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“Room to Bloom!” Guest Blogger at “Living Large in Small Spaces”

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Dear Friends,

Today, I am excited to be guest blogging over at Nancy Reinke’s “A Joyful Cottage”.  Do you know Nancy, particularly her “Living Large In Small Spaces” series?  It is really fantastic and so many fresh ideas await.

Nancy happened upon my post that I shared a few years ago about my mom’s tiny room at a personal care facility and thought her readers might be inspired by it.  I transformed my mom’s room there from an uninviting, lifeless space into a cozy, inspirational cocoon that she immediately loved the moment she opened the door unto it.  Elderly people, after all, enjoy beautiful surroundings the same as anyone else does. So, I hope you will join us over at Nancy’s blog, particularly if you have a special senior in your life.  Even if you don’t, I’m sure you’ll find lots more at A Joyful Cottage to set your thoughts going. You just might want to put the kettle on and settle in for a bit!

I am so honoured that Nancy asked me to share on her gorgeous blog today. I’ve never been a guest blogger before – ever- and I am very excited!  I hope you will drop by A Joyful Cottage for “Room to Bloom!” and say, “Hello” to Nancy.  See you there!

I would also like to thank the lovely Kathy, author of the blog “A Delightome Life” who kindly featured my last post, Kitchen Leftovers that Sparkle, at her a A Return To Loveliness party, and also to sweet  Sherry at “The Charm of Home” for featuring the same post at Home Sweet Home. You are so very kind ladies, especially since I was so late sharing those holiday images! Lol.

Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! EnJOY!

Linda

I’m partying at Make It Pretty MondayAmaze Me Monday, Much Ado About Monday, Creative Mondays,  Inspiration Monday, Teatime Tuesday, Teacup Tuesday, Friends Sharing TeaTweak It Tuesday, A Return to Loveliness, The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday, Wake Up Wednesday, What We Accomplished Wednesday, The (not just) Homemaking partyWordless Wednesday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Home and Garden Thursday, What To Do Weekends, Show and Tell, Feathered Nest Friday, Simple and Sweet Fridays, Home Sweet Home.

Pink Trees and Cherry Tea!

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Happy Spring,

Dear Friends!

Today, I am steeping one of my favourite teas – Kyoto Cherry Rose scented with natural cherry and rose flavours.  It is pale yellow in colour with a heavenly aroma and sweet taste.

Would you like a cuppa in my prized vintage China pattern? “Apple Blossom” is a stunning profusion of pink-petaled apple trees.  I LOVE this pattern!  I found it when I wasn’t looking at a roadside antiques barn while vacationing on Prince Edward Island a few summers ago! It was such a thrilling and unexpected find. Isn’t that always the way! I think I must have danced right out the door with my newspaper-wrapped bundles of joy! I hope one day to stumble across a matching teapot to complete the set.  I will just have to keep on treasure hunting…

I LOVE this pattern’s history in that it was insightfully commissioned in the early 1960’s by the Chair of Nova Scotia’s Apple Blossom Festival, then in just its second year. This enduring pattern is an artist’s rendition of springtime in Annapolis Valley when the apple blossoms are exploding all over the countryside. All these years later, the festival remains a much-loved annual tradition there.

I LOVE, too, pink-flowering trees! But you probably could have guessed that already? Each spring, I make a special pilgrimage to a particular street in the heart of our city that is lined with gracious century-old homes on handsome, mature lots.  One home on the street stands out from the rest.  Along its perimeter marches a legion of stately Japanese Cherry trees.  Their entangled branches, thickly laden with exquisite fluffy pink blooms, reach way out over the hefty black fence that rings the property, and bend down to the street like low-hanging frothy clouds of cotton candy!  Delicious, pure pink abundance!  My feet and heart always dance together at the sight.  It makes my day every time!

P1070224Wherever these frothy pink specimens grow in abundance, there is an intense ‘Bloom Watch’ and visitors queue by the hundreds to see the magic of the cherry trees unfurl in a fleeting spectacular show of renewal. Their pink vapour of nature’s perfection fill the landscapes with intense beauty, wonderment and emotion.

To the Japanese, the fallen petals of the cherry blossom symbolize a soldier who has died in battle long before his time. But Spring blooms also represent strength, rebirth and hope for the future…

Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow!” She was so right about that. To plant pink trees is to beautify our communities and to help grow a future without breast cancer…I believe! The seeds of Pink Days In Bloom’s “The Pink Tree Project” in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region are just beginning to be sowed…

Those of you who have been following my blog for some time already may know that I am a breast cancer “Thriver” and that when I was on medical leave a few years ago recovering from treatments, I decided to combine my love of gardening with the overwhelming need to do something, anything, to help fight this disease in some way…

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0001GpHere are several links to some of the articles about Pink Days In Bloom in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Atlantic Region that appeared in our local newspaper last year. It’s a bit of a story and I think these next few articles probably best summarize how the seed was first planted and how it has continued to grow and flourish with the support of an amazing group of like-minded, dedicated volunteers and a caring business community:
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PHOTO:  Pink Days In Bloom’s Signature Garden Faeries ‘Hope’ and ‘Invincibelle’ with O’Brien’s Boat Tours‘ mermaid mascot, Miss Shell, during ‘Pink Days In Bloom On the Sea!’ in the Town of Bay Bulls last summer…
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The Empress Hotel’s world- famous Tea Lobby is a glorious place to enjoy a spot of tea!  You can see some photos of this grand lady in my previous post, THE ELEGANT EMPRESS.
During “Pink Tree Day in the Park” and “Tea Sea-to-Sea” on June 8, at the same hour that we will be planting a pink-flowering tree in Bowring Park, one of our city’s most cherished parks, here St. John’s, Newfoundland on Canada’s East Coast, our dear friends at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia on the Country’s West Coast will also plant a pink “sister” tree on their hotel grounds.
And, while we are celebrating and FUNdRaising over tea and champagne at The Bungalow, The Empress team will host a Pink Days In Bloom Tea of their own and “Sip in Support”. Isn’t that AWESOME!  
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On June 8th, you, too, can pick up your cup in support, whether on your iPad, in the office, at the kitchen table, by the pool or wherever you happen to be via a Virtual Tea!  I would love it if you could join us. Simply brew your favourite cuppa and click:  cbcf.org/GetInvolved/Donate.  Ask your family, friends and co-workers to join in, too. It’s that easy!
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For TWITTER LOVERS:  On June 8th, Tweet about your tea experience at #PinkDaysInBloom and your Tweets can be seen by guests of The Empress on a screen near their world-famous Tea Lobby, bringing us all even closer together in ‘growing’ a future without breast cancer!
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I am so excited about this next beautiful event! THANK YOU to our dear friends at The Empress for sharing in the cause! Please show them your LOVE! ‘Like’ The Empress on Facebook. Or, visit them at Fairmont.com/Empress-Victoria to discover their fabulous get-away packages and legendary afternoon teas…If you haven’t visited The Empress and Victoria yet, it’s a must to add to your bucket list!
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Read all about this exciting and meaningful event below! I hope it will help explain why I have been away from my blog these past few months!
I have met so many beautiful people on this journey. Thank you Proven Winners for the ‘Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea’ – a tough plant that is working hard to find a cure, to all the committed volunteers and amazing supporters.  Without you, it would not be possible.  It means so very much to me and so many others. XO  I hope you will join us wherever you are on June 8th for pink trees and cherry tea and for HOPE, AWARENESS AND SUPPORT!
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I hope you enjoy the photos of pretty china and the pink tree cookies made by my sweet friend Maria of Petite Sweet! Thank you so much for taking precious time out of your day to visit with me. Please leave your beautiful footprint to let me know that yo were here, and so I can visit you in return!  XO
Wishing you a beautiful day and Happy Mother’s Day weekend,

Linda

 Please ‘Like’ Pink Days In Bloom on Facebook.

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P1070144P1070147P1070151P1070163P1070153A true warrior, like tea, shows his strength in hot water. – Ancient Chinese proverb

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Hope yours is a blue-sky kind of day…

I’m happy to be sharing today in honour of Mother’s Day at Inspiration Monday, Make It Pretty Monday, Tea Time Tuesday, Return to LovelinessMartha’s Favourite, The Scoop, Inspire Me Tuesday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Do Tell Tuesday, What’s It Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, Wake UpWednesdayWhat We Accomplished Wednesday, Before and After WednesdayHope in Every SeasonCottage Style Party, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Simple and Sweet FridayFeathered Nest Friday,  Show and Tell Friday, Fabulously Creative Friday, Shabbilicious Friday, Saturday Show OffWhat To Do WeekendsPink SaturdayThe Charm of Home, Bouquet of Talent!

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

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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

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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:

 COLOURFUL ST. JOHN’S

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. 

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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? 
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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.
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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 …
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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.
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Delicate faeries dance around the middle of the tree trunk on their climb to the top.
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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”. 

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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.

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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…”
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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.”  
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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.  
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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!

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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.

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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…

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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. 🙂

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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!

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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…

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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?

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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, Bowring.com

Pink Days in Bloom!

These roses bloomed from a rose tree-standard in a planter on my deck last season.  They are called ‘Waterfall’…

Welcome Dear Friends, Old and New!

TEA ANYONE?  I invite you to sit and sip a cuppa with me. Do you like raspberry herbal? I enjoy it very much without anything added, but you may like to try a little lemon or honey.  It’s a tasty rosy pink tisane!  I am so excited that you stopped by for a visit today!
A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN A YEAR!  Things are happening which I alluded to in a past Christmas post and promised that I would tell you about.  We have much to talk about. In fact, I have so much to talk with you about today that there are two parts to this post!  If you are a regular visitor to ‘Beautiful Ideas’, you may have noticed that I have been taking a little break from blogging lately.  Actually, I have been so busy partly because of the blog and the amazing opportunities that it has brought with it this past year, which was my first year of blogging!  Whew! A lot can happen in a year!  First, have a listen to this gorgeous Celtic Woman with the voice of an angel.  I love how she sings, “When You Believe”.  What happens when we believe in something?!  It fuels our enthusiasm, uplifts our spirit and often becomes our passion…
I think this performance was filmed at Powerscourt House and Gardens in Ireland – a place to add to my “Must-Visit Gardens” list…

“WHEN YOU DO nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.” ~ Unknown

GROWING PINK DAYS! I have been occupied in recent months tending a garden of sorts – growing ‘Garden Pink Days’ a high-spirited fun’draiser for breast cancer research, equipment and programs in my home province. The first local Garden Pink Days was held last July at a favourite garden centre, Pat’s Plants and Gardens.  It was a beautiful success!

Pink Days is about Awareness, Hope & Support for persons with breast cancer, their families & friends; while at the same time, promoting gardening as part of healthy & beautiful living.  Raising funds for breast cancer research, programs & equipment is a bonus.  Pink Days is a way like no other that enables garden centres to connect with their gardening customers in creating a future without breast cancer.  Pink Days is a Win-Win for everyone involved!”

