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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When is a collection too much?

I was reading a blog yesterday (but I'm not sure which one...eeeek!) and came across a topic that got me thinking...  However, I have to explain why I dont know which blog I was reading, and therefore cant credit the entertaining and talented author for credit.  I go on my favourite blogs, then I go down their blog lists and click on those, and sometimes I click on the lists of those bloggers.  So by the end of the night I have no idea where I even found the blog I read!  I know its bad, because many a time I've come across a blog I really liked but cant find it again, because I dont have a clear trail to follow.

Why do I ramble so?  So I was reading this ladies blog and her topic was signs and graphic images in a home and if it gets to be too much or not.  It got me thinking, because I really do like signs and graphic images.

When I started decorating my house years ago (its been evolving for a long time) I started out by buying reproduction signs.  As I started going to antique shows (here in Canada (Toronto area) we dont have the great flea markets you Americans do!  Our flea markets only sell socks and cheap  make up!) I started finding some signs which I liked.  Slowly I started buying a piece here and there (as they are pretty pricey).  I'm actually glad I started when I did, because the prices here have gone crazy!  There were very few signs I could actually afford this year!  Luckily I didnt like most of them and thus wasnt tempted to pay.  If I like something...it nags away until I brake down and justify why I should spend crazy money!
As I started collecting nostalgic signs I gave my reproductions away to my sister, as she would always say 'if you dont want that anymore, I'll take it!'.

Last night after reading that blog, I walked around my house and noticed that pretty much all my walls are covered in collections, home made art, or signs!  I cant stand buying ready made art!  Knowing it will be hanging in thousands of other homes takes the joy out of a piece.  Also I'm a snob about cheap print quality.  Unfortunately I cant really afford good art.  Well, its probably fortunate not unfortunate, as I am pretty fickle and fall just as easily OUT of love as in it!

This morning I walked around snapping photos (sorry, just an iphone camera!).  Let me know what you think?  Too many?

Most of them are in the kitchen.  Really my favourite ones are in the kitchen!  I love this sign:
The dealer said he got it on one of his trips to the United States.  Canada is newer and far less populated, so we just dont have the quality and quantity of antiques/vintage goodies you Americans do!
I dont know why my ceiling looks pink!  Since I'm a tea sommellier now (such a proud one at that!) I have collected a few 'tea' signs.   To be honest, they came by me quite accidentally!  I wasnt out trolling for tea signs!  Really!  I went to a nice mans house to pick up a vintage green bread box and vintage plastic cannisters, when we got to talking...when he found out I was into tea, he pulled these things out and sold them to me for pretty good prices.  He was moving and had to get rid of years of his collections.  I could have bought most of his stuff it was so great!  Unfortunately my wallet wouldnt allow it!  Here are three  signs I bought from him:
I bought this one (Three Trees Tea) NOT loving it, but after a few months when I got the next one reframed and hung them together, I LOVED them!

The Red Rose one is an old advertising poster on cardboard.  It was in a kind of ugly frame, so I had my friend who owns a framing/art shop reframe it in a kinda kitchy/country frame which I adore!  What do you think?  Too kitch? Or is it great!!!????
On its own it might not say much, but look at them together.  Doesnt it look good?  Dont feel obliged to   humour me : )
The last sign I bought from this gentleman, was a counter sign used in a tea shop in England.  Many of his vintage pieces he brought over from England.  He had it on his buffet, but I know in my house it would be at the mercy of many grubby fingers, and framing it was the only way I could preserve it!  Also, my counter surfaces are already overflowing!
I bought a white frame from Michaels, and backed it in my favourite Cath Kidston wallpaper.  It hangs over my pantry door:
My newest sign is the last 'tea' sign in my collection.  I found it quite by accident at the last antique show of the 'Toronto' area.  The price wasn't bad and I loved it!!!!  Its painted from underneath a piece of glass (I think).
Its cute! Oh yes it is!!!  I have two more kitchen graphics, one is again a counter sign from an old variety store.  I took the stand off and use it on my wall as a notice board.  Since getting stainless steel appliances, I had no where to put the kids school notes!  I works great for that, but unfortunately its usually covered, so its cuteness is always covered.
Its an old Tums display stand!  Small packages of tums were pegged onto this board and sold!  Do they have Tums in the US?  Its like alka seltzer but without water.  These last two signs hang with my final kitchen graphic.  This is a reproduction poster which I bought a couple of years ago when the posters were rediscovered in England.  I know its a repro but I love it none the less.
Sorry for the blurry shiny image!  They make a nice vignette on the narrow kitchen entry wall.
Hmmm...my Tums sign is just too functional to be attractive!  Form over function must be applied here I think!

