Monday, December 29, 2008

Phone Sweater

We've all had such a lovely Christmas holiday, my personal high moment was having the gravy work out! Always a "phew" moment for me. The Heiress got a new phone and wasn't having the best of luck in finding a case that fit properly. Ravelry to the rescue! We sat down to browse the patterns and found one that fit the bill. The Heiress was so pleased with the result she came downstairs carrying her iPod. "Mum, do you think..." so of course I did. With so many errands to do and things to remember for Christmas I was joking with a friend on Christmas Eve that I needed a notebook on a string around my neck. At Christmas dinner when it came time to pull our Crackers what popped out of mine but a miniature notebook! Gales of laughter ensued, it was a wonderful day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cranberry Sauce

Every Christmas and Thanksgiving I open a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce and listen for that unmistakable sound as it slides out. You see, I am the only one that likes cranberry sauce in our house. Thinking about it, I am the only one that likes a lot of things in our house! I digress. This year I was inspired by K from Jolly Hockey Sticks! to try and make a batch of homemade conserve. The recipe comes from The Barefoot Contessa's Parties book and it was so simple! Had I known, I would have been spared "the jelly" years ago. R walked past the kitchen, pointed at the pot and asked "Do you use cranberry sauce to make that?" "It IS cranberry sauce, this is what it's supposed to look like" I replied. Thank you Barefoot Contessa!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

This is the view outside my front door two hours after the snow started this morning. It's supposed to keep up all day, my back is sore already just thinking about the shovelling ahead. It's not all bad news though, days like this are terrific for lots of things! All day fires, in the fireplace of course, baking, knitting, movies in the afternoon and chatting with neighbours. R went off to work this morning and by 9:30 am was promptly sent home by the powers that be. It's a good thing too, now I have a shovelling partner!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cross Stitch Ornaments

In the past I've done my best to make an ornament every Christmas for The Tree. Since there is No Tree this year to hang ornaments on I have put some behind glass to be safe. This way I can admire them without fear that Deacon will play Thief.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Persephone

Yesterday I became the very excited owner of my very first Persephone! It's titled Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes. A quote on the back cover states: "A revelation...These exquisite and wryly funny short stories, by the Jane Austen of the Home Front, provide a unique insight into English life during WWII" Robert Harris. Here's how it all came about. We stopped by Chapters as R wanted to find a book or two to read during some time off work. Always eager to be of service I was browsing the shelves for quirky titles, that's what R likes best. Then I spied the unmistakable Persephone logo on a spine, can it be I thought to myself. Such was the unconfined joy as I ran, okay I tried to be feminine, walked quickly to show my treasure to R. Since Chapters just happened to be having a Buy 3 Get 1 Free special it was tucked under my arm for purchase. Cue the Hallelujah chorus...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Short Stories

There simply are not enough hours in the day at this time of year I find. Which is exactly why these short stories are fitting the bill so nicely. Elizabeth Bowen's tale Green Holly actually turned out to be a Christmas ghost story! I really enjoyed her writing and discovered that at the library we own a collection of Bowen's short stories. I brought it home and read Mysterious Kor which is about two lovers and their quest to be alone on a moonlit night during the Blitz. I'm looking forward to dipping back into that book later in 2009. Turning back to my Christmas stories I then chose an Anthony Trollope called Christmas at Thompson Hall. It involved a sick husband, his wife, a mustard plaster and a case of mistaken identity. How's that for a plot? Christmas will never be the same for those people. There was a rather odd story by Muriel Spark called Christmas Fugue. My eyes kept popping whilst reading as the main character, Cynthia "made love" to a pilot during a flight - several times! I'm thinking that back when this story was written Muriel meant something a bit less salacious with that reference. Moving right along, Evelyn Waugh is up next with Bella Fleace Gave a Party, the red silk ribbon is holding my place until later this evening. I think there's a cup of hot chocolate in the picture as well, good night!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Saki

I've started reading my Everyman's Pocket Classics "Christmas Stories" and have discovered a wonderful author who writes under the pen name, Saki. His legal name is Hector Hugh Munro and he was born in Burma in 1870. The wit and satire with which Saki writes reminds me of EM Delafield, only a bit more stabbing. I found myself imagining the two of them having dinner together and what the dialogue would be like. In my short story "Reginald's Christmas Revel" he writes: When a man goes out in the pouring rain to brush caterpillars off rose trees, I generally imagine his life indoors leaves something to be desired; anyway, it must be very unsettling for the caterpillars. I laughed my way through this all too short story and knew right away that I'd be adding more Saki to my collection. In reading his bio I was saddened to learn that his life was not all frivolity and light and that he died before his time at 43. Killed by a German sniper during the first World War he was over the age to enlist but volunteered regardless. Thankfully, he left behind quite a legacy of literature - I can hear my bookshelves groaning!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Knitting

