Sunday, February 28, 2010

For the Canadian Olympians

Apart from baseball and the Tour de France, I normally don't go for athletics, nor do I go for people sweating it out for supremacy. Nevertheless, you have to admire the athleticism see during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. There were some very special moments and I'm really proud to be Canadian right now. Great men's hockey game today. Of course Canada won. I'm not sure if I'd be saying how wonderful the game was if the U.S. had beaten us, but there you go.

Here's a band you probably haven't heard of if you don't live here. I'm not the world's biggest Blue Rodeo fan (my buddy Barb is). Still, there's something magical about this song and video. I love how they capture the cold, lonely feeling of a Canadian night without resorting to cliché. I know the land and I can almost taste it. I just remember all those snowy days spent driving past kilometers of trees on our way up to my childhood cottage. It's the iron in the soul.

Happy Birthday Ken + Song of the Week #35 Blondie "Hanging on the Telephone"

Today's my husband's birthday. Here's a very cool song for a very cool guy. XXX OOO - E

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our Fifties Kitchen Table Hath Arrived!

Our fifties kitchen table arrived from Manitoba this week. This afternoon Ken and Duncan drove out to a warehouse in Brampton and picked it up. I love my boys! When I got home for work, this gorgeous table and chair set was waiting for me. Please excuse the mess. Explanation to follow. If you're interested in ordering a set for yourself, or if you just want to drool at cool furniture, go to It felt good supporting the Canadian/Manitoban economy and getting some wickedly cool furniture in the process.

We were given choice for seat covering and table finishing. We chose soft yellow over the turquoise because we liked the yellow and we felt that the turquoise was a bit too classic/predictable. It was still pretty. The back legs arch out, so you can't rock/tip back on the chairs. Elegant.
Strong and sleek.
Oops, this picture didn't rotate in the right direction. The finish is a muted grey with subtle yellow and pink textures. Click to enlarge and get lost in fifties splendor.
As you may recall, we gutted our kitchen back in the summer. We've been living in a demolition/renovation project since then. Basically Ken has had to rebuild the entire kitchen from the ground up, because the walls and ceiling were all bowed from old age. He's had to build false walls, re-stud, and put in new electrics. We've done most of the drywalling. Now we have to finish it, plaster and sand, and paint. After that, Ken can hang our new cupboards and install our new counter tops. He's also redoing the plumbing and installing a new sink, dishwasher, and putting in new flooring. He's amazing. I'm so lucky to be married to a man who can do it all. The only problem is finding the time to do it all in the working week. It will be worth it in the long run.
Stay tuned for a completed kitchen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Perfect Yard Sale Day & Song of the Week # 34 "God Bless" by Lamb

Imagine your perfect yard sale day. You wake, rested. It is a Saturday in early June. The air is warm and fragrant.
You start the morning with a delicious breakfast of dark roasted coffee and toast with honey. In the next room, your son says something remarkably witty for his age, making you smile.
He's watching Popular Mechanics for Kids and he begins telling you about magnetism. "Oh, I think I just heard Dad get up." Oh joy! You remember that your husband finally has a Saturday off work. He can watch your son as you hop on your trusty bike and head off looking for treasures.

You take off down the road, entering a dream-like trance on your bike. This doesn't look like the streets of your town. Where are you? You see a mysterious house with a tiny sign that reads, "Content Sale - All Items Must Be Sold." You lean your bike against a tree and wander in.

You can't decide if you've wandered onto a film set, or found yourself in the house of someone who died a long time ago. The first thing you see is a box filled with Art Deco rings and brooches - including a watch brooch. You've always wanted one of those. The sign says, $10.00, or your best offer. Feeling guilty, you pull out $20.00, but still, no one has appeared. A creaking sound comes from the second floor.

On another table lies an assortment of rare Pyrex items including an indigo-coloured vaporizer from the 1960s and a crimson casserole dish still in its original box. In another box, you find an assortment of black and white family photos. "Free to a Good Home." You are about to enter the kitchen, when a pale elderly woman appears. "Hello. Do I pay you?" She sits down on a coffee table. "If you wish. I just don't want to see any of this anymore. You're doing me a favour by taking it away." You want to ask her what her name is and find out about the house. Instead, you give her $40.00 and thank her. She smiles and shuts the door behind you.