 
THE SEED IS PLANTED…  The first seed was planted last June as I was browsing the pages of a gardening magazine. Proven Winners, a well-known grower to many gardeners, was promoting its first hybridized pink Annabelle hydrangea, ‘Invincibelle Spirit’, specially developed in tribute to persons with breast cancer.  For every plant sold, Proven Winners will donate $1 and up to $1 million to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. To date, proceeds from sales of ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ are climbing to nearly half a million dollars for breast cancer research!

The impossible can always be broken down into possibilities. ~Author Unknown

TRUE BEAUTY AND DEEP MEANING IN THE GARDEN   I loved the idea of having a way to add beauty and true meaning to my garden, and to honour my beloved mom-in-law,  Ethel, who died from breast cancer in November 2009.  She was an avid gardener, a best friend, a kindred spirit… Every day I miss having her in my life. And, off I went in search of the ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ for my garden to honour Ethel’s beautiful spirit in our garden. I found the pink plant at Pat’s Plants and Gardens, Bay Bulls. Many of you know already that I was on medical leave at the time myself recovering from breast cancer treatments. So, for me, the plant has even greater significance.
IF YOU BELIEVE … When I returned from Pat’s Plants and Gardens, I googled the plant and discovered that Proven Winners has a ‘Pink Days’ campaign.  I immediately contacted Pat Puddester, the owner of the glorious garden centre where I had purchased my plant, and asked if she might consider hosting a Pink Day to raise funds in support of breast cancer research, programs and equipment in this province.  Pat not only said, “Yes!”, she insisted that we hold an entire Pink Weekend! What a woman! In addition to funds raised from prize draws, auction items, and other fun activities, Pat offered to contribute 10% of pink plant sales throughout the weekend!  Pink Days generated a lot of excitement and positive buzz about town. Just a few short weeks later, we had ourselves a beautiful and successful Garden Pink Day! We raised over $2,300.  You can see what we did and photos here, here , and here .  Pat and I, and many of the volunteers that day, have since become good friends – another beautiful bonus of Pink Days!

Make your optimism come true. ~Author Unknown

A TRULY BEAUTIFUL IDEA! Proven Winners actively promotes their Pink Day campaign in the U.S.  Initially, I emailed the company and thanked them for the beautiful idea of the Invicibelle Spirit pink hyrangea.  They were thrilled to know that Pink Days was in bloom here!  Shortly after that first contact, Proven Winners asked to use this blog post about our local event as part of a presentation to their major growers to let them know the impact of the plant and the Pink Days campaign in this part of the world!

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way. ~Abraham Lincoln

 EXPERIENCE PINK…  A month or so after the inaugural Pink Days here, Proven Winners emailed me (while I was on holiday on Prince Edward Island, meeting my new friend Carolyn Aiken of the popular blog Aiken Home and Gardens!) to say they would be attending a huge international industry conference in Chicago the following week, and could they use articles from my blog posts possibly for distribution in their media kits.  Over 10,000 people would be attending. And could they, too, incorporate some of the blog photos from this post in their table centrepieces at a luncheon they would be hosting for 500 guests – just to let people know what they’d be missing out on if they didn’t host a Pink Day!!  No problem! WHAHOO!

We will either find a way or make one. ~Hannibal

I CAN’T BELIEVE!  Okay, here’s where I say, “I can’t believe what just happened!”  Barely four short months after the first-ever Pink Days was hosted at Pats Plants and Gardens here in Newfoundland, I was invited to Toronto to speak at a national industry conference of representatives from independent garden centres across Canada hosted by Sheridan Nurseries.  I was to tell about my own story about having breast cancer and my personal Pink Day experience. The beautiful Stacey Hirvela from Proven Winners was presenting and she was playing the photos on the big screen behind her of our fun’draiser as an inspiration to others! The dream for me has been that in the years to come, the idea of Pink Days will catch on and continue to spread across our fair Island.  I could never  have dreamed in a zillion years,  that I would have an opportunity to champion the cause to owners of garden centres across the country!!!

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. ~Mayo Angelou

I am thrilled to tell you that Pink Days has grown this year to include five (Yes, 5!) AWESOME garden centres on the Avalon Peninsula in Summer 2012.  Pat’s Plants and Gardens is excitedly looking forward to hosting its Second Annual Garden Pink Days on July 14-15.  Generously joining in the cause are:  Hickey’s Greenhouses, both their Dunville (June 30) and Kelligrews, Conception Bay South (July 7) locations; Shand Nurseries, Pouch Cove (July 21), and O’Neill’s Gardlenland, Spaniards Bay (July 22).   And, interest is growing…

I hope you enjoyed your tea!

PINK BLOOMS!  This year, Landscape Newfoundland and Labrador, too, has joined the cause in kindly contributing space at its Spring Landscaping and Garden Show and Symposium on Saturday, April 28th and Sunday, April 29th at the Jack Byrne Arena, Torbay enabling ‘Pink Days in Bloom!’ to be promoted to the thousands of visitors to the show.  Canada’s own gardening guru Mark Cullen will be their special guest!

INSPIRING WOMEN… More recently, I was invited to a meeting of a local breast cancer support group (the first time I’ve ever been to anything like this) specifically to talk with members about Pink Days.  Many of them volunteered to help get the word out at the Garden Show!  Thank you to all you lovely ladies who signed up!  You are the best!

Four short words sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd: a little bit more. They did all that was expected of them and a little bit more. ~A. Lou Vickery

THANK YOU!  I am over-the-moon by the enthusiasm and support demonstrated by local businesses and volunteers; including women living with breast cancer, survivors, and their families and friends.  It is beyond inspiring to see all of these people so willingly give back to their communities. The high energy, big-heartedness, and all-embracing spirit – even among strangers – that springs from a Pink Day event is palpable and infectious.
A WAY LIKE NO OTHER… Garden Pink Days is really a way like no other in connecting with people, young and old, who live in our neighbourhoods, while offering comfort and support to fight the disease.  Raising funds for breast cancer research is a bonus!  To someone like me,  Pink Days mean the world.  We have to believe that the cause and cure for breast cancer will be found in our lifetime, so our children today will not have to suffer tomorrow.

 

And, speaking of children…I could not resist sharing with you this photo of my precious young grandnieces Victoria, 8 and Lily, 1. Big sister just adores little sister!  I played with the special effects a bit…I love how it looks a little like an oil painting.  What do you think?  

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  ~Maya Angelou

THOUGHT-PROVOKING QUESTION:   “Is there inequity between the iconic ‘Pink Ribbon’ campaign proceeds and breast cancer research?” Is your curiousity peaked?  Stay tuned for ‘PINK TWIST’ – Part II of this post…

PLEASE BE SURE TO VISIT PINK DAYS IN BLOOM ON FACEBOOK…

Many thanks for choosing to spend some precious moments of your day here!  

I’m so glad you came.

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Linda

I am joining Meet Me MondayMasterpiece MondayTeatime Tuesday, Bloomin Tuesday, Tuesday Garden PartyYour Cozy Home PartyTea Cuppa TuesdayTea Party TuesdayA Return to Loveliness, Friends Sharing Tea, Outdoor WednesdayWhat’s It Wednesday, Time Traveller Thursday, Open House Party,   Simply Sweet, Seasonal SundaySunlit Sunday and Spring Link Blog Hop Party!!


A ROOM WITH A VIEW!

Bringing the outdoors in…A garden table, chairs and cushions from Pier 1; ceramic rooster, table linens and glassware from HomeSense; and an inviting teaset from Bowring all combine to breathe new life into a teeny senior’s room.

Dear Friends,

It’s freeeezzzzing outside, so come on inside and stay awhile where it’s warm and cozy! The kettle is whistling and I’m just about to brew a pot of comfort tea…

Today I thought I would share with you a video that I made of my Mom’s room when she moved into a ‘Seniors’ Home’ last May. Would you like to see it?

The room ‘BEFORE’ was institutional, bleak, impersonal and, admittedly, depressing…While Mom had decided that she would like to move into a ‘Home’, I think when she first saw her room empty (except for the standard furnishings provided and that were adopted by the former occupant), the prospect may have seemed somewhat daunting to her. I was on medical leave from my work at the time recovering from breast cancer treatments, and I felt sad about it all. But I knew in my heart that it was the best for everyone concerned. The staff at the ‘Home’ are all such beautiful, supportive people; and I knew instantly,too, that she would be given the best care possible there.

I set to work straight away dreaming about improvements I could make to the space and how to turn it into a REAL ‘home’ for Mom. The following few weeks were spent planning, choosing paint colours (I had convinced the wonderful owners of the Home to allow me to paint over the existing ‘cold stone’ shade), shopping for furniture and accessories, scheduling deliveries and pulling it all together.  Mom hadn’t seen any of the things I had purchased for her new room (her own furniture was way too oversized to fit); and although she knew that I was working on the space, she never saw it until it was entirely finished. When she walked into the room for the first time, it was a total surprise to her!  My mom loved the transformation, as did the owners of the Home – a relief on both counts. The ‘AFTER’ was warm, inviting, personal, charming and uplifting!

My 83-year old mom sees her room for the first time! Her new friends from ‘The Home’, Ruby and Laura, can’t wait to see the transformation either!

The paint colours are Martha Stewart’s muslin and sugar white. I kept the backdrop neutral to accommodate the cheery mix of pattern, hues and textures that were introduced into the room. The industrial-style blinds were camouflauged, layering gold silk panels (Pier 1) over floral-embroidered ivory sheers (Madison Mackenzie) hung on a brass rod with glass finials (Wal-mart) that extended well beyond the window molding giving the illusion of a larger space.

I had trouble finding a table small enough to fit in the room. Given it functions as a TV room, study, dinette, parlour and bedroom, it is, indeed, a tiny ‘multi-tasker’ of a space! Fitting numerous, much-needed furnishings in the room while maximizing storage and ensuring safety and ease of movement posed a real challenge.

At Pier 1, I discovered a creamy-white wrought iron patio table with a glass top (it accommodates  a ‘sunbrella’). It just happened to be the perfect size, and the clear glass gives the illusion as though it ‘floats’ in the room. A solid table would have crowded the room, lending a much heavier feeling. I don’t think the space would have been ‘up for it’.  And, I was going for an airy, refreshing look so I decided to bring a little outdoors in. I purchased it along with a pair of coordinating chairs with pretty fanned backs (they provide interest) along with some outdoor, easy-care cushions for beauty, comfort and practicality! Additionally, the wooden tri-fold screen strategically positioned in the corner behind the settee (it warms the wall), petite ivory striped chest with crystal knobs near the closet, and brown wicker foot rest with red silk tufted pillow at the foot of the bed all came from Pier 1.

A bargain mirror at HomeSense for just $34 helps to create the illusion of additional space. A second mirror in a varying shape but coordinating frame (behind the dresser on the opposite side of the room)  was a find from Cohens at just $54!

A glorious ceramic rooster (HomeSense) sits atop the table.  His base fits nicely over where the umbrella is normally inserted in the table.  My mom dearly loves the rooster and laments often that it doesn’t cocka-doodle-doo! Pity! Although, I don’t think her ‘Home mates’ in neighbouring rooms would appreciate a rooster crowing at the crack of dawn!

