Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Victoria Sponge and Friends

This is my first Victoria Sponge! Last night I had the company of the delightful ladies R and M for tea and cake. Ever since Verity from The B Files made her sponge I've been thinking that this is a recipe I'd love to try. Now as pretty as it was I don't think I would have won any prizes at the village fete as it was a tad on the dense side. The recipe calls for cake flour and not having any in the cupboard I reduced the flour a bit and added some corn starch. If you happen to be a practiced baker of sponge cakes perhaps you could pass on some of your wisdom as I'm going to be baking another one to tweak things a bit. The really important thing is that we ladies had such a nice time getting together and the time flew by all too quickly. After taking Deacon for his last walk of the day I came back to discover some tea left in the pot. I opened the fridge door and reached for the milk, casting a glance at the cake. Feeling a bit like Nigella, I was leaning against the counter at 10:30 pm eating Victoria Sponge and drinking a cup of tea by the dim light of the stove. It was lovely having the ladies over, we'll have to do it again - soon!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Day at the Museum

There was more rain in the forecast for Saturday so The Heiress and I decided that a day at the Museum was the perfect way to make the best of things. We loved the European galleries with their examples of rooms through different eras, suits of armour, textiles and costumes. The Heiress is thankful we longer wear corsets and the chamber pots beside the beds brought a frown as well.
The exhibit featuring gems and minerals was so beautiful! It's mystical the way nature can produce such colour and formations in so many different shapes and sizes. The phosphorus minerals were so cool for lack of a better word, showcased in a darkened display case they glowed florescent bright green. Imagine stumbling upon that hundreds of years ago!
This emerald bracelet is from the 1940's and all I can say is "Fabulous Dahling!".
The Biodiversity Gallery is a hit with the kids, they have all kinds of interactive displays for them to experience things that are found in our community and some that aren't. For those of you across the pond, this gives you an idea of just how huge moose are. There are signs all along our northern highways warning that these huge animals are in the area, it's disastrous if you're in a collision with one of these animals, for both man and beast. On a lighter note, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and pet a Hissing Madagascar cockroach! And yes, it was alive. That was the first thing that R asked me this morning when I told him.
There was a new display of Wedgewood china which I absolutely loved. I've talked to women before at the British Isles Show about the making of Wedgewood and it's incredibly labour intensive. It takes a steady hand to lay each piece of clay motif on an item, some as fine as an eyelash. I fell in love with this teapot from the 1700's, it holds enough tea to keep you happy through an afternoon with your book. After several blissful hours of satisfying our curiosity we walked along Bloor Street, home of Prada, Gucci and other temples of merchandise nirvana (if you're into that sort of thing, I just wanted to get to the bookshop). Suddenly, there was a steely grip on my arm, The Heiress had spotted the Coach store. Biodiversity and architecture through the ages was all forgotten by a window display of shiny new handbags. In a moment of mother/daughter togetherness I sprung for a classic Coach wristlet. A little something to hold her lippy, ID, cell phone and some money when she goes clubbing, she was elated. By this time it was pouring buckets and while browsing in the bookshop I heard snorting, looking down I saw a Yorkshire terrier running in circles, drying her face off on the carpet! Too funny. I purchased a copy of In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor after flipping through the pages and seeing the words, Marylebone, vicar and London. So there we were, the two of us, each with a package under our arm and smiles on our faces riding the train home to Burlington. It was a memorable day. The forecast for today is more rain, too bad there wasn't an Ark at the museum, we could use it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Trip to Toronto

As a small reprieve from my daily routine I took myself off to Toronto by train yesterday. The weather lately has been decidedly unseasonal and rain was in the forecast. A perfect day for the creaky floors, chamber music and lamp light at Nicholas Hoare, bookshop extraordinaire. I must have browsed for over an hour, looking at every single title on offer. I carefully removed a couple of gorgeous coffee table books from their nesting place to have a closer look. One was on the architecture of English homes that should really be sold with a drool protector as it was so decadent. The price tag on that one was $120, ouch. Dovegreyreader recently wrote about Lived in London: Blue Plaques and the Stories Behind Them which I also flipped through, she wasn't kidding when she said it was quite heavy. It must weigh around 8 pounds! There was a couple of Angela Thirkell books on the top shelf so I had to trouble an assistant to climb one of those ladders that slide along the brass rail. I wanted to climb it myself but they might frown on that sort of thing. The books turned out to be part of a series and they weren't the first two so they stayed behind. In the end, I went home with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as I didn't have my own copy and it was my favourite read of 2008. Also, a couple of days ago I purchased Stratton's War by Laura Wilson, her writing lately has been described as very Foyle's War so I'm hoping that's an accurate description. I wrote to Kristina yesterday that going to a bookshop for me was more relaxing than any spa treatment, a spa for the soul I think. Then there was that guy on his cell phone for most of my train ride home...never mind.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday and Treats

