Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Whites and Christmas Colours

Winter blew in early this year and I couldn't be more pleased. One of the things I missed most about the West Coast was the lack of wintry days, well - never again!

I'm very happy to be a housewife this winter and have been puttering and decorating with my favourite vintage ornaments. Christmas greens have never been easier to get - just walk out the back with my clippers and a bushel basket.

Here's our little Balsam Fir all decked out for the holidays, just waiting to have brightly wrapped packages underneath.

Orchard House Farm

Since November, the fella and I have been on a very great adventure; leaving our easy, breezy, and rainy, west coast village life and moving to the chilly, rolling, countryside of southern Ontario. We now live up above the Niagara Escarpment, in a pear orchard where my step-grandfather used to grow Bartletts, Anjous, and Boscs. They still grow here but are farmed by a local fruit producer instead.

The rest of the property around us is vineyard, rows upon rows of grapevine stretching from here to forever. I can't wait to see them leafy and dripping with shiny purple and green globes. There is lots of room for a good vegetable garden and the seed catalogues are ordered but right now, with a blanket of snow on the ground everything moves inside the little modest bungalow that seems huge to our old tiny yellow duplex.

Life in the country has a steep learning curve, our well is full of bacteria and our cistern needs a liner, the wood furnace is a hungry beast and we are rushing to find enough wood to keep it satisfied, the snowblower won't work and a blizzard roared in last weekend... There are days when we wished we lived in our nice cozy city apartment again, but most days we love the country side. The quiet, the views, the birds, the forest at the end of the dirt track..

Friday, November 30, 2007


It's been a crazy month of highs and lows. Desperate writing sprees, lugging the laptop around constantly, word wars, relying on my little blue egg timer to get me through fifteen minutes of writing at a time, but I did it! This morning I passed that mystical 50 000 word mark and finished the first (very rough) draft of The Gilded West.

Today a novel, tomorrow the world!

Three cheers for everyone that participated and wrote their hearts out this month, and three cheers for the NaNoWriMo team for keeping the site and the challenge going!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Pen is Mighter than...

Everyone pick up your pens and flex those fingers, it's National Novel Writing Month time! That's right, you've got one month (that's 30 little days) to write a 50 000 word novel. But don't feel discouraged, it's not meant to be a work of art- it can be rambling, have plot holes, or maybe even characters that suddenly disappear- but it's a great first draft. And it's 50 000 more words than you would have written otherwise!

I had a good start yesterday and am up to 2600 words. I'll try to get a ticker up here so everyone can see my word count, but if it doesn't happen you can always check out my Profile over at the NaNo website.

This year's novel, The Gilded West, is a historical romance set in 1890's British Columbia. Victoria is packed with gold seekers headed for the Klondike and my two main characters get caught up in the excitement of it all. Love leads to heartbreak but will Mira and Declan get over their differences and find each other at the end of it all? I'm not sure yet but I'll let you know by the end of the month!

Good luck everyone and happy noveling!
We can do it!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Good Clear-Out

As we ready ourselves to make our big trek east at the end of October, a Moving Sale was in order. We don't really need all that stuff anyway, so we emptied out our cupboards and crawlspaces and put it all on display for our neighbours to nose through. No worries though, they were all very friendly and carted off lots of good junk! The rest is going to be packed off to the Salvation Army or Freecycled. Freecycle is a great organization that lets people help out other people. When we were younger (and poorer) and starting out, Freecycling led us to an office chair, a patio table, and a computer monitor- FREE. So hopefully, we'll be able to return the favour and help a few folks out around here.

It was pretty chilly at 7:30 this morning, so the big cosy knitted sweater came out of hiding, and was partnered with a fetching vintage apron - with pockets perfect for lots of change.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fall Frocks

Empty out your closets and find your prettiest gloves and hats, the ladies over at Sense and Sensibility forum have scheduled another Week in Feminine Dress from September 23 through to September 30. It's always great fun and a wonderful excuse to wear skirts and dresses all week long. The link is at the side, just go into S&S Message Boards and then the Off-Topic section. We all try to post our outfits everyday. Rumour has it we may even attempt a Week in Historical Dress within the next few months!

“I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.” -Coco Chanel

Potatoes A-Plenty

With Autumn arriving soon, I, along with gardeners all across the country, have been out in the crisp (and sometimes soggy) air harvesting the garden's plentiful produce. This past week it's been potatoes. Wonderful red, white, and purple beauties; a treasure hunt in every hill. With each dig of the fork I turn up miniature marvels and giant starchy wonders, and I am always amazed at how that little chunk of potato I planted so long ago in April has multiplied so much underneath the ground, hidden away from prying eyes. As a cook, I imagine the dirt covered lumps roasted beside a sizzling chicken, fried to a lovely golden colour beside a plateful of French toast and sausages, or serving as companion to the pale leek in my favourite soup. There is nothing better than fresh, organic, potatoes. Very easy and very rewarding.

