Wednesday, June 29, 2011


HighGloss / Lonny / Rue / Matchbook / TRADhome / Adore Home / Collected / est

Shout out to Mimi and Meg for providing the links to all these amazing digital mags for our summer reading!

I personally prefer the real thing but digital magazines can be really enjoyable too!

What do you prefer?

If you haven't done it yet check out the Sweet Paul Magazine Summer edition you will find link on right!

I can't say enough about this magazine I just love it! The photos and the original ideas, the beautiful and delicious recipes.

A couple of highlights are the home made soda, home made tomato soup, the natural dyes "HOW TO" and finally my favorite story "New Life for Old Cans".

I keep my old cans just for projects like this;

But Sweet Paul always has MORE original exciting ideas that I never would have thought of! I will never look at an old can the same way again. He EVEN made a cake stand with an old can!

Sweet Paul you're so sweet.

Leann Grimes FREE Music Download

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Summer!

Flamenco Dancer at San Diego Botanical Garden

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

" Art art I want you, art you make it pretty hard not to, and my heart is trying hard here to follow you but I can't always tell if I ought to "

I first heard Tanya Davis on the Vinyl Cafe a podcast that I download every week that plays on CBC radio of which I am an avid fan of (Stuart forgive my grammatical errors if I have any and you end up looking at my blog one day) I've posted the link before.

This video is a real treat after I first heard this song on the Vinyl Cafe I found myself singing the chorus over and over: " Art art I want you, art you make it pretty hard not to, and my heart is trying hard here to follow you but I can't always tell if I ought to " and the video is done by another Canadian artist and filmmaker Andrea Dorfman I dedicate it to all the wonderful artists I have recently discovered thanks to blogging but most specifically to Nathalie at The World of Natalie Kelsey.


Peonies don't last that long but they smell so nice and look so pretty dotted around my home...

Erin did it again...

House of Turquoise blogger Erin came back from vacation with several posts of a dream house. This is from "DAY TWO"

I love this entrance and I am also crazy about this recycled glass kitchen counter top!

And yes we carry this product in Quebec!! Photo credits to Hiya Papaya!

My Garden the beginning...

This is my garden! I decided to shape it in an "S" shape along the fence so that it would be easy to work in and be pretty at the same time. In general the rows have 3 plants in a row and some of the shorter, shrubbier plants like lettuce and cabbage are along the front as well as the marigolds to keep pests away.

It's not that impressive yet (especially with my photography skills) but I am patiently waiting for ALL my plants to grow.

I haven't bought lettuce or green onion or any spinach or swiss chard in a couple of weeks now.

Time to harvest the lettuce again but the cucumber, zucchini, cabbage, beets, red onions, peppers, peas, tomatoes, herbs, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb and blackberries need more time.

Look at my green onions dwarfing the zinnia (behind the marigold) I planted.

My peas are flowering!

So are my peppers!

...and the zucchini (when I went this morning that flower was open).

This is the fruit section and I hope my scary bird topiary that my daughter got me at Pier 1 will stop the birds from raiding it.

 Mmmmmmmmm strawberries soon! The sweetest are in the fall during the second harvest.

I just planted this rhubarb a couple of weeks ago and it has already tripled in size. I can't wait until the zinnias are bigger. The marigolds smell so good! We have a cute little brown toad that comes to the garden at night to eat mosquitoes (Thank you Toad!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I love this

I don't know what this is but I love it! Do you know what it is?

I want a pool like this

My garden is done.

 Now what I need is a corner to relax...drop me off here!!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Featured Home in Marie-Claire

The sfgirlbybay posted about a featured home in Marie-Claire today. It is the home Charlotte Gueniau the founder of Rice. She opens her doors to her home in Denmark where we find a similar festive style in her home than is found in her products. As Marie-Claire put it: "un vrai coup de coeur" and I agree!


My favorite is the kitchen but I also love the staircase, the living room, the bold colors and the big table with the red chairs!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


All excerpts and photos credited to G.F. Waters unless otherwise specified

My parents are home safe now! I was very happy to see them but sadly, this is the last post about their trip and sorry no pictures this time. 

May 23 

We had to do some grocery shopping today so we went in to Tavarnelle Val de Pisa - this is a boring, little town near to our lovely accommodations at Torri. It is, however, remarkable for it's number of roundabouts - I think that there are five on route to Torri.  Shopping is efficient and we decide to go to Panzano to pick up porchetta and salumaria from Dario. 

