Sunday, August 25, 2013


People, taken one by one... the all have an interesting story. A friend directed me to this site. It's wonderful.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


One of the things I did on my vacation was a three-day clean, purge and organize of my home. I need to do this every rare once in a while. It makes me feel more at ease, calm, serene, and able to concentrate on the important things. By getting rid of the unnecessaries, it frees up time to ponder the necessaries. Ridding myself of the material space-wasters ironically seems to clear more room in my brain for the worthy ideas and thoughts. It helps me be creative, to solve my problems, to see things more clearly. Serene home = happy BPG.

Some fat sunflowers and Chinese food delivery were my reward on the last night, when it was all over.

Last Day of the Vacation

An afternoon on the Toronto Islands with a dear friend. Reading poetry under trees, later looking at the lake on the far side of the islands (where you'd never know there was a city behind you). Finally, back on the - er - mainland, a really excellent burger on the Against the Grain patio.

Pretty Sure I Wouldn't Have Been Smart Enough for the Mesopotamians

The ROM is currently showing its Mesopotamia exhibition, with treasures from the British Museum, currently on until January 5, 2014. So there's plenty of time to see it, but I urge no-one to miss it. Stunning pieces from this cradle of civilization just left me gobsmacked. The relief sculptures seemed to be of almost laser quality, and the scope and imagination of these people left me hungry to learn more.

Just saying...

Oh, then we saw the dinosaurs. OF COURSE.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A decade on... the Missing Link

Of all the cakes, Laura, James and I have made over the years with a William Morris theme, this was one I never had a decent picture of. Now I have, thanks to Laura going through her archives. To the left, the original wallpaper. Below, the cake! Click here to see what else we've got up to.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Attach Drool Cups

When I was in Haliburton, one of this blogger's best friends made us a home-made egg McMuffin sandwich. Which, of course, is a bajillion times better than the bought variety. An English muffin is toasted, while a slice of peameal bacon and an egg cook. They're layered with a slice of cheese, which softens when sandwiched in that heat. Add pepper if desired; you sure won't need salt. That's it folks. OMG, attach my drool cup!

When I came home, my parents were over the following Sunday for breakfast and made these for them. I scored big points. Thanks, D!

Pictured top left: D's original, and obviously the prototype which cannot be bettered. Beside it is the slab of peameal I brought home, to be sliced to thicknesses of my choosing. Bottom left: the startled eggs ask, "We donated our bodies to WHAT??!" Bottom right: my version, slightly obscene with its tongue of buttered egg, and another of chewy bacon. Not quite as visually perfect as D's... but ALL GOOD NONETHELESS.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

I See Green Things

And they are not to be resisted. So they come home with me. Speaking of leeks... do I smell lamb shanks in the air? Fall is on its way. So are cosy fall dinners. Yum.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Old and Good

Ugh. I've had this toiletry bag from Laura Ashley for nearly... 30 years! And honestly, this was the first year it really started to fray on the edges. It has been hauled on so many trips, lurked in so many hotel bathrooms, been stuffed into rough knapsacks, gym bags and - later on - nicer luggage, and has been completely perfect in every respect. It's waterproof inside and it's the perfect size. The zip has never failed.

I've looked online and instores. I don't see anything yet to replace it. Gulp. A girl needs her toiletries, and she needs the right bag. Like the right wallet, the right handbag, the right... umbrella, it has to be right. This is important, folks! Any suggested replacements?

/// UPDATE///
I bought this lovely bag from Vera Bradley. It goes nicely with the overnight bag. Thanks for the tip, Lady Cat!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hanlan's Point, Toronto Islands

A lot of my summer has been spent here, just a short ferry ride across the water, laying under trees, reading, dreaming, relaxing. We're so lucky to have the Toronto Islands. I love the view on the ride back. One minute you're on the beach or the parkland, next minute you're facing a well-known and impressive city skyline from the deck of a cute little ferry.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I'm not very good at drinking enough water... but drinking it with a slice of lemon and an old-fashioned paper straw seems to do the trick. Pretty things make me perk up.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Zoo Time

I went to the Toronto Zoo while on vacation, my first visit in probably 15 years. I'm always conflicted about a visit. I know that zoos do a lot of good work for our fellow earth inhabitants, but - bottom line - the animals are caged and not always in the most appropriate settings. In fact our elephants are leaving for - at last report - a sanctuary in California. The city has decided that the zoo just can't give them the accommodation and quality of life they need. Also, as the herd has dwindled from 11 or so to just three, they need to be with more of their own kind.

The zoo is busy promoting this summer promoting its giant pandas, on a five-year loan from the Calgary Zoo. Now this I had to see! It was all very well set up, with excellent volunteers and displays. The pandas themselves are smaller than I anticipated... and really sleepy. I mean, seriously, these could have been stuffed pandas. I'm glad I saw them, but I don't recommend visiting the zoo if that's your only goal. I think most wildlife viewings are best done on HD TV, where licenced camera crews have gone into a habitat, done what they do best, and got the hell out. Just leave the great wilderness to the animals. I'm not a fan of eco-tourism or whale watching or any of these other passtimes that seem to be just more and more encroachment on delicate eco systems. And I suppose that's another point in favour of zoos.

