Archive for the ‘FAVOURITE THINGS’ Category

Life Can Be A Walk in the Park!

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” ― J.M. BarriePeter Pan


Dear Friends,

Thank you for dropping by.  I hope you can spare a little time to come for a walk in the park with me.  It is a bright and invigorating day and so I am bringing my camera along to capture some of the winter beauty…

“After a day’s walk everything has twice its usual value.”   ~George Macauley Trevelyan


Our small city of St. John’s, Newfoundland of about 100,000 people is touted to be the oldest city in North America (I’m not sure how factual the claim because I once visited St. Augustine, Florida and I believe this, too, is their claim).  I do know that St. John’s is steeped in history with a colourful culture and a warm, fun-loving people.  Here’s an introduction to some of the flavour of our city:


Bowring Park is a well-loved destination here and is synonymous with the beloved literary figure Peter Pan! Are you curious to know more while we walk? It’s a bit of a story…

P1050697The Bowring family has had a long history with Newfoundland since the early 1800’s when first Benjamin Bowring came from England with his family to set up shop as a watchmaker and jeweller.  His wife later set up a small dry goods shop which evolved into a general department store. Five generations of the Bowring family would branch out, very successfully, and build a global empire of trade and shipping including oil tankers, cargo fleets, passenger liners as well as a coastal mail service.  In 1911, to commemorate their 100 years of successful business in Newfoundland, the Bowring family dedicated 50 acres of parkland to the City; today Bowring Park encompasses over 200 acres.

Two world wars wiped out much of the Bowring fleet.  Following the Second World War, the main business of the company in Newfoundland became retailing.  For many years, the company operated its famous department store on Water Street in St. John’s (I remember it well – my husband and I still have many of the Christmas ornaments we bought there when we were first married).  The stylish downtown store was later expanded into a chain of “little shops”.  These were the basis for the nation-wide chain of 50 plus beautiful Bowring stores that exist today.  Interestingly, the company logo “Terra Nova” was a Bowring ship that was chartered by the British Navy for Admiral Scott’s famous journey to the Antarctic in 1911, although the stores are no longer  connected with the Bowring family. The chain is currently celebrating 200 years of business in Newfoundland and Bowring remains one my favourite places to shop. 


In summer, Bowring Park is popular for its splash pad, playgrounds, day camps, tennis courts, skate parks, soccer, swimming, picnics, beautiful trees and plant conservatory, concerts in the outdoor ampitheatre, weddings and even lawn bowling!  In wintertime, citizens enjoy sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and, on occasion, horse-drawn sleigh rides. For over a decade, the Annual Festival of Christmas Music and Lights has been attended by thousands. Many residents have fond memories of their childhood and family outings in Bowring Park. Does anyone recall learning to skate on Fountain Pond? 
My favourite feature of the park, apart from the majestic swans and rustic fencing and benches, is a playful statue of Peter Pan – the boy who never grew up.  He can be seen from the entrance to the park, near the main gates, and stands confidently high atop a bronze tree-trunk, beckoning believers…You can almost hear the playful notes of his pipe as he charms the faeries and woodland animals to him. He is, undoubtedly, one of the park’s most enchanting centerpieces. The park belongs to Peter Pan, the idea of magic, the young and the forever young-at-heart.
Although Peter Pan symbolizes the innocence, wonder and joy of eternal youth, how the statue came to be in our park is especially sad. Look closely and you will see the inscription:
“Presented to the Children of Newfoundland by Sir Edgar R. Bowring
in Memory of a Dear Little Girl Who Loved The Park..”
 A second inscription on the opposite side of the statue reads simply:
“Betty Munn”.  
All who are familiar with the park perhaps know from their parents or teachers, the story of Betty Munn …
Sir Edgar Bowring was a partner in the thriving family business, Bowring Brothers.  He was also a politician and philanthropist.  Betty was Sir Edgar’s granddaughter. On February 23, 1918, Betty and her father, John Munn (also a managing director of Bowring Brothers), boarded a Bowring-owned vessel S.S. Florizel bound for Nova Scotia and New York.  They were to meet Betty’s grandmother, Mrs. Munn, in Halifax and all three were to head south where they would spend the winter months due to Mrs. Munn’s ill health. Tragically, their voyage would be cut short.  Later that same night during a fierce winter storm, the Florizel crashed into rocks off the coast of Newfoundland.  Sorrowfully, of the 138 passengers, 94 perished in the icy Atlantic Ocean.  Among them was young Betty who was nearly 4 years of age.  Sir Edgar’s sweet grandchild would never have the chance to grow up…In loving memory of little Betty, Sir Edgar commissioned leading British sculptor Sir George Frampton to create a likeness of his original Peter Pan statue located in London’s Kensington Gardens to stand in beloved Bowring Park.
Delicate faeries dance around the middle of the tree trunk on their climb to the top.
Peter Pan has stood nobly in Bowring Park, fuelling imaginations, since he was first gifted to us on August 29, 1925 as part of a dedicated “Children’s Day”.  It was reported that several thousand children were present for the much-anticipated unveiling of Peter Pan and the festivities that would follow the ceremony. The Mayor of the day, Tasker Cook, encouraged the children to “learn to know him and love him with all your hearts…”  Frampton, too, attended the ceremony and noted to the crowds  that “... the animals and fairies on the statue are listening to the pipes of Pan, one of the mice is completing his toilet before going up to listen to the music, (and) the squirrel is discussing political matters with two of the fairies”. 