Eating local and in season seems to be the hot topic in the media today. I've read a wonderful book this summer titled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, that follows one family's journey to accomplish this. There are numerous reasons to follow this path; it reduces carbon emissions, supports local farmers, cuts down on pesticide use, and is much healthier for you. But I don't grow and eat my potatoes because of those reasons, though I certainly agree with them. I do it because it's what people have always done for hundreds of years and it plain old feels right. A hot, steamy jacket potato with a dollop of sour cream and a pat of yellow butter on my plate when the wind blows chill, and the night creeps in early. Sounds just about right to me.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer Days

Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Knitting for Kneazles

The past month I been knitting like mad to finish my Slytherin Scarf in time for the launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I made it just in time and wore it to the midnight party at Chapters. It's a great five and a half feet long and very cosy. The book was a very enjoyable read, though not my favourite of the series. The epilogue especially was rather disappointing. Nonetheless, I was very happy the neither of my two favourite characters died! I intend to do some more Harry Potter inspired knitting this winter, and am looking forward to getting Charmed Knits and trying out some of their patterns.

Sew Much Fun

I've been busy sewing this summer and here are two of my new projects.

First the skirt is a half circle wrap-around skirt that I drafted myself using the wonderful book "Sew What! Skirts". The skirt is lovely, and perfect for twirling.

The top is one that I made for those hot hot hot summer days. I got the pattern at SewSimple.
There are no instructions but it goes together pretty well without them. I adore the back of this top, very unusual, but very pretty. And it took only a metre of fabric.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


With the bounty of berries in the house, I whipped up a Strawberry Raspberry Crumble to enjoy.

We should be picking blueberries soon!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Strawberry Social

Summer's in full swing and the berries are ripe for the picking. We've been to the local U-Pick twice already and picked about 19 pounds of strawberries and 5 pounds of raspberries. I've been busy making the house favourite; strawberry banana jam and plan to freeze a whole bunch for later jamming. Other uses for our bountiful berries: Berries and Cream, Strawberry Shortcake, Berries with Scones, Berry Pancakes, Berries in Salads, and Berries in Pies, Crisps, Crumbles, and Slumps....

Strawberry fields forever.

The berries are soo very sweet. Here's what we picked on Wednesday, and we are already planning on going back for more. Yum!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day, eh!

Time to pull out your red and white, and paint maple leafs on your cheeks! I had a great but exhausting day at the fort as we had over 4000 people come and celebrate with us!
Here's one of my favourite Canadian quotes by artist Emily Carr...

"It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she was something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are part of."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Flintlock Fun

I've just got back from an amazing business (?!) trip. A co-worker and I went out to the island and Fort Rodd Hill to begin to learn about black powder musketry in order to start doing demos at our site sometime in the future. Fort Rodd Hill is an amazing site. It is truly stunning right where it is on the ocean, and such a fun atmosphere - definitely a great place to explore. If you ever get the chance, go visit!

Five years ago I would never have imagined all the neat things I have been so very fortunate to learn since I've become an intrepid Heritage Interpreter. Imagine me, a wee speck of a girlie- coopering, blacksmithing, and shooting black powder flintlock muskets!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In Love With Church Sales

It is a well known fact that Church Rummage Sales are always the very best place to find things of quailty and good price. Since I have worked on weekends for the past few years it is practically impossible to steal away to one and find the treasures that are carefully laid out by the old church ladies. However! Last Saturday while I was walking to work I passed one of the oldest churches in the village and lo and behold the sale had just begun. I had ten minutes before I had to run up the hill to the site so I scooped up these little things for the house. Three 1930's picture frames (I much prefer the older ones, and am always on the look out for them) all for 1$, as well as a handful of vintage linens including three hankerchiefs, a lace doily, and two lace and embroidered cushion covers (perfect for the hammock) for 7$.

I wish I could have spent more time poking around, I didn't even get more than a glimpse at the pie table!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dear Mama

I have been so very fortunate in my life to have many "mamas". Kind, intelligent, hilarious, critical, loving women who have somehow put up with me with elegance and grace. But here is my very dearest, a-swirling and a-twirling in all gold silks.

Happy Mum's Day,
I promise to never be like Kitty or Lydia or even Mary!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Merry May Day!

"Oh!" she cried out, "is it you—is it you?" And it did not seem at all queer to her that she spoke to him as if she were sure that he would understand and answer her.

He did answer. He twittered and chirped and hopped along the wall as if he were telling her all sorts of things. It seemed to Mistress Mary as if she understood him, too, though he was not speaking in words. It was as if he said:

"Good morning! Isn't the wind nice? Isn't the sun nice? Isn't everything nice? Let us both chirp and hop and twitter. Come on! Come on!"

