Saturday, June 30, 2012

Stalking the Guards at Fort York

Kate got a wonderful summer job this year as a guard at Fort York in Toronto.  She has spent the past few weeks learning how to march, mastering all the different drills, and becoming an expert at polishing her musket.  

There have been lots of special events and press coverage at Fort York recently because of the commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The press have been out to film the guards and they have been on the evening news.  You can see them marching in this clip (if anyone knows how to import the video onto the blog I would love to know as I tried for over an hour and couldn't do it). Kate is the guard on the left hand side of the front row at the beginning of the video. Don't they look spiffy!

The War of 1812 was a two year long battle between US and Britain (Canada was a British colony at the time).  It established the relationship we now have with the US and put us on the path to becoming an independent country.  

This past weekend we went to Fort York. Of course we looked through the buildings and checked out the tents that were in the parade square, but what we mostly did was stalk the guards.

Do you notice stalker Dad in the background there?

The CN Tower from Fort York

There were 200 tents set up in the parade square one for each year since the war -  for the art festival Luminato.  Inside each tent was a different art installation. We only had time to look in a few of the tents since we had to keep our eyes on the guards and where they were marching off to so we could follow them and get photos. I tell you it was a full-time job. 

The art installations in two of the tents for Luminato at Fort York

I loved these two little boys marching along behind the guards.

What a wonderful contrast between the 19th century guards and the modern skyscapers in the background.

I thought that the red and white uniforms seemed appropriate for Canada Day - as did the fact that we are celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  Let's face it, if the outcome of the War of 1812 had been different there wouldn't be a country called Canada, now would there.  We'd be having our celebration on July 4th and throwing in some blue with the red and white, if you know what I mean.  So it seems fitting for a Canada Day tribute.

I'm off with the family for the weekend doing our traditional Canada Day at the cottage celebration.  Well all except for Kate that is - she's marching around Fort York all weekend.  There are special events happening on Canada Day at Fort York which you can read about here and the fort is even free that day.

I hope you have a great weekend - whether it is Canada Day, July 4th, or just a plain old ordinary weekend for you.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Berry Nice Hostess Gift

The other day we were heading out to dinner at my sister-in-law's house and I wanted to take a little something to give to her.  My go to hostess gift is to bring flowers or a potted plant, but we were going out first and I knew that there was no way some flowers were going to live through a few hours in a steamy car so I got my creative pants on and came up with another idea.  

I had just done the groceries and we had loads of fresh berries in the fridge so I layered some in a mason jar to give her so she could enjoy them the next morning for breakfast. It makes my mouth water just looking at them.

Have you given a hostess gifts that was a little out of the ordinary?  Oh and in case you were wondering how I kept the fruit cool in the boiling hot car - it was as simple as putting some ice packs in a cooler along with the jar of fruit.  I guess you could add hostess gift to the many uses of mason jars.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WISH Wednesday #37

Given that July 1st, aka Canada Day, is just around the corner it seemed appropriate to find a room that was red and white for WISH Wednesday (Weekly Inspiration for a Seasonal Home) - and what a room it is!  This room seems so Canadian to me, not only because of the red and white, but also because of the quilts on the beds and the lovely wood floors and the simple cottage vibe.  It definitely has an east coast flavour and in fact is a room in a house in the seaside town of Chester, Nova Scotia.  To me it is a study in perfection - simple, well-appointed, and cheery.

Philip Mitchell via Canadian House and Home

And since it is the end of the month here is a mosaic of the past WISH Wednesdays from June.  This might be my favourite combination yet - I love the reds and the grays with a few blue touches thrown in.  Oh, and did you notice that since I needed an even number of pictures, I found another photo of that gorgeous white kitchen with the gray island (which you can see in a larger size here).  Isn't it gorgeous?

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer Is ...