You peddle down the road, still not sure where you are. At the end of the road, you see a stately white house on a hill. You've dreamt of living in a house like this. People are milling about at the back. The owners are selling off things like vintage glassware, sewing baskets, and handmade pottery. An umbrella stand catches your eye. "Hello. How much are you selling this for?" A man in grubby jeans and a trucker hat smiles. "Oh that old thing. My uncle bought that back in the fifties. It's probably worth a lot, but you can have it for five bucks." You squint at him. "Really?"
"Why, is that too much?"
"No. I thought you'd be asking more."
"Well, I'd buy it if you like it," he chuckles. "Or I might ask for more." You give him a fiver. Just on your way out, you spy the toy of your childhood - the Holy Grail of Fisher Price toys: Yes, it's the Fisher Price A-Frame with all the original accessories. A piece of masking tape is stuck to it. The price is $2.00. You give the scruffy man his money and as you get on your bike, you begin crying as all of your happy Fisher Price childhood memories come flooding back to you.

By this point, it's noon and you're hungry. A few blocks down the road, you spy the perfect sixties greasy spoon burger joint. You stop in for a Square Boy burger with onion rings and a Coke float. Bliss.

You realize that the sales will all be finished for the day, so you get on your bike to return home. Still not entirely sure where you are, you see a little log house down a side street.

Like Alice in Wonderland, you can't help but walk in the open door. Nothing is for sale, but an elderly potter sits by the window, reading a book. She should be calling the police, but instead, she invites you in to show you her sculptures. Her name is Vivian and she is in her eighties. She puts on the kettle and makes you a cup of tea. You talk for hours about art and nature. She shows you her garden and picks some vine roses for you to take home. After thanking her, you go outside and lie on the marshy grass trying to figure out where you are and how to return home. You pick up your bike, but it's laden with treasures and your heavy backpack makes peddling wobbly. You cycle down the muddy path behind the potter's cabin and a trail takes you into the woods. Dusk begins to fall.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More Favourite Thingys - Come to the Dark Side

My Favourite Thingy list was a hit the first time around. Taking this into consideration, I thought that rather than torment you with more disturbing shampoo commercials from my childhood, I'd do something more constructive. I like things with flavour and often the flavour seems to be in the darkness.
I am an unapologetic coffee hound. I even have a massive vintage tea cup and saucer that says "Coffee Hound" on it, with a cartoon dog that looks excited - like coffee's brewing. Kicking Horse is my favourite coffee. The beans are roasted here in Canada and they are picked under a Fair Trade agreement. I go for either the 454 Horse Power blend, or the Kick Ass blend. Sorry Dad if you're reading this. That's what it's really called.
Mmmm. I could just curl up in the fetal position inside the bag and die happily. I've been drinking coffee since I was a child. My parents just stopped bothering to be correct when I came along. I drink about six cups a day and I can drink right before I go to bed and I sleep FINE. The dark roast has less caffein in it as the caffein gets roasted out the longer the beans are toasting away. I have no other vices, so I just lie to my doctor and tell her I drink two cups a day. That keeps her off my back.

Sorry about the blurry photo. Confession: I just bought this at Loblaws today and haven't actually brewed a cup yet. It had the most heavenly aroma, that I just had to buy it. I shoved it under my husband's nose and even he agreed it was intoxicating. He's not a big herbal tea kind of guy.
Alright. Yes, I know... Pinot Noir and Sideways. I saw the movie when it came out and I wasn't a big wine drinker at the time, although I was a fan of Wolf Blass' Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon at the time. Well, I've had the Pinot breakthrough. In wine wanker circles, I'm sure Lindemans is considered discount swill, but as a new Pinot drinker, I must say I enjoy this wine very much. It's got a clean fruity nose and muscular arms - or whatever. I enjoy a glass with a good meal.
I'm not a chug-it-back drinker, but I love to savour a glass of good beer. The beer has to have flavour. That's why I especially like dark or tanned brews. Mass-produced domestic beer bores me. In our country, you could spend your whole life just drinking tasty Canadian craft suds and never get bored. We like Cameron's Auburn Ale (which comes in a handy 9-bottle pack, which neatly works out to three pints for two people). We also like Black Oak Nut Brown Ale.

Here's something else I like. File it under "Guilty Pleasure." I usually like more obscure actors and singers as far as hubba-hubba-ding-dang-ding is concerned. Pierce Brosnan never even registered on my radar until this remake of the Thomas Crown Affair. He is a classy playboy/art thief who falls for Rene Russo. It's a very fun film. Here's the exciting scene in which Brosnan manages to steal a Monet right off a wall of the art museum. If only it were that easy. Not that I would think about it...
The House of Cards series was on the BBC in the nineties. It is political satire par excellence. The late, great Ian Richardson plays the man who slimes his way into becoming Prime Minister of England. The script is brutal in the best way imaginable. Canada should be so lucky to have such a man for our leader, even if he has to put a few people down along the way.

