Friday, July 27, 2012

Homemade Home

Two Christmases ago, I ordered Kirstie's Homemade Home for my sister Lise. Kirstie is Kirstie Allsopp, famed English television host, author and entrepreneur. We seem to get British TV shows long after the fact in Canada, so it's no surprise that you can turn on BBC Canada just about any time of the day and see one of Kirstie's shows when Top Gear isn't on. Homemade Home ran as a televised series before the book came out. If you'd like to find out more about Ms. Allsopp, click here for her website. You can tell her home smells good just by looking at her.  
 Lise offered to lend me the book, but I told myself I'd buy it one day. Well, when I discovered it at the local library, I cheaped out and checked it out instead. The book is all about encouraging people to get their hands dirty and learn how to make beautiful things for the home. I like the projects and Kirstie's not pompous like other do-it-yourself TV personalities - alright, I'm just thinking of one person right now. Kirstie's also loves to pay respect to England's craft traditions, such as its history in willow basket making, blacksmithing, etc. 
Above, Kirstie makes her very own fire poker in an olde timey blacksmith shop.  
 I'm inspired to learn mosaic after watching Kirstie make her own little table. In the centre of the heart is a piece of old pottery from the area she lives in. I'm hoping to take a mosaic course in the fall. Find out if there are courses where you live. 
 A master mosaic maker created this wall outside a door in England. I can't imagine how many hours went into making this. 
 Here's a multi-toned willow basket that Kirstie made with two of the very few remaining traditional willow weavers in the U.K. 
 Here's the rustic gate to Kirstie's rambling country family home. I love how the letter A has slipped down. It reminds me of Fawlty Towers. 
 Here's one project I completed already: a potted herb garden. My herbs were getting lost in the tomato plants, so I put a few together in an old tin tub that was rusting away in the driveway. 
Here's the "arial" shot. I'm growing parsley (from my dad), two types of basil, dill, and chives. The pot has filled out nicely since I took the picture and it's great being able to nip out to the porch for fresh herbs. 

Recipes That Really Cut the Mustard

I just noticed mustard making recipes on the Design Sponge blog. I think I'll try to have a go this weekend.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Release the Hounds!

I bought this delightful horse and hound dish at the not-so-great Value Village on Danforth yesterday for $4.99. It didn't come with a lid and I don't know who made it. Any ideas?
P.S. Thanks for all the comments on my recent posts. I'm soaking in the love. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Treasures From Kingsley

 A couple years ago, a wonderful man who lived across the street from us suddenly passed away. His name was Kingsley. I've written about him in previous posts, so forgive me if you've heard this before. Anyway, Kingsley was a retired psychologist/academic who was a refined gentleman and general good egg. He was clearly living a leisurely life as a retired person. When I used to work at home as a freelance writer, I used to get a chuckle when I'd see Kingsley going to his front door in his y-front underpants to pick up the morning paper. This would usually be around 10 in the morning. I just loved his "I don't feel the need to be productive" ethic. A couple of Saturdays ago, his family - who have maintained his estate - held a yard sale. Duncan and I were the first ones across. I was looking for anything old and special that would remind me of Kingsley. 
 As you'll see from the above two photos, Kingsley got into the spirit of Canada's centennial in 1967. I loved this cup and the fact that it was made in Cork, Ireland. I think it cost me .75 or some small sum. 
 Above and below are pictures of vintage tins I bought for $1.50. I loved that the two big tins were still being used for baking up until fairly recently. 

At the end of the sale, they dragged out the items that hadn't sold - including one of those contraptions that you hang upside-down in to straighten out your back - with a "free items" sign in front of them. Duncan kept crossing the street to see if he could find anything else for us, even though I'd told him we had the good stuff. He did manage to find a sixties transistor radio, which is pretty cool. 
That's all for now. More to come sooner rather than later.  

Punishable By ...

