Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Weekend Away in Toronto: Part One

My husband  and I just returned from a lovely night away in the nearby city of Toronto.  We live less than an hour from TO but often say that we don't experience it enough.   One of my 2016 resolutions was to explore the city more often so I booked hubby and me a night away during the slow moving month of February. 

I found an amazing deal online for a night at the historic Omni King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto.  It was built in 1903 and was Toronto's first luxury hotel.   Affectionately called "The King Eddy" by locals, it has recently been renovated top to bottom and it's new state is thoroughly impressive.  

Here is one corner of our room:

Modern, clean and classic.  The perfect decor for any upscale hotel.  It meets my "pretty" criteria as well as my husband's masculine preferences.  

I adore the red accent wall.  It reminded me of our dining room in our first home over 10 years ago. We planning some bedroom redecoration for this summer.  Maybe I'll go with a red walls again.... 

A selfie before we headed out for dinner.  

As we left the building, I couldn't help taking a few pictures of the lobby as we passed through.  

Check out the carved cornices and the gorgeous pillars:

This is the elevator corridor. Very swanky.  Kevin and I agreed that this might be the fanciest  hotel we have ever stayed.

After dinner (sorry I didn't take any pictures - it was too dark and romantic in the restaurant!), we enjoyed a quiet walk around the neighbourhood.  We laughed that there were so many young people just heading out on the town as we were heading back in, ready to hit the pillows, tired after a long week with our children and jobs!

On Saturday morning we slept in until 9am!!  It was bliss.  
Then we rolled out of bed and readied for the day.  After a stop at a local cafe for some of these.....

with a view of this (St. James Cathedral),

...we walked a few blocks to spend a few hours here:  

There's been a produce market on this site since 1803.  It's packed with 100s of vendors  selling fresh fruit and veg, bread, meat, fish and cheese.  It is a delight for the senses - eyes, nose and mouth!

I would normally have picked up several of these goodies below, but knowing we were heading to High Tea that afternoon, I decided to "be good" and save my calorie consumption for then. 

These strawberries looked amazing too, but at $8.00 a container, they were a little bit pricey.   

One of the meat vendors is famous for her exotic meats.   She had ostrich, wild boar, pheasant, emu, camel and kangaroo burgers.  Kevin ended up buying some duck patties, feeling much too guilty eating any of those other animals!

We spent about 15 minutes choosing some delicious veg from this seller.  Everything looked so beautiful - nothing looked too expensive. (Even though it probably it was!)

Having 12:00 reservations for tea, we left the market and headed for the car.  
We were so excited to head to Casa Loma for an afternoon of tea, scones, and cake!

Come back later this week and I'll share all of the details of our afternoon there.

Have a wonderful Monday!!


Sunday, January 31, 2016

10 Things About Me

1. My middle name is Lisa.  My parents chose a "simple" middle name so if I didn't like Bronwyn (a tad more exotic!) I could call myself Lisa.


2.  My favourite subject in school was music.  I loved it from the first grade onwards.  I had wonderful music teachers throughout my schooling and when it came time to pick my career, I chose to pursue a music degree at university followed by a degree in education.
3.  My favourite drink is a latte. I'm not picky about the flavour - in fact I like to give every new taste a try.  My favourite in the last few months was the Caramel Praline Latte from Starbucks over the Christmas season. Yum.  I like a latte more than a regular coffee because I like the fact that they have more milk than coffee.  I prefer coffee flavour/milk balance. 

Image from
4.  My favourite song EVER is "Father Figure" by George Michael.  I think I was 11 the first time I heard it and it still holds as my number one tune.  We saw George in concert in 2008 and hearing this song live is one of my fondest memories. 

5.  My children's names are Bryn, Afton and Camden.  Living with a name like Bronwyn all my life, I loved having something that set me apart from the Jennifers and Sarahs in my classes.   I always knew I'd like to give my own kids interesting names and luckily my husband was game! Bryn is a Welsh name like Bronwyn and it means "hills."   Afton is derived from the Welsh word meaning "river" and Camden comes from the Old English word for "valley."  So- they are all British names with geographic meanings, rare, and all end in "N", just Bronwyn and Kevin (my husband).

6. For exercise I like to attend Zumba classes, walk in nature and train on the elliptical at my gym.  

7.  I have 2 siblings.  Both are younger sisters named Meghan and Stephanie.   Steph is a teacher and lives about 5 hours away from me so we connect most often over Facetime.  Meghan is a yoga instructor and chef and lives in the Costa Rican jungle.  We don't see each other often, but we love it when she flies home for visits. 