Replicas of Frampton’s Peter Pan statue, cast from the original mold, can be found around the world including: Liverpool’s Sefton Park, the Gardens of Egmont Palace in Brussels, Toronto’s Glenn Gould Park, Queen’s Gardens in Perth, Australia and Rutgers University’s Johnson Park in Camden, New Jersey.  Frampton commented that his Bowring Park version of Peter was superior in location to his statue in London’s Kensington Gardens due to “the wholly natural surroundings and flowing river being more in keeping with the spirit of Peter and particularly animals and faeries…”   If you have seen the other statues of Peter Pan, I would love for you to share them with us…

The enormous resplendent linden tree located in the park near Peter Pan fell during Hurricane Igor on September 21, 2010.  It had been planted nearly a century earlier by England’s Duke of Connaught when Bowring Park was opened on July 15, 1914.  Since Igor, a class of local elementary school students helped our Mayor plant a new linden tree in its place.


The Peter Pan Festival, with the focus on children and the wonderment of childhood, was a magical time in Bowring Park: music and children’s performers, skateboard demonstrations, inflatable rides, sport challenges, car shows, multicultural concerts, fun food, bingo and more.  The Peter Pan soapbox races were a highlight, “… open exclusively to drivers with valid Bowring Park drivers licenses, which are issued only to people between the ages of 7 and 14…”
Paul Russellafter having visited Bowring Park in 2005, described his Peter Pan festival experience in the British newspaper The Telegraph“One thing I have noticed since moving to Newfoundland, two years ago, is the focus on the family. Everything here is geared towards the family. Newfoundlanders possess an immense love for the family, and their children are very precious to them. All activities are family-oriented, and children are the focus of most of those activities. Here the children come first, something that appears to be less and less the case in this day and age.”  
The Peter Pan festival began in August 29, 2000 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Sir Edgar’s gift to the park. Sadly, the much-loved festival is no longer active for reasons I don’t know.  

Russell further wrote, “Pan, the boy who never grew up, could be used as a metaphor for the people of Newfoundland.  They are, in the best possible way, an innocent people.  Newfoundlanders have a reputation the world over for their warmth and friendliness…” I love this!


How blessed we are to have been graced with this beautiful park and its charming statuary.  Peter Pan is, indeed, magical. P1050711

DID YOU KNOW?  Sir Edgar Frampton’s original sculpture of Peter Pan ‘magically appeared’ in London’s Kensington Gardens on May 1, 1912. The statue was erected in secret overnight at the expense of J. M. Barrie, the author and creator of Peter Pan. The next day, an advert by Barrie appeared in the British newspaper The Times: “There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning.  Down by the little bay on the south-western side of the tail of the Serpentine, they will find a May-day gift by Mr J.M. Barrie, a figure of Peter Pan blowing his pipe on the stump of a tree, with fairies and mice and squirrels all around…”  

Barrie chose the exact location of the statue in Kensington Gardens.  It was lovingly placed there because Peter made his first appearance in literature in Barrie’s novel “The Little White Bird” which is set in Kensington Gardens. It was also in the Gardens where Barrie spent cherished time with the children who inspired his creation of Peter Pan.

P1050702A peace dove tucks itself in under a crevice in the bronze tree trunk. Did you spot the inscription to the right?

The network of serene walking trails and attractive bridges feature magnificent views complete with flower beds, a rose garden, waterfalls, duck families and graceful swans.  Indeed, countless children have had their picture taken by the Duck Pond feeding the ducks.  Through the years, the park as become deeply rooted in the lives of those who live here.


I hope you enjoy seeing the details of the statue.  A collection of faeries, mice, squirrels, rabbits, birds, frogs and salamanders climb their way up the tree trunk to Peter Pan listening to the notes of his magical flute…


DID YOU KNOW?  It is recommended that you not feed bread to the ducks and birds.  Bread has little nutritional value and its high salt content dehydrates the birds.  It also promotes bacterial growth in the ponds and rivers.  By purchasing healthy duck food, you will be doing the birds and their environment a favour.  Duck food is available at various Marie’s MinMarts around the city for just $1.00 a bag; 100% of the proceeds from the feed sales is forwarded to the Bowring Park Foundation in support of the park. 🙂


DID YOU KNOW? The statue of Peter Pan is probably about 10-feet high. The widespread popular appeal of his Peter Pan statue led Frampton to produce a 18.5″ bronze reduction of the main figure expected to bring at auction £50kBowring Park will proudly celebrate its centennial birthday next year. Wouldn’t you love to have your very own miniature of Peter Pan to commemorate the anniversary? Hmmm….Special celebrations are being planned by the Bowring Park Foundation for the park and its patrons.  We will all look forward to the party!


Bowring Park is a gift to all who visit, the crown jewel of our city.  If you live near a beautiful park, I hope you will enjoy a walk there very soon. Oh, and remember to bring your camera and share the beauty…


An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.  ~Henry David Thoreau.

