Sunday, May 31, 2009

Springtime Magic

One of the most beautiful places this time of year is the Arboretum. The flowering trees add colour and magic to the view. Gorgeous!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Parrot Profusion

Last fall I planted these parrot tulips so it wasn’t until this spring that I got to gaze upon them for the first time. In my experience, the photos on the packages are often not a reliable colour likeness. It’s not until you see them in the flesh that you really know just what you’re getting. And oh, how happy I am with these. They do not disappoint! I love their juxtaposition with the burgundy Japanese maple.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Already Full of Punch

When tulips are as flamboyant as these characters, they stand their own ground. No need to add other flowers that could only stand in their shadow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Punching Things Up

I was given a bouquet of flowers in shades of white, pink and yellow. While very pretty, they needed a little something so I added some pink and yellow tulips from my garden to punch it up a little.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Fragrant creamy bells. Gardeners accuse them of being spreaders, but not me. I planted a batch under my birch trees and it seems the root system of the trees has helped to contain them. There for quite a few years, they have behaved themselves and not run rampant in the flower bed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

High/Low Floral Arrangement

When I saw this green planter in a thrift shop I was attracted by its soft green hue. It has the lovely crackled glaze that comes with time. I brought it home and tucked it away. Flash forward a couple of weeks when the July issue (talk about ahead of time!) of Style at Home arrived in the mail. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the cover and spotted a vase that looked a lot like my green planter.

Wouldn’t it be fun to try and re-create the arrangement featured on the cover? So out I went to the garden to see what was in bloom. There isn’t much to work with at this time of the year. I didn’t have any roses — let alone burgundy ones, nor hydrangea. Perhaps other plants could stand in… some cream coloured tulips, the burgundy leaves of a Japanese maple, bright green hostas, and the deeper green of peony leaves. About ten minutes later I had made my selections and arranged them. The result? Not an exact duplicate certainly, but an arrangement that has some of the same flavour as the original.

It kind of feels like those “high and low” features where they replicate an expensive look with a lower price point one. Since the flowers and foliage came from the garden, the total look was achieved for the cost of the planter, a grand total of $2.99.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Garage Sale Find #2

When I saw this plum-coloured ball for $2 at the Glebe Garage Sale I knew I would use it in my garden. And I found just the place for it… nestled under this Japanese Maple with its gorgeous burgundy foliage. The sunlight reflects off the ball adding an interesting sparkle to the area.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Garage Sale Find #1

Yesterday I wrote about my finds at the Great Glebe Garage Sale. And here is what I did with the red box I found for $2. Actually, I had three ideas for what I might use it for. Undoubtedly as the days go on I will think of even more uses. But for now, I have turned it into a flower box, a carrier for my gardening stuff and a place to keep my painting supplies.

Its red paint is oh so cheery. What would you use it for?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Great Glebe Garage Sale

On one Saturday, every year in May, there is a giant garage sale in a part of our city called the Glebe, with hundreds of households joining in. You can't beat it for the sheer number of garage sales you can visit in one shot. And usually the weather cooperates by sending a lovely sunny day. Just like this year. One of the most inventive ideas I came across at the sale today was a family who thought of a very clever way to sell their kids' little toys and trinkets, the things that usually get put into a box with a sign that says 25 cents each. This family made mystery lootbags, putting a number of items into little brown paper bags, and then decorated them with some of the kids' artwork. I think they were charging $2 or $3 for each bag. By the time I reached their table, they had almost sold out. A great idea!

I was late getting to the sale today but still managed to find some treasures. I bought four things, for a grand total of $9.00. My first find was a very feminine pink planter with white filigree priced at $4. My second was a gazing ball in the most interesting shade of plum for $2. I was getting a little peckish by then so I bought an amazingly yummy lemon square for $1 from a bakery that had a tantalizing assortment of goodies out on the sidewalk. And last but not least, I came across this sweet little red tool carrier for $2.

Stay tuned for future posts to see what I decide to do with them.

Friday, May 22, 2009


While in Montreal I saw this chair (first photo) in the Urban Outfitters store on Ste. Catherine Street. It was priced at $225. Stools, chairs, tables and lamps made from trees are easy to spot in the stores and decorating magazines at the moment.

