Friday, November 11, 2011


This whole week has been one of remembrance, starting on Sunday with a Service of Remembrance at the Christ Church Cathedral. Every year, a list of fallen soldiers who were parishioners at the Cathedral is read; from the Great War through to the recent losses in Afghanistan. Among those is a member of the boys' choir of the Cathedral from around one hundred years ago: Lt. Edmund Gordon Brown. For me, one of the most memorable experiences of this past summer's choir trip to France and England was a graveside performance in Barlin, France (see page 6). The ultimate sacrifice of Canadians serving in France is still much solemnly appreciated almost a century later. We were very moved by the welcome we received in the town, as we were there to pay tribute this former chorister. In Sunday's service, I thought of mothers of previous generations and how, but for the time in which I live, I could be mourning the loss of a son. One does not need to know the deceased, but simply a bit of their story to feel a profound loss.

This photo shows my paternal grandfather as a youth at some point during the First World War. Still too young for active duty in this photo, he is labelled as Scout Thies on the back of the photo. His presence in the photo reminded me of how war made an impact on everyone in his community in the north of England and, with almost an entire generation lost, the whole society.

As a young man, my Grandfather moved to Canada where he was able to fulfill his 'cowboy' dreams and work with horses. During the Second World War, he traveled across the country training Cavalry soldiers. I believe that this photo of my grandfather was taken near the beginning of the War when my Father was very young. My Dad was very lucky that his Father was considered too old to fight overseas during this war and, unlike many boys his age, had a father to raise him after the war was over. Unfortunately, my Grandfather died before I was born, but I remember him through his story retold.

I feel fortunate to have known my Mum's Father who was a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force. He was not inclined to discuss his wartime experiences but I was able to learn his story through my Mum and my Nanan. I try to share all these stories with my children and hope that feel connected to those that served for their country long before they were born, so that they too can remember and appreciate the enormity of dedication and sacrifice of our Armed Forces.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our Creative Space: I Saw the Light, Again!

I have been complaining (just a bit) about the shortening days and decided to improve that a bit by creating more reflective surfaces in my kitchen. No, I have not panelled the walls with mirrors! I have simply started to scrub down the birch cupboard doors and clean the grime of my collectibles on display. I still have more to do tomorrow as I ran out of cleaning steam. While putting the items has been exercising some creativity, I really needed to do something crafty after all that scrubbing: Something quick and simple to satisfy my crafting craving. The sewing room has too many projects set to start and none with any 'instant gratification' qualities which, when you are in the middle of a big job, like "Spring" (Fall) cleaning in your kitchen, is required. I recalled how satisfying it had been to cover my phone books with Amy Butler paper and my eyes were quickly drawn to my next project. This unassuming box of printer paper.

This box usually lives on top of our computer armoire near the entrance to the family room so, if you look slightly higher than eye level, it is in plain view. It is not the ugliest packaging in the world but there is definite room for improvement. Amy Butler to the rescue! Using the same pad of her scrapbook paper that I had used on the phone books and my paper trimmer, I cut pieces of co-ordinating paper to fit the sides and lid of the box. I left a small border of the natural colour of the cardboard and pieced the pieces on the shorter sides of the box in a quilt-like fashion. I have used acid-free glue stick as my adhesive as I am rather frustrated with spray glue and decoupage medium at the moment. I will likely use a spray sealer finish to preserve the paper but that will depend on tomorrow's weather. Today we reached a near record 17°C so it would have been warm enough to use the spray outside.

It is amazing how such a simple project can make such a large impact on my well being. Having little bits of your personality peppering your living space must surely encourage creativity along with stimulating the desire to care for your space. I hope to be sharing larger projects soon but I also think it advisable to continue with this nesting trend and get a few more of these 'living environment' improvements checked off the list. I hope that I stay inspired to come up with other spur of the moment improvements. I am excited to be rejoining the linking of Our Creative Space (formerly My Creative Space) and can't wait to see what is going in other Creative Spaces.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like... Pyrex

I understand, a little bit, why some people start to think about decorating for Christmas well before the start of Advent. The days are noticeably shorter and, even when we have clear skies, the sun never seems to shine for long. The Scandinavians counter this with candle light and light-reflective colours. As another Northern nation, Canadians would be wise to do the same. Of course, I always find that vintage Pyrex brightens my day so I am sharing one of my favourite pieces in my collection: a promotional Golden Poinsettia Casserole with warming stand that Internet sources suggest is from 1963. I have photographed it with my latest vintage Christmas tablecloth, a Marks and Spencer's Christmas Biscuit tin and two books bought at the library for just a few dollars. The book on the right is called Christmas Magic, was published in 1964 and has all kinds of 'period' crafts. As someone who prefers to make gifts, now is the time that I need the not-so-gentle reminder to get on with it and get those items made!