The pretty blue transferware plates that hang on the wall came from my own cupboard!  The wall sconce was a purchase from Bombay Company (the candle inside the hurricane is battery-operated). The beautiful yellow-and-red ceramic lamp with silk shade, petite black-and-floral camel-back settee (my favourite piece) and gold armchair are from Hayward Interiors, a favourite design store. The custom headboard (it had to fit below the thermostat and fan control on the wall) was constructed from fabric found in the bargain bin at a local upholstery shop.  The cheery rooster bed linens were ordered on-line from Garnet Hill, and the buttery matelasse bedspread and sham were also ordered on-line from J.C. Penney.

The larger dresser with a stencilled pattern was a real find, just $295 from HomeSense! It is charming and lends less-bedroom and more-dining-room feel, and doubles as a TV/lamp stand.  The pair of smaller crystal lamps, coordinating mirrors, framed prints and floor rugs, were good buys at Winners.  The rugs really warmed up the hardwood floors and seemed to complete the room,  making it snug and appealing.

The scrolly iron plant stand (Winner’s) hosts a fountain with a lifelike frog (Alderberry Blum). Water bubbles up through a bamboo shoot; the sound is soothing. Realistic silken flowers and leafy ferns surround it and contribute a breath of spring to the room.  The framed prints of birds, butterflies, and dragon flies, as well as the colourful florals on the settee, and winged faeries that alight around the room in unexpected places all help to carry the enchanting garden inspired theme.

When I first toured the ‘Seniors’ Home’, I immediately noted  the doors that opened into most rooms, first revealed the person’s bed. I purposely arranged the furniture in Mom’s room so that the bed is the last thing to be seen.  Rather, a beautiful patterned rug, the pleasant music of a water fountain, life-like gorgeous blooms and an illuminated garden lamp with a tin shade (O’Neill’s Gardenland) reflected in a large mirror, that seemingly expands the space, greet visitors upon first entering the room. A marvelous chair and brightly coloured divan (I love how the yellow, melon, red, and lilac floral pattern wakes up the black fabric)  accented with a wooden screen draped with ferns beckons in the background.

I wanted the space to feel less like a hospital room, or a bedroom, and more like ‘home’ where family and friends are comfortable. I easily change up the accessories just a bit with the celebrations of the seasons, and that keeps it fun and interesting for Mom and her friends at the ‘Home’.

And, well, let’s just say that since the room has taken on a new personality  (thank you to Judy and Lolly at the ‘Home’ for letting my family do this for our Mom), our outlook has changed regarding what it means to live in a Seniors’ Home.

I tried my darndest to keep the room bright, light and joyous, a space where Mom would be content and love coming ‘home’ to.  I want her to feel good about her room and look forward to it whenever she opens the door to it. And, when family visit, I want them to feel encouraged to stay longer and enjoy their visit with her. With a little imagination, Mom’s room is now an inviting, cheery space that offers a sense of relaxing comfort and hospitality that says, “Welcome Home!”

Click here for the video of Mom’s Room With A View

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I love seeing you! And, I’d love to hear your ideas about decorating a small space for a senior…Join in the conversation!

Wishing you a beautiful day every day,

Linda

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, But beautiful old people are works of art.
~Eleanor Roosevelt

More photos…I’ll be adding some over the next day or two, so be sure to come back!

Before…

My 83-year old mom looks out the window of her new room at ‘The Home’

My hubby helps me to measure the room…

After…

Today, I am delighted to be joining Masterpiece Monday, Make the Scene MondayMetamorphosis Monday, Meet Me Monday, Show Off Your Cottage Monday, Market Yourself Monday, Do It YA Self MondayYour Cozy Home PartyTea Time Tuesday, Knick of Time TuesdayWOW Us WednesdayWhat’s It Wednesday, Southern Lovely for Show and Share, Home and Garden Thursday , Home and Garden Thursday, Open House, Thrifty Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Feathered Nest Friday, Inspiration Friday, Vintage Inspiration Friday, Thrifty Things Friday, Furniture Feature Friday, Potpourri Friday, Fridays Unfolded, Saturday Splendour, Home Sweet Home, Once Upon A Weekend,  Show Me Extraordinary, Seasonal Sundays, The More The Merrier, Creative Bloggers Hop PartyFriends Sharing Tea and Healthy Wealthy Moms Blog Hop!

Random Acts of Kindness…

Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.
— C. Neil Strait

Some carrot cake left over from “A Special Tea, Tour and More”…Click on the photo with this heading in the sidebar and it’ll take you directly to the post!

Happy New Year Dear Friends,

I love you all! Thank you to each of  you for being so encouraging and supportive this past year. It has been an amazing journey with you so far.

I first began blogging in 2011 as a source of ‘happy therapy’, a positive focus while on medical leave from my work  recovering from treatments for breast cancer.  The warm words you wrote on my blog and my heart helped me get through some dark days and lifted my spirits more than you can ever imagine.

And, I could never have imagined the amazing opportunities that came these past months from blogging!  I’ll tell you a bit more about that in a later post, I promise…

First, let’s have a ‘cuppa’, shall we?  And, would you also like some home baked carrot cake with snowy cream cheese frosting to go with your tea? This is a moist and delicious-tasting cake.  There was a little left from “A Christmas Tea for Lucas” so I popped it in the freezer and saved it just for our visit today.  It still has its wonderfully ‘fresh-from-the-oven’ goodness! Yum!

As you can see, I am still enjoying my Christmas decor.  Indeed, many of my friends and neighbours, it seems, are also a little reluctant to say good-bye to that holiday feeling.  I’m sure that will likely change in the next week or so.  For now, the house is all cozy with the warmth that the holiday decorations provide.

Today I heard something beautiful, and I just have to relay this story to you as it made my day!  TRULY!

Have you ever heard of  ‘Random Acts of Kindness’?! I got the idea while watching the Oprah show one day many years ago.  Hubby and I were inspired by the program’s theme and have been doing little spontaneous things like this ever since, and it always brings us so much joy…

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.— Mother Teresa

This morning, my husband and I dropped by our regular weekend haunt for breakfast.  I was anxious to talk with our waitress Kim to find out the reaction of a group of four police officers (two male and two female) whom we had surprised last time we visited the cafe (the day after Boxing Day) by asking her to add the price of the police officers’ breakfasts to our own breakfast bill – but, please, not to tell the officers about their complimentary breakfasts until AFTER we had left the restaurant and they were waiting on their bills.  We wanted it to be a SURPRISE to them.  🙂

And, apparently, it was!  A BIG SURPRISE! Kim told us that the officers were totally blown away when she announced to them that their breakfasts had already been been paid for by the YOUNG (she did say young :-)) couple that had been seated at the table next to them. They hardly knew what to say and couldn’t believe that someone would actually do something so nice for them – I can’t imagine why NOT?!  (Police officers, and other uniformed service persons, are often under appreciated for the potentially dangerous work that they do on behalf of public safety.) The officers told the waitress that IT made their Christmas, as well as their New Year’s! And, I could hardly believe THAT!  I started to get goosebumps to know that they were just so thrilled by the treat.  Kim went on to tell us more…

When you carry out acts of kindness, you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, “Yes, this is how I ought to feel.”
— Harold Kushner

As the four officers were leaving the cafe that morning, they were still commenting on the anonymous gesture that had so pleasantly shocked and surprised them.  Within mere seconds after the door had closed behind them, one of the male officers quickly popped back inside and headed toward the cash with a purpose in mind. He told the waitress that because someone had been so nice as to buy breakfast for him and his colleagues that he wanted to pay it forward and asked to take care of the breakfast bill for the couple who had been sitting at the table behind him and his fellow officers! Oooh, the goosebumps are getting bigger by the minute. But wait, there’s more yet to tell…
Sooo, when the waitress informed the equally surprised couple that a police officer had paid for their breakfast, they understandably questioned, ” Why would a police officer pay for OUR breakfasts?!” And, Kim was excited and delighted to explain to the couple WHY the officer had, indeed, done so….The  amazed and grateful couple announced, “Well, it won’t stop here!” They then asked to pay for the breakfasts for the persons who were sitting behind them, and so it went…  Our good deed was paid forward a total of  four times before it all ended!  Talk about ‘the ripple effect’!!! WHOO HOO! Ya just gotta love it, my friends!
Isn’t that awesome?!  Who knew?! Just imagine if EVERY PERSON demonstrated an act of kindness EVERY DAY  toward someone else and there was such a chain reaction! What a better world this would be in no time!
DID YOU KNOW?  ‘Random Acts of Kindness Week’ is February 13-19. The week-long awareness initiative is an invitation to individuals, businesses, schools, community groups, health institutions, service clubs – ALL – to join hands and hearts together in the ‘Kindness Revolution’ to make a positive difference in this world, not just for one week but EVERY DAY.  BRILLIANT and BEAUTIFUL!
The only New Year’s resolution that I am making this year (and one that I know I will try very hard to keep) is to do more “Random Acts of Kindness”…

Try to make at least one person happy every day.  If you cannot do a kind deed, speak a kind word.  If you cannot speak a kind word, think a kind thought.  Count up, if you can, the treasure of happiness that you would dispense in a week, in a year, in a lifetime!    Lawrence G. Lovasik (The Hidden Power of Kindess)

Some ‘Pink Love’…See more in posts Ornaments of Wonder and Angels Among Us!

Thank you for visiting.  I appreciate your spending time with me.  I hope that someone is kind to you today and that you are, in turn, inspired to perform a “Random Act of Kindness”…

Wishing you a beautiful day,
Linda XO

Fashion your life as a garland of beautiful deeds.  Buddha

I found the news clip below on-line and had to add it to this post.  It seems this is happening in many other places, too!  Isn’t it so refreshing?!

 RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS MULTIPLYING AT A BLUFFTON COFFEE SHOP

A CHRISTMAS TEA, TOUR AND MORE…

No one has ever become poor by giving. – Ann Frank

CAUTION:  There’s alot of Christmas spirit in this post!  Take a few moments to yourself away from all the hustle and bustle, settle into your favourite armchair with a cuppa, put up your feet, and just breathe…

A Christmas “Togetherness Tea Party” at our home was actually a fabulous fundraiser.  Holiday teas were poured from beautiful teapots. There were sweet treats, hugs and lots of fun!  At long last, it seemed, the Christmas season had officially begun…

Welcome Kindred Christmas Spirits,

It is such a pleasure  to relate to you something wonderful that happened just over a week ago! Last Sunday afternoon (December 11th), my husband and I hosted the most beautiful Holiday Tea that we have ever held in our home.  It was an open house: a buffet tea and tour of our home decked out in all the season’s finery. The event was actually a fundraiser named: “A Christmas Tea for Lucas”

THE SEASON OF GIVING  Over 60 persons (50 adults plus children) gathered at our home over a few joyous hours for the sound of jingling bells, twinkling lights, a rejuvenating cuppa, home-baked treats and heartwarming friendship – a time to celebrate all that is good about this time of year. Together, feeling inspired by the beauty and giving spirit of the season, we raised a grand total $1,475.00! Isn’t that AMAZING in just a few hours over tea and dessert?!  A Christmas miracle, indeed!