The rest of my signs (all of which are on the ground floor of the house-I wonder why I did that?  I think I have to run out and buy more signs for upstairs!) are okay signs, but just signs...they add character but aren't my favourite signs.  What do you think?
Its old, so old in fact, that I have no idea what 'stop 26' is!
Another old, local sign.  It hangs in my husbands study.
I dont have any history on this one.  I bought it from an architectural salvage shop, and they have many many numbers.
This is a heavy old metal double sided Beauty Parlor sign.  Must be American as its Parlor not Parlour. This is the good side, the other side is very very chippy!
This hangs in the living room, which my husband calls my office, but its there to remind him!  My vice is candy!!!  This is the last sign in my collection.  So, too much of a good thing?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Now that I have found a new love (Tea), I'm pondering what I should do with this vast body of knowledge I now possess (Heavy sarcasm here).   Should I open a shop?  I want a tea room, but the cost of the kitchen alone is prohibitive...  All I know is I want to be doing something with tea.  Look at that lovely cup of Silver Needle white tea.  So many people would over steep it, use boiling hot water, mix it with 'flavours', do all kinds of things which would hide the subtle fruity flavour of this delicate tea.  It should be savoured, alone, with a good book or a nice view.  Thats it.  No crumpets, no sandwich.  It stands on its own, and has to be enjoyed that way so as not to overpower this lovely drink.

I'm not saying 'I've seen the sign' and want to show people 'the way'.  Well, maybe I am.  I want to show people how and why they should drink tea.  Want to know why?  Because a year ago, I would have bought a plain bag of tea, or maybe been thrilled at a nice fruity/flowery blend at a tea shop.  Now I want to savour a leaf.  Prepared in a specific manner to produce a specific flavour.  The way its been done and appreciated for generations in China.  A way which has just reached me this year.  And, yes, I guess I want to spread the word.

Friday, September 23, 2011


A little more than a year ago, I registered at George Brown College (a local Toronto college, with a strong culinary department) for their Tea Sommelier program!

I've never blogged about it, because...well, not that its not interesting because it really is.  Rather, I didn't know how far I'd go with it.  To be honest, I didn't know anything about tea except that I like it, and I liked some of the flavour blends I'd tried.  Other than that, well, I knew BUBKUS!

Twelve months later, I am an official Tea Sommelier!  We just had our certification exam, and I really hope/think I passed.  I knew 9/10 teas in the blind tasting portion of our exam.  Also, we had to write an essay, answer 40 multiple choice questions, serve tea properly to our examiner (only after picking the type of tea out of a hat), and making a presentation on another topic picked out of a hat.

To be honest, I'm quite proud of myself.  I've learned so much about tea over the last year.  This wonderful, complex leaf, and how it is plucked and processed with so much attention.  It is quite fascinating to learn that so many complex flavours can come out of one plant!  I'm not talking about 'Provence' flavour or 'Vanilla bean' or other contrived tea flavours.  I'm refering to the gentle natural floral/peach essence in a lightly oxidized Oolong, or the charcoal toasty Keemun.  How about the gentle delicate taste of the lovely Silver Needle white tea?  The natural tastes, flavours, essences come from the way this leaf is plucked, withered, heated, oxidized, dried, etc...

What a shame that when we think of tea, we only think of a little bag! Well, thats what I used to think but now I just gasp at what a wonderful thing I've discovered.  

