Monday, August 31, 2015

New Beginnings



The post header is not terribly original but it is concise and to the
point.  After neglecting (again) this blog for a long, long time due
to lack of time, inspiration and any number of other reasons
(excuses) I have decided to try again.  

And the main reason why I have decided to try again is because I have 
a lot more time on my hands these days.  And why is that you may ask?   
Well, almost two weeks ago I was packaged off from my job.  After
working for the same banking institution for 38 years and 5 months I
was done.   

Unexpected?  Yes and no.   It came as a surprise when it happened but 
I have been bracing for it for years and more so in the past five months 
or so.   Upsetting?   Only in the sense that I will miss some of the 
people that I have worked with for many, many years.  Lots of good 
souls working there and I have been privileged to work with and along
side of them for lo these many years.   Unhappy?   Me?   Hell no!!!!!

I am one of those people who is happiest in my home.  I have a lot
of hobbies and interests that I can fill my days with but many of 
which have been neglected for lack of time, and because I was so
drained and miserable during the last years of my working life.
To wake up in the morning now is a joy.   I look forward to each 
and every day.   Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night 
now and instead of thinking bleakly:  Groan!  Gotta get up in three 
hours ... I am waking up thinking:  Darn!   It's not time to get up yet!!!

Note:  But I am mostly sleeping right through the night instead of 
waking up and stewing about work, with dread roiling around in 
my stomach.  It's nice.

So what do I plan to do with this space?  Journal about things that
make me happy.  Talk about books,  crafts and my love of walking
and taking pictures and exploring the city (Toronto) and towns,
parks and neighbourhoods that are more or less readily available 
to me.   I don't drive.   I walk.  A lot!   


Some of my doodling sketches

I plan to pick up my cross stitching again.  I plan to scrapbook
and to keep up a hand written journal.  I plan to read and savour 
my books.  I plan to have tea with friends and neighbours.  I
will watch the tons of DVD's that I've collected over the years
but never made time to watch (that'll be a winter activity I think)
and I'll sit on my deck and enjoy the peace and quiet .... and the
squabbling squirrels.   

I'm so excited!   So let's get started!


I take lots of pictures of flowers.
Love the colours and they don't
move around too much.








Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Running cold and hot ....


After our tour of the Winter Garden and the
Elgin theatres we had an afternoon of free
time to fill.   It was a cold day with a strong
breeze but the sky was blue and the sun was
shining so we decided to get out and enjoy
it.

There was an ice sculpting contest in the
Yorkville area of downtown Toronto so
we walked there from our hotel ... which
was perhaps a bit further then we realized
but we huddled in our winter gear and
kept going.


How do you get an ice sculpture smooth?
Well, you use an iron of course.


And if you are looking for a bit of 
refreshment you find a bar .... made
of ice.   I'm told the blue liquid (which
was non alcoholic) tasted like raspberry.
The little shots of red and blue liquids
were free ... and yes the red stuff was
alcoholic.


Lots of different icy creations with a theme
that seemed to be something to do with 
heat and the tropics.   I'm not sure if that
might be considered a bit sadistic given the
winter we'd been having and the weather
on that particular day ....


To balance the cold with some welcome
and much needed warmth our next stop that 
afternoon was Allen gardens and the 
conservatory there.


Aahhhh ... now that's more like it!!!


Spring flowers .... even though it was
February, a section of dessert plants
and palm trees.   


We stayed there until closing time enjoying
the flowers, the sounds of trickling water and
most of all ... the warmth!!!


Walking back to our hotel from Allen gardens we
passed Maple Leaf Gardens ... former home of the
Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.   The Gardens
is now a part of Ryerson University and a section
has been leased by grocery store chain Loblaws
and has become their flagship store.


Quite the spiffy looking place to buy groceries.


A wall tribute to the Maple Leafs.


A wall tribute to cheese!


And assorted other goodies.   Oh boy!!


I'm not keen on macaroons but the colours
that these came in was astounding!  I wonder
what blue macaroons taste like??

At which point we headed off to Swiss Chalet
for dinner again because for some reason we
were feeling a bit hungry.

Cheers!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres ....