OVER TEA AND BLOGGING  I had been planning “A Christmas Tea for Lucas” for months – since late summer when we visited Prince Edward Island solely to meet my new friend through blogging Carolyn Aiken (you can read about it here) of the popular blog Aiken Home and Gardens. Undoubtedly, many of you already know Carolyn and are long-time fans of her gentle blog about her romantic life on glorious Prince Edward Island.

Lucas with a sock monkey named “Linda” that was made specially for the Tea and sent along in the mail from Prince Edward Island to my Island of Newfoundland. I must admit that I’ve never before had a sock monkey named after me!

On the final day of our visit with Carolyn and her husband Andrew back in August, and before leaving the Island, Carolyn and I sat together at her table in her welcoming kitchen and shared a cup of friendship.  She relayed to me that she and Andrew are blessed with 7 children and 9 grandchildren. One dear grandson, 6-year old little Lucas, had been diagnosed at the young age of just 2 years with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). It  affects only boys – as many as 1 in 3,000. I never knew that. In fact, I knew very little about DMD at all before then.

Lucas and his mom, Jen (Carolyn and Andrew’s daughter), were about to embark on a journey that would cause them to travel from their home on Prince Edward Island to a Montreal hospital each week for 52 weeks for Lucas’ participation in drug trials there.  It is hoped that these drugs will slow the progression of the disease. We are all wishing the best for sweet Lucas and his family.

As Carolyn and I were chatting on for hours, the time seemed to just fly by!  We shared  our common interests, pursuits, dreams, AND worries while sipping soothing peppermint tea and eating Carolyn’s tasty home-baked scones and pie. I promised my new friend then and there that come the holidays, I would host “A Christmas Tea for Lucas”.  It would be a way to embrace dear Lucas and his family on their journey, to let them know that someone was thinking of them, sending them positive energy; and to demonstrate, in some small measure, financial support for Carolyn’s daughter and her family during a most challenging time in their young lives. Christmas, after all, IS a time for family.  And, aren’t we ALL family? Every one of us needs a shoulder sometimes and a helping hand. The kindness of others helps to make our load a little lighter at times. People, even strangers, were so kind to me when I was going through treatments for breast cancer not so long ago; I just wanted to pay that forward somehow.  And, thus the seed was planted there on verdant Prince Edward Island at Carolyn’s hospitable kitchen table…

Singing angels (from left to right Memorial University of Music students Steven Griffin, Courtney Woodford, Chris Davis and Teri Slade) lend a neighbourly caring to the afternoon’s event. These outstanding (pardon the pun) young people volunteered their precious time to raise funds for cancer research! Carolling is a rare and precious treat nowadays in this age of cds, music dvds and satellite radio! Thank you for the beautiful gift of your voices. You were truly wonderful and just made the day for all of us! I hope you will come back and share with us again next year…

FOUR MONTHS LATER, ON ANOTHER ISLAND… Christmas carollers with the voices of angels spreading the good news of the season greeted guests as they came up the walkway to our front door on that festive afternoon, immediately elevating everyone’s mood!

Can you see the crown of fresh fruit over the door?

Smiling, happy faces. Cheery greetings. Big hugs. Waves of gratitude and giving.

All were met with a fresh pineapple welcome (notice the door crown fashioned from a whole pineapple and bunches of shiny red apples), Colonial Williamsburg style.

Hand-and-tummy warming apple cider on the stove top. Frothy vanilla egg nog served in a vintage amber glass bowl and cups. Steaming flavourful teas poured from beautiful teapots. Fresh-from-the-oven desserts and special sweets of the season in abundance to tempt the taste buds.

The merry sound of jingle bells with each opening of the door. The warmth of twinkling white faerie lights all through the house. A holiday home tour. Prizes to be won and surprises, too!

Even an astonishing pop-in visit from jolly old Saint Nick himself in the finest cherry-red suit that I have ever laid eyes upon! (How on earth did you get word to Santa, good neighbour George, that we were having a special party that day?! And, how did Santa ever find time at this busiest time of year?! Muuuaahhh!). Children and adults alike were wide-eyed with wonder at the sight of the jolly gent. And, oh, the laughter!!! What holiday fun!

Handmade season wreaths plentifully fashioned from natural pine, fir, cedar and LOVE were for sale, contributed by a dear young friend with all proceeds going to the cause. Thank you, Brittany, for your generous heart! Every wreath sold and for a pretty price! People gave way more than we were suggesting – and, in one instance nearly ten time more! WOW!

THE BEST GIFT  Kindness. Caring. Generosity. Sharing. Wide-open hearts. There was a real camaraderie, a connection of some kind in the air that is hard to describe with mere words. The sheer excitement was almost palpable. It was true Christmas spirit like I’ve never experienced! And, to top it all off, snow started falling softly outside the windows, as if we were inside a ‘living’ Christmas card…What a perfectly lovely day!

This door crown (also shown in the photo above) was created in mere minutes while waiting for a wickedly yummy carrot cake to come out of the oven the night before the party (rather, in the wee hours the morning of the party). I have been using the same wooden cut-out in the shape of a semi-circle for this annual project for over 20 years! The fresh fruits are pushed downward over top of long galvanized nail spikes. Cedar branches are hot glued to fill in the gaps between the apples.  Using a large picture hanger attached to the back of the piece, hang atop your door for a Colonial Williamsburg-style welcome and your done. A resplendent door crown! 1-2-3 Easy.

It was an oh-so special Tea Party in celebration of this magical time of beauty and wonder, and giving from the heart. One and all opened their hearts and their wallets in good old-fashioned Christmas spirit and rejoiced in the gift of giving. A THOUSAND THANK YOU’s EVERYONE!  It means the world that you gave so freely and in so many ways. I was able to send the gift of a Moneygram and all your best wishes off to Lucas and his family soon after the Tea. The much-appreciated gift will be used to purchase a special new bed and mattress for Lucas.  Doesn’t it feel good knowing that you were able to help in this way?! 🙂

The sweets table…I was up until 2AM and again at 6 AM baking up a storm before the Tea so everything would be fresh.  The gorgeous window pane and chocolate dipped cookies in the centre were compliments of Sugar Mama’s Bakery!  Thank you Lainie. It was very sweet of you!

The best gift of the season for me was knowing that everyone who came enjoyed themselves to the fullest, and that we were able to join together in sharing a little goodwill at this magical time of the year in effort to help our fellow man.

On that day, our home was filled  to the rafters with the love that is the very essence of this beautiful season…It is something we will never forget.

A handsome guest remarked, “NOW it feels like Christmas…” It was the first time he had been to our home, and he had brought with him his lovely family in support of little Lucas and his dear family.  It  was such a beautiful compliment that they, and all who came to be with us that day, had taken precious time out of their own hectic Christmas preparations – the shopping, baking, decorating, stringing outdoor lights and getting the tree – to join in offering their friendship and strength of support to strangers. Lucas and his family are truly, truly appreciative and can’t thank you every one enough. YOU left a smile on their hearts, as well as ours, and we will always be grateful for  your kindness and generous, caring collective spirit…TRUE Christmas spirit!

Perhaps a NEW Christmas tradition has already begun in our home, one to anchor the coming holiday seasons. Hmm, next year, maybe I’ll host “The True Spirit of Christmas” Tea…

I ran out of greens just before fashioning this urn, so I used other elements from the garden to fatten it up: a garden cherub sits on the edge of the urn with his feet dangling over the edge, an iron obelisk and a shiny red gazing ball inside it are strategically placed in the centre, large pinecones, tall twigs, a garden sign on a stake, almost anything I could find…

LOVE IS IN THE DETAILS  Those of you who have ever hosted a large at-home party and enjoy entertaining can probably relate that in the weeks leading up to the Tea, I spent many blissful hours immersed in my favourite Christmas books and hundreds of magazine clippings from past years, still kept in a special holiday file, making endless notes that I would later tuck into my purse to have with me when running errands.

While perusing my favourite holiday recipes collected, too, over time and planning the once-a-year and first-time-ever fancy desserts I would make, I compiled ingredients lists and contemplated the special serving dishes to be brought out of the cupboards.

Pouring over seasonal decorating magazine issues both current and saved from Christmases past, while sipping spiced tea and daydreaming about how the house would look all decked out, and  the holiday trims I would attempt to make; I spent days and days (time here and there) cleaning and readying the rooms, imparting little inspirational touches of the season into each one, creating Christmas all through the house…

My husband did a wonderful job of orchestrating the adornments on our home’s exterior. The walkway, front door, garden gate and benches, planters and window boxes, statuary and obelisks, and, yes, even the shed and deck were festooned with fresh greens of all kinds in a spur-of-the-moment – yet surprisingly artful – arrangements! In contrast, he did not spend a goodly portion of his time thinking all these things through. He just went for it and all turned out beautifully!  There is something to be said for that! But then, the anticipation is part of the pure enjoyment of the entire process for me….:-)

‘The Christmas Shed’…Didn’t my hubby do a great job filling this planter box?!

Won’t you come with me and have a little look around?!  I promise you’ll find some ideas to dress up every room in your home during the holidays: draping greens over the beds, hanging stockings of every kind from everywhere imaginable (I’ve hung them from knobs on dressers, chairbacks, doorknobs, cupboards, bed posts, footboards, headboards…I looove Christmas stockings), creating lighting ambience with candles and chandeliers, pretty paper wrappings, ways with ribbons, even gift ideas and more…

I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think it’s an on-going process. And it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life. – Oprah Winfrey

First, before we begin our home tour, please bear with me while I’ll announce the winners of the many lovely Christmas-themed prizes. All the gifts have been delivered, but some of you have been curious, so here goes:

AUCTION PRIZES

Six-year old Natalie Moss won “A Child’s Christmas” package including: Lucas’ Sock Monkey, Christmas storybooks “The Gift” and “House of The Wooden Santas”, along with holiday DVDs “A Christmas Carol” with Jim Carey and the newer version of “Miracle on 34th Street”.  Lucky Natalie! Congratulations and enjoy!

Charlene Peckham won “A Christmas Tea”: A precious holiday basket filled with biscuit mix and strawberry-and-champagne preserves both from the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company (I brought them home with me from my vacation in PEI with exactly this in mind even then), Belgian chocolates, pretty beverage napkins, royal-themed teas, and a special Christmas tea book all beautifully presented for giftgivingt…

Harold Hayward won “Movie Night”: “The Bells of St. Mary’s” DVD, a gorgeous pair of red crackled-glass poured candles with tassels, and yummy holiday chocolates…I looove this movie!

Julie Bennet won “The Baker’s Gift”: Large bottles of cinnamon and vanilla, Paderno measuring spoons, Pier 1 measuring cups, festive recipe cards, and snowflake cookie cutter all gathered in a gorgeous red bucket planter!