Wasn’t that a beautiful walk?  Shall we go inside where it’s cozy?  I hope you have a little more time to join me in a hot cuppa.  I am using some of my prized teacups in your honour today. This stunning tea set was a ‘surprise gift’ to me by a dear friend.  I’d be delighted to share that story with you on another day, if you wish…Now, how would you like your tea?


I am thrilled to be sharing at Mop It Up Monday, Tea Time Tuesday, Teacup Tuesday, Tuesday Cuppa Tea, What’s It Wednesday,  What We Accomplished Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Pearls and Lace ThursdayTreasure Hunt ThursdayFeathered Nest Friday, Fabulously Creative Friday, Show and Tell Friday, Saturday Show Off, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Sunny Simple Sunday, Seasonal Sunday,  Sunlit Sunday, Home Sweet Home, Open House,  Be Inspired, You’re Going to Love It!

Sources: Bowring Park Foundation, Newfoundland Tourism, The Telegraph,

The First Snow of A New Year!

Happy 2013, Dear Friends!

The first snow of the New Year fell last night.  I always love the look of fresh snowflakes as they float through the clear air down to the ground and all around, and catch on every spray and limb and twig. Reminds me of the perfect, sparkly snow on Christmas cards… I wanted to fully appreciate the brand new snow of a brand new year, and headed to our patio with camera in hand to try and capture the moment.  I didn’t use a fancy shmancy camera with all the fandangles and flashes. And, inspite of not having a proper night flash, I do like how they turned out…Kind of magical. Spiritual. The stuff for snow angels…


I love when the garden furniture is clothed in snow, how its lines are made more distinct. Intricate. I especially love seeing the snow pattern on the seat of  the iron bench, and that cast beneath it compliments of the porch light.  Hmmm…makes me hungry for waffles. SMILE.


At first, I was being careful to tread carefully so as not to disturb the gentle carpet of soft white beneath my feet. But, alas, someone came behind who was more heavy-footed than me and seemingly turned on the vacuum! Lol



Look closely and you’ll see a fresh pineapple nestled within the flower box above…


‘Garden child’ looks so pretty on her ‘green’ cushion.  A sweet little fairy sits in the palms of her hands.  I wonder what they are  whispering to one another…Can children really understand the language of faeries?  You can, too, if you only believe…



The silhouette of the rusty iron angel against the night sky is magical…



“Kindness is like snow.  It beautifies everything it covers.” Anonymous


Angel is kneeling inside a wreath of spruce, boxwood and holly beneath a flower box piled with cedar, magnolia and pine cones…


I’m am always excited that you come by to visit and just want to let you know how much I appreciate your beautiful comments, both on the blog and in emails, and for letting me share with you my tiny corner of the world this past year. I hope this fresh new year is a special one for you and that all your dreams come true…

Warmly yours,


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I am partying at Vintage InspirationMop It Up Monday, Make the Scene MondayFeathered Nest FridayShow and Tell Friday, Fabulously Creative Friday, Saturday Show Off, Sundae Scoop and Overflowing with Creativity.

Building A Legacy Through Watercolours…

I love this reproduction blue transferware tea set at Tin Roof Mercantile...

Hello, Dear Friends!

I really hope that you have some time to settle in for a bit and join with me in a leisurely cuppa. I think you will be moved by what I have to share with you during today’s visit…

Returning to my island of Newfoundland from a recent trip to Prince Edward Island (for the sole purpose of meeting for the first time a new-found friend through blogging), my husband and I decided to take a detour to Head Chezzetcook on the Eastern Shore Marine Drive Route of Halifax Regional Municipality where we stopped at Tin Roof Mercantile to shop and lunch.

Upon walking into the cafe, we immediately noticed that the room’s walls were graciously punctuated with beautiful impressionistic paintings. They filled the charming yet natural light-deprived room with a special character and brilliance that could be felt, like the warmth of  the sun. Each painting was akin to a self-contained sunbeam. There was an unmistakable energy and vibrance that seemed to emanate from all the paintings throughout the room. Each art piece felt like an embrace. To our surprise, we lingered way too long over lunch as we sat back, admired, and discussed each one.

Our meal was one of the most delicious that we had enjoyed on our trip. And, of course, I just had to ask our equally sunny waitress about the paintings that hung on the wall. We were once again pleasantly surprised when the waitress modestly introduced herself as the “self-taught” artist.

She conveyed to us that she lives in a large, beautiful century-plus Victorian style home with an art studio that overlooks the ocean in the nearby  town of Oyster Pond. I instantly, albeit naively, thought what a tranquil and serene life this woman must lead to be able to paint such peaceful impressions. Nothing could be further from her reality. And, as we chatted a little more about the paintings, so lovingly created by her own hand, she quietly confided in us her story of the legacy that she is building through her art in her late husband’s memory…

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”  Aristotle

It was the ocean that took the life of her 39-year young fisher husband Scott Clarke (who happened to have hailed from my island of Newfoundland, from the tiny town of Old Bonaventure on the Bonavista Peninsula along the east coast.)  And, now, his widow, Heather Crout of Nova Scotia, is building her husband’s legacy through her watercolour paintings. Heather is determined that the man she loved did not leave this world in vain. Every year, on the anniversary of his tragic death at sea on that fateful fall night in 2009, Heather devotes a painting in Scott’s honour to keep her husband’s memory alive.

