Saturday, October 25, 2014

The sweetest trip to the park

The other day I missed a "Face Time" call from LA. When I finally realized that my iPad was not ringing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction", I called back the number on my screen. The first face I saw was little Luca. He was clearly outside,on the sidewalk, in the bicycle contraption that Michael uses to take the kids to the park. He was trying to tell me something and in the blink of an eye, there was another face appearing on screen. Luca had little choice but to relinquish his hold on Michael's phone. The call had come an hour earlier and Zoë told me that they had been calling to show me a new outfit they had made for Itty Bitty Baby, out of paper. Of course, Itty couldn't be on the bike ride to the park donning paper, so I was out of luck with seeing their latest creation, BUT, would I like to ride with them to the park??

The four AND A HALF year old then proceeds to put 'Mamère' safely in her bicycle basket and peddles onward while continuing our little "chat". There I was. IN the phone, on the screen, in the bottom of the bicycle basket looking at palm trees and sky while my granddaughter did the tour guide of Playa Vista. At one point she dismounted to show me a flower she thought I might like to see. There was one scary moment at a cross walk when we got stuck. Zoë cleverly yelled "help!" and a big hand grabbed our basket and pulled us out of the rut. Upon arriving at the park, my tour conductor dismounted, picked me up and turned the camera the other way so that I could have a good view of the playground. After several blurry, running moments we arrived at the tube-slide and Luca was allowed to slide me through the yellow tunnel ....very exciting. At this point, Daddy made a good decision to say goodbye and I was rather glad. It's exhausting to go to the park in the bike basket, not to mention a little bumpy.
Can't wait to do the real thing in a couple of weeks.

This photo came through when all the climbing and sliding and swinging and monkey-barring was finished.
And they rode off into the sunset.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More Inspiration for travel

I have become so enthusiastic about Great Estates Scotland that I've decided I really need to see all of them. Sometime. Soon.

I said the same thing about the itinerary in the original film "The Trip". This was a rather charming tour of restaurants in northern England. Originally a British television sitcom, the series was edited into a movie. Funny men Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon do fabulous impersonations of Michael Caine, Sean Connery, and Sir Anthony Hopkins to name a few, whilst dining in pretty fabulous inns and eateries. The scenery and the food make me want to follow the route they took.

"The Inn at Whitewell"


"Holbeck Ghyll"

"Hipping Hall"

"The Yorke Arms"

"The Angel at Hetton"

There is one major problem in doing this tour. The driving. Wrong side of the road and usually stick shift transmission.

This is the Map

"The Guardian" on how to do "The Trip" CHEAPER

This is far more likely the tour route I'd be taking!

The follow-up movie is "The Trip ~ Italy". Will report on that one Ciao eh!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's no secret

We watch way too much t.v. I'm obsessed with Claire's knitted wardrobe on "Outlander". I tried listening to the audio book and thought it was a tad brutal, so never finished. Indeed the movie version is equally brutal. Those ancestors of mine were a right bunch! I'm sure the Camerons and the McDougalls were up to much the same as the Frasers. Seems like Scotland was a dire place.

The present motto of the Clan Cameron is "Aonaibh Ri Chéile," which roughly translated means "Unite" or "Let Us Unite." This motto is usually used in conjunction with the more accepted "Five Arrows" crest and is also presently used on the Armorial Bearings of Cameron of Lochiel.

As for the McDougalls. "Victory or Death". Not much has changed folks!

This was the first little capelet that I was in love with

This cowl is simply to die for, but I hope Claire doesn't die in this.

On the tall and "WEE" waisted Claire, this looks sublime.

Just perfect for prancing around the forest with the grandchildren.

I know, I know this is some sort of FUR, but honestly, if you had to live in these conditions in Scotland in 1700, "you'd not be a 'wearied' by what was round yer neck"! This can be replicated in Faux. Those cabled wrist warmers.

This is Jaimie Fraser. The Professor is descended from the Frasers. Oh my.