Linda Harnett won: the ‘Hostess Gift”: McSteven’s delicious hot chocolate in a beautiful Santa tin, coordinating Jim Shore ‘Santa’ dinner and cocktail napkins in a sweet basket…

Terry Richardson won “Holiday Glam”: nail polishes, hand cream and hair product thanks to Signature Salon! It was so very nice of you!

 

TICKET PRIZE:

Gina Reid won the “Christmastime” package (I wish I had gotten a pic so you could see this beautiful haul):  
  • Costco 9-piece set hand decorated red glass Christmas ornaments
  • Punch Studio Victorian gift wrap (Winners/HomeSense has gorgeous papers, tags etc.)
  • Victorian gift bags
  • Red foil gift wrap
  • Victorian christmas tags
  • 2 rolls of sparkly gold ribbon
  • 1 roll of cording in red/green/gold/blue
  • Multi-colour tissue paper
  • Box of Christmas greeting cards
  • Red mercury globe/pedestal candle holder (Thank you O’Neills Gardenland)
  • Coordinating red mercury glass votive holders, candles…

DOOR PRIZES:

  • Lauren Hayward:  McStevens hot chocolate, Punch Studio dinner and beverage napkins
  • Courtney Woodford:  Red mercury glass filled candle, sweets
  • Joanne Bennett, Lauren Hayward, Courtney Woodford:  Swarovski crystal dangling hearts earrings created by Gail Perry, Beadazzler.  Thanks, Gail!

 Special Thank You’s:  

Alderberry Blum, Brittany Brinston, Gail Perry, George Dunne, Joanne Bennett, O’Neills Gardenland, Memorial University School of Music carollers Teri Slade, Courtney Woodford, Chris Davis and Steven Griffin, Pat Puddester, Ruth Wheeler’s card class, Signature Salon, Sugar Mama’s, Eric White, Connie Hayward, Marie and Brendan Hunt.  And, Thank You to Carolyn’s friend Heather who sent an original artwork of hers – Heather painted Carolyn skating with her grandchildren on the duck pond at the back of her house while Andrew builds a fire nearby.  It is so beautiful that my husband and I bought the painting. I’ll show it to you soon in another post…
 

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO JOINED US FOR  “A Christmas Tea for Lucas”!  And, THANK YOU to those who could not be here but sent along contributions.  And, too, to those who heard about our Tea for Lucas and sent along donations with friends – it was very kind of you!!! Now, on with the tour…

Although it hadn’t snowed yet, there was a real chill in the air. Our neighbour Joanne ran across the steet to her own home to grab caps and mittens for our carollers.  They later came inside and serenaded us the entire afternoon.  It was so beautiful…

Our very kind and caring friend Brittany made these gorgeous wreaths for sale with all proceeds going to Lucas and his family…I displayed them on my flower cart!

‘A Pineapple Welcome’  DID YOU KNOW? The pineapple, once the food of Kings, has, through the ages, been a symbol of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family inherent to gracious home gatherings?!  How do you like my door crown fashioned from fresh fruit?  It will last a couple of weeks.

The Christmas Shed!  My husband did a great job of outlining the shed door with a gentle cedar garland and filling a plant cage that hung on the shed door. Can you see the mirror and the statuary tucked among the lushness of the natural greens? The cage normally has an ivy twining through it during the garden season.

This garden furniture’s home is usually on the decking off the shed.  Hubby moved it up onto the deck off the kitchen.  He laid a plain wreath atop the table to encircle a set of glass cylinders that hold cedar and cranberries frozen in ice.  I can’t wait to insert a tea light in the canister in the evening hours. It will look so pretty…

Hubby  also strung white lights in the tree branches off the deck, filled the flower boxes as well as a trough near the barrel fountain on the lower deck portion.  Can you see the heart-shaped wreath hung on the deck post? It will have a wide red-satin ribbon soon. Even the rooster seems happy enough among the ‘winter decor’…

I love the ‘waffle look’ left by the snow on this iron bench on the deck. As it was starting to snow, I removed the bright red-and-black plaid Christmas blanket and ice skates saved from school days that previously rested on this seat.  I’ll save that for another day…The ‘wreath’ is actually a cedar garland yet to be unfurled!

My Aunt Eleanor and cousin Brenda arrive amidst all the excitement.

Was that Santa who just went by?!

 CHRISTMAS ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE…

 The Front Entryway…

 

A large Santa made by my friend Jean’s heart and hand greets people as they come through the front doorway.  Hubby hung up the NOEL shutter upon the wall above Santa just hours before the party started.  In the process, he broke his toe when he dropped the hammer on his foot! Yikes! On the day of the party, a fresh pineapple appeared next to Santa atop this little chest.

Don’t you just love the donkey and the detail on this gentleman?! This Santa was my reward for setting up my friend Jean’s booth at a craft fair a long time ago.  Her display was featured on the front page of the local newspaper that year.  Ahhh, sweet memories….

 

In The Kitchen…

 

This vignette sits atop the fridge in our kitchen. DID YOU KNOW?!  In France and the Netherlands, the season officially starts on December 5th with a visit from St Nicholas and Sinterklaas?  According to the legend in France, he arrives with a little donkey carrying baskets loaded with gifts.  In Holland, he arrives by boat.  St. Nicholas’ modern counterpart in France is named Pere Noel, a much slimmer version of Santa Claus, who dresses fashionably, of course, in long red robes.

The Littlest Angels.  See this post for more pics.  Just click on the photo in the sidebar.  Remember, you can click on any pic to enlarge it if you want to see more detail…

A trio of ‘Frosty Ferns’ on the the kitchen windowsill above the sink…

 
 

Thank you to Sugar Mama’s Bakery for the gift of the Wow! cookies in the foreground. When my husband stopped by the bakery to pick up my cookie order (I was running late and ordered them up in a hurry), the owner offered them with her compliments! What a SWEET surprise! Thank you Lainie for such a thoughtful gift!

Orange-chocolate swirl loaf sits atop a half wall in the kitchen. It was a huge hit! This recipe is coming, ladies!

In The Living Room…

Wide-eyed little Grace, my co-worker Krista’s beautiful daughter,  was amazed that Santa would stop by my house! And, so was I!

This year’s staff photo! Left to right: Moi with co-workers Joan and Debbie

Santa really knows how to make us all laugh! Left to right: Bonnie, Connie and Lauren

My co-worker Sherri and me

The girls from our street who’ve we’ve watched grow through the years into the most wonderful young ladies! Standing left to right: Best friends Donna and Andrea. In the foreground: Left to right: Sisters Julie and Laura and moi.  We are so proud of you all! Laura and Julie’s mom, (and my garden faerie), Joanne, was a colossal help to me the day of the Tea.  Thank YOU, Joanne!

In The TV Room/Study

In The Bath…

In The Bedroom…

Thanks for coming by to spend some time today.  I hope I didn’t wear you out with all the photos and that you enjoyed the tour!  There’s another room or two to see yet, but I thought I would save those for a little later when you’ve had time to rest.
 
In case I don’t happen to be with  you again before Christmas, I wish you and yours a Happy, Happy Holiday and a Glad New Year!
 
Kisses,
Linda
 
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & 
 HAPPY AND HEALTH NEW YEAR!

Sweet Holiday Wishes, Everyone!

I am joining A Delightsome Life for A Return to Loveliness and Lily-Rose Cottage for Simply Sweet (January 15, 2012) and Jennifer at Traditions and Magpie Cottage (December 2012). I hope you will visit these beautiful blogs. 🙂

I am thrilled to be joining in the fun and sharing this “Christmas Past” post today (December 1, 2013) at The Tablescaper!

http://thetablescaper.blogspot.ca/

We’re Gonna Rock This Town! Yay For Today!

Bonjour, Everyone! 🙂

Today is the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Annual Run for the Cure!  It’s a beautiful thing!  

My neighbour Joanne and her daughters, Julie and Laura, along with my nieces Meghan and Ashley (in Regina) are running for me today. You go, my beautiful girls and thanks ever so much.  It WILL make a difference!!!  

Julie, Laura and Mom Joanne are pictured below.  This photo was taken on our walkway early this morning before heading out to The Run For The Cure.  It’s pouring down rain here today, but that hasn’t dampened anyone’s spirits…It’s a good day. 🙂

Turn up the volume and enjoy this spectacular feel-good fun’draising video by the incredible cancer research team at McGill University.  A donation will be made by the sponsor for each hit! Be sure and watch the video outtakes as well – they’re hilarious!  It will lift your spirits, give you hope, get you moving AND raise funds for cancer research.  ENJOY! And have a beautiful day, all!

Linda

 

Categories: EVENTS, INSPIRATIONS

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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EMBRACING ROMANCE, A HOME’S INTERIOR TELLS A LOVE STORY (Touring Part V)

Good day to you, my friends!

I’m so glad you are here with me as we are coming to the end of our tour of Carolyn Aiken’s wondrous home and gardens on Prince Edward Island. Sigh.

When I first arrived at Carolyn’s front door, she greeted me like an old friend and promptly guided me to her kitchen window to see something quite astonishing. I gasped when she pointed to several teeny baby robins nested within the generous boughs of an evergreen tree that was resting up against the side of the house, mere inches from her kitchen sink!  If  you were so inclined, you could reach through and touch them!  Mind you, Mama Robin was there, too, protectively watching over her young.  I immediately knew this place to be one of welcoming, peace, and tranquility – a true haven from the busy outside world, and I was happy to be here.

Carolyn’s home is like a great big bucolic hug that embraces you instantly – it begins even as you are driving along the quiet country road that leads to her house.  Perched on the doorstep, an inviting wicker chair seems to say, “Come in! Come in!” The front porch (Carolyn has christened it ‘The Garden Room’) seems to echo this sentiment and entices you further inside – I couldn’t wait to see more of this alluring place…

Warm. Inviting. Subtle.  Gracious. So many words come to mind when I think of Carolyn and her Prince Edward Island home. It is a home that evokes a sense of nostalgic beauty, love, and a passion for nature and a wholesome life.

Together, Carolyn and her husband Andrew have transformed this near-century-old house into a charming home, one room at a time. Its walls are dressed in calming neutrals:  warm whites, grays and taupes, and even soft greens and blues. It has subtle touches of linen and lace, toile quilts and embroidered pillows, framed family photos (Carolyn’s own photos), enchanting china, silver, glassware, and bouquets of fresh flowers from the garden. Yet it is not stuffy, fussy or overburdened with pretty pinkness or feminine frou-frou – a family home has to be a compromise after all.  There is, rather, a distinct presence of casual elegance that abounds throughout.

Carolyn’s home is filled with inspiration and personal treasures. She surrounds herself with the things she loves. Yet there is no clutter.  All is arranged masterfully, artfully; everything has its place.

