiday Everyone:))

December Views

Monday, December 22, 2008

My neighbor just came over with this little plate and asked for a cup of tea. I obliged:) Monty is sleeping on the chair and outside it is frigid and white. Good day for visits with a friend.

These two wee ornaments used to be on my tree when I was little. I hope you had a chance to listen to Shannon's song from my previous post. I truly believe she is a talent we will be hearing more of:)

December Views

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Irwin Lake Sessions

So, tears found me yesterday. I happened by accident across the new CD of a wonderful family friend. Shannon and my daughter H are buddies and her mum and dad are good friends of mine. I knew Shannon and her dad had been working on a CD but I had forgotten all about it and boom, in that random way the internet works sometimes, I found myself on Shannon's Myspace page. I haven't seen her really in a long time. She is studying music in Toronto at Humber College.

I listened to her song Siuil A Ruin, and tears fell. It is beautiful, so clear and pure.
Shannon plays the fiddle and sings, and her dad plays guitar. She plays accordion and piano. I haven't even mentioned her Irish dancing skills....national competitions! Her father Tony, has been a musician and entertainer for more than 30 years. How wonderful for him to team up with his daughter, an accomplished musician in her own right now. They are a great duo:) I am sure you will be hearing more of her/them. CBC is recording a show of theirs in January.

Her mom and I plan on hitting the road together one day too:) Hey Angela! We'll be singing too I imagine but only after a few glasses of wine:) The CD is called the Irwin Lake Sessions. I think it was last Christmas, as a gift to Shannon, Angela paid for a week at an isolated cottage at Irwin Lake for Shan and her dad to get away from it all and create something special. They sure did.

Anyway, here is the LINK to Shannon's Myspace page and you can hear three of her songs. You might have to wait a wee bit for it to upload. Her CD is available at HMV records in Halifax. and you can buy it via the internet at CDBaby too.

photo credits - Shehab Illyas

He's back

Monty is home!!! He' was at the Vet and the Emergency Animal Hospital for 43 hours. Poor wee thing. I am feeling much better too, hooray! That was a nasty bug I caught but worrying about the cat probably didn't help.
I was tagged in a Flickr game, 16 random things about me. I don't often do those but being tired and restless at the same time, it seemed like a good way to pass some time last night. It's hard thinking up things. I must say that I do enjoy reading other people's random facts. Must be the voyeur in me. Join in if you have a Flickr account, leave me a comment there so I'll know where to find your list! Some folk are doing Holiday related ones.

In other news.... Here's a local news story about Derek Hatfield and the race he is in. What a grueling adventure..He's the only Canadian in the Vendee Globe Round the World solo yacht race. A difficult zoom around the globe. In France, mariners are treated like rock stars! He happens to be from Nova Scotia. This is his personal website, Spirit of Canada He had some bad luck earlier in the race and had to go in for repairs but he is gaining ground. I just sent him an email through his website cheering him on. I'm sure he would appreciate one from any of you Canadians reading or for that matter, anyone:) Here he is catching a few zzzzzzzz.Looks exhausted.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Still feeling under the weather but in all this misery I can tell that I AM getting better.
Monty being sick has been an added stress. He's still at the hospital, catheter scheduled to come out at 6 tonight, and after he's had a good pee on his own, he can come home. Might take a few hours after that. I guess he is very cranky, can't blame him poor wee thing. Catheter stitched in, cone on to stop him from worrying it, IV drip, pain mediation. Sheesh. I am surprised how empty the place feels without him. Who knew a cat could have so much presence!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Green eyes

Some Monty love:) That little mouth gets me every time.
Those who don't like cats are rolling their eyes now:))

Still ill.

Here are some festive cooking links from my faves Jamie and Nigella.