And now the perfect musical segue to "George Gently" where Miss Ebony Buckle sings a little ditty with a Celtic accent.

Ebony Buckle is a talented musical theatre actress. She has a bachelor degree in Music and Opera Singing from the University of Queensland in Australia and a postgraduate diploma in Musical Theatre from the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. Her musical stage performances include Les Misérables, The Marriage of Figaro and the opera A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In case you are unable to watch "Great Estates Scotland" on you local PBS station, this is a link to the wonderful work that Prince Charles has and is doing to bring back one of the most depressed areas of the British Isles.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nutmeg Grater Caper

It all started with a need to make "Pumpkin Pie Spice". I know, you CAN purchase it ready made in a bottle, but I wanted to make my own. Before I lose my train of thought, this is the recipe:

4 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
4 tsp. Ground Ginger
3 tsp. Ground Allspice

Makes 8 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix.

The nutmeg grater was nowhere to be found. My first line of reasoning was that The Professor had thrown it out. He deems most of my highly prized culinary gadgets as drawer space wasters. I figured he probably had no idea what a nutmeg grater was, having never had the joy of using one, and had therefore uncluttered the spice drawer. End of. Who, other than the pastry chef in the family, would ever even need to use a nutmeg grater? Couldn't be her...could it? After a root through said drawer, it occurred to me that it might possibly have escaped the back of the drawer and fallen down into the cabinet below. Lo and behold! Ahem. Everyone, off the hook and on with the grating :)

Why, say you, was I so bent on this seasonal mixture?

Pumpkin Obsessed.

It, of course, all started with Carol. Her post reminded me that I had purchased a donut pan whilst in Vancouver. One for me and one for my daughter-in-law the pastry chef. I once made an attempt with an Ina Garten recipe, with half hearted results, but just knew that Carol's version would be perfectly pumpkiny. I was not wrong. Carol, in turn had used this link for her recipe, so this goes waaaaay back folks.

The recipe for the pumpkin donuts uses 3/4 of a cup of pumpkin. What am I going to do with the rest of the rather large can I opened??

As luck would have it, a recent recipe surfaced in the Toronto Star and I was off. "Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares". Submitted for the taste Canada awards by Rosie Daykin, from the 'Butter Baked Goods & Café' in Vancouver!

"Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

Bakery owner Rosie Daykin says this seasonal bar (which she calls a blondie) comes to Butter Baked Goods & Café in Vancouver every October and leaves in January. Adapted from Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes from a Little Neighborhood Bakery.

2-1/2 cups (675 mL) all-purpose flour

2 tbsp (30 mL) pumpkin pie spice

1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking soda

1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt

1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1-3/4 cup (435 mL) granulated sugar

1 large egg

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) canned pure pumpkin purée

2 tbsp (30 mL) pure vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) dark chocolate chips

In mixing bowl using fine-mesh sieve, sift together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl using electric mixer, beat butter on medium 1 minute. Add sugar. Beat 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Beat until fully combined, scraping down sides of bowl several times. In several batches on low speed, add flour mixture. Beat until fully combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter into 9- by 13-inch (23- by 33-cm) parchment-lined baking dish, smoothing top.

Bake in centre of preheated 350 F (180 C) oven until tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool completely in pan. Run a small knife along two edges of pan that do not have parchment handles. Carefully remove slab from pan. Using large knife, cut into 24 pieces or as desired.

Blondies will keep in airtight container up to 5 days or in freezer up to 3 weeks.

Makes 24 pieces.

Now here lies the conundrum. I have used but 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of 'Pumpkin Pie Spice' mix in my two efforts and still have one cup remaining pumpkin puree.