Go to fullsize image
Lastly, I do enjoy a freshly made-up hotel bed. When I was a child, my mother had the usual 900 sheets and blankets on my bed. I hated making my bed more than anything in the world. Tucking in bedding first thing in the morning was the last thing I was interested in or capable of doing. I was more concerned with getting down that first cup of coffee and staring at the wall. Eventually Mom caved in and bought me a comforter. All I had to do was pull it up. I've kept that tradition going in my married life and it suits Ken fine. Still, I do like to get into a hotel bed. I like the puffy pillows and the lack of cat hair.

Hope you had fun reading this.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

One of my Best Finds - Fortune Telling Tea Cup

The sun is still missing in action here in Hogtown. I thought I'd create a happier post showing off one of my best yard sale finds of last year.
Nope - it wasn't this pair of snazzy electric scissors. I was tempted, but I knew it would only lead to severed fingers.

It was this amazing fortune telling tea cup and saucer. It was purchased last summer at a lazy Sunday afternoon driveway sale down the street from my folks in St.Catharines. I can't remember exactly what I paid for it. Maybe three clams.
It's not vintage, but it's beautiful and full of mystery. I'm not superstitious, nor am I remotely into the occult, but I like it as a curiosity.

Soon we'll all be on the prowl for amazing treasures like this. The days are getting a little longer with each passing week.

Alright. One of my resolutions for this year was to get into crazy adventures. This scene from Woody Allen's vastly overlooked comedy Manhattan Murder Mystery would just be the ticket. I totally identify with Diane Keaton's character in this movie. She's a bored wife who begins sleuthing when a neighbour's wife suddenly drops dead and Keaton suspects the husband of murdering her.

When we first got married, we lived in this sketchy and decaying old apartment building in North Toronto. My husband used to chide me for spying through the peep hole at the people across the hall from us. I'm sure they were dealing. In this scene, Keaton breaks into the neighbour's apartment to look for evidence, but there's a twist... Watch and then rent the movie.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Suburban Nightmare Comes to Life

I should be making anchor charts for Science tomorrow, but I'm tired and in a strange hormonal headspace. This song and video will likely be despised by anyone who visits TYSS. Sorry. Some people have a sudden urge to eat roasted bone marrow. I go down in the muddy musical ditch.

My ying is the absurdly happy, whimsical girl in me who loves to find beauty in the everyday. It's my default emotion. Old man yang, however is a dark marauding beast that takes over like a bad dream and disappears just as fast. February is the cruelest month... At least in Toronto.

Something more cheerful in next post.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What I'm Reading/What I Will Read

I seem to recall resolving to read more, or at least finish books this year. There's a mountain of books and magazines on the floor beside my side of the bed. The pile is to gargantuan, so precarious, that if ten or more books were to be added to the summit, I could be crushed in the night if one of our cats were to sneeze.

Anyway, I LOVE the library. It's my favourite hangout in the city. Ideally, libraries would serve beer and I could sit by the window for an hour, reading and nursing a beautiful pint of Guinness. Ahhh, paradise.

As mentioned in my "Favourite Things" post before Christmas, I've fallen in love with Anthony Bourdain. Yeah, he can be sarcastic, but I'd rather watch this guy who looks like a well-aged roadie for the Ramones travel the world talking to locals and eating wonderfully tasty things, than most of the horrible celebrity chefs on the Food Network. Besides, what other food show host would travel to the outer boroughs of New York and hit a tiki bar in Staten Island with the former lead singer of the New York Dolls?

Well, I'm finally reading Kitchen Confidential. I started reading it yesterday and I stayed up until 1:30 last night devouring the first few chapters. It's a well-written and highly entertaining recount of Bourdain's experiences in the restaurant world. I used to work in a garden centre. One of my co-workers was this guy called Alex. He was training to become a chef and for about two weeks, he brought Kitchen Confidential with him every day. He read it in the cash tent and only put it down to ring up the odd flat of marigolds, or help an old lady to her car with a bag of manure.

The next book I'm reading is also a food book, but pretty much the opposite. The Riverside Cottage Cookbook is the byproduct of a delightful English TV show - The Riverside Cottage. The book and show are the brainchildren of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. No one on this side of the Atlantic would have a name so ridiculously long. I asked my English husband why so many people have hyphenated names in the UK and he said that it gets back to the aristocracy - something we'll never have to worry about.