Scott was swept over the side of his fishing boat in the middle of the night. His body was never recovered from the water. His loss was felt by the entire community. He was not wearing a life jacket. Like most of his fellow fishers, Scott found the old life vests to be heavy, cumbersome – a hindrance to his work. The newer life vests are lighter, more comfortable, workable but expensive – their cost, it seems, a prohibiting factor.

It was here at Tin Roof Mercantile and Cafe where we met and were captivated by Heather Crout and the beauty of her unforgettable artwork, and her story of triumph over tragedy....

Through the sale of dedicated paintings each year since her husband’s tragic death, Heather enables the purchase of life vests with her husband’s name engraved on the inside. The first vest was presented to her husband’s fishing partner and owner of the vessel that Scott was working on the night he died.

Heather’s work dedicated to Scott’s legacy, and promoting safety at sea, sells fast. From the proceeds from her paintings sold thus far, several life vests have been purchased and presented to fishers in her community.  Her goal is to purchase 42 vests.  The number represents one for each person in her husband’s fleet.

The Workers Compensation Board, too, decided to purchase a painting from Heather. They refer to Heather as their ‘Safety Champion’, as someone who is making a significant difference in promoting a cultural shift among fishers from rural communities. Heather hopes that through the sale of her paintings and bringing attention to the need to automatically wear a personal flotation device, it will drive home the important message to persons working in the fishery who spend their days and nights at sea, that life vests have the potential to save lives.

Scott had no children to leave as a legacy and so Heather told us that each of her paintings in dedication to his memory, and to safety in his profession, are his children.

I believe it is impossible to make sense of life in this world except through art.  Daniel Pinkwater

Every one of Heather's paintings has a unique quality that's almost indescribable. I cannot get this one out of my head - it's my favourite. Can't you almost feel the sun rays streaming through the dressing room window?!

The tenacity of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me. Through her grief, Heather found comfort in her painting.  She is generously using her  talent and deep desire for her husband’s memory to live on to do some good in this world, and in an effort to save lives in the process. I think what Heather is doing in tribute to her beloved Scott who died too soon, is the most beautiful and meaningful thing that anyone can do in keeping a loved one’s memory alive.  It is no wonder, then, why each of her magnificent watercolours draws you inside and transports you to a gentler place – they are most certainly a shining ‘work of heart’.

I would like to pass along my congratulations to Jon Tattrie, a talented freelance journalist and novelist who resides in Nova Scotia, for bringing Heather’s heartfelt and exemplary story to the world. I sincerely hope you will take the time to read Jon’s article on his blog “Paper-hack-writer”, all the news that’s not fit to print at the link below.  And, be prepared to be inspired…

A Widow’s Brush Strokes of Remembrance – Pay-Per-Hack Writer Blogspot

The Smilebox slideshow below is a tour of Tin Roof Mercantile Shop and Cafe where I met the remarkable Heather Crout.

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From Norway With Love…

The beautiful cover of "Sanselig Sommer" - the best English translation would be "Summer for All the Senses..."

Hi, Friends!

It’s tea time…Today is an absolutely gorgeous day here  – the sun is still unseasonably warm and the breezes are very pleasant. There are only a few days left to summer. Sigh.

Officially, fall begins on September 23rd; but before it arrives on the calendar, I must tell you about a very special book – “Sanselig Sommer” by Franciska Munck-Johansen.

My friend Carolyn Aiken, whose home and gardens you toured in these last posts, was featured earlier this year in this beautiful book from Norway by the talented photographer and writer Franciska who writes for a number of international interiors magazines.  Ten large pages were devoted to Carolyn’s own verdant gardens.

“Sanselig Sommer” is available through Franciska’s beautiful blog. Although it is not available translated into English, the stunning photos speak a universal language of inspired beauty. I hope you will visit Franciska’s Beautiful World.

Franciska had asked if she could post on her blog my story about my dear neighbour Joanne and her legion of garden faeries who looked after my garden last year from June through September while I was doing other things – like undergoing chemotherapy treatments. I was more than happy to share as it was such a selfless and inspiring thing to do, and it meant so much.

As a thank you, Franciska generously sent me an autographed copy of her gorgeous book!   I was overjoyed to receive her gift and when it arrived in the post, it just made my day!  It was such a beautiful and thoughtful surprise!

You’ll find tons of ideas and recipes throughout its large pages.  I have gleamed some wonderful ideas already that I can’t wait to try! We could all use some more beauty around us, n’est ce pas?  Here are some (of my photos of Franciska’s) photos from her exquisite book that I am showing with Franciska’s kind permission.  Thank you again, Franciska!  And, thanks for dropping by everyone!  See you soon…

I love looking at this book! This is Carolyn's romantic garden tea...very book worthy!

Carolyn's fairytale tea under a canopy of airy white tulle and a candle chandelier...Ooh, those pretty pink peonies and delicate china!

Ten pages of Franciska’s book are devoted to Carolyn’s glorious gardens…

A wire settee awaits for thee...Are you looking for your hat, Carolyn?!

An English garden in Bath...another candle chandelier!

What a great wrap for a bouquet!

Love the open shelving...Sign says, "If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen." Ya gotta love it!

White is definitely whispering to me...

Rustic loveliness...

Glamorous thirst-quencher!

What a sweet way to give simple flowers! Don't they look so special in easy tissue wrap tied with twine?!