I am embarrassed to say that I have yet to finish Nightingale Wood. There was a moment last night when I fancied myself as an early twentieth-century drama queen saying (most kiddingly), "I should really take a room for a fortnight!". Why can't I just sit and finish this book? The real issue here could be that this book is very charming but there hasn't been a character, or situation, that has me feeling like I need to read whilst at the dinner table as it's just not that riveting. I've been spoiled by Persephone titles that have you crying or seething with hatred, you know, rip your heart out stuff. Having said that, yesterday I read a passage that made me sigh and say to myself (for real this time), "we are kindred spirits". It was this: But Hetty had other plans. They were vague, but they were precious to her. As soon as she was of age she meant to leave Grassmere, or the flat in London, it did not matter which - forever; take an attic in Bloomsbury, fill it with books and settle down to the life of a student. I don't want to teach, to write, to criticize, or review or be a poet. I just want to learn.
It's Teaser Tuesday and that was pushing it a bit at five sentences rather than two but I wanted to share that lovely passage. The treats were in the window of a bakery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, no we didn't purchase any but they were certainly very tempting!

Sunday, July 12, 2009


The usual question was asked this morning, do we hang around the house and get some chores done or do we have fun? Since R worked yesterday and it was sunny we decided to go for a drive to picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake. The houses there are quaint beyond belief. In the past, we've strapped our bikes to the van to ride around the town, that way you can take in the architectural detail and landscaping at a slower pace. I've been known to suddenly find my bike tire scraping the curb because I'm not watching where I'm going! We browsed the shops and bought some freshly ground Snickerdoodle coffee. It's chocolate, hazelnut and caramel flavoured, yum. I found some lovely sock wool in a purple semi-solid shade to save for a later date. As I wittered on about the wool I turned to find that R had left me talking to myself, he was waiting on the sidewalk! I looked at the sales clerk "that happens to me all the time" she said. He did buy me a lovely tea mug with roses on it so he can be forgiven. We came upon a bookshop next door to an Irish pub - perfect! R had a pint while I browsed and we met out front when we were done. The cherry on top, quite literally, was a stop for ice cream. R chose Burgundy cherry and I chose strawberry, although, the almond fudge brownie was a close second. A perfect day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday in the Garden

Last year, R made a structure for some clematis to climb out of the framework for a gazebo tent. He calls the vine growing on it 'my clematis'.
We had a new concrete patio poured last summer and have been busy planting hosta and hydrangea around it as it's quite shady. The hydrangeas are loving their new home!
The clematis outside of our front door is lovely when it's in bloom, a very cheery greeting.
Another planting of Anabelle hydrangea, some sedum and daisies off of the patio. Oh how I love the way everything is coming along. But then as you tour your lovely garden you find things like this...
The bunnies in our neighbourhood like to have a nibble on the new plants just to test out whether or not they're yummy. Sigh.
On another note! Just to pass on a fascinating tidbit, did you realize that today's date is 07/08/09 and this morning the clock would have, at one point been 04:05:06. So in review, it would have been 04:05:06 on 07/08/09 - very cool! It won't happen again until 3009.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekend Wandering

There are some gorgeous historic homes in Oakville, the city next to ours, that R and I like to wander around. If Deacon should hear you whisper the phrase "go for a drive" then that's it, you're not getting out of the house without him. We like to stop at the lake so he can play for a bit, he loves to bite at the waves.Every time that we walk past this house, I always say "I love this house". R says "I know". This was what we were searching for. I had seen this lovely shrub on one of our wanders last year and filed it away in my memory. We'd like to add some more shrubs in the back garden while everything is on sale but I couldn't describe it properly to the lady at the garden centre. "I'll get you a picture!" I told her. It turns out to be a Lace Cap Hydrangea and they're lovely. A very nice lady, who had one on her property, told us about them. She had a very nice historic home, too bad she didn't ask us in for tea, well me, that would not have been R's thing AT ALL.
You don't think this outing ended without stopping into a bookshop do you? We passed a chippy wagon, near a second-hand bookshop so both R and I were blissfully happy. A Virago Classic by Vita Sackville-West now has a home on my bookshelf. A very nice day was had by all, I must say.