Big zoo hits are the while lions (they seem to appreciate their own glamour) and the polar bears. My absolute favourites are the orangutans, which share 99.6% of our genome. Their faces are so expressive and intelligent, it's an honour to be in their presence.

Everyone looked pretty sleep on this particular day. And by the time I got home, I was too.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

BPG Midsummer 2013 Movie Awards

Most Incomprensible

The Angel's Share (2012)

"What did he just say?" (BPG)

The Angels' Share (2013) is a film by Ken Loach, famous for subtitling a film or two of his as their regional accents make them mostly incomprehensible for anyone not from England, or not even from the region. This movie is set in Scotland, and I wish they'd subtitled it. The Glaswegian is such that I got about 20 percent of the words but comprehended about two thirds of what was being said. A young man, at serious risk, fathers a child and tries to go straight... with the help of single malt scotch. Enough said. I suggest renting this on DVD and using the subtitles, which are always included in English to help those with hearing trouble. This will help! On the acting side, it's all excellent, with special stand outs being John Henshaw and real-life scotch guru Charles MacLean as... a scotch guru.

Only Film of the Year I Watched Twice in the Cinema

Star Trek Into Darkness
"Damn it, man, I'm a doctor, not a torpedo technician!" (Karl Urban as Bones)

I saw it again after the 3D disaster. This time it was in 2D. Ahhhhhh, much better. LOVED IT.

Most Incredible Waste of Talent, Money, and Two Hours I'll Never get Back

Now you see me (2013)

"The more you look, the less you see." (Jesse Eisenberg as J. Daniel Atlas)

I don't have enough time left on this planet to figure out what went wrong with this one.

Movie in Which Brad Pitt Makes me a Fan at Last

World War Z (2013)

"If you can fight, fight. Be prepared for anything. Our war has just begun." (Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane)

The AMC series Walking Dead gave me a certain vision of zombies and how they might operate. World War Z blows that shambling, groteque nightmare out of the water, with a portrayal of super-zombies who move fast and furious. They are TERRIFYING. I screamed out loud at least once during this movie. No, I`m not talking about a little squeak, I mean a scream. My friend Barbara and I were clutching each other`s hands more than once. The cast is all excellent, and Brad Pitt of course single-handedly pretty much saves the world (what, really, you needed a spoiler warning? OF COURSE HE DOES - THIS IS HOLLYWOOD... and he looks weathered and strained, rather like Harrison Ford used to before he just got sort of grumpy). I was too busy being frightened to notice if there were any holes in the plot of inconsistencies. Come on! It`s a zombie movie! Perfect movie if you like a clingy date, like yours truly.

Most Poetic and Haunting Film of the Year, and of Many Other Years

Wings of Desire (1987)

"Last night I dreamt of a stranger... of my man. Only with him could I be alone, open up to him, wholly open, wholly for him. Welcome him wholly into me. Surround him with the labyrinth of shared happiness. I know... it's you." (Solveig Dommartin as Marion)

I was well overdue to see this again. Angels over Berlin listen, unseen, to the thoughts of people of the city. One angel (Bruno Ganz) yearns to be mortal, to feel physically and emotionally what it is to be human, and to love the object of his devotion, an unhappy trapeze artist played by Solveig Dommartin (who died tragically young in 2007 at 45). The film was shot by Henri Alekan, who made - among other films - the breathtakingly beautiful and surreal La Belle et la Bête (1946).

Most Haunting Score

The Woman in White (1948)

Based on Wilkie Collins' 1860 mystery novel, this film distinguishes itself for me by the most haunting score. Composed by the legendary Max Steiner, it incorporates English melodies, including the gorgeous Pavana: The Earl of Salisbury by William Byrd (which is uncredited). The impressive cast includes Alexis Smith, Eleanor Parker, Gig Young, Agnes Moorehead and a deliciously evil Sydney Greenstreet.

Most Very Overdue to be Discovered

Before Midnight (2013)

"Well, it must be one hell of a night we're about to have." (Juliette Delpy as Celine)

For years, family and friends whose opinions I held dear had told me about the first two films in this trilogy, Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004). This now-trilogy is a project that has developed over 19 years with director Richard Linklater and actors Ethan Hawke and Juliette Delpy (both actors are credited with co-writing the last two films with Linklater). So what's it about? In the first film, Jesse (Hawke), a young American man, boards a train travelling to Prague, and encounters a young French woman (Delpy), Celine. They begin talking. They get off the train and keep talking all night. I won't say anything else, just that these three films are uniquely fresh and captivating, with all the charm of discovery and youth in the first, and... well, I just don't want to say anything else. Just that I hope you'll see them if you haven't. The films have been made nine years apart, and so we are growing with those characters. It's reminiscent of the brilliant Up series. Hawke and Delpy are phenomenal. I just hope there'll be another one... I think.