This winter really got to me.   Most years I can
skip through the dark, cold, dreary days of the
winter season with nary a twinge.   I get out
when I can and hibernate in my craft room 
or take refuge in a good book when I cannot.

But this winter was different.  I think the
ice storm just before Christmas really got
the season off on a nasty footing and just
got gradually worse.    I'm sure you
all know exactly what I'm talking about
and have been experiencing it yourselves.

I've been eating stuff that I shouldn't in
quantities that I didn't need,  I've been 
voluntarily, morosely  housebound
because of the frigid weather and the 
treacherous conditions under foot, and
have had no ambition to do anything at all.

Because of this interminable winter
 I decided to skip March entirely.

March let me/us down.   No gentle
easing of winter's icy fist of doom,
no ever increasing bouts of warmer,
sunny weather,  no signs of tiny green
buds poking through the ground ....

Actually, no signs of the ground
whatsoever.

March was a bust!!!

So lets just move on to April and
forget that March ever even existed.
Okay?


When last we met I was describing the 
2014 Girls Weekend in Toronto that
my friend Darlene and I enjoyed in
February.   To continue that story
we are now on Saturday, the main
full day of the weekend.

We began by sleeping in a bit ... of course
and then rushed around getting showered
and dressed in time for the planned ... and
unplanned ... events of the day ahead.

Breakfast was at McDonalds since we were
in a hurry which wasn't too bad food wise.
They make good hot chocolate.

Our first event of the day was a tour of one
of downtown Toronto's theatrical gems ....
The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres.

Any theatre lovers out there???  

 I've loved the theatre and especially the 
musical theatre since forever!!   And I've 
been to just about all the theatres in the 
downtown Toronto area over the years for 
various shows.   But somehow I'd never 
been to anything in the Elgin and/or the 
Winter Garden theatres.  So the 
opportunity to explore and tour these two
historic theatres was an highly anticipated
event.


The Elgin and the Winter Garden are two
theatrical spaces built one on top of the
other and are the only ones of that kind
left in the world.    The Elgin is on street
level while the Winter Garden is seven
stories above it.   Built in 1913 the 
theatres were mainly intended for use
during the heyday of vaudeville and
for the showing of the newly invented
moving pictures.

The interesting thing about these theatres
though is that in 1928, when vaudeville
was no longer popular with theatre goers
and loosing money and patrons it was 
decided to close the Winter Garden theatre.

So they did.

One night, after the last vaudeville show
performed there, the staff covered stuff
with tarps, shut off the lights, locked the
doors and walked away.   For 60 years!!!


They even ended up blocking off the grand 
staircase leading up to the Winter Garden
to keep curious people from going up there
to poke around and perhaps carry away 
souvenirs of the place.  


Interior of the Elgin theatre.  This is the larger of
the two theatres and the one on ground level.

The Elgin theatre suffered the fate that many
former live theatre spaces did during the
1960's when it was turned into a movie
theatre.

Then, in the 80's, with a revival of interest
in live theatre and the successful restorations
of other historic theatres in Toronto the 
Ontario Heritage Trust decided to take on
the restoration of the Elgin and the Winter
Garden theatres.

They unblocked the grand staircase and 
opened the doors to the long abandoned
Winter Garden theatre and walked into
a time capsule.    Everything left just 
exactly as it was when the last 
vaudeville performance had ended
60 years earlier.   

They found the huge old movie 
projector,  they found stage equipment, 
the old lighting and they found an extensive
collection of hand painted vaudevillian
scenery just left there,  and although
the place had suffered the ill effects
of time, neglect and water from the
inevitable leaky roof,  they had 
plenty that could be restored or used
to reproduce to exacting detail 
what once had been.

And why was it called The Winter
Garden Theatre you might ask?


When you walk into the theatre you look up
in awe at the ceiling.   It is covered in foliage!
Branches and leaves and berries and flowers,
in many variations and colours.  With little
lanterns scattered around for lighting.  Some
of those had been stolen over the years, but those
on the main ceiling were still there.

This picture is of the ceiling below the
balconies.   The old foliage was not
salvageable so the restoration team
went out to wood lots around the city
and brought back real branches to use
and samples of leaves to recreate the
ceiling in all it's awe inspiring detail. 