Kate at Centsational Girl is having a series called "Summer Is" where she has invited people to write about what summer means to them. I've enjoyed reading the different posts and thought I would do my own.  There is something so tantalizing about envisioning all the fun things to come in summer.  I happen to love summer - I love the warm weather, I love being off from work, and I love summer for all of these reasons too - 

Spending time at the cottage.
For me summer is spending time at the cottage - swimming, canoeing, going for walks, reading, taking photos, chatting, drinking copious cups of tea on the screened porch.  Oh yeah!  Can't wait.

slower pace of life.
I'm off work in the summer so the pace of life changes drastically.  I love that I can tackle some of the things on my to do list and still have time to relax.  

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
After a winter of eating a limited variety of fruit and vegetables (we do our best to eat locally or at least North American grown during the winter so the variety is not as great as in the summer), I'm ready to break out and indulge in eating all the different fruits and vegetables that are available.  I love going to the farmer's market and loading up and there is nothing better than a salad meal.

Reading books.
When I get into reading a good book I find it impossible to put the book down, so I mostly save reading for the holidays. Every year I look forward to getting through a stack of books that I have collected over the year just waiting for summer holidays.

Summer mornings in the garden.
I love walking outside in the dewy wet grass, enjoying the cooler morning temperatures, eating breakfast on the swing, checking out the flowers, and admiring the beautiful soft sunlight through the leaves and trees.  

Getting projects accomplished.
I love that I have time to actually get some things done that I don't have time for during the school year.  Since summer holidays start in one week, I'm making my list and checking it twice of things I would like to get done around here this summer.

What do you love about summer?
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Style at Home - Country Colours

Today is the first day of summer - yahoo!  Bring on the warm weather, going to the cottage, the relaxed style of living, and fresh fun summer decorating. Style at Home magazine comes out with design trends each season and this summer's are truly inspiring - they range from Aegean blue to kilim textiles to country colours. Of the three, it is the last one - country colours - that particularly interests me.  

Style at Home has partnered with Home Hardware (a Canadian hardware store) and Beauti-Tone paints to come up with a Country Colour paint collection. I was curious to hold the paint chips in my hands and see the inspiration pictures with my own two eyes so I went to Home Hardware and got myself a copy of the paint brochure. The photos are gorgeous and the paint colours amazing, but do you know what really caught my attention?  It was the key words used in the brochure:

  • fresh natural tones
  • soothing simplicity
  • timeless design
  • casually elegant atmosphere
These are all things that I want in our home!

I had two particular favourites in this booklet and they couldn't be more different - one room is elegant with rich colours and the other white, light, and breezy.   

I would love a graceful and stylish entrance hall like Mugwump,

and I'm convinced I would be a better artist if I had a studio like Whychwood.

The country colour collection on the Style at Home website had different inspiration pictures, although the palette was the same (you can find the three rooms below here, here, and here). What really struck me when I looked at these inspiration pictures is how the colours are taken from nature.  

Doesn't the room below remind you of the colours of vast fields of golden wheat on the prairies.

And the room below resemble an overgrown English garden with soft gray clouds in the sky overhead.

And the different blues in the room below evoke the ocean with a sandy shore.

One of the reasons I was interested to see what colours the talented folk at Style at Home had selected for the Country Colour Collection was that I have just painted our bedroom in what I think of as a country colour.  I used Benjamin Moore Silver Gray 2131-60 which is a soft gray-blue colour.  I looked through the brochure and sure enough the colour Oldenburg (the top paint chip in the picture below) is very similar to the shade I used.

The rooms designed using country colours are just what the brochure says - they are fresh and natural, they are timeless, and the calm casually-elegant atmosphere is easy to live in.  All the things that are a priority to me in my own home.  Do country colours appeal to you?

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Linked to Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence

WISH Wednesday #36

In the midst of writing a post about Style at Home's Country Colours Paint Collection (coming soon), I came across this gorgeous kitchen that I thought would be perfect for this week's WISH Wednesday.  I remember seeing the kitchen, which belongs to Margot Austin, when it was first featured in Style at Home magazine and I poured over it then, just as I'm doing now. I've always adored white kitchens and I can't get enough of the gray island with the castors and the gorgeous vintage wood top.  I love the open shelves on the wall and the metal stool.  I even love the colours featured down the side - these are probably some of my favourite colours.  Sigh - this is the kitchen I want when we move to the farm. I could really see myself cooking a hearty stew or whipping up a loaf of banana bread here.