Some 'seat inspiration' from Hmm, I just might do something like this...


A Little Cafe With A Big Heart

This beautiful book entitled “Summer for all the Senses” was gifted to me by its author, Franciska Munck-Johansen, a talented interiors photographer for a number of international magazines.  I’ll tell you in an upcoming post about her outstanding book and how she came to send me an autographed copy all the way from Norway …

Glorious Day, Friends!

It’s another beautiful day here and we are so thankful to have this sunny and warm weather as we have been waiting all summer long for it!  I’m glad you came by just as I’m about to pour up a huge glass of lemonade.  Come, let’s sit out for our chat.  It’s so nice outside – just the perfect summer temperature with a pleasant breeze…it would be a shame not to soak up every second.

It’s early morning yet as these chairs are empty, but in a just a few hours…

If you happen to be touring in and around the historic coastal town of Placentia, Newfoundland this summer (very near where I grew up), Philip’s Cafe is a must-visit place on your list of  things ‘To Do’.

This ‘tasteful’ spot was once an old house that I would pass by many times during my younger years, but today I hardly recognize it! Lovingly and creatively restored by its new owners, it is now a hub at peak times with visitors, both locals and tourists, piling in for some delightful eats.

CLOWN ABOUT TOWN  Phillip Meade, the saltbox-style cafe’s talented chef and co-owner, told me that he has lived in many places and has held many and varied jobs in his lifetime. He has been a long-haul truck driver, an off-shore oilrig worker, an artist, a pastry chef and even a clown – a REALLY GOOD clown. 🙂

I was fascinated by the latter occupation and asked him the secret to becoming a GOOD clown.  He quickly responded, “Passion – passion for everything you do in life!” Phillip told me that his‘clowning around’ had a humble beginning – he was simply asked to dress up as one for his company’s children’s party.  But Philip told me that he did not want to be just any ol’ clown. He had to be the best clown that could be – so, off he went to’ clown school’ to study how to become a clown – a real clown.

Enjoy a waterside picnic just across the street from Philip’s Cafe! Now that’s a mirror image!

WORK OF HEART And, it seems, everything Philip Meade does comes from the passion in his heart – from running a charming B&B; to restoring a house that had seen better days to his now new and beautifully-unique cafe; and producing the renowned delectable breads, pastries, quiche and desserts that disappear as quickly as they make it out of the oven!

A view of Rosedale Manor from the garden gate…

Phillip and his co-owner in the cafe, Linda Grimm, who hails from Vancouver Island, seem to well complement one another for Linda is Philip’s partner in life as well as his business partner. Together they also own and operate  Rosedale Manor, a ‘sweet’ heritage waterside Bed and Breakfast (within ten minutes of the Argentia ferry terminal), and where Philip serves as the Manor’s pastry chef host alongside Linda who, too, is a passionate and artistic soul – a sculptor. Although, I have not yet seen any of Linda’s works personally, I am told they are quite beautiful.

The couple’s ‘Rosedale’ guests eat a hearty breakfast at Philip’s Cafe located mere minutes from the Manor.  Along with ham and free-range eggs, fresh homebaked toast of several tasty varieties and other traditional breakfast fare, Philip proudly serves up his own ‘house recipe’ porridge made with a mix of millet, flax and oats, along with fresh Newfoundland berries and crunchy nuts!  He generously offered me a sample and, let me just say, it was NOT my grandmother’s porridge!  It was really very good and oh-so good for you! Next time, I will have a bowlful of Philip’s granola made from a creative mix of multi-grains and dried fruits with yogurt – a whole lotta delicious goodness.  Yum!

SWEET SERENDIPITY  I asked Philip how he and Linda came to settle in the tiny sea-side town of Placentia, all the way from Vancouver Island, British Columbia where they had lived for many years prior.  Philip relayed that he and Linda had come back to Newfoundland on the occasion of his grandmother’s 90th birthday about six years ago.  They stayed at Rosedale Manor during their week-long visit and liked it so much that they decided to buy the place!  And the rest as ‘they’ say is history…

The atmosphere of their friendly and cozy cafe is a warm and inviting blend of the best of both world’s – decidedly a welcoming mix of hearty west coast-to-east coast flavour!

It was pure serendipity that brought Philip and Linda back to Newfoundland to stay and to acquire a charming sea-side B&B…

Quiche variety #4 ‘Portobello Mushroom and Sundried Tomato’ waits for moi! OMG!  Tasteeee…

Philip’s quiche are delectably rich and fluffy like an omelot. You can see and taste the goodness that so caringly goes into making each one.

On the three consecutive days I was there (yes, it was that good), five beautiful quiche varieties were fresh-from-the oven each day….I tried several different quiche in as many days – all were hands down THE BEST quiche I have ever tasted!  And, I thought I made a nice quiche!

Isn’t this the cutest cafe logo in the window above the door to the kitchen? “Surrender to your cravings…”  You’ll find it even on Philip’s Cafe souvenir tees, which are available in brilliant colours and a great quality.

PHILIP’S CAFE IS SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT Interestingly, Philip loves, and has a fascination with, crows and all manner of crow-inspired decor!   There’s even a large handsome painting of a crow hanging on the washroom wall, and you’ll happen upon the odd crow perched here and there atop curio cupboards and in bookcases around the store.