Carolyn’s home is an honest reflection of how she lives her life – genuine, peaceful, romantic. There are china teas in the garden under a canopy of tulle by day, and candlelit chandeliers by night; lemonade picnics by the sea with ethereal draped parasols, wicker food baskets, sparkling glassware, and special homemade treats; family weekends with boat rides on the duck pond, bonfires, marshmallow roasts, and overnight camping under the stars; leisurely strolls with her husband along a quiet country road, casting lupin seeds along the way; watching brilliant sun sets on the bay; taking day trips through the less travelled, scenic island countryside; hunting for antiques, touring museums and landmarks, and lunching at out-of-the-way tea rooms with dear friends; making fresh-from-the-oven peach pies and preserves for family and guests; veranda breakfast buffets on warm summer days; reading at night by lamplight on a screened-in porch; feminine dressing in linen skirts and flower-adorned straw summer hats; picking blackberries along a woodland trail; keeping a photo scrapbook of family life …And best of all, she shares it with us through her beautiful blog.

Home is the place that goes where you go, yet it welcomes you upon your return. Like a dog overjoyed at the door. We’ve missed you is what you hear, no matter how long you’ve been gone.

MICHAEL J. ROSEN, Home


Carolyn often chooses storied furnishings and gives them a ‘hug’ with a coat of warm white paint, which serves to unify the pieces in her guest bedrooms.  In her own bedroom, she has added a touch of ultra-romance with a balcony that overlooks the gardens, a fireplace, and a soft tulle canopy that falls from the ceiling and encircles the bed…Now, that’s romance!

Home is where the heart is.

JOSEPH C. NEAL, Singleton Snippe


Carolyn’s home inspires intimacy and romance. And her design sense must be working – she has been married to her highschool sweet heart for many years, and they have a loving family of nine children and seven grandchildren.  It a beautiful thing!

Carolyn loves her home. Her caring and thoughtful touches are throughout it.  She LIVES romance, and is true to herself in her design choices. And, that’s just how it should be…A job well done, my friend. Thank you for having me!

PHOTO:  It is here at the back of her house where, in a corner at one end of the protected porch, she currently has tucked a lovely old white-iron bed made up with pastel-coloured cushions and soft, cozy quilts.  Carolyn oftentimes likes to read here on the porch during warm summer evenings by soft lamp light. What heavenly ambience!

Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Homesick in Heaven

PHOTO: During the week we visited Carolyn, her oven was not working. And, so, she went to the trouble of going to her daughter’s home the evening before we were to leave the Island, just so she could make us her famous peach crumble pie and whole wheat raisin scones!  She knew that I had been drooling over these ambrosial sweets that I had seen previously on her blog site, and she could not resist making them for me.  Can you imagine?! And, of course, I could not resist eating them up!  Lol The two lacy white teacups in the foreground are by Spode, circa 1920’s. I found them, along with the pink transferware teapot (reproduction) at an antique shop in Victoria-By-The Sea on the way to Carolyn’s house.

Thanks for dropping by everyone!  I hope you will stop by Carolyn’s blog. I made the video for Carolyn at the link below.  Be sure to take a peek!  You won’t be disappointed, I promise you!!! 
 
FOR MORE PHOTOS, CLICK ON THE SLIDESHOW BELOW AND TURN UP THE VOLUME:
 
<a href=”http://http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?w=swf/vp1&e=1315621284&f=UdoY891ULayPzPKpfBwjNw&d=431&m=a&r=360p&volume=100&start_res=360p&i=m&options= “>AIKEN HOME AND GARDENS VIDEO:
 
 
Categories: INSPIRATIONS, JARDINS

A GARDEN’S SECRET… Touring (Part IV)

Crossing over the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island…

Welcome Back!

I’m so glad that you are able to join me to continue the tour of Carolyn Aiken’s gardens on Prince Edward Island.  Are you as excited to find out what is beyond the door to Carolyn’s garden shed, as I am to show you the ‘BIG REVEAL’?!

For those of you who may be joining ‘The Tour’ for the first time (this is Part IV), my husband and I live on the island of Newfoundland and have not long returned from visiting beautiful Prince Edward Island where we met the inspiring and emerald-thumbed Carolyn Aiken. Just weeks ago, we hopped on a plane to Halifax, rented a car, and drove several hours to meet Carolyn and to tour her and husband Andrew’s romantic home and gardens on this gentle green island!

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.   Mother Theresa

It all began when Carolyn and I became ‘blogging friends’ (only in recent months) and discovered that we happily share many common interests: decorating, baking, entertaining, photography, antiquing, pink transferware, books and magazines including ‘Victoria’ (our all-time favourite) and most certainly a love for gardening.

Carolyn is a gardener who we know and love.  She has been generously sharing her home and gardens with devoted readers of her blog for several years.  I, on the other hand, began a blog just this past February as a positive focus during my recovery from breast cancer treatments – a form of ‘happy therapy’ and an attempt to learn some new technology while on medical leave from my work. I hardly knew what a blog was before then!  I’m not even on Facebook!  LOL   Blogging has surprisingly brought me special connections with people whom I would never have otherwise and believe these are meant to be…

PHOTO:  Does this beautiful teapot happen to look familiar to some of you?! This lovely vintage vessel is apparently quite old. It appeared frequently throughout Carolyn’s blog and was of her most cherished teapots.  Carolyn knew that it was my favourite, too. On the first day I visited Carolyn, she generously gifted me her prized antique! I didn’t know what to say – and still don’t – I was overwhelmed by her heartfelt gesture.  This teapots means a great deal to me. It is a gift I will forever treasure…Thank you, Carolyn. 🙂

Gardens are believed to be nourishing for the soul and healing in many ways – Consider that more and more hospitals and seniors’ homes are either featuring gardens in their builds, or are finding creative ways to incorporate them afterwards.  Because I found Carolyn’s blog photos of her private gardens to be so tantalizing, I was enticed to make the trek to Prince Edward Island to experience her and Andrew’s gardens first hand. I knew it would make me feel better. I had been anxiously anticipating our trip all summer, and it gave me something wonderful which to look forward. And, I was certainly NOT disappointed!  It was everything I knew it would be and so much, much more.  In fact, my visit to Carolyn’s gardens has been one of the wonderful highlights of my life!  I am so thankful that I discovered Carolyn! She is the most wonderful person. And, talk about green thumbs!
You may already know that there are thousands of Japanese tourists who visit Prince Edward Island each year, particularly during the summer months. Like so many of us, the Japanese people adore Anne of Green Gables and travel to Prince Edward Island to view the Parks Canada Green Gables heritage place that inspired the setting for the story of lovable Anne; as well as to see the birthplace of  the heroine’s genius creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery. I think Anne Shirley and Carolyn would have been kindred spirits, too.  It is no wonder, then, that Island tour operators often make Carolyn’s private residence and gardens a must-visit place on their touring itinerary for the Japanese people.  Carolyn welcomes them with open arms. Indeed, many of her Japanese visitors remark that their visit to Carolyn’s home and gardens is the highlight of their trip to PEI!  And, I would certainly agree!

IMG_6299-723840.jpg (1600×1067)The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it. Author Unknown

2011-06-12-1535-152-741578.jpg (1600×1237)Carolyn is the Queen of Hospitality.  She doesn’t just invite you into her gardens, she also invites you to her table for tea.  On ‘tour days’, Carolyn may host as many as 30 Japanese visitors – she serves smaller groups of individuals tea and dessert on her magnificent screened-in porch. For larger groups, lemonade and cookies are the order of the day…

It won’t be long now before you’ll discover what’s inside Carolyn’s garden shed…

We labor to make a house a home, then every time we’re expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house.  ~Robert Brault

Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about Carolyn’s celestial haven is that while strangers come from as far away as Japan and Newfoundland 🙂 to meet her and enjoy her gardens, many of her fellow Islanders, and even neighbours, are unaware that she even exists!  Carolyn and Andrew’s ‘not-so-secret-anymore’ gardens are a hidden gem on tiny Prince Edward Island. Why, I think they just may be its Crown Jewel!

IMG_9015-789671.jpg (1600×1067)

A view of the garden shed from Carolyn’s bedroom balcony…

I am so delighted that we made the trip to Prince Edward Island to meet Carolyn and to feel the embrace of her gardens…Now, let’s have a look inside the garden shed, shall we…(HINT:  Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Isn’t Carolyn’s imaginative garden shed just amazing?! Could you ever have envisioned such a pleasant surprise as this fairytale setting?!

NEXT POST:  We’ll tour the interior of Carolyn’s romantic home.  I absolutely loved it, and I just know that you will, too.  So, I hope you’ll return for this special treat in the coming days. I’m thrilled that you stop by today and hope your day is beautiful! I look forward to seeing you all again soon…

Linda


Categories: INSPIRATIONS, JARDINS

A NATURAL BEAUTY Touring (Part III)

Welcome back, everyone!

We’re well on our way to continuing along the tour of my dear friend Carolyn Aiken’s wondrous gardens on the beautiful Prince Edward Island. Didn’t I tell you there was so much to see, and that I must have taken hundreds of pictures?! 🙂 I am not exaggerating, my friends!

I am so glad that you are all able to stay awhile and experience even more of this idyllic garden. First, let’s have an ice-cold glass of the famous Raspberry Cordial (not to be confused with wine as Anne did when she served it to her best friend Diana – Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 16).  I carefully managed to bring some home in my suitcase all the way from PEI just for you!  It is a refreshing beverage and reminds me somewhat of old-fashioned Cream Soda, only not nearly as sweet.  It really is quite nice! I think you are going to like it, too. YUM! And what a great job they’ve done at marketing this treat?!  Who could resist Anne Shirley’s smiling freckled face peeping out from under her bright red braids and sweet straw hat?!  It was reported that William and Kate were to sample the carbonated raspberry juice on their visit to PEI.  I wonder if Kate liked it.

That's Carolyn weaving her garden...

I hope you have your waterproof shoes on today.  It’s still a tad wet in the garden from the rainfall earlier…

Carolyn’s garden is a true gift. Having walked in Carolyn’s gardens full of flowers, fragrance and birdsong, I personally received the gift of a fresh start.

Hearing the soft coos of a morning dove enhanced the feeling of something almost magical that happens all around you as you explore this garden’s beauty. Like a weaver at an ethereal loom, the gorgeous waves of colourful blossoms are Carolyn’s threads; and it is especially wonderful that she is willing to pass on her knowledge of  ‘the craft’ to all those who wish to learn.

Happiness held is the seed; Happiness shared is the flower.   John Harrigan

I am certain that you will also love learning about Carolyn’s new duck pond currently being constructed on her property with the assistance of Ducks Unlimited!  It should be quite amazing by next summer.  The pond can be seen from Carolyn’s dining room window, where she has a comfortable chaise to relax and enjoy the stunning panoramic views of her lush landscapes. Carolyn has dreams of seeing her grandchildren (nine in all) skating on the frozen pond in wintertime, and has acquired a flat-bottomed wooden boat in which to enjoy the pond on summer days!

