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,

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pottering - At Home, and Out and About

Well, there goes another weekend. They just speed by, don't they ?
No worries. We filled our time just enough to feel we had accomplished a few things and had just the right amount of downtime. 
How did our weekend shape-up?
Here are a few pictures to illustrate.....
We finally checked out the Danish Bakery in a nearby town.  OMG.  I wish I had known about this sooner.  Breads, pastries, and sweets all created from traditional Danish recipes.  Amazing. 
I had a bag of rhubarb in my fridge-freezer taking up far too much space.  So thawed it out and made a big batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam. 
Homemade jam always tastes better than the store-bought kind!!
Now we had fresh Danish bread and several jars of newly made jam. Can you guess what we had for lunch?? 

After a quiet afternoon at home, watching the snowflakes fly outside our windows, I decided we needed some cosy comfort food for dinner.  The Tuna Casserole was a huge hit with  the whole family probably because I had made it using 4 kinds of cheese - cottage, cream, parmesan and cheddar. Yum.  
After dinner, our oldest son wanted to teach us how to play one of the new board games he received for Christmas.  I'll be honest, I'll join in because my kids ask me to but I really don't like to play games.  However, once we began playing "Ticket to Ride," I was hooked!! I don't know if its the travel element, the train-building or the strategies needed, but I really liked it!  And I won!  I wonder if the boys (and my hubby) will play with me again tonight......?

Sunday morning was spent doing laundry and cleaning bathrooms, but after lunch we visited the local library.  We came home with three huge bags of books that will hopefully last us until next weekend!  Our youngest son is an excellent reader and can read novels on his own.  However, being only 7 , he still adores having picture books read to him.  That's fine with me.  I don't need him growing up any quicker these days!

We made a quick stop at the market to grab few things and came across these in the floral centre.  SO many blooms in so many colours.  Spring is still AGES away here, but it is wonderful to see reminders that it will come soon enough!

 I have a little bit of school work to get done in the next few hours, and I should probably hit the gym. Another weekend in the books. 
We're more than halfway through January already.
 Can you believe it?
Wishing you all a wonderful week. 
Stay warm and keep smiling. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cold & Wintr'y Outside, Warm & Cosy Inside (Five on Friday)

Up until this week, we've pretty much avoided  all signs of a real Canadian winter.  It's been cool, rainy and wet and we definitely did not have a white Christmas.
However, the snow never stays away for long around here and sure enough, winter has arrived full force here near Toronto. 
The boots have come out, the woolly scarves are wrapped and knotted  and the dog no longer wants to go on his early morning walk.  It's mid-January and it finally feels like winter.
So while the snow and wind rages outside, my family and I have been enjoying all the cosi-ness of home.
Joining in once again with Amy's "Five on Friday," I would love to share five photos that illustrate the week that has been.
Number One:  Quiet Book Time
Every night at about 7pm, the whole family sits down quietly in the family room and enjoys an hour of  reading time all together.  Snacks are allowed but they have to be prepared before 7pm so that food prep does not cut into the time meant for books.  We sometimes have complaints because the kids would rather be on the Wii or building with Lego, but usually we can count on all three children to be cuddled up on the sofa with blankets, books and the dog. It's the perfect way to wind down before bed. 


Number Two: Flowers "Just Because"
Kevin brought these roses home one day this past week.  He said it was for "no reason" but I am sure he realized I was having a grumpy day and that I could really use something beautiful to brighten my spirit.  He knows me so well!

Number Three: Strawberry Macarons
My daughter received a macaron baking kit for Christmas from Santa Claus.  This past weekend we finally put it to use.  Our first attempt was about a 5 out of 10.  Half the biscuits stuck to the non-stick silicon baking liner or cracked upon removal.  However, they did taste good, had a marvellous texture and were especially delicious sandwiched together with strawberry jam.

Number Four:  A New Mug
One can never have too many cute mugs.  My hubby might argue otherwise,  but really, would you have left this "knitted" mug at the store??
Number Five:  Redecorating
Now that the Christmas décor has been put away for over 2 weeks, I am slowly trying to add in some little décor items that will add some pizazz back to the house during these cold and grey days.
I had forgotten that I bought this cute little guy last winter and was pleased as punch to put him out again  on my simple winter mantel. 