Jamie's Christmas Special part 1 the rest of the show links are on the right side of the page

Christmas Rocky Road 5.49 min
Cranberry Orange Pudding 5.25 min
Holiday Hot Cake with Eggnog Cream
5.09 yum! looks amazing.
Ginger Glazed Ham 3.13

December Views

UPDATE: I had to rush Monty to the vet. He's there now:( I noticed that he was straining and could not empty his bladder. When I called they said bring him immediately. They will put him under and empty it and look for obstructions, inflammation etc. They sew in a catheter and put him on IV fluids for 24 hours. We will have to take him to the emergency hospital overnight so they can watch him. I was feeling so terrible today, I was blubbering in the vets office and apologizing and saying if I wasn't so sick I would be a bit more resiliant. There's always something...... I am grateful that the Vet is close by and he is in good hands.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mum doing her best Vanna imitation! What a terrific spread. This was only the start. People brought more. You bring 3 doz and go home with three dozen mixed. My mother should have been a designer. She loves putting together gorgeous displays.

Yesterday, I confined myself mainly to her kitchen washing teacups. I have a cold which is worse today but in the way that colds do, it is predictably going through it's life cycle. Last night I didn't sleep much, might have been the giant plate of cookies I ate trying to make myself feel better just before retiring. As well as the usual cold shenanigans, you know....... duel kleenex nose stoppers in between sneezes.Ok, ok I'll stop now.

I've got to drive my daughter to work, go to the post office, deliver some cookbooks and then I can head to bed for some rest and hopefully a nap. I'm not a napper.

This was a really interesting little article, The Dharma of Barbie For those who wonder to Barbie or not to Barbie.
December Views

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sugar and spice

Today is my mom's cookie exchange. She has been hosting it for as long as I can remember. Now the ladies that attend are all in their seventies and eighties but they look forward to it as much as I do. Some of the trays of goodies they bring are amazing. Baking is a lost art. I've got to scoot over there to give her a hand:)

I'll be back later with some pictures of it:)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rainy Tuesday in December...

Ah, Gerard Mulot cakes. Each one is a work of art. I love the pink ribbon tied around the top cake, just out of sight, it is finished with a big bow. These are in Paris. Food is an art form.

This is the Cafe St Severin. A great spot to stop and people watch. It is on a very busy little corner. We were lucky enough to be serenaded with some light jazz!

I LOVE this place and look forward to visiting again. It is the Musee D'Orsay, full of Impressionist art, deco and Nouveau. It was an old train station and the building itself has been transformed into a beautiful showcase. I have been looking through my pictures of Paris. Such a beautiful city. Sigh..

Today I was going to have a friend over for lunch but I am fighting a cold and she is cautious, so we decided to postpone it. The upside is that I had made a gorgeous soup for us that I still get to have for lunch:) It is low fat and DELICIOUS! and best of all, easy to make..... Here it is...
Donna's Ginger Peanut Dream Soup
1 (14oz) tin chickpeas drained and rinsed
3-4 Cups Chicken or veggie broth
3.5 Tablespoons Peanut butter (crunchy is nice)
1 Tbsp. oil
2 Onions chopped
2" piece of fresh Ginger grated
2 tsp. Curry powder or more
1.5 tsp Cumin or more
1 (14 oz) tin Tomatoes diced
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
In big pot, onions and ginger in oil until onions golden and softened.(about 7 min)
Add curry and cumin, stir 1 minute
Add everything else (except cilantro)and simmer 10 minutes.
Take off heat, add cilantro. When cooled a bit, whiz in batches in blender or use immersion blender like I do. ( I love my immersion blender)

REMEMBER add or subtract the amounts of ingredients to your tastes. This soup is different everytime I make it. You can also add a squeeze of lemon at the end if you want and garnish with red pepper strips thinly sliced or crushed peanuts. Enjoy!

December Views

Monday, December 15, 2008

Can I pick now?


And the winner is......... The Central Asia Institute!...... with a donation to them of $555!!!
I am thrilled and excited to be able to hand over such a wonderful amount. Thanks to all of YOU! That money will go a long way:)
The winner of my print is Leslie Rubio- Cornett in Virginia!

