Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Lovers Welcome

Every year Toronto takes part in the Word On the Street
book lovers celebration.   Major cities in Canada hold
their own versions of this festival at different times of
the year and Toronto's is always towards the end of

In past years we've gone to it when it's been held in
the grounds of Queen's Park .... location of the
Ontario provincial government building (of the same 
name) .... where the festival was set up beneath a canopy of 
trees, the tents used by the participants placed along the 
pathways that wind through that location.

But this year the event was staged down on the shores
of Lake Ontario at Harbourfront,  former industrial
lands that have been turned into a public space that hosts 
numerous events,  and such things as art galleries,  docking 
space for boats offering tours of the harbour,  a 
place to rent kayaks,  kid friendly activities and places 
for musical performances. 

Word on the Street is dedicated strictly to 
Canadian publishers and authors (as well as
anything else you can think of relating to books)

At the risk of sounding anti-Canadian I admit 
that I do wish that the event celebrated books and
authors and publishers from all over the world
because we don't really have any other major
book festivals like it here that covers all books,
not just Canadian.

There are lectures and book signings by successful
authors including Kelley Armstrong (above) who
appears here fairly regularly.

Some celebrities do make special appearances,
including Poke-a-roo who is the star of a 
long running kids TV program here called The 
Poke-a-Dot Door

I went with my friend Darlene and we 
spent much of the day wandering around the
tents taking in all of the things offered for
sale,  for discussion or for edification.

We ate our lunch sitting next to the water,
watching the sailboats, kayaks, island
ferries and airplanes (the Toronto island
airport was close by) going past us.

It was such a gorgeous, sunny and warm day,
more like summer then the early days of Fall.
As a matter of fact by mid afternoon we were 
regretting the lack of shade at Harbourfront that 
the trees at Queen's Park would have given us in
previous years,  but once the sun began to go 
down the temperature cooled off quickly.

I didn't go too wild buying books, tempted though
I might have been.    I didn't want to be lugging a
heavy, awkward bag (bags?) of books around all
day, not to mention hauling them all the way back
home to Georgetown on the bus afterwards.    

Not far from Harbourfront is a lovely place called 
The Music Garden and when we were ready for
a change of pace Darlene and I walked there and
explored around and along it's meandering pathways.    
Of course at this time of year the flowers are thinning 
out and gardens are getting tired looking but still this 
place was lovely and peaceful and being right by the lake 
made it even nicer.

Speaking of flowers .....  I posted a few weeks ago about
my first attempt at picking and drying flowers from our
garden.    I'd put my chosen bits of flowers and greenery
into my flower press and then had to wait for about
three weeks to see what the results might be.    

I'm happy to report that everything survived and dried
out nicely.   Most retained their colours quite well 
and I was amazed at the details that were able to 
remain after the drying process was complete.  

I will use these to decorate the pages of my stitching/

And speaking of my stitching/scrap book ..... I 
worked on two more pages for that this week
including this Halloween Quaker piece that I 
really, really love.

And a Christmas design from Lizzie Kate.

I still have a hard time calculating and measuring
and cutting the openings for these pages and 
there are times when the air in my craft room turns
an unbecoming shade of blue ... ahem ... but I
keep at it until I get it more or less right.

And I'm still doodling and drawing and
zen-tangling with pen and markers and
paper.     Obsessed?   Me???   Nah!!!!

Found this in the grocery store this week
and of course I had to have it.   Drawing
techniques plus pages to colour, and craft
projects to try.   It's very cool with much
fun to be found/had!

I recently re-read a favourite historical fiction
author who's books I adore.    Judith Merkle
Riley wrote delightful,   often magical
(literally) novels that feature historical accuracy
 wonderful, colourful characters and a knack for
creating a fascinating storyline.

She also had a delicious, sometimes wicked sense 
of humour that I love.   Sadly the author passed away
some time ago but the six books that she wrote are still 
available for purchase and I recommend them all.      

Thanks for visiting.   


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First Day of Autumn

Hard as it is to believe it is indeed a fact that 
today we bid a fond and wistful farewell to 
summer and welcome Fall into our midst.

