Monday, March 29, 2010

Sarah's Style

From the moment I saw Sarah Richardson selecting this wonderful fabric with its flowers, butterflies & scrumptious yellow, I was hooked on the latest season of HGTV's Sarah's House.  I had caught a glimpse of it in the show’s teaser and it was well worth waiting until the third episode of the season (episode 30 of the series) to see how it inspired the creation of the Main Bathroom.

Sarah is also inspiring a long overdue transition of my decorating style from the ‘80’s (1780’s in the case of my Second Life® design & decorating work!) to something now referred to as the New Classic Style, a mix of modern & traditional that is absolutely fresh. Of course it probably helped that she wooed me with a fabric from Sanderson, a company currently celebrating “150 years of English Decoration” that began in 1860 as an importer of French wallpaper.

There are seven episodes remaining this year and I’m intending to savor every one of them. Tomorrow she tackles the kitchen. What could be better!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Every Day in Tuscany

I have to admit I'm shocked to learn that Frances Mayes will soon be celebrating her 20th anniversary at Bramasole!

Where has the time gone?  It seems like only yesterday I discovered her first book celebrating the good life in Italy, Under the Tuscan Sun.  No wonder that her latest installment, Every Day in Tuscany, feels just like catching up with an old friend.  After all, I've been spending time with her for almost 14 years now and during all of that time she has been reminding me to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. 

I've always admired the guts this woman had, to take the dare, cash out her savings, renovate her house and her life all at the same time.  The risk paid off and perhaps her success enables me to be a bit braver in my own life. 

So while it's entirely possible that I will never get closer to Tuscany than the local Fratelli's restaurant, I will keep in mind her words written for Every Day in Tuscany:
"If you read it, I hope that it’s a reminder of life-in-the-moment, wherever you are. Tuscany is a state of mind; you can have that state of mind anywhere."
Congratulations on the new book and on your 20th anniversary, Frances. May you & yours enjoy many more happy years!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Channeling "Paris in the Spring"

Seems like today is the perfect day to be channeling "Paris in the Spring" from Ottawa!

Seeing that it was Saturday, I indulged myself with a little reading before I got out of bed this morning. As it happens, I am currently enjoying A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle and so I greeted the day with March:

“The almond tree was in tentative bloom. The days were longer, often ending with magnificent evenings of corrugated pink skies …. The People of Provence greeted spring with uncharacteristic briskness, as if nature had given everyone an injection of sap.”
I wandered down to breakfast, images of those blooms in my head and found the Ottawa Citizen’s “style” magazine waiting for me on the kitchen table. I was immediately drawn to the article Paris on the Rideau by Charles Enman.
“It may not have the same ring as “Paris in the Spring.” But Parisians who live in Canada’s capital say it has its own virtues."
Sure it does, excluding days like yesterday when the temperature dropped overnight from 15c to -18c sending all the budding crocuses back into hiding.

Over to the computer with my morning coffee where I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to go to the Ottawa Home & Garden Show today prompting him to mention the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show with the theme of, you guessed it, Springtime in Paris.

I topped off the morning with the latest post (March 26th, 2010) from Barod in Blue My Cherry Blossom Tree  with its beautiful images.

Yes, it’s warming up out there in Ottawa, -2c with a high of 6c predicted for today so I’m off to Landsdowne Park where I’m sure to reinforce my daydreams of springtime in Paris.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So You Think You Can Garden? (Canadian Edition)

Even in my current "bedazzled" state I'm not so far gone as to think that I stand a chance in So You Think You Can Dance (seniors' division of course) but is it possible I could compete in So You Think You Can Garden?

Here's the story.  Last week I picked up the 20th Anniversary Issue of Canadian Gardening.  Now I'm a long suffering magazine junkie and since the Ottawa weather was exceptional for the month of March (sun shining, birds singing, snow melting) I NEEDED a gardening magazine.

Imagine my delight when I came across the magical phrase "Do you have what it takes to blog for"  Prizes include a $500 cash prize plus goodies from Canadian Tire & Lee Valley Tools.  So far so good. 

Among the rules "The winner will be required to post one blog entry (minimum of 100 words) at least once per week between April 15, 2010 and September 30, 2010."  No Sweat.  I could blog 100 words in the blink of an eye. 