Recipe and Photo Credit the Toronto Star

Monday, October 6, 2014

This is so possible

I can totally see this scenario playing out in a certain living room in LA. After all, the "Glitter Pony Dance Off" is SO worth saving. DO NOT DELETE!!! Or else...suffer the wrath.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Why bother

A very sweet friend gave me this frame for my birthday. Today I was looking at it and thought, hmmmm.....those are pretty cute pictures. I'm going to have to take up-to-date pictures of my friends to put in this nifty frame. As I was pondering, it occurred to me that these people "could" be my new friends, thus alleviating the need to bother everyone for a good shot. I think these folks would make good friends, they are all smiling and have great teeth!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another good thing about fall

I'm not sure if they have changed the recipe, but somehow this year's cookies taste much, much better! Perhaps the Professor just happened upon a new, fresh batch ~ the Girl Guides are at the train station. Lucky for me. All the "Girl Guides" in our neighbourhood have quit the pack!

Yes, I had to eat one for breakfast to facilitate a food shot ~ someone had to :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Something to think about

With many thanks to Tess Kincaid for this quote.

“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing. ”

― Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sketching in colour

This is enough to get one back to sketching and bringing on the coloured pencils! Purple and Chartreuse are two of my favourite colours. The fuzzy guy at the bottom was a visitor to the water tap. "Shades" of things to come "Calapillar".

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A clip clop back in time

Click on photo to embiggen and you're there!

Have a great weekend. I'm involved in car shopping, hence the romantic thoughts about alternate transportation.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I can relate

The advantage of watching "Dancing With The Stars" is hearing some tunes I otherwise might not plug into. It was an adorable routine and the music is catchy. By the way, this is way I listen to music...I'm all about the bass - no treble. This is my new theme song on so many levels. Even the gym buddies concur that we, sorry, "I" fit right in :)

She is standing on that bass and balancing on the wooden dance floor. That's a "10"!!!!

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The flipside

What a wonderful way to spend the first day of fall. Driving through wine country to see a fabulous stage play. The Philanderer, by George Bernard Shaw. Having lunch at a bakery named "The Pie Plate, Bakery and Café". Wandering through the shops and finding treats.

In such a historic town, far from the madding crowd the history of this area returns. St. Mark's Church. Niagara-on-the-Lake. So beautiful both outside and inside. One of my favourite stained glass windows of all time.

The window from outside

The window inside

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Welcome FALL!! Soup season is upon us. In an effort to consume way more vegetables, soup is an admirable vehicle. I am stocking up on the basics ~ celery, onions and organic chicken stock. Some of the most recent gorgeous food photos have impelled me to action.

This is Joy the Baker's Creamy roasted red pepper soup.

From BBC Food....Chicken Soup!

And THIS- Cauliflower Chowder - one of my 'can't wait to try'...from DAMN DELICIOUS

I'm going to start with these three and carry on. I can really recommend Damn Delicious' Blog There's much more than just soup and it is truly inspirational. Bring on the cold weather, sweaters, scarves, mittens! I LOVE it. My favourite season.

Monday, September 22, 2014

I Caved

Having spent the past few days coughing my head off, I was able to rationalize full days on the couch reading. I'm glad I finally caved and read this highly touted novel.

From Amazon:

"Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world."

This little excerpt from the New Yorker Magazine is in the back of the book and will give you some idea of Maria Semple's sense of humour. Teacher's will especially enjoy this little note.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The ins and outs

When we are very little, faeries are totally magical and REAL. This was a Saturday adventure in Griffith Park with an interactive theatre group. The children venture into the forest and learn about the ins and outs of faeries. They collect little things in baskets to offer the faeries in friendship. They make a promise to always protect the earth. There are some "smelly" gnomes about as well.

If, as some of you are, wondering why Luca is rarely seen on camera? He also attended the faerie hunt, suitably attired in his green faerie outfit, wings and all. Just as the troupe was setting off "Tink"(as he's affectionately known whilst wearing his wings), spotted the nearby playground. This bottom photo pretty much relates how difficult it is to get a photo of a boy faerie. They are typically very hard to capture on film, but I will be making an attempt in November to find the real boy in all his faerie glory.