My daughter picked the name out of the bowl, she was half asleep in bed, didn't lift her head, just swirled her hand through the papers and picked one. What is quite remarkable about Leslie winning is that I had made a donation to an organization that she supports called Friends of Jamaica. They have a weekly draw for a print by her and guess who won? Me! How odd is that! She wins one of my prints and I win one of hers:)

December Views

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well, after all my comments about the warm was -17 last night! huh?
Good to be inside all cozy. We watched High Society with Bing, Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Grace Kelly last night. I LOVE those old films. Speaking of which.......this afternoon, H and mum and myself are going to see THIS in a theatre downtown on the big screen. It is a fundraiser for the local Food Bank that a friend of mine has organized. Yay Sara! It is one of my fave Christmas movies and how grand to see it in style:)

We got our tree yesterday and will be putting it up tonight I hope.

Tomorrow Dec.15th, I am going to make a donation to the Central Asia Institute ( 3 cups of tea) on behalf of all of you who have given. Please think about donating $5 if you haven't yet. The cost of a coffee and biscotti. I am excited about what we've done. A little from many accomplishes a lot! Here is the link to the post I wrote about it. Also I will add your name to a draw I am doing for those who have participated:)

December Views

Saturday, December 13, 2008


First of all, thanks to Christina of Hoyden Designs for nominating this blog for an award:) I really appreciate it.:)) She is a lovely artist who lives in California. I have elected not to tag anyone because there are too many wonderful sites out there for me to choose from. I have a hard time with that. You all win my vote:) also...thanks to Sandy Mastroni! I visited her bog and won a bookmark! How fun is that:) She is a quirky artist living in Connecticut. From one coast to the other.

Isn't this cheerful. Only in the Maritimes. It is a dory window box. I will have to go back in the summer to see it with flowers:) I love details like this. Creative and fun.

I really want to get out for a walk. I have fallen off the exercise bandwagon a bit. Too busy and tired. I know that exercise does give you energy so I have to really make an effort today to JUST DO IT! Anyone else?

Monty? Ha, I didn't think so:) zzzzzz

December Views
My 3 Cups of Tea December Fundraiser , Thanks to all who have donated so far:)) I am going to tally it up and make the "big" donation on the 15th so 2 days left! I am also drawing from the names and will donate a print of choice to the winner:)

Friday, December 12, 2008


This was a shot I took a couple of years ago. The wee snowflake in the window speaks of hope to me.

Also, tonight's full moon is the largest and brightest of the year. It will be 30% larger because the moon is at "perigee," it's closest point to earth this year. This weekend the Geminid Meteor shower is about to get underway too but because of the full moon you will not see as many shooting stars. I love meteor showers:))

December Views
My 3 Cups of Tea December Fundraiser , Thanks to all who have donated so far:)) I am going to tally it up and make the "big" donation on The 15th so 3 days left! I am also drawing from the names and will donate a print of choice to the winner:)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kindred Cove

Finished this yesterday:) This is what Nova Scotia looks like in the summer. So beautiful.I just listed it eBay

It is pouring rain out there today. Was supposed to be freezing rain but because we are on the coastline it is milder. Tomorrow possible thundershowers!! What happened to the snow. This weather makes me sad. Topsy turvy. I like a snowy December.

Glenfinnan House Hotel in Scotland. Love the light and the Christmas colours:)
December Views

My 3 Cups of Tea December Fundraiser , Thanks to all who have donated so far:)) I am going to tally it up and make the "big" donation on The 15th so 4 days left! I am also drawing from the names and will donate a print of choice to the winner:)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Every time I spell Wednesday I have to almost spell it in my head as I write. It's the nes.:)

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. We are lucky to have such a wonderful gallery in a small city like ours. It is a place I really should visit more often., they have a remarkable array of work. There is a pretty cafe on site too:) I happened to look up and see the figure from the building across the street reflected in the window.

Today is a damp grey one, up and down our weather goes. Like a yo yo. It is the same everywhere. Mother nature adjusting her girdle.

Every now and then I watch one of my fave cooks on Youtube. Last night I had a mini festival to myself. I love the way they shoot her segments. Like a European film. Have a quick 3.5 minute break:) Does it make you want to rush off to the kitchen:?