Film That Made me Most Want to go Back to one of my Motherlands

The Trip

"Death is but a moment... Cowardice is a lifetime of affliction." (Steve Coogan as himself)

 Deliciously funny, as everyone probably already knows (I'm often behind the times), British comics and impersonators Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon travel around Britain out-impersonating each other, trying out restaurants and hotels in the Lake District and other gorgeous parts of England, and being generally brilliant. I read they're doing another one in Italy... this time I won't wait three years.


...but not to busy to take a ferry to the island for a few hours today, to picnic under the trees.

Haliburton Days

The hols continued with three lovely days in Haliburton, on a motor-free lake just 10 minutes outside Huntsville. The days were cooler, but the swimming just as good as it had been in the depths of July. The company was... DA BEST.


My holiday this year really was a time to refresh, replenish and recharge. Pleasure and curiosity were satisfied, friends were hugged, sights were seen, and I breathed deeply. I didn't paint walls or stuff like that. But... I did take two and a half days and purge my ENTIRE HOME. Granted, this isn't saying that much as my home isn't large, but... still... it was needed.

As you might imagine, things got worse before they got better, as I pulled books off shelves and emptied out drawers. I find the experience necessary and cleansing, perhaps every couple of years. I didn't document the process photographically, but I do wish I'd taken one shot of the six huge bags of stuff I donated. It was a good feeling. What I did document, because I was literally laughing out loud, was what I found in my linen cupboard.

I'm one of those who likes to put new soap in the cupboard, unwrapped, so that the pillowcases and towels become sweetly scented with my two favourite soaps: lemon verbena and lavender. But, the linen cupboard is pretty full, and soaps had slipped around and behind, and, taking everything out, I was delighted to discover I won't have to buy soap for quite a while.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kawarthas, 2013... Food

During our stay in the Kawarthas, we ate well, as we always do, celebrating that great pleasure in life. When stressed as I live my life in the big city, I find cooking and baking relaxes me. Up there, time slows, and still there is such pleasure to be taken from planning, preparing and serving food to people we love.

Twenty minutes drive away from the cottage is this blog's favourite bakery, Apsley Country Bakery (famed in my circle for its hippy, three-seed, grain and other breads). They're now making croissants! Reading on the excellent website, which now features well-illustrated information on the building of the bread oven, the maintaining of it, and more, I see that these are sourdough croissants and that there are wonderful pictures describing the process of making them. To my mind, they're real country croissants, with more chew and flavour in them than usual, and totally addictive.

One of the croissants is shown top left, of course. The rest of the images give an idea of how well we ate during our vacation. There was also M's always-wonderful tiramisu and lemon-blueberry pancakes with wild berries picked off the uninhabited island opposite. Visiting it always makes me think of Swallows and Amazons.

Kawarthas, 2013... The Big Ball

More balloon than beach ball, it was enchanting.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kawarthas, 2013

The vacation started with 10 days in the Kawarthas, and this blog's favourite cottage. After an iffy weather start to July in Toronto, we lucked out in non-stop hot, sunny days on the lake, until the very end when we witnessed a huge storm... always very exciting.

Dragonflies are a blog favourite. It seems my toes are a favourite with dragonflies. Please excuse the extreme close up of my toes, which surely no-one needs to see. And - hey - do you have to do that on my beach towel??

The chipmunks were back, but not the smartest ones we've seen. They would peel a two-nut peanut shell, take one, and toss the other. Or maybe we've spoiled them? One day I got a lot of shots of a cute green caterpillar.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back from a Holiday Hiatus

What a holiday.

Here's a taste from last week, a few days in Haliburton. It's another of my slightly goofy, rather dreamy videos. There are photos to come of my ENTIRE time off... you heff been varned! :)

Panna Cotta

 Panna cotta means "cooked cream" in Italian. This delicious, lightly sweetened, dessert is served ideally with berries, either in a coulis or cooked, or - my favourite - fresh. And it's a new blog favourite.

I tried it first at the cottage in the Kawarthas a few weeks ago, with ramekins bought from this blog's favourite out-of-town gift store, Wellington Street Gift Store in Apsley. (They don't have a website). What are the chances I'd find eight small ramekins in cottage country? In that store, pretty good.

The recipe is taken from (my favourite on-line recipe resource).

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half cream
1/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used the seeds from a vanilla bean instead)

In a very small saucepan sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand about 1 minute to soften. Heat gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin is dissolved and remove pan from heat.

In a large saucepan bring cream, half and half, and sugar just to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla (or, in my case, vanilla seeds). Divide cream mixture among eight 1/2-cup ramekins and cool to room temperature. Chill ramekins, covered, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Dip ramekins, 1 at a time, into a bowl of hot water 3 seconds. Run a thin knife around edge of each ramekin and invert ramekin onto center of a small plate. (I found it unnecessary to dip the ramekins in hot water).

This is an elegant, easy, prepare-ahead recipe that is perfect for those who don't have a very sweet tooth. I'm trying a cocoa flavoured version next. Watch this space!