Weather means more when you have a garden.  There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.  ~Marcelene Cox

Carolyn’s glorious gardens can be seen from every window of her romantic 95-year old home. Looking through each paned window glass, it feels as though you’ve actually stepped inside the pages of a beautiful magazine. Her dreamily-styled garden vignettes are sprinkled with welcoming arbours, bloom-laden trellises, unique handcrafted birdhouses, wicker chairs and wrought-iron settees plumped with pretty pillows, and even tea-time tables set with lacy cloths, delicate china cups and flower-filled vases – all just waiting for guests to arrive and enjoy!
Expect the unexpected as you walk through Carolyn’s gardens:  pensive statuary and surrounding plants ‘multiplied’ using a strategically placed mirror that covers an entire fence panel, imaginative garden rooms – one with a chandelier creatively hung from a pergola, louvered shutters, an aged wooden desk and pressed-back chair – and even an antique stove found by the side of the road, and a bicycle planter painted in happy turquoise and loaded up with plants!

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”  Sophia Loren

One of the most ‘meaningful’ objects amongst the treasures in Carolyn’s garden is an old bicycle that had once belonged to her father, and  an intriguing ‘false entrance’ on the exterior of the house  (a wood-panelled door and stone steps left in the original spot following a home reno job). Because Carolyn loves the look of old English cottages with ivy vines twining up and around their entryways, she convinced her husband to keep the door where it was, walling it in from behind, and filled the steps with plants so the entrance could not be accessed and mistaken for an actual door.  Carolyn’s thoughtful ingenuity when it comes to planning her garden can be seen at every bend along its curvy paths…
It’s hard to imagine being anywhere else that is so serene and inviting as the Aiken House and Gardens!
I am so delighted that we made the trip to PEI solely to meet Carolyn and to tour her home and gardens – it is simply too irresistible not to make more than a single trip to visit here, and we are already planning to return again (maybe even next year) to see the Island and, of course, Carolyn’s gardens, in fall splendour…Sigh.

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.  ~Lindley Karstens

The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises. Leo Buscaglia

The Amen of nature is always a flower.  Oliver Wendall Holmes

I hope you enjoyed ‘Part III’ of the tour of Carolyn’s lovely gardens.I hope you’ll come back soon so that we can continue the tour and hang on to a little bit of summer just awhile longer… On our next visits, we’ll have a look at Carolyn’s garden rooms – you’ll be amazed to find what is inside her garden shed! 🙂 Thanks again for joining me!

As always, wishing you a beautiful day! 🙂

Linda

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.  ~James Douglas, Down Shoe Lane

Gardens are a form of autobiography.  ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993

GROWING A GIFT – A GARDENER’S PASSION Touring (Part II)

I have a penchant for floral patterns on fabric and old dishes, a yearning for rose-scented toiletries, a taste  for rose-infused teas and jellies… I am a gardener at heart.

My beautiful antique Sadler teapot strewn with pink roses and raised lattice sits atop a footed century-old glass cake plate that once belonged to my father’s grandmother.

Welcome Friends,

I’m so glad you’re back so that we can continue further along our tour of Carolyn’s beguiling gardens, but first let’s have a cuppa.  The temperature has cooled considerably today and the sky is overcast, so a hot brew is welcome about now…

Today, we meet the lovely and emerald-thumbed Carolyn Aiken of Prince Edward Island! Are you as excited as I am to be returning to experience more of her and husband Andrew’s breathtaking gardens?!  I hope you enjoyed the first part of the tour – An Enchanted Island Garden.

Carolyn and her husband, Andrew, seem to know the secret for living a beautiful life for they are blessed in having a charming century-old home, a loving family of seven children and nine grandchildren, all nearby on their beloved Island – AND the garden of their dreams. Carolyn’s is a summer’s dream, an expression – or rather an extension – of her thoughtful personality.

Gardening is a kind of disease.  It infects you, you cannot escape it.  When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed.  ~Lewis Gannit

Carolyn is no minimalist when it comes to the garden for hers is a robust, resplendent salute to the celebration of life! Here you will find a captivating combination of meandering pathways, annuals and perennials in the most unlikely containers, woodlands and wildflowers, sculpture and statuary, as well as birdfeeders and birdhouses, bicycles and baskets, fountains and fragrance; and all manner of seats, tables and benches from iron and wicker to wood; mirrors and music, even chandeliers and china… 🙂

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  Marcel Proust

Carolyn finds fulfilment in her garden pursuits, growing a gift of love; and visitors to her gardens feel fulfilled just seeing the results of her and Andrew’s labours. Carolyn’s garden is a bountiful gift of hope and optimism that life will continue to bloom.

I hope you will visit Carolyn at  her blog Aiken House and Gardens warrengrove.blogspot.com

            Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart.  ~Russell Page

Let’s walk now with Carolyn through her garden, shall we.  You won’t be able to resist the invitation to wander…Not even the vine enveloped arbour that rises up to greet you at the entry to Carolyn’s home can prepare you for the feeling that you’ve stepped straight into the flowery pages of a magazine, for this is a uniquely special place…of the heart.

Wishing you another beautiful day!

Linda

Categories: INSPIRATIONS, JARDINS

AN ENCHANTED ISLAND GARDEN…Touring (Part I)

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
by singing: -“Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade.
~Rudyard Kipling, “The Glory of the Garden”

I purchased this pretty steeping vessel from a wonderful on-line 'Celebrity Teapot Auction' - a fundraiser for animals that I helped organize some years ago. The teapot is English by Price Brothers, circa 1900 and was gifted to the auction by Sheila Guy-Murphy (Sheila is an active contributor to our community and was awarded the Governor General's Award for Caring Canadians). Isn't it a beauty?! Don't you love the framed picture in the background - a real find at Winners just a short time ago! The colouring is very soft, and it appears as though you can almost reach out and touch the teacups...

Greetings, Dear Friends!

I am thrilled that you have returned for another visit and wish to welcome those of you who may be visiting for the first time. It IS wonderful to connect in this way, isn’t it?! How would you like your tea today? I am excited to be taking you on a tour today of  a beautiful garden later. You’re in for a glorious treat!

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.  ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

Ever since I can remember I have been drawn to gardens like a firefly to the light. Gardens, that is to say beautiful and thoughtful gardens, are made of inspiration, relaxation and rejuvenation all at once.  So having been through a tough year in terms of my  health, and on many days in terms of my spirit, I decided to visit my emerald-thumbed blogging friend, Carolyn Aiken, last week at her home and splendid gardens on gentle Prince Edward Island.

It seems Carolyn and I share many interests:  decorating, old china, antiquing, photography, baking, entertaining, a love of all things tea, the same magazines, and Christmas, as well as gardening.  It was an amazing trip and we had much to talk about!

Carolyn and I had only ever ‘met’ through blogging, and only in recent weeks just prior to my making the trip to her Island! Because we had been corresponding by email and had never met face-to-face, I travelled from my Island to her Island for the sole purpose of meeting Carolyn and experiencing firsthand her verdant gardens!

We have since become true friends.  In fact, I will be hosting ‘A Christmas Tea’ for Lucas in November as a fundraiser in support of her darling little grandson.

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.  ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

An elegant cast-iron Victorian chair awaits you in Carolyn's garden...

Carolyn generously shares her welcoming home and flowery gardens on her blog.  Indeed, her almost-daily posts always lift my spirits and transports me to a gentler era. She happily gives to her devoted readers ideas from which we can gleam beautiful ways to enhance our own homes and gardenscapes.

I thought Carolyn’s gardens should be shared with an even wider audience.  So, even before we had met in person, I wrote to two of my favourite magazines and nudged them to feature Carolyn’s garden on their glossy pages. Consequently, I am happy to say, both publications were inspired to do just that!  In fact, Carolyn’s ‘story’ is currently being featured in Jo-Anne Coletti’s “The Feminine Home – Where The Heart Is”. The second publication – a popular Canadian gardening magazine – emailed me at the very time I happened to be on Prince Edward Island to tell me that they are planing to visit Carolyn at her home in Summer 2012!  I was even more delighted to be able to give Carolyn that additional bit of good news during my visit with her!  As you would expect, Carolyn is just thrilled and I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am for her!

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.  ~Hanna Rion

Carolyn's gardens rise up to meet you along the roadside! I walked along the quiet country road that leads to Carolyn's home. I just needed to breathe it all in, and I hadn't even reached the driveway yet!

My experience in spending time with Carolyn in her enchanted Island garden was as deep and rich as the red soil itself on Prince Edward Island. Carolyn’s garden is all-embracing, like Carolyn herself, and has true soul – it has HER soul. It is a place where you cannot ever mind being lost, rather only if you were to be found! Hmmm…I think ‘Anne Shirley’ of Green Gables may be rubbing off on me a little. LOL 🙂

I am delighted to be able to share with you my photos of Carolyn’s lush, wondrous gardens.  I find it difficult, however, to weed out just a few (I must have taken hundreds during my visits with her!). So, you may want to return for several more more visits in the coming days. As you look through them, I am certain that your senses will be delighted and your very soul will burst into bloom…

A stunning, well-constructed pergola by Carolyn's talented husband, Andrew, comes into close view. The garden feature is surrounded by an immaculately maintained carpet of green and flanked by hostas, astilbe, phlox...Climbing hydrangea vines compete to reach the top of this handsome structure.

Carolyn surrounds herself both in her home and garden with the treasures and things that she loves. There is hardly a divisible line between the interior rooms of her home that seemingly flow directly into the exterior garden rooms that she so expertly creates.

I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in the garden.  ~John Erskine

I hope you can drop by Carolyn’s outstanding blog at warrengrove.blogspot.com. In the meantime, take a peek at these photos I snapped while exploring Carolyn’s resplendent gardens on Prince Edward Island, which is aptly known as ‘Canada’s Green Province’.

I came home from Carolyn’s with a mountain of ideas to be transplanted. I believe you, too, will be inspired by this place filled with heart and pride that Carolyn calls home.  Enjoy The Tour:  Part I. 🙂

HINT:  If you’d like to see more detail, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them 🙂

"Are we there yet?! Are we there yet?!" It's hard to imagine that we haven't even reached the driveway to Carolyn's home!!! She and Andrew have planted much of the way along the country road that leads to their home.

Here we go now...

YAY! The driveway is in sight! Hubby has already reached the house. I wanted to stay behind and just take in the beautiful walk!

Views along the driveway leading to Carolyn and Andrew's front door...There is so much to soak in!

Carolyn's father's bike that I recall reading about in one of her posts...A meaningful way to add even more beauty and nostalgia to the garden.

The blue flat-bottomed boat that had belonged to a neighbour will be getting a make-over and is intended for the soon-to-be duck pond...

Walking past Carolyn's 'famous' garden shed...

Oooh! Can you stand the wait to see what's inside?! It had rained torrents earlier in the day and there was still a heavy mist over the garden. The gardens looked sooo pretty with all the plants holding big water droplets on their foliage...

Hubby waits for me to reach the rental car, so that we can walk together to Carolyn's front door. He knows how excited I am...

Carolyn's happy house is in sight! YIPPEE! 🙂

A hearty vine covers the arbour that leads to Carolyn and Andrew's welcoming front door...It's hard to imagine their beautiful home being almost a century old!

A wicker Victorian-style chair offers an invitation to enjoy the front porch of Carolyn and Andrew's home.