The GPS led us on quite an adventurous route - fun to do once but just once - dirt roads, narrow cliffside roads without any card rails, and as long a stretch that we have done without a house in sight since coming to Italy. We headed back to Torri to wait for our friends Jacques and Marina. They arrived at about 4 pm and were, at one point, very lost. We ate in and made plans for the week - tomorrow back to Sienna.

May 24

We make it to Sienna in good time. We had a leisurely stroll through the city and show Jacques and Marina the cathedral and the Campo. I am again taken by how tight it must be in there for the Palio. We were told by some Canadian students that were there last year that it was hot and overcrowded with people passing out. The Italian police made an announcement that they took to be an order for some people to vacate. What they were really telling people that in five minutes they were going to further compress the crowd to get more people into the Campo.

We had a nice lunch of antipastos and bruschettas with a nice bottle of white wine for lunch and inevitably a gelato in the afternoon. The temperature is over 30 c and so we decide to head back to Torri for a swim. The pool here is beautiful and it is good to have a slow late afternoon. Tomorrow, Jacques and Marina want to see Florence and we are going to drive in.

May 25

We drove into Florence and we were very fortunate to find parking at one of the main lots overlooking the city and then used buses to get around the city with a day pass. I felt very much at home and I surprised myself with my ability to show Jacques and Marina around. I even found the small restaurant used by the working locals and art students that our tour guide had taken us.

One day does not do justice to this fabulous city but it was an introduction for them. After yet another gelato, we headed back to Torri at about 4 pm with a stop in Panzano for Salumari, cheese, bread, fruit, and wine. It must have been 35c in Florence and we cooled down before dinner with a refreshing swim.

May 26

Today we headed back to San Gimignano and today we found the recommended restaurant - Chiribiri. It did not disappoint - everybody's food was fabulous, fresh, served quickly and hot. It was market day in San Gimignano - I am not quite sure how they manoeuvre those trucks in and out of the ancient squares but they do. This gave us a different view but disguised the main square with all of the towers from Jacques and Marina. It is another hot day and we head back to Torri for a swim.

Tonight we had a wine tasting and four course dinner but on by Torri that showcased their wines and olive oils. It was fabulous value - for € 30 each we tasted five different wines before dinner and then each course had different wine service, all topped off with Vino Santo and then Grappa to boot.
I need to get to bed to recover.


May 27

We had a slow start today due to last night's excesses but we are in Castellina by 11 with Marina and Jacques declaring they will never eat again. We hit Panzano at 1 pm and they see the signs for Dario, and they forget they are not supposed to be hungry and we sit at the inside common table this time for a carnivore's feast. We visit the butcher shop afterwards but we are so stuffed there is no desire to buy anything. We have to leave Torri tomorrow and we have more than enough food for one last night. We also introduce Marina and Jacques to Greve and Radda where, believe it or not, we have Gelato.

I have also introduced them to some more of Tuscany's side roads. Marina has seen some terra cotta pots that she has to have and she intends to stop and buy some on her way home tomorrow.

Back to Torri - the atmosphere is subdued. We go our separate ways in the morning and there remains the tiredness from the previous evening. It is an early night.

May 28

We say goodbye to Jacques and Marina at 9 am. We have a 500 km drive to Nice, a 4:00 pm delivery appointment for the Megane, and a flight  to Paris. The drive is spectacular even though we are on the autoroute for almost the whole trip. Massa, Carrara with endless marble finishers with raw materials stacked outside and the white cliffs in the distance, numerous little towns hanging onto cliffs, and then back to the ocean at Sestri Levante. We have the blue Mediterranean on the left and mountains on the right - that is when we are not going through tunnels. Signs seen and towns and villages glimpsed include Genoa, San Remo, Roqueburne, Monaco, Menton, Imperial, and, of course, Nice itself. We went into Arenzano, a small town just to the west of Genoa, for a quick lunch and a stroll on the oceanfront. Not really much of a beach - pebbles instead of sand - but a tiny public section was jammed and the private sections filling up.

The drive finally wore me down. Miles and miles of sheer cliffs, narrow autoroutes, going from the bright sun into tunnels - and then a struggle to find the drop off spot - I was happy to leave the Megane at TT. I was congratulated by the attendant for being one of the very, very few to bring back a car from Italy unmarked. Indeed, he said that I may be the only person in his experience to have spent over three weeks there and to bring back a car without dents, scratches, or broken mirrors.