Do you have plans for your weekend?
How are you staying warm during these cold, wintr'y days?
I just heard about a Danish bakery in a nearby town and we'll be heading there for brunch on the weekend.  Other than that, we'll stay close to home, perhaps wear our pajamas all day.
We've also planned an "Alan Rickman" movie party.  So sad to hear of his death today.  Our first 2 films will be "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and then "Sense and Sensibility." If time allows we'll also view at least one Harry Potter film, too.
Wishing you the loveliest of weekends!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Tea Room Experiment OR... Should I Take My 7 Year Old Son to a Quiet and Elegant Tearoom??

In my previous post I spoke of how I really wanted to visit a nearby tearoom for the first time this weekend but my typical "tea room partner," my 9 year old daughter, was busy with other plans. 
So my dilemma was this:  Do I cancel my visit to said tea room because daughter could not attend
try out a new "tea room partner" in the form of a 7 or 11 year old boy??
Several of you emailed and told me to take a boy. 
Honestly, my boys are pretty well behaved in most social situations and in the tea room they would be well fed and able to enjoy one-on-one time with Mommy which hardly EVER happens.
So decision made.......
.... I brought a boy with me to Taylor's Tea Room in Dundas, Ontario, not 30 minutes away from our home. 
Thus begins the Tea Room Experiment. 
My older son received a playdate invite for the afternoon of the experiment, so my sweet 7-year-old, Camden, was the one I dragged along. 
He was mad that it would take a "WHOLE HALF AN HOUR" to get there and was glad that he had packed a drink for the car  "cause otherwise he would have died of thirst on the way there!!"
Oh the drama.
Luckily, once we arrived and parked the car, Camden was in a far better mood knowing that our food experience was right around the corner. 

We were seated immediately right in front of a big sunny window, and Camden got right into "killing time" while we waited for our menus. 
It's amazing what a kid can build with 25 little pieces of Lego and a bit of free time!
First we ordered our tea.  Camden was shocked that he could pick a whole pot for himself.   He went with a peach blend and I chose "Buckingham Palace" - a blend of jasmine and orange. 

I showed Camden how to the use the tea strainer to avoid leaves  in his drink and the explained to him about having your "tea leaves read"  to tell your future. He thought I was nuts, but I caught him several times staring deeply into his leaves afterwards:

We drink a lot of tea at home so Camden knows how he likes it. However, he is not very good at preparing his cuppa very quietly.
We practised taking small spoon-fuls of sugar and stirring our tea with as little spoon-to-cup clanging as possible!

Camden ordered his own food off of the menu.  He's a pretty simple guy  so he chose a big fruit salad. When it arrived he was kind of put off by the blood oranges (too red and sweet!) but managed to eat through the rest of the big bowl of juicy goodness. 
What did I order? 
I chose the cheese plate.  Lots of fresh fruit here, too, crostini crackers and 4 types of soft and hard cheese.

The tea room had a huge selection of freshly-made cakes in the glass cabinet nearby, but instead, Camden and I opted for a huge scone with cream and jam.  I am glad I snapped this picture as quick as |I did cause the scone was gone in a flash!!

Not sure about clotted cream at first, but he came around rather quickly as he munched away on the scone.

By the time our bill was delivered, my quiet, patient and well-fed boy had completed this project out of his Lego.
 He called it a "Mec"- something he had seen before on a Lego TV show.
As we finished up, 2 lovely older ladies stopped by our table to compliment Camden on his behaviour.
"Handsome and well-behaved - what a combination!" one said.
Well,  I guess we know the results of the Tea Room Experiment.
 I really can dress my boy up and take him somewhere -- even a quiet and elegant tearoom surrounded by ladies who lunch and high expectations. 
Actually, I knew all along he could handle it.  As long as the food comes quickly and he can keep his hands busy, Camden can sit for hours.  He really does love the time with his Mommy and I adore my time with him. 
And...he says he'll go out with me again soon.  Well not too soon.  First I have to take Bryn (my 11 year old) and then my daughter.  And then when his turn comes up again, he'll probably want to be my date again. :)
I hope this post has brought a smile to your face on this Monday morning!