And, it seems, the couple have a great sense of humour.  You can buy T-shirts and specialty soaps featuring the Philip’s Cafe “Surrender to Your Cravings” logo!  The tees are a good quality and we purchased a couple before leaving on our final day there.

A TISKET, A TASKET, ‘PHILIP’ YOUR PICNIC BASKET Philip bakes up fresh artisan breads daily for his gourmet sandwich menu – the fillings he uses are wonderful and generous.  If you’re on your way to Castle Hill National Historic Park, or the Cape St. Mary’s Seabird Ecological Reserve, you won’t want to miss stopping here to fill up your picnic basket – I think you will be very happy with its contents!  :- Philip doesn’t sell his bread by the loaf, though (sadly) – he can’t keep up with the demand for it in his mouth-watering sandwiches.

What a treat!  Life is sweet!

For early risers, breakfast starts at 7:00 AM at Philip’s cafe. On the menu:  Fresh-from-the-oven molasses and whole-wheat breads, omelets, ham and free-range eggs any style, and most certainly Philip’s house  porridge. Rest assured, Philip’s porridge is NOT your grandmother’s recipe! It’s rich and tasty made from steel cut oats, flax, millet and fresh Newfoundland blueberries, partridge berries and even crunchy nuts.  You’ll want to try the granola, too.  Decisions, decisions…So many things to try and so little time!

Fresh artisan bread in the making for all those delish sandwiches that Philip serves to his hungry customers.  He doesn’t sell the bread he makes, though. He doesn’t have time to keep up with the demand. It is solely for his gourmet sandwiches. What a treat!  Life is sweet.

The overflow breakfast room is located upstairs above the main cafe.  It is lovely in the early morning light.  What a serene place to be…

Look down! Philip is proud of the fact that the floors in his new cafe were reclaimed from the old ‘Bristol School’ gymnasium once located on the Argentia U.S. Naval Base nearby. Upon entry to the cafe, one must step across a thin strip of the ‘Navy Seals’ emblem that was intentionally incorporated into the floor design as a special piece of nostalgia for Philip, and anyone else who may have connections with, and fond memories, of the military base that once stood.

Stained glass windows original to the house around the doorway in what is now Philip’s cafe kitchen

Specialty soaps to crow about

A hilarious sign!

Menu board with many tempting eats…

Next time you happen to be in town, be sure to stop by and say “Hi”

And, my sweeties, thanks for stopping by ‘Beautiful Ideas’ today!  I hope to see you again very soon. I am crossing my fingers that this burst of glorious weather will last for awhile.  Wishing you all a beautiful day!



Welcome, Dear Friends!

Today, I learned something new and wonderful and am excited to share it with you! This story is sure to touch your heart, and you will be amazed at the kindly man with a thick European accent behind it all.  I so hope you can stay for a cuppa. And, if there’s a young person with whom you might like to share this inspiring and loving story, I have some ice-cold milk and, yes, even a cupcake or two! So find yourself a comfy chair and gather round.

SEARCHING FOR TREASURE  Witless Bay is a 30-minute drive from where I live. It’s still summer here, but it won’t be long before you’ll see groups of people – young and old alike – walking about at night, curiously dressed in boots and heavy gloves with flashlights and nets in hand, scouring the seashore and wharves, and peering into the bushes alongside roads and driveways for something all too familiar. German-born film producer Juergen Schau and his wife, Elfie, head up teams of enthusiastic youth volunteers along with parent chaperones – as many as several groups of up to 15 people in a single evening – searching for something they hope NOT to find…

A FRIENDLY FACE  Witless Bay is one of the most scenic places you’ll find anywhere on the planet, where there is an abundance of wildlife and the ocean just seems to wink in the sun! People arrive here from all over the world to see majestic icebergs, several whale species including orcas frolic in the ocean, playful dolphins perform synchronized swimming, and acrobatic seabirds of varied species pirouette across the vast sky.

And, then there’s the one creature who effortlessly charms you with his amusing antics, coaxes a wide smile across your face and puts that twinkle in your eye.  Before you know it, you’re jumping up and down, squealing with delight and pointing to the stocky little bird with the clown-like make-up! He’s the ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ of Witless Bay and Newfoundland’s provincial bird – the cheery Atlantic puffin! The Witless Bay Ecological Reserve is made up of four islands, one of which is Gull Island, home to the largest puffin colony in North America.  Every year, some 250,000 of these amazing little birds flock here to hang up their ‘Home Sweet Home’ sign.

ALL DRESSED UP WITH SOMEWHERE TO GO  Puffins are dressed” similarly to penguins in little black-and-white tuxedos. They are perfectly coordinated from head to toe as they have cute orange feet and their beaks are a colourful display of brilliant yellow, orange/red and black. They don’t always look that way, though.  After the breeding season, puffins start to shed the outer ‘signature’ parts of their beaks, leaving a smaller and faded true bill beneath that turns pale grey in winter.  The reason for this is yet unknown, but one theory is that they no longer need to romance their partners after the breeding season; and molting the vibrantly colored beak makes them less noticeable to their natural predators. Yet, as sure as the flowers return in April, so, too, the puffin’s beak “blooms” again in spring, strongly suggesting that it might well serve in attracting a mate since it is the time of year when they begin to breed.