This is my third pair of Serpentine Mitts and I just love the colour! They will be owned by a very good friend of The Heiress. S loves a pair of knit socks that I gave her so much that The Heiress tells me they make an appearance almost every day! I'm left wondering if those stockings will be hung by the chimney with care or just stand up on their own. No matter, it's lovely that my efforts are appreciated and enjoyed.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ginger Honey

For some reason Blogger wants to publish this photo sideways so I'm going with it. There seems to be a food theme going on in a few blogs I've read this morning so I'll continue it. Perhaps it's the time of year! A very nice friend gave me some ginger honey awhile ago and it's been my favourite ever since. It really perks up a bowl of hot oatmeal! Bzzzz....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Historic Oakville

Today was just way too nice to be inside so R, Deacon and I headed to Oakville to see the shops decorated for Christmas. Of course, we had to stop into The Black Forest Bakery for brownies and butter tarts! We bought a cookie for Deacon at Bark & Fitz, it was called "Mailman's Finger".
This lovely home was built in 1856 and is called "Rose Cottage". (sigh)
Walking up the path to this doorway would put a smile on your face no matter what your day was like!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Springridge Farm

Yesterday, R and I decided that we'd like to go out for a coffee/tea. We thought we'd add a drive in the country so we headed for Springridge Farm. It's situated on a picturesque hilltop in North Burlington, you're in the country but you can still have some retail therapy. I usually find some trinket or other to bring home from this beautiful shop, how could you not?
In the warm weather children line up along the fence to feed the bunnies some clover.
Cupping your hands around a hot tea out in the cool air is always a nice way to spend some time. What a lovely afternoon!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stir-Up Sunday

Stir-Up Sunday is the traditional day for everyone in the family to take a turn at stirring the Christmas pudding, whilst making a wish. They always stirred the pudding from East to West in honour of the three Wise Men who visited the baby Jesus. Children were often heard chanting the following rhyme: Stir up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot; And when we get home we'll eat the lot. A coin was usually added to the ingredients and cooked in the pudding. It was supposedly to bring wealth to whoever found it on their plate on Christmas Day. The traditional coin was an old silver sixpence or threepenny bit. Other traditional additions to the pudding included a ring, to foretell a marriage and a thimble for a lucky life.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Lost Garden

There seemed to be time to squeeze in another read before starting my collection of Christmas short stories. I so enjoyed Helen Humphreys, Coventry, and discovered that an earlier work of hers was set during the same time period. This novel takes place during 1941 and London is being destroyed by the Blitz. The main character, Gwen Davis, is a young horticulturist who is put in charge of instructing a group of young girls in growing crops for the home front. So we have a neglected country mansion, soldiers billeted close by and a young lady desperately in need of someone to love her. Although, she doesn't know it yet! Humpreys does such a terrific job of creating a movie in my head with her writing. From what I've experienced of her work so far she's succinct, pacey, literary and cozy - all things that I love in a book and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Snow

It started to snow late yesterday afternoon and this time it stuck to the ground! The park looked lovely this morning on my walk with Deacon.
Walking on the bridge was a little tricky, it was slippery and Deacon was pulling. Yikes!
There was a handsome male Cardinal eating our rose hips. I hope he'll come back later. Deacon had little "pearl rings" of snow sitting on his paws when we got home.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Squirrel visits

Deacon loves to position himself by the patio door and watch the squirrels. We throw peanuts out for them and they provide at least half an hours distraction. This means that I can read, knit or be on the computer without a spitty ball being put in my lap. Yesterday, a squirrel came up to the door and tapped it twice with his paw, I can only imagine he wanted more nuts so I obliged. Cheeky fellow!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christmas stories

