Thursday, February 18, 2016

Five on Friday - TV Time

Okay.  I'll admit it.  I've been watching way more TV in the last 6 months or so then I ever have before!  Why, you might ask?  As I've written here on earlier occasions, I have had a particularly rough year at work  and I find in the evenings, once I complete all the necessary "at home" tasks and the kids are settled in for the night, my energy is completely zapped and all I can do is knit and watch TV.  And then I only last til about 9:30 before I have to hit the pillows.  
Ugh.  I'm such a party girl!
So what have I been watching?  Probably some of the same things you do.  But, maybe you might like to learn about something new - a new show that might peak your interest and glue you to the TV, too! So as part of my Five on Friday post (hosted by Amy at Love Made My Home), I am going to share my current top five favourite TV shows. 
So here they are, in no particular order.   :)

Number One:  Call the Midwife
I've loved this show for years.  The cast has changed over time, but good old Trixie makes me smile every week.  I love how they are dealing with up-to-date issues like homosexuality and  women's rights.  And really - aren't the 1950's outfits beautiful?  Dresses, hairbows and pearls.  I wish I lived back then.....

Number Two:  Father Brown
 For those who are unaware of this darling show, Father Brown is a fictional Roman Catholic priest and amateur sleuth who
 solves mysteries and crimes using his intuition and keen understanding of human nature. 
Again, this is set in 1950's England and features a variety of catchy characters.   

Number Three: Crossing Lines
My in-laws recommended this one to my husband and I and since we started watching 3 weeks ago, we haven't had an evening when we haven't watched at least one episode!
This show is about a modern day  police force formed to work on unsolved cases that cross over country borders in the EU.  So-  there might be a murder in Paris, but the killer might be Slovak and he dumps the body in Belgium. The regular police forces in each country don't have  jurisdiction to cross borders to look for eveidence so this team of highly-trained investigators, who hail from a variety of EU, countries move in to solve the case.   There are two seasons on Netflix and a third season is available now online on other viewing "sources."  Check this one out!!

Number Four:  X Company
"X COMPANY is an emotionally-driven character drama, set in the thrilling and dangerous world of WWII espionage and covert operations. It follows the stories of five highly skilled young recruits - Canadian, American and British - torn from their ordinary lives to train as agents in an ultra-secret facility on the shores of Lake Ontario. These agents parachute behind enemy lines, where they're fair game for torture and execution. From elegant hotels to hellholes in the field, it's one risky operation after another, masterminded by the brains of Camp X."
Excerpt from the IMDb website
Sounds exciting, doesn't it?  And Canadian, too.  Woot, woot!

Number Five:  The Mysteries of Laura
This is another one from Netflix.  I happened to fall upon it one day when I was home sick form school.  I needed something light and entertaining as I convalesced on the couch.  And this show hit the spot.  I loved Debra Messing in Will and Grace and hoped this show would be just as funny.  And it is.  Laura is a NYC cop who has to balance her gun-wielding, criminal-chasing career with raising two young  sons with a jerk of a husband.  It is cleverly put together with humour, exciting story lines and interesting guest stars.  Perfect viewing if you ask me!

I hope I've lead you to something new.  I love it when friends can recommend something worthwhile.  It saves me having to search for it.  Who has the time and energy for that??
Have a lovely weekend everyone.  We're hoping to hit a farmer's market on Saturday and I plan on trying a new recipe from my newest baking book.  Pics to follow!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Toronto Weekend Part Two: High Tea at Casa Loma

Sorry it took so long to get back here and share Part Two of our weekend away in Toronto.  If you would like to read about our first day, head over HERE. 
The kids have been sick, I've been sick and we had several visitors this weekend. So, needless to say,  post writing hasn't been a priority. 
But now that everyone is healthy and happy again, I collected a few key photos from our lovely High Tea Experience at Casa Loma in Toronto.   
Not a bad looking place, huh? 
Casa Loma is a Gothic Revival style house and gardens in midtown Toronto that is now a museum and landmark. It was originally a residence for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt and  was constructed between 1911 to 1914.  He loved to have lavish parties here and hoped one day to host the King and Queen of England and decorated the castle accordingly.  Unfortunately, his wife died unexpectedly and he chose to sell the property and leave these unpleasant memories behind.  Now it is owned by the city of Toronto.

Checkout the view from one of the back windows.  Recognize this world landmark?
After booking our night at the historic King Edward Hotel, I thought it was fitting for my husband and I to enjoy a lavish High Tea service before leaving the city and heading home to the kids. 
I am glad I booked tickets for this event early because apparently it sold out quickly.  Casa Loma was doing three tea seatings a day, each Saturday for four weeks - literally thousands of people would enjoy scones, croissants and  tea under the carved ceilings of this historic building.

In the main entry hall, the promoters had constructed what they called "The World's Tallest Cake Stand."  While we waited for our tea service, we milled around the lobby and several aproned waitresses handed out a variety of pastries and biscuits.  The waiters continued to bring out more and more trays of goodies and they kept the cake stand FULL of delicious bits and pieces.  
Here is a photo of the cake stand from the third floor balcony.  Look how big it is in comparison to the little people around it!
Flowers and pastries - two of my favourite things!! 
Once 12:00 arrived, we were invited to find our table in the library of the castle. 
In this gorgeous room  they had set up nearly 100 tables and each table wore a lovely linen tablecloth, fresh flowers and gold-rimmed china. 

Once tea had been poured (oolong, mint or rose) my platter of savoury food arrived - a Yorkshire pudding with beef, a mini quiche, lemon dill shrimp on pumpernickel, Coronation chicken in a mini waffle shell and an egg-salad croissant. 
Everything was delicious except the beef and Yorkshire pudding. It was dry and flavourless beside all the other amazing items!

My husband is a gluten-free eater so his plate looked quite different.  He enjoyed a fresh spring roll, squash soup, marinated mushrooms in a lettuce wrap, a chick pea fritter and a polenta stick. He assured me that EVERYTHING was good on his plate!
Following this, we were served fresh scones and croissants with thick cream, butter and orange marmalade.   No pictures of these because I ate them too fast!
And who entertained us while we dined?
She might have been the sparkliest  musician I've ever seen:
She kept the room full of music with her disco ball violin and her glittery harp (not shown!)
No--she didn't play them both at the same time!
After we finished our meal, Kevin and I explored the rooms of the castle.  I hadn't done this since 9th grade nearly 25 years ago.  Oh my gosh! Is 9th grade really that long ago? Yikes.
Anyways....I had fond memories of the private rooms of the castle and enjoyed reliving them.  I took several pictures here too, and hopefully I will get around to sharing those on my little blog, too.
As long as everyone stays healthy in my house.....
Enjoy your week!


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!