In honour of that fact I spent yesterday
cleaning the living and dining rooms, packing
away the every day nick knacks and putting
out the Fall decorations.   We had an end of
summer gathering here on Saturday so the
living room was in desperate need of vacuuming
and dusting etc.    Putting out the decorations
didn't take long and since then I've been
tweaking and fussing to get everything just

I love the Fall!   Do you?    The colours, the
scents in the air,  the comfort food and just
about everything else that identifies with the
season makes me so happy.    And since I really
do not care for hot, hot weather I much prefer 
the cooler temperatures that happen now.  So 
much nicer for walking and other outdoor

More long afternoons spent with pen and ink.

Adult colouring books are all the rage these 
days and ... me being me .... I long to buy
and collect every single one that I find.   But
many of those things are expensive.   (Which
I don't begrudge since the artwork is often 
stunning!!)  So I draw my own patterns and
colour those in instead.

I'm a very harsh critic of my own creative
endeavours which has, in the past, often 
caused me to give up and walk away from
anything that I make or create in disgust.
But then I lose out on the joy I get from
initially doing these things.   So I'm trying
to ignore and work through those feelings
and just embrace the pleasure and let go
of the negativity.   

I've picked up this piece and put it down again
countless times in the past year or so but this
week I picked it up again and this time I am 
going to finish it!!!

My stitching has been almost non-existent in
the past few years and that is mainly because
I'm finding it harder to see what I'm doing even
on 28 count fabric.   I have bifocales which only 
helps a bit and my prescription is up to date so 
that's not the issue.  

 I use a  Ott-lite magnifier but often end up having to
 hold the fabric close to my face (roughly near the end 
of my nose) and peer over the top of my glasses to 
get a close up, clear view of my stitches.   This is an 
awkward position to say the least,  and it's a 
wonder to me that I haven't sewn the tip of my 
nose to a piece of fabric yet!

Perhaps I need to find a magnifier with a 
stronger magnification?    

Which reminds me of another issue that I have.

You know that little circle of extreme magnification
that you find inset into the larger, weaker lens surface?
Do you ever use that???   It's magnification is perfect
for what I want but it's so tiny I can never manage to 
maneuver my fabric and needle in just the right spot to 
use it and keep it there.   It's so darn frustrating.

Thank goodness I don't have any issues visually
when it comes to reading.   Here are a couple of
books that I read this year and loved.

The above is a book about Vanessa Bell and her sister Virginia 
Woolf and their relationship circa 1905 and onwards.   It's 
historical fiction, well researched and a fascinating read.    I 
have to admit that I've never read any of Virginia Woolf's 
books and know of her only by reputation in history and I knew 
even less about her sister who was a very talented painter.    
This book gives great insight into the characters of the two sisters 
as well as of those famous members of the Bloomsbury Group 
that were a part of their social circle. 

Then we have The Fortune Hunter which is 
more or less historical fiction as well since
one of it's main characters is Sisi, the 
Empress of Austria.   This woman has been
the central character in quite a few books
that I've encountered lately, some biographical
and some fictional.   She was a fascinating
person I have to say though admittedly a
spoiled and self centred character.   But that is
the way royalty was back in 1875 when this
story begins.  

I recommend both of these books.  These are
the second novels published for both authors.
I have not yet read their publishing debuts .... 
but I plan to.

My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding
anniversary in May with a party, reuniting as
many of our original wedding party as were able
to attend as well as being attended by friends and 

We also renewed our vows during that day in
our back yard, under the big maple tree.   Our
friend Sue is a minister and she wrote a wonderful
mini service and presided over the vow renewal
with love, humour and joy.

It was an memorable day that celebrated an
incredible milestone (25 years???  When did
that happen???) in our lives.   We're so 
incredibly blessed to have found each other
and to be together for this often tumultuous 
and stressful but ultimately wonderful life.

Hope you have a wonderful Fall week!!!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Caution: Boredom dead ahead ....

The weeks are just flying by.    I admit that when I
first began to recover from the shock of being let go
from my job and realized I was now facing weeks
upon weeks (months, years etc) of freedom to do 
whatever I might want to, I wondered if boredom
would be an issue.   It seemed to be what every
one else, at least at work, was concerned about for

So let's see now ...

Exercise.    Gotta keep moving and thanks
to my friend Linda I've got lots of options.
I'm learning to work out with five pound
weights with Linda guiding me and
correcting me on Skype.   It's pretty 
cool that we can work out together even
though we live on opposite sides of
and outside of Toronto.

And then there's the Leslie Sansone 
walking programs that Linda found and 
we first followed on Youtube before investing 
in some of her DVD's.    The one above is what 
I worked out to this morning for 50 minutes
and it was pretty fabulous.    