Hugh may have an aristo name, but he's extraordinarily down to earth. He lives in Riverside Cottage, a sprawling country farmhouse in Dorset. There, he grows food with his family. He does it all: veg, fruit, livestock... bread. The Riverside Cottage Cookbook is a book I can definitely see myself buying. It covers the how-tos of operating your own food farm and offers over 1,000 mouth-watering recipes. We watched the show last night and Ken and I agreed that Hugh is living the life we want to live. It's a dream that's attainable - probably more attainable in Canada than the UK given the high cost of real estate over there.

On the episode we watched, Hugh grabbed a bunch of fast-food junkies from London and they camped out at the cottage for a week and learned about growing and cooking delicious, wholesome food. After watching them collecting fresh eggs and cutting up savory vegetables, it was pretty repulsive to see the greasy French fries and pizza they brought back to see if the Londoners would be tempted back into old habits. Watch the show, read the book!
Bookcover - Last Child in the Woods
Lastly, I recently learned about this book called Last Child in the Woods. I blogged about it on The Foolscap Flyer yesterday In many respects, this book compliments the Riverside Cottage ethos. Hugh is raising his son to be free and go exploring. I'm seeing a lot of kids these days who have parents that micromanage their every move. I refuse to raise Duncan that way. He needs to get his hands dirty and try things without constant supervision. I've ordered this book and will review it upon reading.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pyrexclusive Club - Give me Your Two Cents

First the good news: I finally found a cute little piece of Pyrex at Value Village that I didn't have and it was in good shape.
Here it is: Beige Shrooms. I'm sure it's called something like Harvest Fungi #327. It reminds me of my childhood. Break out the coulottes
view 'Coulottes' detailsand leg warmers!
Here's the bad news: They had the audacity to ask $4.99 for this little bowl. As you can see, it fits in the palm of my hand. I'm normally a reserved Canadian who doesn't haggle over prices. Many a time, my wallet has been violated all in the name of being polite. Not this time...
I noticed they had big-arsed white Pyrex mixing bowls for the same price. My sister was with me and helped empower me to ask for a price reduction. The first staffer deflected the request and sent me to the manager. You know what she said? "Look (pointing at the Pyrex label on the bottom). It's Pyrex. That's why it costs so much." I felt my little burgeoning world of Pyrex collecting come to a grinding halt. Do the Value Village/Goodwill people read our blogs? Are they that up on things? What ever happened to selling used stuff at a fair price?

Anyway, after telling her that I'd be happy to buy it for $3.99, she took out a pen and marked it down. I know, it's kind of pathetic. I saved a lousy dollar, but outside of an antique barn, nobody should be selling little Pyrex bowls for that price. Crikey, I bought Vonlipi's Snowflake casserole at the same VV four months ago for the same price.

Value Village people, if you're reading this - get your act together on pricing, or I'll stop donating!!!
Thank you. I feel better now.
On a less ranty note, I bought these cute star baking pans for $2.99 each. See, if the price is right, we buy more.
They were made in England - so you know they're good.

Welcome Pixie and Song of the Week #33 "Kiss Me" by Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy

I'd like to welcome my latest follower Pixie. You gotta love a woman called Pixie. She's an American now living in England, unlike my English husband now living in Canada. What a wonderful world. Check out her blog: I'm going to link in under "Family Life," formerly known as "Mom's Brain."

Happy Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year!
- Erin

Here's the song of the week. I love the poor quality of the film - like someone had video taped it back in the mid-eighties, played the tape to death, and then decided to upload it to blogger 20 years later. I remember seeing this video when I was in Australia in the summer of 1985. I was shocked by the gratuitous necking, although the song was sweet and innocent.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hawaiian Shirt and Italian Scarf

There's something strange in the weather, when I find myself buying clothes at Value Village. Don't get me wrong - I think it's good to buy thrifted clothes, especially if you're Grunge Queen and have an eye for design. This year, I'd like to develop a new style. One of the reasons my clothes are so boring is that I loath shopping for clothes in malls, etc. It all seems dreadfully boring to me. The pleasure of shopping for clothes has to be finding something different, at a good price, and with minimum dressing room angst.

Anyway, I did buy a couple of nice pieces today. Maybe I'm turning over a new leaf.
Gorgeous silk scarf from Italy. I LOVE orange, pink, and purple together. So bold. Price: $2.99.
I heard this oversized belted shirt call my name. The thought of owning an article of clothing made in Hawaii never crossed my mind. The top cost $4.99 and will be worn with tapered black pants and Siouxsie Sioux-esque vintage pumps - if I can find such a thing. Maybe strappy sandals.