He drops us at the Nice Airport and we have a long wait for our 8:45pm flight but I have never been to so picturesque an airport - not because of the building but because there are mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Air France leaves on time, gets to CDG early, and the luggage hits the carousel 15 minutes ahead of the announced time. French taxi service is efficient but certainly not courteous. Our driver took his Mercedes down the Champs Élysées at about 100 km an hour - I thought we may end up like Dodi and Diana.

The Lutetia is a great old dame of a hotel with jazz in the bar, a brasserie, and tons of character. It is two minutes from the Le Bon Marche department store. We had a drink in the bar so that I could un-wind from the 14 hours travel day. We are in bed by 2 in the morning.

May 29

We are at breakfast by 9:30 and walk out into a Paris street market. It goes from about 4 blocks along Blvd. Raspail. All of the food stuffs are advertised to be bio / organic and it certainly is an appetizing display. We just buy a few things to have in the hotel room - nuts and fruit

We head off on one of our endless roams around the city that we enhance with a hop-on, hop-off bus ticket. It is hot in Paris and we cover many kilometres. I love this city - despite the taxi driver I couldn't help but smile when we arrived the night before - the twinkle of the Eiffel Tower, the crowds at the Arc de Triomphe and along Champs Élysées, and, just the excitement of the visitors to be here. I get more of that feeling as we roam the city.

We try to repeat the experience of our last trip here when we picked great neighbourhood restaurants five out of five nights. Luck has to turn on us occasionally and tonight, while the food was passable, the place just didn't cut it. There is always tomorrow to get it right.

May 30

Another hot day and our 29th sunny day out of 30 days in Europe. We visit Le Bon Marche - not so bon marche - and then some little shops around the hotel. I finally get a pair of those elusive blue suede shoes. 

We have promised ourselves to do Printemps and Lafayette. Printemps is just outrageous - the brands, the prices, but it is an experience. Galeries Lafayette is a much more reasonable experience and I succeed in finding a couple of Linen shirts for myself but Nicole wasn't so happy with the things she tried. We eventually get her some things in a little boutique near Blvd.Haussmann. We make the 40 minute walk back to the Lutetia stopping twice for Citron Presse and 1664.

We are off for some oysters and seafood this evening.

May 31

We head off to find a store but Google Map lets us down. A 30 minute walk becomes a 90 minute walk but we find what we want and head back. It was never a 30 minute walk but we could have done it in 40 minutes if we had gone the right way in the first place. 

We bring our purchase back to the hotel before heading to Musee D'Orsay just to find a ridiculous line up so on to the Rodin. We are in quickly and it is impressive but once you have seen Michelangelo's work nothing is ever the same. I am distressed by the poor condition and really the squalor of the Rodin. If this had been in Florence there would have been at least a couple of restorers working on site with maybe a section closed off. Every visible surface would be shining. 

The garden is beautiful and tranquil and we take our time before going inside. The Monet / Rodin letters are charming in their context and the Van Goghs and the Renoir are unusual treats. The last time I came to Paris I looked high and low for Rue Babylon without luck, this time I almost tripped across it and it took us to Raspail and the Lutetia quickly. 

I finally sat to undertake serious people watching and it was fun. A woman in six-inch heels, 50 necklaces, with lots and lots of yellow; maids with one child in the carriage and one on the hop-up platform on the back of the carriage; the working girls and The Working Girls; the dog lovers;  the dog haters once they have stepped in it; the working guys in the ubiquitous white trucks; rumpled businessmen and well- pressed business men - an ongoing sea of humanity. 

 Tonight we chose to eat light- a shared cheese cheese platter and champagne followed with some red wine. It is hard to believe but tomorrow is our last full day and we are having dinner at Chiberta - a Michelin-starred restaurant.

June 1

A funny day today - the last full day in Europe and I am wanting to go home but not really. I am not sure that I am ready. We had some chores to complete - a few things to buy and a few things to see. We headed back to Galeries Lafayette by a new route following a route determined by my I-Phone and it was very efficient. I have to make sure that I get the right 3G card the next time in Europe.

We then made our way to Willi's Wine Bar for lunch. Again, the I-Phone made it easy. We had a very light lunch and a delicious bottle of dry white and just kind of decompressed. We walked back to the St-Germain area through Les Jardins de la Palais Royale. It is another sunny day in Paris and there were hundreds of Parisians eating their lunch in the shade, in the sun, with feet in fountain pools, and as they strolled down tree-lined galleries. There was a group of men playing petanque on one of the path ways. They had their "linge" with the - this time it was to deal with pigeon droppings versus the peacock droppings we dealt with when we played in the south of France.