Hot on the heels of my post about contentment, I found myself at a bookshop. In my defence I did say that I couldn't conceive of giving up a good book purchase. Last year, I read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens during the holidays and so enjoyed it. I was thrilled to spy this wonderful collection of Christmas short stories on the shelf at Indigo. Some of the authors in this collection are Charles Dickens, Evelyn Waugh, Saki, Elizabeth Bowen, Anthony Trollope, Arthur Conan Doyle and Muriel Spark so it was a no-brainer. Everyman's Pocket Classics has also published a similiar collection called Ghost Stories which looks very tempting. Having a peek at Amazon I see that there's going to be a collection called Love Stories coming out on February 27, 2009. Too bad they miss Valentine's Day, it would make a lovely gift - perhaps for Ukrainian Valentine's Day!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Contentment

I came across a letter to the Editor in Maclean's magazine a couple of days ago in regards to the "economic crisis". The writer was making the point that contentment is something that is sadly lacking in society today. Many individuals seem to be so busy acquiring and consuming and not taking the time to enjoy what they already have. There is a lot of value in the statement that less is more! I do find myself waffling at the thought of a book embargo though. This picture was taken last Fall in Hyde Park, London and it's one of my absolute favourites. A stone's throw away is the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street and yet he cares naught for all that. He is the picture of contentment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fairy cakes

The weather was just right yesterday to be lazy, watch television and bake. I've been contemplating this recipe for fairy cakes from my Williams-Sonoma cookbook titled "London" for awhile now. These chocolate delights were very much like a dense brownie and their two-bite size made it easy to grab on your way past the counter. May I add that Mister made many more trips past the counter than moi did! These decadent delights could benefit from being displayed on one of those charming three tier cake stands shown in the photo. Something to keep my eye out for!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nicholas Hoare

My favourite bookshop is Nicholas Hoare in Toronto on Front St.
They have a ladder that is very tempting to climb on, although, I think it's only for staff. Doesn't stop me from thinking about it though!
Nicholas Hoare carries mostly British books which makes it so fun to browse in. You don't find books like these at Chapters. I picked up the Elizabeth Bowen on a whim and I'm quite sure I'll be back for more of her work. I saw "Mrs. Woolf & the Servants" on Stuck in a Book and knew it was for me straight away, I just love upstairs/downstairs stories. Mister and I have stayed in Bloomsbury just around the corner from Virginia Woolf's home.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pimms

Mister and I needed to escape the frigid landscape that is our house. The new furnace arrives tomorrow and I think a medal should accompany it. We drove to Toronto and went to the Nicholas Hoare bookshop, St Lawrence Market and had a lunch at The Irish Embassy Pub. I have been interested in trying a Pimms for absolutely ages and it's not easy to come by around here. You can imagine my delight when returning from the ladies to wash up Mister announced "I've ordered you a Pimms". It was on the menu - oh joy, oh bliss! Now you would think by that reaction that I'm a lover of alcohol which I am not. BUT, in the interest of most things English I so wanted to know what it was like. It's delicious! Although it was lunchtime the Full English breakfast sounded pretty tempting - except for the dreaded Black Pudding, otherwise known as Blood Pudding. Well, nothing like a Pimms to reduce your inhibitions and what do you know, Black Pudding is not so bad! Dare I say that I even liked it. A grand time was had by the two of us and tomorrow I'll write about my book purchases. That is if the installers don't have to shut off the power for the duration - groan. "Bartender, another Pimms please".

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Deacon

video

Deacon enjoying the stream at Lowville Park. I thought I would try adding a video clip - and it actually worked!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baking Day

There's something about the weather turning a tad chilly that makes you want to bake and make the house smell like cinnamon. So you can see before you the product of my measuring, stirring and sprinkling. I made some banana chocolate chip nut bread and muffins (that's a mouthful, pun not intended) and some apple cinnamon muffins. Yum! Time to plug in the kettle...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reading


The Thanksgiving long weekend is one of my favourite times of year and what a gorgeous day we have to start things off. After navigating my way along the 401 to collect Taylor for the weekend I needed some peace and quiet on the patio. My Fall TBR list consists of The Provincial Lady in London, The Provincial Lady in Wartime, 84 Charing Cross Road, The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters and Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. As you can see, Deacon is guarding my current read, Brideshead Revisited. Actually, I was really hoping he wouldn't lift his leg on it while I went in for the camera.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Day One


Today is my 46th birthday and as good a day as any to start a blog. I thought about calling my blog "A Life With Deacon" as most stories these days have to do with various incidents and calamity involving our border collie.  But there is another side to my life that has nothing to do with reality.  It's the seemingly never ending obsession I have with Englishness and all that that entails.  So this blog is going to be my own little English bolthole right here in Canada.