Friday, August 29, 2008

Sam Toft and The Mustards

I remember one day, finding a greeting card at 'Loomis and Toles' by the artist Sam Toft. I was completely enchanted by the whimsy of her subjects and the simplicity of her designs. Nothing is ever as easy as it looks, but her work always makes me smile. Recently, Ikea has picked up her line of art work and puts out a variety of prints which I have on the wall in my "office" area. Click on the link below to read the charming story about the Mustards and menagerie.

Meet the Mustards
"Ernest Hemmingway Mustard lives on the Brighton/Hove border with his dear lady wife Violet and Doris, their rather grumpy, portly, Jack Russell."

I get a newsletter from "Sam" and lately she has been putting some of her techniques on YouTube.
Sam Toft

Other videos to look for on YouTube...."How to Draw a Mustard", "Who is Phyllis?", "Watching Paint Dry"....if you are interested in an artists perspective

I keep looking at Ernest and his relationship to Doris the dog. Still thinking about getting a dog...........

Mattias Klum

Mattias at Chautauqua Institution

Mattias took the stage on August 22, 2008, at the venerable Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, where legends such as Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, and E.O. Wilson have also lectured.

More than 4,500 people were in attendance for the final lecture of the 2008 season, as Klum echoed the theme of the week, "Darwin & Linnaeus: Their impact on our view of the natural world" with his signature presentation "In the Footsteps of Darwin and Linnaeus," chronicling his recent work producing a documentary film celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Swedish Botanist, Linnaeus, and tracing the expedition route Darwin took in the Beagle, as he explored the world and formulated his Theory of Evolution.

With thoughtful words, powerful images and a strong call to action Klum compelled the crowd to honor our natural history legacy and to step forward and participate in the stewardship of our planet for generations to come.
- National Geographic Society

It was such a privilege to be able to see and hear this most entertaining young man. After his most engaging talk, he was dubbed by one audience member as the Meryl Streep of Photography (He does great accents on top of his own melodic Swedish lilt). His latest book Being Therewas quickly sold out at the bookstore, but you can see a quick clip by selecting either Media Player or Quick Time at the top of the page on this link.

Later in the afternoon we were able to see his latest film (choose the english option to view)
Expedition Linné
Keep an eye out for showings of these documentaries, you'll be so inspired.

From the trailer:
The main characters are the expedition’s three young would-be researchers, all in their twenties but with widely different backgrounds. They not only observe and investigate but also question what they discover with a critical mind. During the course of their journey they transform. Deeply influenced by their impressions and experiences, they are not the same people at the end of the expedition as they were at the beginning.
Klum Photography
[Mattias Photo Credit: Sweden is Great]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


If you've never seen a Cirque de Soleil production, then you must put it on your list of things to do.

We were lucky enough to have seen Saltimbanco in Toronto thanks to Gordon and Rachael who gifted us tickets for our anniversary. We had second row, floor seats, and luckily were not chosen to "perform". This is such an enchanting show that you hardly know what to look at. The pace is fast and furious the colours are a kaleidescope of the greatest magnitude and the music is other worldly. The troupe have an alien sort of language which is disarming at first, but quickly you become attuned and practically 'understand' the chatter.

I think every child, or child at heart should see the Cirque. Makes you want to run away and join this zany production. I'm not sure about the trapeze artists, or the acrobatics, or the contortions for that matter...but I could be the ring master!!

I think this show is still in the area. Hamilton...Copps Coliseum until Aug. 31. If you like the circus this is a magical evening.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


What better way to rocket one out of sadness than to be met at the end of the driveway today by a bouncing gaggle of giggling 10 year old girls intent on making cupcakes! We had planned to do this on a rainy day this summer, but I've been away for so long that we just never got around to it. I am now (firmly) reminded that summer is almost over and we MUST get going!! Indeed.

A while ago I was just enchanted by Vanessa Valencia's A Fanciful Twist Costumed Tea Party. Thank you Vanessa. I love your imagination and your colourful blog, and Colette for the link :)

The Mad Tea Party {of the Costume Variety}peek at this posting and you'll see this spectacular idea.

Eye candy or WHAT???!!!

This made me need to rent-a-kid, or two, or a neighbourhood full. Can you imagine the joy???

It has been decided that some time after 10 a.m.(girls after my own heart) -these girls will arrive at my front door and the festivities of the day will begin. Based on the activity level I am anticipating, I won't even have to clean the house first! We will make a trip to the Bulk Barn and choose our toppings and return to create cupcakes of splendor.

Even if, as one of the troupe does, you have to go and get your "back-to-school" shots (yikes) you can come later. What better way to soothe your soul than to look forward to cupcakes? We will have tea and cupcakes in the garden...or (in the words of one wise child) the house if there are too many wasps.

We won't be making our own cups out of paper as Vanessa did. I have so many antique cups and saucers, I'm sure we'll find something suitable. After all, we intend to drink "gallons" of tea. The decorating will be up to the girls to do. I'll be the photographer and the go-to person to make sure all the frills are available.

Seeing from Vanessa's party that bubbles are de rigeur as well! --- Outside it will be.

[There are a few moms and dads in the neighborhood (whose permission has been ever so 'gratefully' granted - it is the end of summer after all) that are looking forward to any leftovers!!]

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Strawberry Jar Herb Garden

I don't know if it's because of all the rain we've had this year, or if indeed this technique of planting strawberry jars is genius. All I can say is that it works wonderfully well. I got the idea from "Container Gardening" that publishes the "Fine Gardening" magazine. It's really neat that they have a video to show you how.