There are huge crowds outside all of the museums once again and the number of gypsies in the city is growing as Paris heads toward it's peak season. We had to chase off one yesterday. He had a neat trick - he pretended to find a wedding ring on the ground to show and get close so that he could pick your pockets or grab your bag. He was unhappy that we made a public display of chasing him off and he had to run off to find a new place to work his game.

It is two o'clock and the Parisians are at lunch. It reminds us of the old businessman at Les Deux Magots complaining about the number of French statutory holidays and how un-interested the average Frenchman is in working.

We have been packing up slowly and checked on travel times to the airport - just getting the logistics right. There will undoubtedly be two hours of Airport boredom - I think private jet may be the only way to avoid this. We will be home the next time I send out this update.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mom and Dad's trip to Italy PART V

 All excerpts and photos credited to G.F. Waters unless otherwise specified

My parents are in Italy right now! My father retired just a couple of weeks ago and he and my mother planned a trip to Italy. I thought we wouldn't hear from them for a while but thanks to technology it doesn't matter where you are my dad has been writing to us on his ipad. I look forward to his emails SO MUCH. They are beautifully written and every day he sends us a "picture of the day". They only began last Friday but because my dad is a wonderful writer (much to my surprise) and he spoils me with a "picture of the day" I asked him if it would be possible to spoil you too and share some excerpts with you and he said: "YES" so here goes...

Dario's "boucherie" that pile of white stuff is Chianti Butter

May 18

We are an hour away from Venice. Our train tickets have been verified electronically, the bus plan worked well, and so far I am pretty impressed with the way the transportation system has worked for us. The train station in Florence was a little bit on the frazzled side but it has over 400 departures a day so understandable. We are past Bologna now and nearing Padua. The terrain has changed - it is much flatter.

We should have looked at a map of Venice before setting off. It is a labyrinth of alleyways, canals, and squares. There are no cars, no scooters, not even a bicycle - all transportation is on the waters. The Santa Lucia train station is reached by a causeway purposely built to take the train up to the old city.

There are two choices to get to our hotel - vaporetto or water-taxi. We choose vaporetto to Piazza San Marco and then we start the search for the hotel - it really is only a couple of minutes from the boat landing but it took us about ten minutes as we had to back track. It was slightly confusing but we are not disappointed by the Hotel Luna Baglioni.

To say that it is ornate would not be doing it justice. Our bedroom has padded brocade-silk wall panels, a brocade-silk canopy over the bed, a marble clad bathroom, and every public area of the hotel is an art gallery and exhibition area for Murano glass. It has Venetian Carnival costumes on display on some of the landings.

We hadn't eaten so we left our luggage in the room and ran out to get something to eat and we discovered that Venice is much more expensive than Florence. It cost €64 for two glasses of OK wine, a bottle of flat water, two ordinary sandwiches, and a basket of potato chips - but oh, what a setting.

We were in the arcade of Piazza San Marco with a small orchestra playing music from Venetian glory years. The waiters had white jackets, gold buttons, and white bow ties and were marvelously arrogant - they left us with no doubts on the Italian quandary - to tip or not to tip.

I don't think that I can describe the grandeur - if the Medici were all about content with substantive form the Doges were all about form over substantive content. You are going to have to rely on the pictures to get some understanding of how worthwhile and important it is to visit Venice. It took a lot of imagination and some engineering genius to build the city.

There are Murano glass stores everywhere and even the simplest shop or restaurant has something in Murano glass; there are all of the big fashion names but in smaller stores in more locations than Florence; and, the gondoliers are everywhere and really get busy as the sun starts to set - good business at €80 for 30 minutes. The gondoliers no longer seem to sing but you can pay another €80 for a musician and then some more for a bottle of Prosecco.

You can see that I am closing in on what makes Venice less of a place to stay than Florence - it is so commercial - and Florence does know how to make a tourist buck. There are more vendors of knock off handbags and tourist junk than in New York City on Christmas Day. They seem to have a dance worked out with the police - they have a look out who comes running as the police approach and the vendors just scoop the merchandise and run to the next location. The police are really funny - many are built like Arnie but their main duties seem to be acting like tourists but with a snarl, and, smoking.

Tonight we ate at our hotel - the general quality of the trattoria was not up Tuscan standards. It was fun even if a little over the top. The head waiter looked like how we imagined Inspector Brunetti from the Donna Leone novels. We wandered back to Piazza San Marco after dinner and listened to the orchestras play.