I dont think I'll ever use my title of 'Tea Sommelier' but its nice knowing I've earned it.  If anyone has any questions on tea, or is considering such a path, feel free to ask questions.

My kettle is boiling, gotta go!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ugly Armoire Transformation

I'm a bad blogger, but have you ever hated something so much, that one day you just pick up a paint brush and start painting before you make any plans about colour, sheen, etc. ?  I bought this ugly armoire when we had just gotten married (about 13 years ago), and it was a pretty expensive piece of furniture.  Many of the major furniture shops had it for $3,500 and believe it or not, I liked it!  When I saw it in the Sears furniture clearance outlet for $1,700 I begged my husband for it, and he hates to see me beg, so he agreed.

Now, as soon as the three furniture movers hoisted this thing into our house, I just knew...
I had that sick feeling in my gut...
You know the one...the one that says..."What was I thinking????"
Well, it was way to heavy to return, and I silently lived with my shame and pain for THIRTEEN YEARS.
Until last month, when one day I just couldn't take it any more!  STOP THE INSANITY!!!  WHERES THE PAINT BRUSH?!?!

I probably still wouldnt buy it today, as my taste in furniture has changed dramatically, as it has evolved and been fine tuned (not to say I dont still make errors in judgement sometimes).  However I love it compared to the before!

Here is a bad photo of the the 'after':
I  know, its shot on my iphone, on an angle.

Here is a photo of the interior, which shows you the fakey fakey wood finish it was before.  Can you believe they sold this huge monster in fakey wood for $3500 (Canadian...and at the time the Canadian dollar was quite low compared to US$s  so it may have been quite a bit less in the US)?


Anyway, I cant get my hands on Chalk paint in my area (and shipping is prohibitively expensive here), this was painted in a eggshell Behr paint and primer combo.  Not too bad, n'est pas?  FYI this is about it for my french speaking abilities so please forgive me if I throw it around every once in a while!

Lights, Camera, Action!

Well, we had some excitement around her last week. My 11 year old son was cast as one of the leads in a music video for an up and coming and extremely talented Canadian musician...I dont know if I can give away his name, or mention anything to do with the video or not, but here is a photo of my son on set.  All I can say, is he had an amazing time!  It was shot outdoors on one of the hotest days of the summer, but it was such a good experience for him, that he just didnt care.  His scenes wrapped up at 3 am but the crew was still on set with the singer and some of the other cast.  I can hardly wait till this is on the air on Much Music (the Canadian equivalent of MTV).

Although this musician is Canadian, he opened for Robin in North America and is playing in Prospect Park in Brooklyn in a couple of weeks!

Good Luck in your musical career, John (his real name...hee hee)!  He was definately a very polite and nice young man (dont I sound old!  Ugh!  I'm not really that old, I'm just a mother of four!!!).

Here is Liam, all exhausted and covered in war paint at 2 am...resting until they call him for his next scene.  What a trooper!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Anyone who knows me (I've hidden it from you) knows I have many many sick loves.  One of my real obsessions is cowboy boots (my 27 yr old always tells me Cowboy boots aren't cool).  Okay, these aren't 'just' cowboy boots.  They are sooooo cool, even if I'm an old 46 yr old female who obviously hasnt fulfilled certain desires in her youth which cause her to gravitate to crazy things, which obviously make her happy and fulfill some unspoken and unidentified (not necessarily in that order) needs!  These my friends, are art.  Yes, they are!  And now (I know you're not supposed to start a sentence with 'and' but sometimes its the only thing that works) they are MINES MINES MINES!!!!  They cost a mint to ship to Canada, with shipping fees, customs broker fees (free trade my big fat Armo vorig!) and duty, and HST (a lovely tax we pay on EVERYTHING, even things not purchased in Canada).  Anyway, since I had to give up my Doctor Who last week to go to a cousins wedding in New Jersey, I ordered these online, and had them shipped to my cousins house!  NO TAX IN NJ!!!! Did the happy dance!  Got them for a pretty good deal on a boot website (about $100 bucks less than a major high end department store has them listed for online)!  Then, in NJ when I put them on, I did more happy happy dancing!!!!  Now they are in my living room on display....