One side of the theatre was badly water damaged
and had to be re plastered and re painted, but the
other side and the back were in good, salvageable
condition.   


We were taken behind the stage of the 
Winter Garden to see some of the 
old lighting system and the incredible
movie camera, some of the equipment
left behind when the theatre was abandoned.


One of the old vaudevillian backdrops, 
restored and used to cover the fire 
screen on the stage.


The delicate hand pained back wall of the
theatre. 


The tour, conducted by a volunteer well
versed in the history and the restoration
of the theatres, lasted an hour and a half
and was thoroughly fascinating.  I love
hearing about the old buildings and
the history of Toronto so this was
a major thrill for me to experience and
I know Darlene felt the same way.

Yes, there are ghost stories and during the
Halloween season there is a haunted tour
of the place.    The tours are conducted
on Thursdays and Saturdays for a small
fee and well worth the money.

Oh, one more story.

The old seating in the Winter Garden was
not restorable.   So they went looking
for seating from another theatre of the
same vintage to replace them.   They 
found a warehouse full of seats from an
old Chicago theatre that fit the bill
perfectly, cleaned them up and reupholstered
them and retrofitted them into the Winter
Garden.

Then they found out the history of those
seats and the theatre they came from.

Apparently it was a movie theatre (The
Biograph) and one night in 1934, after a showing 
of the movie Manhattan Melodrama, one couple in
particular left the theatre.    The woman was
wearing a red dress.   (Do you know
where I'm going with this?)

Waiting outside the theatre was the police
who were watching for that woman in the
red dress.  Her escort was accosted and told to 
surrender.   He chose to pull a gun and try to run 
for it.  The police opened fire and shot him.

The man was John Dillinger.

So if you go to the Winter Garden theatre
to see a show you might just end up 
sitting in the seat that John Dillinger sat
in on that fateful night.  

Unfortunately no one knows just which one
of the seats it is.   But that's fine.   Hopefully
you'll have a better night in it then Mr
Dillinger did.

Hope you enjoyed this little bit of Toronto
history and I haven't bored you too much.
There is more to tell of our Saturday after
we left the theatre but that'll do for another post.

Cheers!!

Link to the Elgin and Winter Garden site
for more info and history.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The wayward blogger returns!

Lack of news or anything of interest to blog about 
caused me to skip a weekend and then I came 
down with an annoying cold (with special
thanks to my DH for sharing) that is hanging
on into it's third week now and left me with
little energy or inclination to do much of 
anything for a second weekend.
But last week I had my first week of vacation for
this year and crammed a lot of paper crafting
and talk radio listening into that time whilst
also entertaining my cold.

Sooooo.....

I have so much to write about now but want 
to try and space out the tales of my adventures
of the past two weeks so I don't overwhelm you
all at once.


A new mandala from my doodle book.
I just realized that it's showing here on
it's side but since it's a circle design
I guess that really doesn't matter ... so
.... never mind.


This bird I made out of scrap papers and my
own hand drawn design plus lovely metalic
markers and a jewel for it's eye.   It's not 
stuck to the white background you see here.
It's a free range bird that fits in my hand
(edge of palm to finger tips in length).
I had fun making her and plan to make 
more with my paper scraps.   Why?
Because it's FUN!!!!!


I made a double sided collage page
as well last week, taking a picture
from one of my old Victoria 
magazines as a start and adding 
stamping, a bit of washi tape, 
scrapbooking embelishments,
a cut up and inked paper doily
and lots of adhesive.  


On the flip side I went with a blue 
theme and used all of the same 
sorts of stuff as was used on the
pink page.

I have a large pile of Victoria 
magazines that I want to go 
through and cut apart to 
remove any articles and pictures
that appeal to me to be saved in
some form or other.   Then I'll
recycle the parts that I don't 
want ... or do more collage
with them.

I did other crafty stuff too
last week since I was housebound
with my cold and the usual 
round of nasty weather that
seems to be making up the 
majority of this never ending
winter ... and that's all I'm
going to say about the weather 
in this post!!!!!