Eating at Dario's

May 19

We slept well in our luxurious room. We decided to go to breakfast in the Marco Polo room and really, I should have brought my camera. The wall painting matched that of the cathedral in Sienna. We then made our way back to Piazza San Marco for a final walk around our little part of Venice. We then checked out of our hotel at around noon to make our way back to the Santa Lucia train station - by water taxi.

I think that this 20 minute ride up the Canale della Giudecca and through many little canals covered much more ground than a gondola, and, we were alone in a beautiful antique varnished wood craft that carries about 12 passengers. It is in Canale della Giudecca that Venice's ancient history rubs up against its modern vocation as a seaport and an oil refinery city. It is also in this area that we get a sense of how the city works - garbage scows instead of garbage trucks; delivery boats instead of the ubiquitous white van; everything moves by water and then foot-propelled hand cart.

We made the train in plenty of time and we have just stopped at Bologna to drop off and pick up passengers. This quite often turns into quite a dance as people jockey suitcases that are far too big to their seats. As entry is from both ends of the wagon and seat numbering is confusing in pattern, quite often two immovable objects (or should it be two irresistible forces) meet in passageway. It is really pretty funny. We get to Florence in 30 minutes.
The bus station is just two minutes from the train station and we opt to take the 4:30 and beat in the 5:00 by 20 minutes. It was a real local run that hit all the farms and the bus ran into mechanical problems but made it to a place where the driver could exchange one coach for another. We still beat the 5:00 but only by 10 minutes. We ate in Panzano and now we are back at Querceto.
We will be getting back to Montreal in about exactly two weeks from right now.

Lots of love and kisses,
Mom and Dad

May 20

Today is our last at Querceto, we went to Volterra - an ancient Etruscan settlement and later another Tuscan hillside town. It is the centre for Tuscan alabaster production - lamps, statues in many little shops - the best pieces are very art-deco and very expensive. We are getting a little frustrated because the things we would like to buy are in the thousands of euros - I am just going to have to work hard and well when I get back.

I am getting weary of trying to get across how beautiful everything is but today brings a special treat. There is thunder and lighting over the distant hills - magnificent jagged lighting bolts, dark purple clouds, navy blue hills with patches of sunlight in places. We found out today that some of the vineyards were hit by hail - not good news for their wine production. We get back with very little exposure to rain but we can tell that it really came down in Querceto.

May 21

Transition day is always a bit troublesome - for six hours there is no home base. We drove to Monteriggione - a walled town that was on the route from London to Rome. Henry VIII's messengers went through this town on their way to negotiate with the pope. It was really a tiny village so we were back on the road within an hour.

We have been meaning to eat at Dario+ for about a week now so we head to Panzano. We are seated at a communal table and order the Welcome menu for two - we should have ordered for one. We got raw garden vegetables to eat with olive oil, steak tartar, pulled pork Tuscan style, meat loaf, and roast pork with the best crackling ever. We were also served water, the restaurants chianti,  and Tuscan bread.

This restaurant and two others are owned by a Dario Cecchini, a celebrity butcher. He also owns two other restaurants - Officina Della Bistecca and Solo Ciccia - and a butcher shop - Antica Macelleria Cecchini and all are within about fifty metres of each other. He is a character - he races from venue to venue dressed in red and white - red crocs, red pants, white shirt, red apron.

We stepped out of the restaurant where we had just eaten too much and walked around to the butcher shop where he greeted us with a glass of his homemade wine - a full glass - and a crostini topped with Chianti "butter" - essentially pure white fat renderings from organic Senta pigs mixed with herbs. Dario controls all of his raw ingredients- his beef is raised in Catylunya, Spain and in Panzano in Chianti from very special white beef cattle fed biologically; biologically raised Senta pigs,  and the vegetables, olive oil, wine, and herbs come from his farm that is less than 3 km away.

We bought two huge slices of porcheta to eat later - but not today. Fruit and herb tea is about all we can manage at this moment. At the restaurant we sat next to two Canadian kids - one a graduate and one a second year student from the Prince Edward Island Culinary Institute. They are both working for another Canadian, Susan McKenna Grant at Petraia They gave us the names of a couple of other places to try. La Petraia is also full on organic.

We then headed for our new digs and Porta del Chianti is definitely the most upscale and modern of all the places we have stayed. We are settled in now and will be going for a walk to explore the surroundings. We still need to digest the meat we ate this afternoon. For sustenance we have grapes, cantaloupe, and strawberries tonight. Tomorrow we are going to Lucca, the birthplace of Puccini.

Love to all,
Only 12 more sleeps.

Mom and Dad