Beautiful, n'est pas?

Goodness, look at the toe detail!  I'm crying their so gorgeous!  Can I even wear these lovelies!  Their too nice to scuff up!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

This weeks finds!!!

Lookie lookie!!  Who says Value Village only has junk!  Sometimes theres treasure, unfortunately the treasure is usually hugely overpriced.  These weren't a 'bargain' but a good price for what they are none the less.  Look at that beautiful periwinkle colour!  Just lovely!  Homer Laughlins Skyline dishes which somebody must have kept for special occasions because there is hardly a scratch on them.  The large platter has a small chip on the back but for $5, I couldn't refuse it, even if just for display.

Isn't this a gorgeous pearlized lucite purse?  I'm not sure of the manufacturer, but I think I got it for a real deal at $5.99!  Its in pretty perfect condition, except for a small discolouration under the silver filigree pattern on the front bottom.  Quite pleased with myself!

So not a techie!!

First of all, I really want to thank The Graphics Fairy for her lovely background and header.  Unfortunately, even with her great instructions, I wasnt able to centre (Canadian spelling) my header, and once I typed the title, I couldnt adjust the size of the font (SIGH!), so although the instructions were very straight forward, I'm just technologically backward!!!  I'm still not sure I like the new header picture with the new background...maybe I'll just leave it for a few days and then tweak it a bit!

What do you think?  Tweak?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Doctor Who Love

Oh yeah, you heard me right, its Doctor Who LOVE! I dont know what it is about DW I love so much!  My little brother would make me watch it when we were kids, and I resented him, the show, and all their  cheesy sets.  I hated all their 'costumed aliens' but I also hated the 'costumed aliens' on Star Trek, so its not like I was being selective in my sci fi dislike.  As I got older and the years passed, I forgot all about the good Doctor.
One day I met and married the LOML and he was born and raised in London.  His favourite show growing up was also DW, so when about 7 years ago (forgive me all you real Whovians for not knowing exactly when it was recreated...) they restarted the program, we were hooked.  I am a sucker for English accents I guess...
My 8 year old daughter clenches the throw pillows to her face in fear but insists she can handle it!  My 9 and 10 year old boys have lively debates about the story lines, and my 27 year old daughter (screen writer by trade) sings its praises constantly.
I've been trying to figure out why its so wildly popular with our family (and all of England, Canada and I think many Americans are discovering it...).  Not only are the newer Doctors extremely charming and charismatic, their companians are unlike American counterparts in TV shows.

Christopher Eccleston, was a charming and serious Doctor.  David Tennant replaced him, and while he was extremely charming, I just couldnt get past his extremely good looking face, voice, personality, glasses, suits, coats and high cut chucks.  He got a bit melodramatic when he was regenerating and he knew he was dying (although they dont really die, but sometimes they change their body, its complicated...) he was going to leave the show.  All actors are allowed to have some fun, and David had fun with it!  I mean a 900 year old time lord who thinks he's dying and goes and visits all the people who meant something to him (over the last 3 years) has a right to be sad, and revel in his sadness.  In fact, David convinced me that he was the one and only Doctor.  I was sure his replacement (Matt Smith) could never be The Doctor!  He was just a funny/awkward looking kid!  OMG was I wrong!  Even in his regeneration from David to Matt, he did it with the perfect humour and sweetness that made me believe in him!  All his 'timey wimey' sweetness and innocence (kind of) is just endearing enough to make you believe in time lords and tardises.

While most of his companions have been attractive women, they have not been perfect Barbies.  Rose, while blonde and cute, was shortish with buck teeth.  She also had the most perfect mother!  Actress Jackie Tyler was incredibly adorable as the kinda crass, maybe slightly white trash brit.  All blonde teased hair and bold makeup.  She was so much fun!  Martha was...Ok she was kinda perfect and I'm not saying anything else about it.  Donna was so perfect to me, a sassy opinionated real woman.  Catherine Tate, WE ALL LOVED YOU AS DONNA.  Now we have Amy, while extremely cute and sassy, she is married to Rory.