Anyone else love this kitchen as much as I do?
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Mason Jar Matchbox

My son's close friend is getting married soon and we were invited to their wedding shower on Saturday. We are giving them money instead of a gift since they are going to live overseas after they are married, but I always like to do something a little creative when I give cash to make the gift interesting. Their wedding is being held on a farm and their invitations are in the shape of a mason jar so I used that as my jumping off point. Have a look at my last post (here) to see all the amazing things people use mason jars for. One of the things I saw online (here) was using a mason jar to store matches. I loved the idea.

I had a look around to see if I had what was needed, but I didn't have any sandpaper to cover the lid to use to strike the match on. I was all in favour of using what I had around the house and didn't want to have to go out to the store just to buy new sandpaper so I decided to cut the strike strip from a new matchbox we had and use that on the lid instead.  

Here's how I made it:
  • I traced the metal lid onto a piece of cardboard from a tissue box and cut it out.  
  • I cut a hole for the matches to come out of.  
  • Then I covered the lid with some wedding wrapping paper so that it looked pretty.
  • Then I glued a piece of the strike strip on the lid.

I even added some wedding wrapping paper to cover the cardboard on the underside of the lid.

I couldn't resist a wedding pun on the label.

Here's to many years of lighting candles for cozy romantic dinners and birthday candles on cakes and maybe a campfire or two.

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Linked to DIY Project Parade at DIY Showoff,
Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,
WOW Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style,
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence,
Just Something I Whipped Up at The Girl Creative

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mason Jar Love

This weekend I'm going to a wedding shower and I know that I will be giving the bride and groom money instead of a gift because they are going overseas to teach English shortly after they are married and don't want to have to store a lot of things.  However, I'm just not the type who likes to give money or gift cards without doing something a little creative in the presentation to make it more interesting.  Their wedding is going to be on a farm and the wedding invitations are shaped like the silhouette of a mason jar so I got the idea to do something creative with a mason jar to go along with the cash.  

I love mason jars for their simple shape and humble origins.  They are wonderful link to the kitchens of the past and the hours of labour that went into preserving food for the family. I have many different sizes and shapes of mason jars around the house - some are clear and some are aqua.  I love both, but have a special fondness for the vintage aqua ones. 

When I Googled mason jars for some inspiration, I was impressed with how many different uses people have found for them. It goes without saying that mason jars can be used for canning fruit and vegetables, but you should see all the other ways mason jars can be used - everything from the fairly common to out-of-this-world.

I think we all have used mason jars as vases.  I do it all the time and love the look.  In fact I have some spirea branches in a clear antique mason jar in the middle of our dining room table right now.


Not only do they make beautiful vases, but they can be used to grow plants in like this wall of herbs,

Not Just a Housewife
or this terrarium.


They look gorgeous with candles in them and hung in trees,

or clustered down the middle of a table to light a dinner party.

Apartment Therapy
Mason jars can also be wired and used as chandeliers.

Pottery Barn via Home Stories from A2Z

They are great for storing things in like spices and pantry staples


or cutlery or almost anything for that matter.

My Union Jack

They can be used as a lunchtime salad container

or for drinks at a party.

Mason jars can be made into useful items like a sewing kit with a pin cushion on the lid,
Real Simple

or a soap dispenser.

Apartment Therapy

Sometimes the mason jars themselves are decorated by spray painting them,

Joy's Hope
or adding chalkboard labels,

Thrift Core
or lace doilies.

Crafts by Amanda

Mason jars are also great for seasonal decorating.  They can be made into snow globes,

Whipper Berry

or used to hold a cookie mix as a gift at Christmastime.

Sense and Simplicity
or turned into Hallowe'en jack-o-lanterns.

Sense and Simplicity

And finally, if you want an other-worldly mason jar experience you can paint the jars with glow-in-the-dark paint dots and feel like you are holding the universe in your hands.

Hobbies on a budget

I'll show you in my next post what I ended up making for the bride and groom using a mason jar - once I have uploaded my photos that is.  

Anyone else love mason jars.  What do you use yours for?

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