- The Secret Garden

Friday, April 27, 2007

Diamond Sunbursts and Marble Halls

"So give me pearls for our troth ring, Gilbert,"

Almost a year ago my fella proposed to me in the little park at the end of our street. He knows me so well - no bended knee, no giant rock from the jeweller's at the mall- I wanted something as unique as the two of us. So, wonderful man that he is, he let me search for my perfect ring. I always knew I wanted an antique piece and have been looking since last May for a ring that would suit. I found it on Ebay (of all places!) last December but it had to be paid for, sent here, and then sized. Sizing proved quite an issue since I have extremely slim fingers - size 4-4.25! and the jeweller was nervous, for the ring's six diamonds are all old mine cut diamonds and four are held in rather precariously. He worried that bending it so much might cause the diamonds to pop out and perhaps ruin the shape of the ring. He bravely decided to give it a-go though and we told him to take all the time he needed. Today the ring finally came home to me and is happily on my hand as I type. It goes back soon for it's proper appraisal, but for now, I can admire it to my heart's content.

The Ring:
No provenance came with the ring when purchased so it has been a bit of a trick to find out all there is to know. So far I can tell you that it is yellow gold and white gold (possibly platinum??) with a natural pearl in the centre. It has a stylised floral design which hints at Art Nouveau, and has six old mine cut diamonds (possibly 1880's?). There were worn hallmarks on the inside and the jeweller said that it might have English origins but it was very hard to distinguish. If anyone has any info on a ring similar to this I would love to hear about it! For now, the sleuthing continues...

And of course, to my dear Fella - thank you so very much. With or without diamonds, you will always be the centre of my happiness.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Back to Work

Ladysmithin' today and boy, are my arms tired tonight.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Home A-bed

I have had the very great misfortune to be stuck at home the past few days as I have caught the most horrendous head cold. (So horrendous in fact I am already on my second box of tissues within two days!) Today I have crawled from the comforts of the bed to the couch where I've been laying in a nest of fluffy duvet and watching old and not-so-old movies on the television as well as plenty of British real estate programs. So far I have watched "The Sixth Inn of Happiness", "The Quick and the Dead", "Much Ado about Nothing", and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". I don't know if my attention span will hold out much longer. Luckily, tonight I am saved from musicals and westerns as one of my favourite shows "Most Haunted" comes on soon.

Being home sick is no fun at all, is it? I feel guilty for not going into work, I can't concentrate enough to read anything - let alone focus on a crossword puzzle or something else equally engaging, between sneezes I notice all the housework that needs doing but have no desire to attempt it, and to top it off I am the world's worst napper. I'm sure a little sleep in the afternoon would help me mend but it'll never happen. The only time I can manage a nap is after an intercontinental flight - perhaps flying to France would help my stuffy nose? *grin*

In the picture you can see my little tea table fixed with a fresh pot of orange pekoe and a bowl of noodles for lunch, as well as my ever present box of tissues. A-choo!

Pretty Little Lettuces

Lettuce seedlings sprouting quite happily in a make-do greenhouse.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Place to Hang One's Hat



I am a great lover of hats. I have always liked them, especially the twenties cloche style. They are a weakness of mine, I must confess, but for ages I had nowhere to properly store them. I had them packed away up in the office closet but up there they were often neglected as I'd dash out the front door without one perched on my head. That is now a thing of the past as the fella and I designed, and then he welded, a hat rack for me. With about twelve dollars worth of metal from the metal supermarket, my hat rack came to life. It is now happily hanging behind the front door displaying and keeping all my hats within easy reach.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Women's Work

Today I came straight home from work and changed into my pyjamas as I am catching the cold that is going around here. So instead of posting a picture of my regular clothes, I'll post a few pictures of what I wear daily at work as a heritage interpreter.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tunic Time

It's day five of the Week in Feminine Dress and here is what I'm wearing today. After work, I changed into my long denim skirt and my flowy blue eyelet tunic. My head's a bit chopped because the camera was on timer as the fella is in Seattle today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In Bad Taste

According to my 1890's Lady's Book of Manners;

A worsted dress on a warm day or a white one on a cold day or a light thin one on a windy day are all in bad taste.

Very fine or very delicate dresses worn in the street, or very highly ornamented clothes worn to church, are in bad taste. Very long dresses worn in muddy or dusty weather, even if long dresses are the fashion, are still in bad taste.

Deep and bright-coloured gloves are always in bad taste; very few persons are careful enough in selecting gloves.

Light shoes and dark dresses, white stockings and dark dresses, dark stockings and light dresses, are all in bad taste."