Will show more of my crafty
stuff next post.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last weekend was our third
annual "Girls Weekend" in
Toronto.   My friend Darlene
and I have made this a yearly
tradition that we look forward
to with great anticipation during
the dull days of mid winter.

We had tickets to a show,
and we planned to do touristy
stuff and eat out a lot during 
our two days in the big city.

Yes sir,  we were two wild
and crazy gals being footloose
and fancy free, kicking up our
heels ... and all kinds of other
inane phrases like that.


We stayed at the Eaton Chelsea hotel in the
heart of downtown Toronto.   Within walking
distance of theatres, shopping, The World's
Biggest Bookstore, restaurants etc.

Sound like a commercial, don't I?

Anyways .... our room was on the 16th
floor and we had a great deal for our
two night stay.   That's our room
above.   The beds were really
comfy.



A bit of the view from our room's little balcony.
I did use the zoom lens on my camera to take
this picture of a side street next to the hotel.


Both Friday night and Saturday night
we had dinner at Swiss Chalet.  Why?
Because we love Swiss Chalet.   Great
food, great prices ... and their chicken
Spring rolls are to die for!!!!

Uh, sorry.  Another commercial.



After dinner we strolled around the
downtown and visited The World's
Biggest Bookstore which, sadly,
will be closing in March after 
close to 30 or more years in business.
Two floors of books and magazines
to browse through for as long as
you can spare the time.   I could kill
half a day in here no problem.

I came here about 30 years ago to
have my copy of Shirley Temple's
autobiography signed by the author
herself ... Shirley Temple.  That was
pretty cool.    She was a nice lady.

Ah, memories.


We admired a few  of the old buildings
that are scattered around downtown
including the Elgin & Winter Garden
threatres ... which I'll be writing more
about next time.   So stay tuned.
Okay ... no more commercial 
breaks.   I promise.


Well, except for this one.   Before
heading back to our hotel room at
the end of the night we stopped at
the Pickle Barrel for desert.

This is mine.

Frozen vanilla yogurt, whipped
cream, oreo cookies, a brownie,
chocolate sauce and a cherry on
top.   Tasty!!!!!


Then we returned to our hotel
room and rented a movie.  We'd
been wanting to see Frozen 
ever since it came out and so
when we saw it being offered on
the hotel's movies to rent site
we grabbed it.

It was fabulous!!!!!

And that'll do it for now.  
I'll be back with more of the
"Incredible adventures of
Darlene and Judy in the
BIG city" next time.

Cheers!!!

Sunday, February 09, 2014


These days my blog posts are pretty repetitive ... or
at least so it seems.   Its snowed ... again!!!   This
time it was on a Wednesday, not a Saturday, so we
had to drive to work during the full brunt of it.
I worked the full day but Phil's work sent him home 
at noon so he spent Wednesday afternoon shovelling 
the driveway ... over and over and over.   

Since we haven't had a break in the cold weather
 for a month or more the snow just keeps piling up.
At this point we're running out of places to put the 
stuff. 


The back yard.   Note the pile of snow on top of
the birdbath to the right of the picture.   Phil's
bench is almost buried.    We were originally
only expecting about 5 - 10 cm of snow which
wasn't worthy of much attention given the
winter that we've had so far.   HoHum!  But
the night before the storm the weather service
 suddenly decided that it would be closer to 10 - 
15 cm and we began to sit up and take notice.

We actually got 21 cm of it.

It's snowing again today (well, it has been
almost four days since the last snow fall!)
and we've been told we're only suppose to be 
getting a few cm in total.    Since it began this 
morning it's been snowing non stop although 
it's been just a fine snow and not heavy flakes.


So what to do when winter breaks your heart?
Go to Michaels!!!!

I picked up a few choice Michael's coupons in
the local paper on Thursday night (A 30 
percent off entire purchase coupon for non 
sale items and a 20 percent off of sale items 
coupon  and a 40 percent off of one item coupon) 
and then convinced DH that actually the "official"
gift to give on Valentine's Day isn't roses
(as one has been given to understand over
the years by an evil Florists conspiracy) but
is actually craft supplies!   No really, it's
true!!