I'm also walking outside as often as I can
and since the weather is still fairly good
I'm doing as much as I can of that.  
Because as we all know,  you know what
is not far away.   (Hint:  snow)

Reading.    Well, yeah.   One of my
reads this week was the above The Girl
of Fire and Thorns.    Young Adult
Fantasy with a feisty, intelligent
heroine and a great story.   I'm just
starting book two (of three) in this
series and highly recommend it. 

I started reading Cynthia Harrod-Eagles a 
long, long time ago and then for some reason
lost track of her.   Recently, whilst browsing
through Amazon's recommendations ... as 
one does ... I came across this book by her
and sort of had a hand slapped to the forehead

Since I love stories that take place around
the time of the first world war and this is a 
really excellent author who's books I've always 
enjoyed I was pleased to pick it up and give it
a whirl.   The next book in this series is due out 
sometime this month and I'll be getting it for

I picked some flowers from my garden to try my hand
at drying them for decorating purposes.   Linda
gave me a flower press years ago but I'd never tried
to use it before.    Well, no time like the present for
trying new things sooooo ...  

Stay tuned for the results in a couple of weeks.

And what am I planning to use the dried flowers on
if and when they are done drying,   you may ask?

Well, another idea from Linda and another project
to help keep the evil boredom at bay.

You know all those cross stitch projects lying 
around in a box with the stitching done but
no plans to frame them because of the cost
and no skills or self confidence in finishing 
them off yourself ... er .... myself?

And you know all those scrap booking supplies
in your (my) cupboard?     Well .....   Linda
combined hers to make something pretty nifty
and now so have I. 

I am following Linda's lead and putting my stitching
in a scrap book.   Yes, the original stitching.   Not
pictures of them.   

I have been having such a blast doing this!

The measuring and cutting gave me a headache
at first because I have no math skills but once
I got going and gained some confidence it 
became easier.

It's been fun choosing papers and decorations
to show off the stitching designs and sometimes
using the trims or decorations to hide imperfections
in the cutting .... cough, cough. 

And sometimes I have scrap booking papers
that I just don't know what to do with
because they are too beautiful to cover up
with photographs or whatever.

I have several Halloween themed designs 
stitched up to get set up in the album soon.

And you know you can buy these ....

to hang the finished pages from to display
your stitching during pertinent times of the
year so that they're not just in a closed 
book all the time.

Pretty cool, eh?

I've been drawing too.   And colouring.
These things keeps me occupied for
entire afternoons.

A day trip to Toronto several weekends ago
to spend the day on the Toronto Islands with
my friend Darlene.   Above is a view of the
downtown Toronto skyline from the ferry.

There are cottages on Wards and Algonquin Islands
and they range from quirky to pretty high end and a
few that are sadly neglected by whoever owns them.

Other sections of the cluster of islands has formal
gardens, boardwalks along the water front, a 
children's farm with a nice selection of animals,
a children's midway with fun rides,  a clothes
optional beach (which we didn't have time to 
visit ... ahem!!)  assorted historical statues and
plaques and, oh yes, a haunted lighthouse.

Apparently the first lighthouse keeper disappeared
one night in 1815 and his skeletal remains were later 
found nearby.    The lighthouse is no longer near
the water but it's lovingly restored and well tended,
although I dare say probably not by the ghost.

We walked from one end of the island chain to the
other and then we walked back again.  We picnicked
on a bench with a spectacular view across the harbour
to Toronto and we had such a wonderful day enjoying
that green space that is so close to the downtown core
but is in a world all it's own.    Loved it!!

So, boredom has not been a problem as of yet ... 
and so what if it does rear it's silly head?   I've got
lots to banish it if it does dare appear around here!

And many thanks to Linda who keeps me motivated
and inspired!!


Monday, September 07, 2015

Labour Day Long Weekend ....


Although a few more weeks lay ahead before the "official" 
start of Fall it feels as though this weekend is the end of 
the summer of 2015.  

It's hot.  It's been hot all week.   Sometimes too hot to 
be outside even if we're just sitting on the deck, in the 
shade, doing nothing.  We're reluctant to complain though 
because we know that in three or so months we'll be 
shivering as we layer sweaters, scarves, vests and coats 
before setting foot out the door.