As if Matt Smith wasnt adorable enough, now they have Alex Kingston in the cast.  While I usually dont like Alex Kingston (sorry, dont like curly haired women ...  I have a huge mass of curly hair myself, so its okay for me to say that), she is just so good at her job!

The reason for this long rant about Doctor Who?  It was memorial day in the USA last weekend, and BBC America didnt show the scheduled Doctor Who!  And while I love Canada, we are just too dependent on our Souther neighbour for our programing!!  I missed my DOCTOR WHO last week and I'm bitter bitter bitter!  To squeeze a lemon on my bitterness, I'm going to NJ for a wedding next Saturday, so I wont be able to catch the episode I missed last week because I'll be 'having fun' at my cousins wedding!  I just know I'm going to be so bitchy that night...


Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm so jealous/envious of my American junkin sisters!

I'm sure I've said this before, but I am so jealous of you American 'junkin queens', 'upcyclers', 'vintage vixens', whatever you call yourselves!  While I haven't been posting quite so much recently, I've still been avidly following my favourite talented bloggerettes!  I'm not going to list all of them, cause you all know who you are!  There are so many talented people out there! I check out the UK blogs for extremely adorable crafts, crochet, patterns, and kitchy/homey (homely as the Brits say) kitchen decor (England is the home of Cath Kidston afterall!).  Australian blogs have a refined country/prairie esthetic, but the American ladies really know how to flea!  The deals you guys have!  Also, you guys dont know how lucky you are, we just dont have as much cool old thrift stuff!  I want to get down on my knees and cry when I see some of the adorable vintage valentines, marble busts, old furniture with good bones dying to get a face lift you ladies find!  I'm ready to throw my universal health care in the trash and move south!  ONLY KIDDIN' hee hee.  I LOVE (adore, lurv, cannotlivewithout) my health care!  I'll have to settle on overpriced craigslist items.
Ok, if you live in Canada, you may have seen these posters in your local CANADA WIDE CAMERA SHOP (which shall not be named).  These posters/and matching tv commercials which aired last summer were shot in my home!  That is actually my daughters bedroom and the granny square bedspread on the bed I crocheted!!!  Sorry, but I couldnt help bragging!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gnomes mean SUMMER!!!!

LOVE IS...Gnomes coming out of my garage!!!

A Queen in the making...

God save the Queen and any traces of my remaining sanity...Please?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No Disrespect Intended


So a couple of months ago I was perusing a British Decor magazine (I rush to our local bookstore whenever the new stash of UK decor magazines arrive!  Its my drug of choice), I saw a celebrity home which was really quite interesting.  She had a rug of this 16P Queen stamp on her wall.  I loved it so much, and said to myself 'Hey Self, I bet you could paint that!'  After my conversation with myself, I rushed into our basement which is more like a storage facility, and pulled out a large framed canvas I had stashed.  I went to our local HD and bought my artists medium of choice in various shades of pink (latex wall paint, to be exact), and began  my descent into madness...for two months...

I started out by painting the 16P stamp painting of the queen.  Since I can never be satisfied with 'one' of anything, I wanted to paint another...but how could I complicate it further????  I know, I'll flip it and paint a gas mask on the  Ol' Girl (again, I say this with love, no disrespect to the Queen).  Let me explain, we love Dr. Who in this house, and my kids favourite episode is when an alien wearing a gas mask appears and a little boy walks around asking people 'are you my mummy?' before he kills them (or something like that).  So, what better than combining my love of the Queen (its a sad affliction I have) with my kids love of  'the doctor'.  Hence, this is how the second painting came about.  My kids ADORE this photo especially.  I cant seem to download the in progress photos of my paintings, but here they are, proudly hanging over our living room couch, in all their regal glory!

Monday, April 25, 2011

On the heels of Easter, a letter to President Obama...

Although I am a Canadian (and extremely proud to be one), I'd like to write a letter to President Obama, with a little bedtime story which he can read anytime...