So off we went!  :)   

He got me the two Martha Stewart punches to
add to my collection and ... um ... I got the
rest.  


And what does one do with such bounty you
may be asking?  (Well, aren't you?)

I found an online collage/doodle class on sale
at one of my favourite art blogs and jumped 
at it. 

Here is the link http://cathyb.typepad.com/ 

The sale is on for another week and you
get 7 videos at around 12 minutes long
each that takes you step by step through
the process of making one of these 
doodle/collage combos.

If you're interested you can go to the Feb 
1st post for the offer which is running for 
another week.


Right side of page.   Flowers from 
scrapbook papers along with my
markers, washi tape and magazine
cut outs and old book pages.


Left side of page.    I started this
Saturday afternoon and couldn't
leave it alone so poor Phil 
didn't get much supper last night.
(Hangs head in shame)    I still
want to add a saying or something
to finish it off.


Rowyn was interested in the washi tape that
I'd mentioned before in previous posts.   Here
is my humble collection of tape.


Washi tape comes in every colour and in
an incredible array of patterns as well as
solid colours and in different widths.  It's
paper tape that can be seen through when
placed on a page to some degree.


You can use it for any kind of paper project.
Note:  washi tape is as addictive as cross 
stitch thread.


The newest rolls that I picked up yesterday.
Pretty patterns, pretty blues.

The only thing that I love more then washi tape
is scrap book paper ... and markers ... and 
punches ... and trims.

Okay, I love it all.

I'm not watching the Olympics since sports of
any sort bores me to tears.   Most of the few
TV programs that I watch are being pre-empted
for the Olympics (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
or are over for the season (Sleepy Hallow) or 
won't be back until March (Once Upon a Time).
So much for television.

I might mention that I'm really, really looking
forward to the Outlander TV series that's coming
this summer.   


I picked up this book at the second hand
book store not long ago and just 
finished reading it last week.   I'm not
really a huge Anne Murray fan music
wise but I do admire the lady and
found the book to be very interesting
and often quite funny.

Time to go make dinner.   Don't 
want to make Phil miss it two
nights in a row.   He won't
take me to Michaels again.

Cheers!



Sunday, February 02, 2014


Guess what?    It snowed!!!    Again!!!!

Or

If it's snowing this must be Saturday.

Or

The blasted groundhog saw his damn 
shadow, didn't he?

Or

One weather system moves out (extreme
cold)  and another moves in  (snow, warmer 
temperatures, freezing rain and rain ... then
back to cold again). 

Or 

Will it ever end?????


Another big branch came off our tree.   There's
still four or six limbs dangling up there that
will probably require the attentions of a 
tree service to take them down.   Plus there is
still a huge branch skewering our Lilac tree
that will need to be cut out somehow.

However getting ahold of a tree service
these days is something of a challenge.   There
has been so much damage from the ice storm
those guys are just running from one end of
town to the other on a daily basis.   And
they will probably have to wait until Spring
arrives and the snow melts ... sometime around
the end of June I'm thinking .... to do a lot of
the more difficult, higher up limbs.


My craft project for this week.

I've been putting my ... um ... artsy photos
in one of my Smash books this week.   I had
them printed as 5 x 7 's to do this project
and I've been enjoying matting them
and placing them in the book.

I still have room for more but need to 
choose which ones I like best and get
them printed off.   Meanwhile I'm
pondering how to decorate each page.
Some I'm not doing much with but 
others, such as this spread, I'm
using Washi tape to create borders.


The afore mentioned "Green" Smash
book. 


Another spread.   Won't do much more to
this.   I love the sunset paper background
and don't want to cover it up any more
than I already have.



And I love this paper too.   So will keep
the trims to a minimum here as well.



I finished reading "The Virgin Cure"
by Ami Mckay this week.   Not a 
big book but a well written story
that takes place around 1870's and
tells the story of a young girl in
New York city names Moth.

I read Ami McKay's first book
"The Birth House" and enjoyed
it so kept an eye out for her 
next book.


More doodles.


Another one.

A Dude ... not a doodle.

Sorry.   Bad pun.    Rupert.

Happy February everyone!!!

Cheers!