8.  My parents are Doug and Teri.  Unfortunately my father passed away nearly 5 years ago from ALS.   He was only 63, but had lived a full and joyful life.  My mother is healthy and busy and fills her time with her boyfriend, volunteering, exercise and coffee dates with her friends.  She lives nearly 2 hours away so we generally only see her once a month.   I wish we lived closer so that our lives could be generally closer, but we make it work.  

9. I have travelled  extensively through Canada and the US.  I've also visited England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Spain and Italy.  I will visit Portugal this coming summer with my mom and sisters in celebration of my 40th birthday.


10.  My favourite foods are  usually baked and full of sugar.  I adore cake and cookies and I could live on pastries if they wouldn't make me 400 lbs! I like to bake and do it quite often for the enjoyment and the relaxation it brings me.

Do you feel like you know me a bit better now? 
I've not revealed anything too shocking, but it is nice to find out something new about bloggy friends, isn't it??



Thursday, January 28, 2016

Five on Friday - January Comes to an End....

Just a quick blog post before our busy weekend begins. My yoga-instructing, vegan, gluten-free sister is arriving from Costa Rica and we have plans for pedicures, dinner out and a visit to a newly opened Dutch-Style café in a nearby city.
I need to go and finish tidying the guest room and plan my vegan meals for the weekend (I see a lot of veggies in my family's near future!) but I wanted to share five photos from my phone that illustrate the week that has been. 
I'm joining in with Amy's (Love Made My Home) weekly linky, Five on Friday.
Number One: Snowy Art
We've had a few sprinklings of snow around here in the last few days.  I love how this layer of the white stuff added to the beauty of the neighbour's stone-paved driveway.

Number Two: Warmth for Breakfast
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and this is one of my favourite recipes HERE.
The family loves the strawberry/banana/chocolate version, but one day this week I changed it up and made it with apples, raisins and almonds instead.  It was scrumptious!!

Number Three:  Sweet Afton
Robbie Burns Day (January 25th)  is special in our home, not because of any particular affinity to anything Scottish, but because our daughter is named after a river mentioned in one of Burns' poems, "Flow Gently Sweet Afton."
Here is a YouTube link to my favourite musical setting of the poem :
Number Four:  Monte Carlo Cookies
I bake cookies each weekend for our kids' school lunches.  Most kids would choose a plain old chocolate chip cookie as their lunchbox treat, but not mine.  They like to search my baking cookbooks and choose something exotic and complicated.  This week they chose these layered confections, Monte Carlo Cookies.  Basically they are coconut oatmeal biscuits sandwiched together with red jam and a buttercream frosting.  Honestly, they were worth all the hard work. Delicious!!
Number Five:  Cold Weather Walking
Nothing beats a walk in the sunshine, surrounded by snow- as long as one is dressed for the weather!  Casey, our beagle-shepherd mix, adores frolicking in the snow so we try to get out every day for a walk through the nearby green space. 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

5 Crafty Projects Keeping Me Busy While the Cold Winds Blow

Hey there! How was your weekend?  I did next to nothing and it was wonderful!!   We had my in-laws for a low-key dinner one night and my mother popped by another and played board games with the kids and I. Other than a quick trip to the shop to pick-up some must-haves, I stayed in and relaxed.  I caught up on some TV, read a novel, perused the January editions of my favourite magazines and watched the 1999 version of  "Mansfield Park."

I'm not very good at "just sitting" while I view  TV, so I got a fair bit of stitching done while I watched throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday.
And what have I been working on? Well, I have a few things on the go (as always!) and I kind of bounced between them depending on my mood.  

French Hydrangea Blanket

I've shown you this before.  I have been working on it since early autumn.  I plan on making 80 squares and this weekend I counted 33.  So - almost half way there.  
I keep these photos taken while we stayed in Normandy in 2014 close by so I can create flowers that mimic the huge colourful flower heads we saw there.  

The Pumpkin Passport
This is a "stitch-along" created by the The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery.  I signed up to receive a new section of this travel-themed cross-stitch pattern each month.  January's theme was "London" and I have almost completed the scene of Big Ben, Westminster, a double decker bus, and the River Thames. 
Let's go on an adventure!

Isn't the little lady on the scooter  completely adorable?  I hope she shows up several times over the next few months!

 Hearts and Flowers Fair Isle Sweater

After falling in love with some fair isle sweaters in several stores that were way too pricey for my pocket book, I decided to make one for  myself.  It took a long time to find a pattern I liked in sport weight yarn (anything heavier is too hot!!) but I had no problem choosing a combination of colours I loved! 
The main body of the sweater is the lighter aqua colour with a darker turquoise yoke.  The other colours get worked into the intarsia neckline.  So far I have all of the ribbing done and I am looking forward to whipping the plain body and sleeves up on my mother's super-fast knitting machine.  Then I'll enjoy every minute of hand-knitting the intricate  pattern in the neckline.