I could procrastinate just a little longer and enjoy the near perfect gold pattern on the lid of this casserole. On special promo pieces, the gold designs on the glass lids are often the first to show signs of wear or damage. The warming stand has some discolouration on the metal and the candles have been lit. I cannot wait to use this casserole for my holiday table. I actually have two of this design but my first one is in somewhat worn condition and does not have a stand. At 2 1/2 qt. capacity, it is a very practical size and I use my more worn casserole for storage of leftover turkey or an extra chicken that I have cooked at any time of year. I suppose that some might say that would be good reason to find another (perhaps less seasonal) casserole of this size. Maybe I will find ideas for other 045 casseroles that would fit the bill. Sophie at Her Library Adventures is having a Pyrex Party and is inviting other bloggers to share in the fun. More vintage Pyrex is sure to brighten the day!

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Favourite Find of the Year

Sophie at Her Library Adventures is hosting Flea Market Find of the Year and since I love finding treasures I wanted to join her and all the other bloggers sharing their favourites. While I found a few things this year that could qualify as favourite, I think the item that I was most excited about was this vintage waffle iron. Vintage charm, elegant design, functional, and quality of manufacture are all qualities that I hold in the highest regard when making any purchase and what has driven me towards looking for used before new. This waffle iron is truly what my thrifting dreams are made of.

While I have not been able to precisely date the waffle iron, I am fairly sure it was made in the 1930's or 1940's. The original hang tag has graphics that suggests the late 1940's which I believe was the heyday of popularity for crinoline ladies. Designs for these waffle irons changed relatively little from their introduction in the early 1920's through the 1950's. Some companies started to make more changes in the later fifties and early sixties to create more consumer interest and in the 1960's models started to be made with different materials and were a little less long lasting.

Part of my excitement in finding this appliance is that it was never used! It brings me back to memories of my Grandmother making me waffles when I was a little girl. We have a waffle iron which never did as good a job as hers -crispy on the outside and tender in the centre - because of its nonstick finish. I am no longer able to use the one we have had for around twenty years because I have had a seriously allergy to eggs for the last 10 years. If I wanted to have waffles again it would need to be with an iron that had never cooked batter with eggs.

To find an "in new condition" appliance that is over sixty years old is especially thrilling when I think that many made at the same time are still going strong after so many years of continual use. I have started to condition the plates and made a few batches of egg-free waffles and have thoroughly enjoyed the results. This model appears to have been designed to have interchangeable griddle plates which did not appear on the thrift store shelf but I will keep my eyes open as you never know when you will spot your thrifting dreams.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I have not had the opportunity to attend many galas. Even though my husband performs in quite a few of these types of events, the combination of my family responsibilities and the usual ticket price prevents my participation. Saturday evening was the Musical Dreams and Flying Machines gala for the Ottawa Choral Society at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and despite my illness that kept me lying low this week, I was able to attend. Since I have not attended many events such as this in Ottawa I was a little unsure about what to wear. My starting point was certainly to feature one of my vintage evening bags! At present, this particular purse might just be my favourite. I love the pastoral scenes in eighteenth century French paintings and to be able to carry that around as ones purse seems like a decadent luxury.

I find that a jacket will often be the other determining factor in my outfit. I had originally planned to wear the accompanying dress with this early sixties blush champagne jacket. One of the challenges in incorporating vintage pieces in your wardrobe is finding the correct foundation garment to provide the body shape and support needed. Without the perfect shaping/fit, I decided not to wear the the gown. I love the bow details at the fasteners of the jacket which seem reminiscent of the eighteenth century gowns on the evening bag. The three quarter sleeve length is my favourite just as it was for the ladies on the evening bag.

Instead of the long vintage dress, I paired the jacket with a short vintage inspired dress that my daughter insisted I purchase for myself last Christmas. The dress is in a heavy black satin inspired by the shorter but still fuller skirted styles of the early 1960's. It is the first evening 'little black dress' that I can remember buying and, because of the fuller skirt, is comfortable to sit in at concerts and even has pockets! The shorter length allowed me to indulge in the modern trend of patterned tights which, along with my shoes were thrifted. The other modern touch was the feathered head band which did not give me wings to go with the 'flying machines' but was a successful conversation starter.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Where I Have Been

I managed to publish everyday for October and I have been missing from the blog world ever since. The under-the-weather feeling that was bothering me last weekend has required antibiotics and bed rest. I believe that the antibiotics actually has me feeling worse before feeling better and I am doing my best with the resting which is always easier said than done when you have four children. Fortunately, I have a rather delightful nest and some books from the library which makes the time a little more pleasant.

The theme this week for My place and Yours at Punky and Me is "Where I Sleep". While the link closes tomorrow, I think that its theme must be blog world serendipity. I have shared this space before and not much has changed. I have a few more rosy linens, including a small quilt on which my cat sleeps at the end of the bed. The best addition to this retreat is the vintage bed tray which I purchased from my friend Lynda when she still had her brick and mortar shop. It has a tilt feature that supports a book or magazine at an angle. It also comfortably supports my laptop, which has just been returned to me after a month of repairs, and prevents it from overheating.
We often decorate the public areas of our homes and procrastinate when attending to the more private spaces. When I am required to spend extra time in bed, I am very thankful that we have a comfortable bed in a welcoming room.