The weather man has predicted a warmer then normal 
Fall and Winter this year for us.  I think El Nino has 
been mentioned in regard to this.  I'm not sure whether to 
believe the experts or not but it would be nice because 
we've had some nasty winters in the past couple of 
years.   Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, I am settling into my new life as a more 
or less retired person.   I get up with Phil at 6:30 and sit 
with him while he eats his breakfast.   Once he leaves 
for work I begin my day by working out in some manner.    
Either by lifting weights along with my mentor/instructor/
friend Linda on Skype, or following a walking work out 
video on Youtube with Leslie Sansone, or going out and 
walking around town to run errands.


Weekends lately have been spent going on long, exploration
walks with my friend Darlene.   We spent one Saturday walking
from Oakville Harbour to Bronte Harbour which was a distance
walked (including additional wanderings down interesting look-
ing side streets) of about 23km.  

Following a trail along the shores of
Lake Ontario

The lake was calm and blue

Our route.   We walked from the arrow
to the harbour marked on the far left.

Phil dropped us off in Oakville at 8:00 in the morning
and picked us up at Bronte Harbour at 5:45 so we had
a full day of walking.   We took a picnic lunch 
which we ate by the waters edge in a small, quiet
park with few other people about.

Lunch in the park

I love being by water.  It's the only thing about
living in Georgetown .... we don't have a decent
sized body of water of our own here.

Love gardens ... or in this case garden
centres .... too. 


                                            I have spent hours and hours in the past two
weeks doodling some more.  As adult colouring
books are all the rage at the moment I've been 
practising my drawing and then colouring the
images in with markers and pencil crayons.  
You can cover up a multitude of mistakes with
a bit of colour.

As with any craft I can loose many hours of the day
doing this sort of thing without realizing it.  It's relaxing
and it's creative which is a win-win in my opinion.

I have pinned all kinds of patterns and
technics on my Pinterest site to try out and
I also watch how-to videos on Youtube
for inspiration and guidance.

And believe it or not I actually finished a cross
stitch project at the beginning of the summer.
Pardon the wrinkled fabric. 

And then there's my journal which I work at in
fits and starts, neglecting it for periods of time
and then hammering away at it for equal amounts
of time.    I think that I might have an over abundance
of crafting pastimes and interests and I flit from one
to another.



In the past few years I've discovered YA books
and a whole pile of new to me authors in that
genre.  One of the most popular of new releases
in YA is .....

Originally meant to be a stand alone
book it's been so popular that the
publisher has optioned more in the
series from the author.

I quite enjoyed it and look forward
to the next instalment.

If you've read Water for Elephants
and enjoyed it then you'll be happy
to see Sara Gruen's newest book.
I really enjoyed this one which takes
place in Scotland during the second
world war.  

I admit that the cover for this one
caught my eye initially and I loved
it so much that I grabbed the book
from the display shelf at the store
to check it out.  I'd read and 
enjoyed Water for Elephants so
was happy to bring this home too
and I read it almost immediately
and loved it.

Yes, I do judge a book by it's cover.
I'm shallow,  I admit it.

I'm partial to books that take place
during the first half of the 20th

And fantasy is my most favourite of
genres.  I've been reading fantasy ever
since I was a kid and discovered the
wonderful world of C.S. Lewis's 
Narnia series.   I've read that so many
times over the years I have lost count.

Patrick Rothfuss and his books
The Name of the Wind and it's
sequel  The Wise Man's Fear plus a 
novella called The Slow Regard of
Silent Things are amazing epic 
fantasy and are part of a series.

But two warnings for you.  Rothfuss
writes BIG books.  I'm talking 900 hundred
pages each.   Great character building (which
is very important to me)  a great sense of 
humour (also important) and a mesmerizing,
rich story.  And you should know that  Mr
Rothfuss is of the George R.R. Martin school
of writing.   He releases a book every four
or five (or more) years.   So patience is
required if you get hooked on him.

And then there's my favourite writer of historical
fiction.  Sharon Kay Penman.    This is the first
book in her trilogy about Henry II and his Queen
Eleanor.    Thorough historical research,  rich in
period detail, fascinating characters and a sense of 
humour make Ms Penman's books a delicious treat.

Okay, this is getting long ... which is par for the
course for me isn't it?    I'm off for some lunch and an 
afternoon of crafting/reading/journaling and whatever else.
Thanks for dropping by.  And for your warm welcome

Take care!