"Are you a savvy gardener who loves to share growing tips and advice with fellow green thumb?"  Hmmmm ... what exactly is the definition of "savvy gardener" and how "green" are we talking?  Best to investigate further and check out the competition. Let's see, you can provide your own picture.  That would certainly help to make your entry stand out!

Photography by Virginia MacDonald, illustration by KC Rasmussen

Now it seems to me that the last time I looked, my garden was somewhat similar to the Folmer Gardens featured in the April 2010 Issue.  Let's see what's out there now ...

Sadly, reality doesn't measure up to memory ;) 

At least it's not still looking like this!

So I guess I'll be giving up my chance at that dream blog (for now anyway).  I wonder if my truly "savvy gardener" friends would be interested?  Wade ... Amie ... are you listening?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beginning a Blog: Horton Hears a Who!

Horton Hears a Who!I was having a wonderful time putting this new blog together and then it happened ... 

I was busy, working on the blog design, getting connected to Twitter (and subsequently working on that design), planning articles, looking at all my favourite blogs for inspiration, reviewing code & widgets and then it struck me ... the connection between starting a new blog and the Dr Seuss classic Horton Hears a Who!

I admit that it may be a case of too much pixel editing in one day, but as I started blogging & tweeting I kept thinking of those Whos yelling "We are here, We are here, WE ARE HERE".

Too funny!!  So before I pack it in this evening, I decided to blog a little tribute to kind hearted Horton the Elephant who helped the Whos get connected.  This example of networking was a truly a life saver (fictional as it may be).  Making connections through my blog to a greater community is nowhere near as dramatic but I'm thinking it will be just as much fun!

Monday, March 22, 2010

L'Illustre Théâtre

When it comes to attending French theatre productions, I have to admit I'm always a bit nervous.

Thanks to the Canadian Federal Government, my French comprehension isn’t that bad but then again, my speaking isn’t that good. I always imagine myself being singled out for “audience participation” and the resulting nightmare of standing on stage stammering “Je parle comme une vache espagnole” (I speak like a Spanish cow). Scary!

Seeing the Théâtre de l'Île for the first time did nothing to allay my fears. It’s a beautiful venue, small, intimate; the perfect setting for  improvisation. Much to my delight, however, it turns out my qualms were the perfect seasoning for Marie-Louise Nadeau’s comedy L'Illustre Théâtre, the story of three hapless souls who find themselves forced to stage a “work in progress” to a sold-out audience without the benefit of cast, costumes, props, or, in one case, professional training.

I literally laughed until I cried as the leading lady tap danced her way through one “scene” wearing rubber boots and a mixed expression of confusion & dread overlaid with the perfect “show must go on” smile.  Boy, could I relate to that.

L'Illustre Théâtre runs until April 11, 2010 so there's still time to see it.  I promise that you won't find yourself on stage but you will thoroughly enjoy the tribulations of the people that do.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Renaissance Daze/Days

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” ~ Basho ~

ren·ais·sance ~ noun ~ A rebirth or revival. 
daze ~ noun ~ A stunned or bewildered condition.
daze ~ verb ~ To dazzle, as with strong light.

I love good renovation stories. I love how they seduce me with their whispered promises, endless energy, optimism and, of course, their humour. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is a classic renovation story. Classified as Travel/Memoir, it tells a tale of a woman that manages to renovate her life along with her beloved Bramasole.

Much to my surprise, I find myself embarking on just such a renovation or renaissance. No, I’m not packing up and moving to Italy but I did find the nerve to quit a job that I had held (or had increasingly held me ever tighter) for twenty seven years. And, no I don’t have something else lined up to take its place but I do have a sense that life is short and I had better get back to enjoying my journey through it before it’s too late. You can imagine that for a “risk adverse” person, this has left me a bit dazed!

Now that I can view both my home and my life with a fresh eye, I see all the ingredients of a great renovation story. Things appear a bit tired & run down but the “bones” are still good and potential abounds. I’m looking forward to my journey from Renaissance Daze to Renaissance Days and I would love to share the tale with you. Please come along for the adventure!