The brand is Hilo Hatties.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More Zany Retro Ads

Sleep on your set and still wake up with helmet head!

Don't drink the shampoo.

That "not so fresh feeling" conversation. No mother and daughter on the face of this earth have EVER had this conversation. It's 'ick' on so many levels.

Wanker husband washes wife's hair with shampoo that looks like dish detergent.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hamster and Canadian Exotica

I'm on this "don't buy unnecessary stuff" diet. So far, I've been pretty frugal. I did buy a hamster on Sunday for my classroom and tonight we drove out to PJ's Pets and bought her this deluxe tubular home. Yes, on the surface an animal is a luxury, I guess. My feeling is that having a pet in the classroom helps foster togetherness and empathy for all living creatures. We had a gerbil and she met a tragic, untimely demise back in the fall. I don't even want to think about it. This teddy bear hamster will bring joy to our class, so I don't feel guilty.

On a completely unrelated note, Mick raised eyebrows at work when he mailed a postcard to Canada. Hey Canadian people - I know we get miffed over the fact we think Americans don't know we exist, but I'm digging the attention. It takes years to cultivate a mysterious reputation. Now I find out that just being from Hoserland means we are exotic and mysterious.

Here's the scene in Bull Durham where Susan Sarandon says she wants to be exotic and mysterious. That quote is cut here, but this is still a funny scene.

Here's a very mysterious eighties video by Canadian group, The Spoons. I still love this song.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Song of the Week #32 Chris Isaak "Blue Hotel"

I'm a fool for a twangy gee-tar. I love "Wicked Game," but it was played to death. If it had stayed a cult hit, I would have used it. I still hear that song wafting through the supermarket on a Saturday afternoon and it sort of kills the romance for me.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Big Sister's Abode

When your entire family likes to go thrifting and trolling yard sales, it's a bit like belonging a family of alcoholics. We all enable each other with this precarious addiction. What starts as just a peek in a thrift store can turn into an hour of scanning for treasures. A small collection can turn into an episode of Hoarders and my dad's the ring leader. Speaking of Hoarders, am I the only one who can't watch it? You'd think the show would make me feel better about my own addiction, but I find it too raw and way too close to my increasingly cluttered home.

Anyway, my sister Lise is very elegant and seems to know when and where to draw the thrifty line. Her family lives in a semi in the upper beaches and she has a knack for mixing old and new together. I took a few pictures when I was over for my birthday last month.
They've had this Kellogg's cereal rack for as long as I can remember. Note the vintage op-art canisters and the recently thrifted vintage ice bucket. Now all you need is Johnny Depp in a silk bathrobe holding a bottle of bubbly.
This little desk is an unusual size. I'm not sure what it was used for, but a friend of Lise's salvaged it from his workplace and Lise ended up with it. It looks great in the corner.

Lise did a chic assortment of white pottery on top of this mid-century bookcase. At Christmas, the glass cloche had a vintage ornament inside it, which looked very cool.
Thanks Lise, for allowing me to show some of your treasures. You've got great taste!
- Ev
Here's a cool video from the queen of Aussie pop. Enjoy, Aussie sister!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Atomic Age

I'm still moving along on this Stuff Diet without buying any new stuff. I may have to break with this to buy some books as presents for students in my class. Books never make me feel guilty.

I bummed a ride to Value Village with my student teacher on a lunch break this week. Below, find the ubiquitous, but still fabulous automic age glasses I found for .99 each. I've seen scratched up glasses like this before, which I've passed on. I'm sure in time, I'll be able to make up a set.

I'm still trying to thrift for the long-ago winners of my last contest. Shara, Tracy, and Chris - if you're reading this post, hang in there. Vintage thrift has all but dried up lately in Toronto. I'm sure if I bide my time, I'll hit the jackpot.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mick Likes Sam

I get excited when someone I think is cool likes something cool that I like. That makes no sense.
Anyway, Mick (I love the one-name monicker, like Cher), likes Sam Phillips. Whether he LOVES her the way I do is uncertain. Anyway, this is the song that made me cry when I finally saw her play live a few years back in Toronto. Dig her sardonic wit. If I was watching her in that sodding bookstore, I'd have been giving shoppers and cashiers the evil eye if they weren't enthralled.

About Me

My photo
I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.