DID YOU KNOW? Puffins smartly stand upright about 10 inches tall and weigh on average 17.5 ounces. The small puffin is related to that of the larger auk species?  Like the auks, puffins live out almost all of their days on the sea and only go ashore for breeding – but not until they are about five years old! The gregarious puffin, after several years abroad flying to who knows where and back again (it’s thought they winter as far south as Morocco), return to their original nest among a colony of thousands of nesting sites! How do they to do it?! Sometimes even we humans can’t manage to do this! Our cookie-cutter houses all seem to look the same to us!  And, on our less brilliant days, some of us have even been known to have walked into our neighbour’s home by innocent mistake!  Just sayin’… 🙂  No one really knows how puffins can recognize their same nest year after year. Their great navigational and recognition skills remain a mystery to us mere mortals…

How’s this for a heartwarming photo?! Thank you to Jeremy Stein of Albuquerque, New Mexico, for generously permitting the use of this beautiful, captivating picture!  Ahh, to be in love… I hope you will come to visit us in Newfoundland, Jeremy! 🙂

These puffins are bonding and appear to be bestowing upon one another a little kiss in the mist! Notice the yellow ‘rosette’ at the corners of their colourful beaks. DID YOU KNOW? Once upon a time, some thought the puffin to be a fish because they spend so much time ‘flying’ underwater?! Photo credit: Jeremy Stein, www.

DID YOU KNOW?!  Some of the most at-risk ocean species are not underwater but in the air? Puffins give birth to only one egg each year. Both parents dutifully take their turn in caring for the chic for up to six weeks. Puffins dig burrows about 2 feet in length for their nest, using their beaks to dig and their webbed feet to kick out the dirt. Puffins ‘talk’ in their underground burrows. They make a soft growling-moaning sound. Predators such as seagulls and eagles have been known to swoop down upon the puffins’ cliffside burrows, sticking their head inside nests and stealing the chic eggs.

Baby ‘pufflings’, as they are called, are nocturnal – they need to be for survival. When they are just a few weeks old, the parents turn them out of the nest to enable them to learn the necessary survival skills that will take them into adulthood.  Sadly, there was a time when many pufflings would not survive here and many residents in the coastal towns near the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve would awaken in the morning to find dead puffins throughout their neighbourhoods from Bay Bulls and Witless Bay to Tors Cove.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.  ~Native American Proverb

ONCE UPON A VACATION After coming to Newfoundland on vacation more than 14 years ago, international film consultant and entrepreneur Juergen Schau, along with his wife Elfie loved this place so much that they purchased a home in Witless Bay and return every year to vacation in summer and at Christmastime.  It wasn’t long after Jeurgen and Elfie made the decision to live here when they decided to educate themselves as to why so many pufflings were crash landing in the towns and dying at their feet. The more Juergen talked to the locals, he learned that this was not an uncommon sight and that it had been occurring for many years.  So, he began researching and the more questions he asked, the more he learned.  In Norway and in Iceland, for example, where reportedly approximately 60% of all the world’s Atlantic puffins live, a similar phenomenon occurs soon after pufflings are born every year in July.

DID YOU KNOW?! Pufflings usually remain at sea when they leave the security of the nest, but they have poor eyesight at night and are guided on their journey by the moon.  Since they are instinctively seduced by light, the nearby lights of the communities all-too-often attract them on cloudy or foggy evenings when the baby pufflings are more prone to become lost and veer off their flight path.

PUFFIN PATROL  Juergen decided that something within his power could be done to help the puffins which he could not ignore.  At first, he started going out at night himself looking for pufflings to rescue, taking them home to secure them and then down to the beach the next morning to release them.  You might ask, why not release them as soon as they are found? It is believed that if the pufflings were to be released immediately back into the night, it would be futile as the situation would only be repeated.

Take care of the earth and she will take care of you.  ~Author Unknown

DIM DOWN THE LIGHTS!  However, Juergen did not feel it was enough to stop there.  He took on the task of printing 1,000 plus brochures and distributed them throughout the community, educating people about the birds’ plight and asking residents to dim any unnecessary lights at night.  He wasn’t sure at first how people would react but he soon found that they were only too willing to help, and the “Dim Down the Lights Program” was born!

THE TOWNSPEOPLE SIGN UP!  And, it wasn’t long before the townspeople people wanted to help in any way that they possibly could and were eager to enlist in Juergen’s “Puffin Patrol” setting out to find the birds that have fallen on town streets and in backyards during the night. The pufflings are placed in boxes with plenty of air holes and transported back to their sheds where they are cared for overnight and released back into the wild the next morning. Apparently, there is a right way to release a puffin back into their environment – the pufflings must be held so their wings are free and flapping before they are ‘thrown’ so they can properly take flight.  Once they take that first dive, after being given a second chance, they are well on their way to living a long life.

DID YOU KNOW? Puffins flap their wings at great speed (up to 400 beats per minute) and can reach flying speeds up to 55 miles per hour?  They can dive to depths of 200 feet and spend most of their lives at sea.  They even have a flying technique for underwater. Puffins find it easier to fly underwater since their wings are small.

Puffins return to land only in springtime, gradually building up their colonies as the egg-laying season draws nearer.  They nest in underground burrows well out of sight, several feet into the cliff and close to the cliff-top, allowing the parent birds to fly in quickly and then escape again to sea, giving their predators less opportunity to attack them. The nests are often carefully lined with bits of soft, dead plant material to cushion the eggs, which are usually laid in early May.