Once upon a time there was a little boy with a large family.  Now this was 1914, near the village of Ourfa (in the Ottoman empire).  He was happy with his large extended family, even though they weren't wealthy, they were happy, with children and parents, and grand parents, aunts and uncles.  Freshly made meals, and playing within natures playground, made this 4 year old child feel loved and lucky.

One day, the big bad army marched into their village and gathered up all the adults who lived in his neighbourhood.  Now just to back track, the boy was Christian, and Armenian.  The Armenians refused to denounce Christianity and mesh into the Turkish culture completely.  They wanted to keep their cultural identity and their strong religious beliefs.  So when this day came with the big bad army, it changed this little boys life forever.  They took his parents, grand parents, aunts and uncles.  Where they took them, the little boy didnt know, but he never ever saw them again.  They also took him, his 2 year old sister, and his 4 older siblings, to a holding compound for children.  Here, they seperated the older siblings from the younger ones.  The boy never ever saw his older siblings again either.

He and his little 2 year old sister cried in the corner of this 'shelter'.  They waited for their parents to come and get them.  To yell at the soldiers and the big mean man in the funny hat, telling them that they made a mistake!  These were their kids and they belonged in their loving home, not in this room full of other kids.   They belonged at home with their family!  As the days went by, no one came.  No Mama, no Baba, no one.  Sometimes, Turkish couples came and took some of the younger babies, especially the baby boys.  But Mama and Baba never came.

Luckily for this little boy, one of his aunts was a famous midwife, not only in Ourfa, but in this whole area.  She didnt only work for Armenian families, but the wealthy Turkish families always called upon her to deliver their babies.  When this Auntie heard what happened in her village, she covered herself and her face with a black headscarf and went to the home of a prominant Turkish politician, whom she worked for.  She told him what had happened to her sisters children.  The man told her that, unfortunately the older children had perished...and were no longer able to be saved...  However this man did tell her where the two younger children were being held.  Auntie, still looking quite Turkish in her outfit, went to the holding area for the children.  Because Auntie worked for prominent Turkish families, she spoke Turkish extremely well, and knew all their cultural traits.  So when she got to the holding area, she marched up to the Pasha running this orphanage, and in her most indignant Turkish voice, she  told him that the soldiers had accidentally taken her children!  She had come to take them home.  Now, since she had worked for this man in the past, he was quite aware that she wasn't Turkish, but he said that he would turn a blind eye and let her go get her children.  She walked up to the boy and his sister, bent over them and opened the black face veil covering her face, to reveal to them who she was.  The boy hugged his Auntie but his little sister, didnt recognize her and cried and wouldn't go to Auntie.  Auntie tried harder and harder to convince her niece to come with her, but the more she tried, the more the child panicked and pulled away!  The kind hearted Pasha came and said she would have to leave now, because she was causing a scene and if he might be caught helping her!  So, with a heavy heart, she left her niece behind, in the Turkish holding cell, and ran off with her nephew, thanking God that she was at least able to save him.

This boy grew up in an orphanage, but when he was an adult found whatever relatives he had left, which was his Auntie and her family.  Sadly, the Turks had 'taken care of' all his siblings, and he never saw them, or his parents again.  He fought in the French Foreign Legion, got married, had children, grand children, and great grand children before he died at the age of 83 a few years ago.

Now, President Obama, this little story is a TRAGEDY.  If this only happened in his village, that too would be an atrocious TRAGEDY.  The fact that this happened to 1.5 MILLION ARMENIANS IS A GENOCIDE!  I hope that if you read this as a bedtime story, it will keep you awake tonight...maybe you will think about what your official stance on this subject is.

With respect
Grand child of above little boy

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hmmm...I dont know if I will continue this blog, or start a new one...

Hi, its been a while, and I life's been a bit hectic/stressed/crazy like its been for most of you I guess.  I'm thinking I'll start blogging again...I miss all my favourite blogs and bloggers!  I better start taking photos of my projects and finds so I can start updating again!  I just gotta find my glasses!