December Views
My 3 Cups of Tea December Fundraiser , Thanks to all who have donated so far:))

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This has got to be one of the most popular shots for winter photographers. Spy some red berries, snow and a bit of blue These are actually tiny red crab apples on the tree in my backyard. The birds don't touch them.

I'm wanting to see Twilight, read the books on the urging of my daughter. Could not put them down even though part of me was saying... what?this is so bad! I also want to see Australia, poor reviews but my mum loved it. and I'm a epic kind of girl:) Saw Bond, love those:)

Painting today and Christmas cards. I think I mentioned that yesterday, well it's still on :)

One of my readers, Leslie, is affiliated with an organization called Friends of Jamaica, they help the island children. She is also donating a painting to be drawn:)

December Views
My 3 Cups of Tea December Fundraiser , Thanks to all who have donated so far:))

Monday, December 8, 2008


This is an image of my foyer...............just kidding:)
It is another shot from Province House.

THANK YOU to the lovely person who gave such a generous donation to my wee 3 Cups of Tea fundraiser yesterday:) It was a super surprise and I feel very grateful that together we all will be helping to make a difference.....every little bit helps:))

All the rain we had yesterday turned into snow overnight. What a snarl. I am lucky because all around us, houses have lost their power. Wet and snow always makes for a messy storm.
H has her final exam today. Schools have been closed but it is rare that the universities shut down. She sure did not feel like getting up early this morning, after a late night studying and then out into the cold and crunchy. Don't blame her:)

I am working on a scenic painting this morning, Nova Scotia summer. That will keep my mind off the wintery chill outside. Lots of lovely bright colours:)

Unfortunately I've run out of rigid mailers and I have several prints to send out. A trip to Staples is in order but brrr, I don't feel like leaving the house. I hope the sun will pop out later. The temperature is supposed to rise to 12 C on Wed!! Crazy, crazy weather.

December Views
3 Cups of Tea December Fundraiser , Thanks to all who have donated so far:))

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A little twinkle

Easy peasy Christmas decoration or for all year sparkle. Get a big glass bowl and fill it with tiny LED lights. I also tried white ones and it looks like a bowl of fireflies:)

Yesterday's pantomime was so much fun. Laughing is one of my favourite pastimes. :)

Today is a quiet grey one. Good for catch up.

My friend Tee is having a wonderful giveaway for some KEEN footware. They are opening a new website. Pop over and take a look:)

December Views
3 Cups of Tea December Fundraiser , Thanks to all who have donated so far:))

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Holiday Spirit just listed on eBay Did this yesterday. I am so behind with my painting!

This morning started abruptly with daughter up ten minutes before she had to leave the house for a psychology exam! She'd slept through her alarm, a result of late night studying and her friend was coming to pick her up any minute. Cue funny music and fast forward action:)

Anyway, she's out now and the house is quiet. We are going to see a sold out Pantomime this afternoon produced by the oldest community theatre group in Canada, maybe even North America! A friend of mine is one of the dwarves. Hi C!!! My mum and daughter and I have been going since H was about 5 years old. It is one of our traditions. I love the Panto, everyone screams at the villains and helps the hero and heroines. There is always a female lead played by a man, lots of music and hilarity.

Here's my December View for today. A shot of the Bank of Nova Scotia on Granville Street down near the waterfront. We have a lot of lovely old buildings in this small city. I love the December light and shadows.

Until Dec 15th, 3 Cups of Tea fundraiser please have a look :)

Friday, December 5, 2008


This is the Legislative Library at Province House. Isn't it gorgeous. I had to drop off some cookbooks to the protocol office and thought I would pop in with my camera. This room used to be the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

It was in this room that Joseph Howe argued in front of a jury, for freedom of the press in 1835. He spoke for six hours and fifteen minutes! He won and we have a lot to be grateful for because of that victory.
It is connected to our public library system and anyone can withdraw books with some advance notice. The oldest book in their collection is a book on astrology, from the 1400s!

The Right Honorable or something or other Mr Salter and his wife. The artist painted the bodies first and then had the husband and wife come in so he could paint their heads on! Mrs. Salter looks a bit off:)

December Views

LINK to December Fundraiser 3 cups of Tea