A puffin egg resembles closely that of a hen’s egg.  Both parents dutifully take a turn in incubating the egg for up to six weeks.   Near the end of July and early August, although the pufflings are not fully grown, they have reached about 70% of the adult’s weight and can fly reasonably well.  They are still vulnerable prey, however, for gulls and eagles so they must leave the nest at night, working their way down to the cliff-edge and taking off in the darkness.  They go by themselves and are out of sight of land by day-break.  From hereon in, they are on their own and begin their journey.  The young puffins remain at sea for up to two years.  From the age of two onward, the young spend more and more time at the colony in summer, searching for a prospective mate and borough.  Most puffins do not start to breed until they have reached age five!  The breeding success of Puffins is not very high; on average each pair rears a chick every two years and less than one in five of these young survive to reach breeding age.  It seems that once they have attained breeding age, they are long-lived birds.

THE LIFE OF A PUFFIN  Puffins eat mostly small fish and, if all goes well in the wild, they can live up to 20 years. There are even reports in some parts of the world of puffins who have lived to be 34 and 38 years old!

PUFFIN, THE PUFFIN – WHO’S GOT THE PUFFIN?!  The children of Witless Bay and surrounding communities are so immersed in the experience of saving the beautiful and loveable puffins, they even name each rescued bird!  In the early days of the Puffin Patrol, it was not unusual to save up to 20 birds in one night.  These numbers have now greatly reduced to just two or three, and on some nights none – proof the puffin program is working!

AN UNLIKELY HERO  What many people may not know is that for some 15 years, Jeurgen was Managing Director for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s numerous companies which include Global Entertainment Productions and Tri-Star Films in Germany and Austria (Sony’s largest market outside North America) and was responsible for budgets over 100 billion dollars. Throughout his high-profile Hollywood film career, he worked with many famous writers, directors, producers, managers and actors including the likes of Jack Nicholson, Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, John Travolta, Will Smith, Susan Sarandon, Drew Barrymore,  Jane Fonda, Cameron Diaz, Jodie Foster and more… And, he has driven a Morgan sports car for over 30 years, travelled the world, is active in many charities, and is a keen protector of whales.

I asked Jeurgen why he and Elfie choose to live a simpler life here in Newfoundland and why he looks out for the puffins.

Click on Jeurgen’s photo to take you directly to the Puffin Patrol’s website.

Jeurgen and Elfie’s home in Germany is in Berlin, where most of Jeurgen’s work takes him. Thanks to the internet, Jeurgen is able to coordinate his work at home in Europe from his Newfoundland home. When Jeurgen and Elfie are not in Germany or Hollywood, they love to spend their winters in Uruguay and in Baja California, where they have a keen interest in protecting grey whales. Juergen told me that he has made some 30 trips to Newfoundland in the past 14 years – Air Canada loves them! 🙂

The Puffin Patrol is now on and it’s a busy time in Witless Bay! Thank you Juergen and Elfie! We love you both for all that you do.

If you have these beautiful birds where you live, please visit the website below to learn how you can help make a difference. And, if you’d like to become part of the local Puffin Patrol, click on the link below:

Witless Bay Puffin Patrol

If you would like to hear the sound that a puffin makes, click the link below.  Once you’re there, scroll down to ‘AUDIO’.

Puffin Sound – National Geographic

NTV News Item

National Geographic Video – Iceland Experience

<a title=”NTV Puffin Video” href=”http://“>NTV News Video

CBC Article

The Telegram

Information Sources:  Puffin Patrol, CpAWS, Puffinpalooza, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Telegram, NTV, CBC, National Geographic

The Tea Garden

Enjoy a Leisurely Lunch, an Afternoon Tea, Sunday Dinner or Fine Evening Dining, Private Functions and Intimate Weddings at the Tea Garden...

Glorious Day, Everyone!

I have some happy news for those of you who love gardens and tea, and who live in this part of the world! The Tea Garden in Holyrood re-opened for the 2011 summer season on June 18th. YAY!  Their fresh pan-fried cod, signature homemade salad dressing, and iced tea are true delights! The slideshow below will give you a little glimpse into all that awaits.  Chances are there is a beautiful ‘tea garden’ somewhere near you…time to take a break. ♥

A good friend and her sister enjoy afternoon tea and the beautiful vistas. At The Tea Garden, it seems as though the hands of time stand still. Peaceful relaxation...


NOTE:  The Tea Garden closes for the season on September 11th.

My favourites - refreshing iced tea and tasty apple crumble dessert - served atop a crisp Battenburg lace-covered table outside on the sunny deck, watching the sailboats that dot the harbour glide by...

BEAUTIFUL IDEA: I made this winsome teapot-themed floral wreath (how appropriate!) some years ago for good friends and 'The Tea Garden' owners, Brendan and Marie Hunt. It was a 'Thank-You' for their being so kind as to host 'TEA SPOTS - PAWS FOR TEA', a Ruff-Spots Animal Welfare Foundation fundraiser to spay and neuter sweet shelter animals...It celebrated the start of the summer season, as well as a fabulous event...Lovely! To this day, it still hangs on the door there.

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