Tilda Patchwork Quilt

My husband and I need a new quilt for our bed.  The one we have been using since we married 14 years ago (lovingly hand-stitched by one of my aunts) is really starting to show it's age.  I told my husband that I'd fallen in love with some Tilda fabric online and hinted that it would make a great Christmas present for me.  Sure enough, a stack of Tilda fat-quarters was waiting for me under the Christmas tree.  I thought he attached note from the seller was quite cute.  Yes. Kevin is really enjoying his fabric!!

Matryoshka Doll Applique
I've had this gorgeous fabric for several years and I've never known what I wanted to use it for.  I did use a small piece of it to create the zippered pouch I showed you HERE but nothing since then.  However, after perusing Pinterest,  I started on an applique cushion cover inspired by the images on the fabric.  She's not quite done, so you'll to wait for another day to see her complete!!

What have you been making to fill those cold, blustery winter nights?  
Do you have as many things on the go as I do?  

Wishing the warmest of weeks!



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Five On Friday - Pictures From Positano

Here we are - mid-January. Monday was "Blue Monday" - supposedly the yuckiest day of the year. I survived that particular day pretty easily, but I'll admit that I am starting to feel the winter in my bones.
My youngest son asked me this week what my favourite season is.  I had to think long and hard because I love all four seasons for different reasons.  However, the snow and  cold winds that had arrived that  day had obviously got to me and I quickly replied, "Summer!" 
It's true. I could use summer right about now.
Picture it- the beach, camping, flowers, flip-flops, BBQs.  Couldn't you get into that right now?
And how about summer vacations?  Those are pretty awesome, too.
How about a beach in Italy? Cold drinks on a patio? Sailboats and tropical flowers?
Sound good, don't they?
So without further ado, here is my "Five on Friday" for Amy at Love Made My Home.  This week I share with you five photos from our recent trip to Italy and our day-out in Positano.
Number One:  The Amalfi Coast from above.
Boats, crystal clear water, leafy green vegetation - sure signs of summer!

Number Two:   Art on the Sand 
Positano had so much artistic beauty including several artists at work on the sand and art installations right on the beach. This jolly looking woman caught my eye!

Number Three:  Look Up! The Beauty Continues
Between the sandy beach and the well-populated boardwalk lay an area of  natural growth that spread shade on all of the over-heated visitors.  I like this photo because of the juxtaposition of the branches of the tree and arms on the streetlamp. 

Number Four:  A View Backwards
Stand on the beach and look up, way up, and see the town built on the side of the Amalfi coast terrain.  Each layer of buildings is built on top of the row below, balancing each other and holding each other up like puzzle pieces.  Pull one out and they'd all fall down!
Number Five: Mojitos on the Beach
After a dip in  the water, one needs to step out of the sun and cool off.  Under the protection of a bamboo ceiling, we sipped mojitos and ate prosciutto and melon, slowly bringing our heightened body temperatures back into the "normal" range. 

Are you all "warmed-up" now?
Are you dreaming of a tropical clime?
I wish I could whisk myself back to Italy, summer 2015....
Oh - to have a time machine........
I shouldn't complain  too much though.  We are off to Florida in a few weeks time.  It won't be quite as lovely as Positano,
but I am sure some "warm-weather" memories will be made there, too!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Outfit of the Day - What I Wore Wednesday

It's that time again - Wednesday, and I am ready to share a few more outfits along with Lindsey over at The Pleated Poppy Blog.
All of these outfits are ones I put together for work where the dress code is "dress casual."  I teach kindergarten and spend my day with twenty-nine 4,5 and 6 year olds so my clothing needs to comfortable, colourful and machine washable!
I've experimented a bit more with pattern this time around and I've learned a few things about plaid.  Like maybe it isn't really all that flattering. :(  I've also learned that pockets on my hip-bones don't work either. I guess that is where taking photos of oneself is beneficial.  All the little things that you can't catch in the mirror become very clear.  But to balance this, there are lots of things I like seeing.  For instance, I really like my glasses. They aren't new, but everyday I am pleased with how they look on my face.  AND - I think I accessorize pretty well.  Scarves and necklaces definitely finish off an outfit, adding detail and colour. 
So without further ado......
Black and White and Turquoise All Over
 Nautical Stripes and a Flash of Red

Mad About Plaid

Silver with a Pink Streak

Grey with Glitzy Stripes

Red Roses
School Colours for Spirit Day!

Blue, Berry and a Bunch of Buttons
If you want to see my earlier forays into "What I Wore Wednesday," check my other posts HERE  and HERE.
Thanks for popping by.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on these outfits and my self-portraits. 
What do you think of my new blog layout and colour theme?  I needed something new for 2016 and though this new "pinkness" was perfect!
Much love to all,