"Dude, where's your manners?"
A few minutes ago, I thought I'd nip out to water the plants on my porch and enjoy the pleasant breeze and late day sun. Just as I picked up the watering can I heard the unmistakable sound of nail clippers in action. Clip, clip, CLIP! I glanced over two houses down to confirm my horror. Yes, one of the dudes who lives there was sitting out on the porch happily cutting his fingernails completely oblivious to social norms and me - his nice neighbour who takes care of personal hygiene in the bathroom like regular folk. With a nauseous feeling stirring in my stomach, I put down the watering can and ran over to the garden hose. I ran down the driveway and with the water turned up to Olympic levels and began soaking the tomato plants in the backyard. 

After a good five minutes, I returned to the front of the house only to see and hear the porch troll cutting his toenails - this time in the company of his roommate who wasn't about to let his friend's grooming get in the way of their conversation. 

I believe that anyone caught clipping in public should be sent away to Plum Island and forced to read everything written by Miss Manners. Entry back into civilization will only be granted when the offending person writes a 2,000 word essay on the importance of grooming in private spaces. They must also pass a test on the subject and promise to never cut finger or toenails ever again in public. 

Thank you,
I feel better now.

Tootling Around Lake Erie

Last week we took Duncan to "A Day Out With Thomas" in St. Thomas. We decided to keep the adventure going along the shores of Lake Erie. Here are a few snaps from the road. I'll try to post some pictures of my vintage yard sale treasures later today. Cheers, Erin. 
 Duncan had just asked Sir Topham Hat how many times he's been married and his question was greeted with an icy reception. 
Skipping stones at the lake - a simple pleasure. 

The pretty lighthouse at Port Burwell. You'd think that climbing a few stairs in a lighthouse wouldn't be such a big ordeal but they were so steep. I spent the next few days with my thighs covered in Deep Heat. 
View from the top of the lighthouse. 
The dirty charm of Port Rowan's marina. 
Big Dick, a small, but well loved vessel is left up on oil drums for happy lakeside photo ops. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Just "Beet" It

 This is the first time I've really been able to be free and enjoy time off this summer. I'm not taking any courses, Duncan is out of daycare and at a great age to take off on daily adventures. Oh yeah, the Tour de France is in full swing. We're all fanatics. Here, Duncan models his new hat and t-shirt. I could go on, but my sense is that most people don't share my passion, so I'll move on...

 Last week I bought beets at the East York farmer's market. I phoned my mom who quickly rattled off the ratios of vinegar, sugar, and water needed to pickle beets. Voila - here are my lovely beets. Please forgive my crusty ring around the burner!

I've also taken up fishing again. This week, Ontario folk were allowed to fish without a license, so we bought some bargain rods at Canadian Tire and hit three locations: Grenadier Pond at High Park (above and below photos), the Don River (which we biked to), and Newcastle. Sadly we didn't catch any fish, but we had fun. I don't recommend fishing at Grenadier Pond. It's full of weeds. Duncan spectacularly fell into the pond and managed to pull himself out, which is lucky as he just started swimming lessons. While he dried off, we were entertained by a yoga group - "Pull the energy up out of the earth. Scoop it with your hands." 

Duncan in his Jaws-meets-Daryl-Sheets-From-Storage-Wars shirt. It's a lifestyle. 

I hadn't been to the local Value Village in some time, so I stuck my head in this week. They had completely moved things around. The place looked cleaner, but lacked the overstuffed charm of previous years. I did find this crazy Made in Japan palmistry dish. It looks like it could be an ashtray, which would be pretty funny. I don't believe in palm reading, etc. but I like the artistry of the mystical hokum. 

Today, I took Duncan to Kensington Market. I collect Mexican folk art and couldn't resist adding another piece to my collection when I stepped into Courage My Love. I like this humorous scene from a wedding.

 View from above.

Duncan chose four Mexican wrestlers. They cost $1 each, which I thought was good value. After that, we grabbed some tacos from a take-away and ate our yummy food in a sketchy local park. It's all part of the colour that makes the city great. I hope to do some thrifting out of town soon. We'll see how it goes. 
Bye for now!

About Me

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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.