Striped Skirt and Blue Wellies

Here I am on Day Four of the Week of Feminine Dress. The sun came out today briefly, but it was still chilly out in the back garden. I'm wearing my striped skirt, green checkered blouse, and mauve sweater overtop, along with my knee socks and my blue wellies that I got in Cornwall. Ignore the funny angle - I look kind of lumpy! Eep!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Polka Dots and Puffed Sleeves

Here I am on day three of the Week of Feminine Dress pouring a cup of tea. (Ignore the dirty tea towels, they are in the wash now!) I'm wearing my new spring green linen knee length skirt I got in England, with my new puffed cap sleeve polka dot blouse. Over top I've got my black cardigan again, and the always warm black knee socks.

Pink Jumper

Here's day two of my week in feminine dress. The digital camera still hadn't made it's way home so the picture is with the cellphone once again. I'm wearing my favourite hooded pink jumper with it's double row of buttons, a spring green long sleeve tee shirt underneath, a new black linen skirt with ribbon detail, and black knee socks.

Regency Dress

Here is a better picture of the dress I wore on Sunday. This was taken at Christmastime and the hem wasn't finished yet, though you can hardly notice. The dress buttons up the back with three red buttons.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Week of Feminine Dress

Today starts off my Week in Feminine Dress (Spring). The idea began over at the Sensibility board where we all have obsessions (okay, maybe 'enthusiasm') for the beautiful dresses and skirts of the past. We all thought that if the women back then could do all manner of things in skirts and dresses why couldn't we? So for a week many of us decide to try wearing skirts or dresses while we go about our daily lives. And we post pictures to show what can be done! Past weeks we've seen ladies cooking, gardening, teaching, all manner of cleaning and much more that can be done in a skirt! Many women over on the board wear the feminine, modest clothing for religious reasons, but I just like the styles and how I feel when I'm 'dressed up'. It's the same feeling I get when I wear my good cloche hat, or my long edwardian walking coat. It just feels beautiful.

I'll post all my pictures here everyday so you can see what I'm up to! Here's today, though I had to snap it with my cell phone camera as the Fella is out today with our digital camera. I'm wearing a flannel petticoat, my blue plaid regency dress, and a fuzzy black cardigan.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Glimpse of Spring

"It was a lover and his lass
with a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o'er green corn-field did pass,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

How to Become a Perfect Lady

" A girl with neatly and properly dressed feet, with neat, well-fitting gloves, smoothly arranged hair, and a clean well-made dress, who walks well, and speaks well, and above all, acts politely and kindly, is a lady, and no wealth is required here."
- The Lady's Book of Manners. Kindly advice from the 1890s

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Rainy Day Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well, it's a rainy Sunday today so it was a perfect afternoon to bake our favourite cookies. These chocolate chip cookies are wonderfully soft and chewy and if someone didn't sneak dough out of the bowl to nibble on, the recipe makes about three dozen cookies.

Rainy Day Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2- 1 cup chocolate chips - depending on your sweet tooth

1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Cream butter with brown and white sugars then add eggs and vanilla. Stir well.
3. Combine dry ingredients then add to creamed mixture. Beat well together.
4. Add chocolate chips and stir.
5. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or silpat covered sheet. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes or until set and lightly brown.
6. Enjoy! Great with a glass of milk or a cup of tea.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tomato Pin Cushions

I have to share my heirloom tomato pincushions. The good ladies over at the Sensibility board posted up the link below and their pictures of their own lovely handmade cushions. They looked so sweet I just had to make one - or two! You'll find the instructions over at Martha Stewart . I made mine from some scraps of Souleiado fabric I picked up in France a few years ago, and some leftover green felt from Christmas projects. They went together very quickly, and within an hour or so I had both done.

Saturday, February 10, 2007




There and Back Again

Thursday evening I returned from one of my most grandest adventures to date - eighteen days wandering across England and exploring to my heart's content. It was amazing, brilliant, gorgeous, mystical, and in some respects, like coming home. I took loads of pictures and will post a few to tantalize and tempt. Over the next few weeks I'll post more about my adventures and answer intriguing, head-scratching questions like why my mum and I were searching for one of the Hidden Churches of Cornwall, why my first experience with BritishRail was quite shocking, and what in the world did I do when I spent all day in the V&A?

Though I loved every bit - well, perhaps not the part about losing my Mum in the massive Oxford Circus Top Shop- I'll list a few highlights.

Walking tour of Bath with the Mayor's Guide
Mad Max Tour to Lacock, Castle Combe, Avebury, and Stonehenge
York Minster (and tour with volunteer)
Victoria and Albert Museum
Chawton House
Betty's Tea Room, York
Trebah Garden, Cornwall

Monday, January 22, 2007

O! to be in England!

In a matter of hours I will be flying across this great big wild country of mine and heading across the pond to England for the very first time. Stops include Bath, London, York, and my ancestral home of Cornwall. Looking very forward to it! Check back in three weeks time for pictures, stories and a jolly good time.