It may be too late to do this now, but you can think about it for next year's herbs. I'm using their site to figure out how to freeze all the produce.
I used a black pvc pipe that I found at Home Depot, that also had a cap to plug up the bottom. Corks, in the correct dimensions, for some reason are difficult to find here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ottawa at night

Sometimes when you are busy, you have to sight-see at night. The city I love. Home.

Madame Bergeret, 1746

François Boucher (1703-1770)

"Grace has been defined as the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul."
William Hazlitt - 1778-1830 British Essayist

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Woman with Red Hair

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)

There is not a single true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom of each person who has known and loved it.
—Albert Camus

Monday, August 11, 2008

Vogue Wedding Dress Pattern - 1968

Here's the dress in it's original pattern pack.

In my day, most wedding dresses were done by dressmakers. I lost so much weight by the wedding that they had to construct a belt inside the evening length over dress to hold it up. The inside skirt is separate, but shows when you walk. There are 24 covered buttons running down the back...I always think it's nice to have the back of the dress as interesting as the front...after all, this is what the guests are looking at. My dress was done in blue crepe. I went away in white. What a rebel.

It would be fun to do something with the pattern pieces in altered art the way they do now, guess I'd have to photocopy the originals just for posterity. The pattern cost $5.50 at that time, which was considered outrageous.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Anniversary Flowers

The professor really outdid himself yesterday for our anniversary. If I were to be married now, I probably would have picked at least some of these blooms for my bouquet. Click on the picture to see them up fresh, how perfect. Even the ribbon mirrors the colour of my dress.

My actual bouquet was nothing like what I had wanted or envisaged. At the time I was looking through American magazines and wanted a purple clematis cascade like I had seen portrayed. Fine's Florist in Ottawa, which was the most progressive in town 40 years ago, had never heard of such a thing, so they were left with the final decision and came up with bachelor's buttons!!! These days we are so lucky to be able to access any florals anytime of the year. I particularly like the combination that Larry chose...he should have been in charge of the flowers then I guess.

The purple Lysianthus is one of my favourite flowers, the agapanthus adds a lovely texture, the hydrangea is the perfect colour for my dress, and the delphinium are such an August bloom. Add a few daisies for contrast, and here comes the bride!

Friday, August 8, 2008

August 9, 1968 - 40 Years!!!

"The Wedding Party"

Here we are after being married in a candlelight ceremony at Westboro United Church in Ottawa. August 9th, 1968.

A few of the same suspects 40 years later.

We had a very casual pub night in Ottawa last week and were able to celebrate, not only with our own children...Jane home from Belgium, and Gordon from Vancouver, but also with most of our original wedding party.

Our best man, Charles Beach and ma soeur Hélène came from Markham. Darling Janice and Cam surprised us by getting my maid of honour Heather and her husband Peter to attend. My nephew and niece aka the ringbearer and flower girl were there, Shelley having come from Washington State USA. Both brothers and their clan created the usual sort of merriment when 'pints' have been consumed. Larry's Mom was the parental generation link, and Allan, Deb, and Alison Doherty held up the groom's side. It was a great way to re-connect.

Thanks to everyone who was there "then" as you all are "now".

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Friendly Calll, 1895

Look at the picture and decide what you think the painter is trying to convey, then come up with your own version of what these two women are "gossiping" about. I couldn't figure out why that cushion was on the floor in the foreground. I still can't, but I guess this is why I find this piece so intriguing. Maybe the dog and cat were too difficult to paint?

Here's something that will keep you busy for a while on a rainy Friday. I was researching this latest calendar page by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) and came across the National Gallery of Art website that has some really great podcasts and videos.

Click here to watch a video of your choice. I particularly liked the one on Turner as well as the Magic of Illusion series. They are quite short and how can you resist a visit to Florence today!

Bramble Elffly

My fairy is called Bramble Elffly
She is a cheerful sprite.
She lives in leafy dells and bluebell glades.
She is only seen at midday under a quiet, cloudless sky.
She wears bluebell-blue dresses. She has delicate green wings like a cicada.

My hundred thousand bells of blue,
The splendour of the Spring,
They carpet all the woods anew
With royalty of sapphire hue;
The Primrose is the Queen, 'tis true.
But surely I am King!
Ah yes,
The peerless Woodland King!

Loud, loud the thrushes sing their song;
The bluebell woods are wide;
My stems are tall and straight and strong;
From ugly streets the children throng,
They gather armfuls, great and long,
Then home they troop in pride-
Ah yes,
With laughter and with pride!
Flower Fairies

If you happen to be in London (England that is) you could pop by Penhaligon's and really get into this stuff!

Upon a carpet of Bluebells,
The fairies sing their song.
They sing it in a whisper,
They can’t sing it for long.

They make a wish with fairy dust,
To make your dreams come true,
To hope you have a lovely day,
Deserved by only you!

P.S. Please let me know what your fairy name is!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Concert at the Casino of Deauville

Eugène Boudin (1824-1898)

I'm back, but not firing on all cylinders yet. Enjoy this picture, this is what I "feel" like when I'm at Chautauqua.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

India Reading

Since I've been preoccupied with Dana being in India, I've paid attention when people have told me about books they've read on India.

Ingrid has been very enthusiastic about "Shantaram" so I set out to find that one.

Dana herself was told that the quintessential read is "In Spite of the Gods"

There is a fabulous little independent shop in the west end of Ottawa that had both books.

As a result of browsing I also bought "Three Cups of Tea" which I have not read yet this summer, but about which everyone raves.

I have had one message from Dana after landing in New Dehli. She won't have lots of time, but I hope to find a map and stick in pins to follow her voyage. In the meantime, I'll live vicariously.