Several years ago I made this table out of a tree stump pulled from a firewood pile. I just added a round glass table top. The cost for my table was $14.99 (for the glass top).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jean Talon Market

Another stop during our Montreal visit was to the Jean Talon Market, located in Little Italy. This open-air market began in 1933. And on this particular Sunday it was cold cold cold. But the massive piles of beautiful fruit and vegetables were impressive and the prices a lot better than we'd find at home.
We wandered about checking out the fresh produce, baked goods, meat, cheese and flowers and plants.

We treated ourselves, at Patisseries le Rygard, to some traditional rose-flavoured Turkish Delight. It was covered in powdered sugar that spills down your front as you eat it. And it was delicious!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cocoa Locale

And now for my big disappointment! Before leaving for Montreal I googled "desserts Montreal" and this wee cake boutique kept coming up. There was even a short video of its charming owner. The place looked so cute and funky and the cakes yummy. They have been described in reviews as homemade and old-fashioned. Cakes like your mother would make, or like mothers used to make. So I made it part of our plan to go there. Noticing that the shop is closed on Mondays, we drove to Montreal on Sunday and found Cocoa Locale at its Park Avenue location.

And I knew right away that Reema Singh and I just might be kindred spirits when I saw the line of vintage aprons strung up in her front window. Although the shop closes at 6:00 on Sundays, we were there in plenty of time, around 1:30 in the afternoon (after all, they only open at noon).

Or so I thought! Much to my dismay there was a sign on the door that said, "Sold out!" How could that be?! Still, if selling out so early in the day doesn't say something about the popularity of her product, then I don't know what does.

I bent to look under the blind that had been pulled halfway down the front window, and I could just make out Reema working at the back. I had this urge to knock on the door and say please just let me have a peek inside... but I didn't, after all I wasn't the Paul Liam who, via the blue post-it note stuck to the door, was instructed to do just that!

Oh well, the next time I'm in Montreal, I'll try again, only I'll aim to get there at opening time.

In the meanwhile, I can always comfort myself with some of my own cupcakes, pictured here, made with buttercream icing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crescent Street Chic

In my late teens and early twenties, Crescent Street was the street to go for sophisticated nightlife. Lots of dance clubs and up-scale bars were to be found there. On hot Friday and Saturday summer nights we would often sit at the open windows of Casa Pedro’s, at the corner of Crescent and de Maisonneuve, sipping sangria and watching the beautiful people and expensive sports cars pass by. In the daytime I would shop at Laura Ashley and La Cache, also on the upper end of Crescent. It was an elegant street filled with the beautiful: boutiques, people, and cars.

And certainly there is still some of that elegance left behind.

Just look at this handsome entrance with its gorgeous potted plants. I just had to stop and take some photographs. Perhaps they will inspire me when it comes time to do my own potted plants at home since I have similar containers.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Home Again

Here I am, back from Montreal. The city is alive, vibrant, exciting and diverse — as always.

Note: most museums are closed on Mondays in Montreal! Fortunately we were able to get to the Musée des Beaux Arts yesterday where we took in several of their current exhibitions — for free. What a bargain! We also spent some time shopping along St. Catherine Street. The window displays were as great as ever, and I saw something new. Montreal now has a system of bicycle rentals where you can pick up a bike from a stand by swiping a card, drive it where you will, then leave it at another stand where you lock it in and swipe your card again to stop your rental time from accruing. It’s quick and easy and an interesting idea.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Montreal Bound

We’re off to Montreal this morning for two days, staying at a hotel on Mountain Street, or rue de la Montagne as they call it now. We’ll do some shopping, go to a museum, eat lots of good food and perhaps visit the Jean Talon Market. We’ll reminisce and share some of our childhood with the boys.

Getting away, even for a short time, can provide lots of opportunity to be inspired. Here’s hoping for lots of inspiration this weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rain Drops

It poured rain today but between showers I went out and took some photographs in the garden. Beautiful water droplets clung to the flowers and foliage. The soil had been parched and the garden’s relief at the downpour was almost audible. Everything is looking a lot perkier.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vintage Tablecloths

With the warmer weather, it’s time to get out these vintage tablecloths, ready to use out on the deck. I have collected this trio over time and from various thrift shops and vintage sales. They are so cheerful, their prints charming.

The pink one is a little garish and gaudy, an assortment of flowers run amuck. The middle cloth is very faded but I love its fadedness. It’s interesting that the red did not fade as much as the blue and the yellow. Its original colours were probably quite similar to the third pictured here. This one is kind of funky with its blue pineapples and strawberries.