A view to the left of Carolyn's front doorstep...

And, a view to the right... 🙂

A view of the side porch that Carolyn loves to decorate in fall and at Christmastime...In summer, the path to the porch is lined with hosta and loads of blooming hydrangea...Can you see the small evergreen tree next to the bird 'condominium'? A sweet nest of baby robins are tucked well inside the tree's branches very near the kitchen window. Carolyn can look out and see them at most anytime! The baby birdies are absolutely precious! I wonder if they've flown the nest by now...

Views from Carolyn’s front step – these pictures speak a thousand words:

At this point, my head is already on a swivel and I haven’t even knocked on Carolyn’s door yet!!! Okay, okay, I’m knocking now. I know you, too, must be eager to see around every bend…And, here comes Carolyn to greet us!!! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this part of the tour!  There’s more to come…We’ll meet here again very soon and take up where we left off! I can hardly wait, can you?! 🙂

Wishing you another beautiful day, 🙂
Linda

Categories: INSPIRATIONS, JARDINS

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!

Linda

BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON…

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, jsteinfoto.com 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. jsteinfoto.com

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://http://www.youtube.com/embed/iztEpiesSk8“>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

Pink Reigns! We Shared. We Cried. We Laughed. We Can’t Wait To Do It Again…

Rose-patterned teapots filled with a steaming brew await...

Welcome, Friends!

It’s been much too long since we’ve visited! There’s a deck chair all plumped and just waiting for you to sink into. Put your feet up and have a cuppa, won’t you?!  Today’s brew is perhaps my favourite – Kyoto Sandcherry Festival.  I’m sure I must have served you this before. It has mild fruity flavour and the longer it steeps in the pot, the more pinky it looks – and it makes a lovely iced tea, too.  Or, would you prefer a cold glass of lemonade?  I have so much to tell you!  I hope you can stay for awhile and relax under the sun…

Many of you may know that I’ve been busy as a little bee in recent weeks planning a beautiful “Pink Days” with my good friend Pat at Pat’s Plants and Gardens in Bay Bulls.  Well, the ‘Pink Weekend’ that concluded on Sunday, July 17th is now a lovely memory.  Thank you to all of you who came out – many of you came a long way – to demonstrate your support for someone affected by breast cancer.

Welcome to "Pink Days" at Pat's Plants & Gardens in Bay Bulls - a mere 30-minute drive from the City and a must-visit destination if you're a gardener. We're so excited, we wet our plants!

Where else can you shop for plants for your garden and watch whales but at Pat's Plants & Gardens in Bay Bulls?! This is the view from the greenhouses on the upper level of Pat's garden centre. You can sit here and sip a soda while taking in the breathtaking sights...That gorgeous red house on the point of land in the distance is the lovely Bread and Cheese Inn - check out their website in the sidebar of my blog. Another must-experience place! Some lucky person won a lunch for two at the Inn...

When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.  ~Author Unknown

Guests were greeted by an 'Angel of Hope' gifted to me by Christine of Alderberry Blum Gift & Country Store just next door to Pat's Plant's & Gardens - where there's always smiles, fresh coffee & treats! When you visit Bay Bulls, plan to spend a lovely afternoon...

Pink watering cans decorated with ribbons and flowers put a smile on our faces and were scattered throughout the greenhouses for that extra-special festive touch...

Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement – and we will make the goal.  ~Jerome Fleishman

'Pink entertainment': plate spinners, fire jugglers, clowns, musicians...The volunteers were phenomenal. We can't ever thank you enough for the gift of your talent! WOW!

A 'pink serenade'while overlooking the ocean...

“Pink Days” volunteers made ice-cold pink lemonade from freshly squeezed lemons – a thirst-quenching treat and such a pretty colour
Intoxicating ‘pinks’ as far as the eye can see…Pat most generously donated 10% of all her ‘pink plant’ sales during ‘Pink Weekend’  to CBCF-Atlantic! Thank you, Pat!

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”  Christopher Reeve 

Vendors really got into the 'pink of things' with their wares!

Lulu's jewelry is stunning created from cultured pearls and Swarovski crystals. This bracelet's a beauty. I love the antique-pink colour, so sophisticated and just as pretty with a jean jacket as with a little black dress!

The greenhouses looked fantastic dressed in pink!  As did we, when we all donned the pink tees that arrived in our ‘Pink Days’ kit from Proven Winners – along with other accessories…Too much fun!

Thanks to volunteers who sold tickets on a luxurious pampering prize that any woman would love compliments of supportive donors Lindor, Signature Salon, A Special Touch, The Tea Garden...valued at over $550!!! What a gorgeous waterfall of pink petunias!

Despite having to cancel ‘Day One’ of our fun-filled three-day “Pink Weekend” due to torrents of horizontal rain, and getting off to a rainy start the following day (Saturday July 16th), the sun finally shone on us around Noonday and the people came.  Yay!  In the end, we could not have asked for a better day!

Do not try this at home, folks!

There was something for everyone during “Pink Days”.  On Saturday, Wonderbolt fire jugglers and plate spinners entertained the young and young-at-heart!(Did you know they have summer camps for kids where they can learn magic tricks, silks, juggling, and more?!  What a great gift!)

Sugar Mama’s cupcakes frosted with ribbons of pink icing spoke to us all! Some of us had more than one! After all, a girl’s gotta balance those hips, right?!  Hot dogs, pink cotton candy and freshly squeezed pink lemonade fed the crowds.

"Ta da!" We did it! Pat's sister Peggy does her happy dance! Love the 'scarf belt', Peg...You worked so hard to make all the flowers look so beautiful, not sure where this burst of energy came from at the end of the day 🙂

Sky-High Amusements’ pink twisty balloon animals charmed everyone! And, of course, there were cheery clowns to uplift our spirits, as well as creative face painting. Goods tables included crafts, custom jewelry (I bought the most beautiful cream-and-taupe coloured bracelet of fresh water pearls and Swarovski crystals made by Lulu), art prints, home-baked sweets (the cinnamon rolls from Carol Boland’s Ocean View Bakery in scenic Burnt Cove were divine) along with jams and preserves…And, even local musicians brought the gift of song!  Even the bird choirs joined in!

So many businesses and individuals offered prizes beyond our imagination, many of which weren’t even solicited!  It was so heartwarming to have such tremendous support.  To know that you wanted to be part of the First Annual ‘Pink Days’ had us all doing the ‘happy dance’!!!

Baskets overflowing with proud petals of pink...

And, ooh – the pink flowers! Pat’s baskets and planters are the most amazing you’ll ever see! Peggy does such a wonderful job!  Their sheer size and brilliant colours left us all with a lasting impression of what a beautiful place her garden centre truly is….And, where else but at Pat’s Plants and Gardens, can you shop for your garden while watching whales and dolphins frolic in the twinkling ocean?!

During chemo, you’re more tired than you’ve ever been.  It’s like a cloud passing over the sun, and suddenly you’re out.  You don’t know how you’ll answer the door when your groceries are delivered.  But you also find that you’re stronger than you’ve ever been.  You’re clear.  Your mortality is at optimal distance, not up so close that it obscures everything else, but close enough to give you depth perception.  Previously, it has taken you weeks, months, or years to discover the meaning of an experience.  Now it’s instantaneous.  ~Melissa Bank

By the end of the weekend, pink really did reign!  (A short video clip of how gorgeous it all looked can be found at the end of this blog post.)

Left to right: Garden centre owner Pat Puddester, sister Peggy, sister-in-law Marilyn, staff member Judy and Pat's sister Anne-Marie enjoy the pink cotton candy! How sweet!

A huge bouquet to all the media and many more who loved the idea of “Pink Days” and helped us to promote it.  (You can listen to the CBC interview at the end of this post.)

And, many thanks, too, to those of you who added the link to your facebook site. It was wonderful of you to do that.  We could not have achieved our goals this past weekend without your helping us get the word out.

We don’t have a final tally just yet on the amount of funds raised, but it should be available by the end of the week.  Even if we had raised only $1.00, it was all worth it to know that just one person was helped.  Some of the women who visited told us that they learned much, felt encouraged and left feeling inspired that day, telling us they were so glad they came out and did not miss it.  That pretty much says it all!

“A job well done stays well done forever.”  Anonymous

“Women agonize… over cancer; we take as a personal threat the lump in every friend’s breast.” Martha Weinman Lear, Heartsounds

The English language falls short of the any words to adequately express my gratitude and that of my husband’s to Pat and her husband Reg, their top-notch staff and a team of volunteers the likes of whom we’ve never before met – what a phenomenal bunch of people!  There are no words to do justice to how we feel about you all. WOW!  (Wonderful. Outstanding. Women. (And Men!) You worked so tirelessly and gave it your all. And y’all looked so cute in your pinks!

Sugar Mama's cupcake girl Elise was everyone's favourite person! Of course, she sold out. Don't you just love her apron?! And, oh-so-pretty pink nails...

Awareness.  Hope.  Support.  We achieved all these goals.

We shared.  We cried.  We laughed.  We embraced.  We made new friends and caught up with old friends.  We’re good and tired.  And, we can’t wait to do it all again!!!!  Pat is already planning for the 2nd Annual “Pink Days

When I first approached Pat only several short weeks ago about the possibility of hosting a “Pink Days” at her fabulous garden centre, it didn’t take her too long to respond with a resounding, “YES”.  At first, I envisioned a single day with a few prizes maybe, but the more we talked, the more the seed started to grow and grow and “Pink Days” soon took on  a life of its own!  Before long, it was to be a three-day “Pink Weekend” and Pat generously offered to donate 10% of all her ‘pink plant’ sales during the weekend to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Atlantic to be dedicated to programs, research and equipment in this province.
Big smiles from Pat’s sister Anne-Marie!  Did you know she doubles as a clown?!  What a ‘Wonder Woman’- it runs in the family…Thank you, Anne-Marie!
 

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.  ~C.C. Scott

At one point, talking with Anne -Marie, I was apologetic for bringing so much work to her sister at such a busy time of year.  Anne-Marie reassured me that Pat really wanted to do this and to give back to her community in such a a generous and meaningful way.  “You don’t know Pat very well, do you?!” she laughed. “Everything with Pat is: “Go Big, or Go Home!”  I love this tiny woman with a big heart! In fact, Pat told me just today that the inaugural “Pink Days” was one of the highlights of her life.  I couldn’t agree more…Thanks for giving me one of the best days of my life!

________________________________________________________________________________

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. ~Hanna Rion

‘Pink Days’ is about AWARENESS, HOPE AND SUPPORT; while at the same time, promoting gardening as  part of healthy and beautiful living – both physically and spiritually.  And, of course, raising funds while having a wonderful time is a bonus!

I would so love to see this ‘beautiful idea’ continue to grow…  The ‘dream’ is to see it catch on at other garden centres across the province, so that by next summer, it will become an island-wide happening!  We are encouraging garden centres to join in hosting their own version of “Pink Days” (a single ‘Pink Day’ or  ‘Pink Afternoon’) sometime during the summer – whenever it is convenient for nursery owners.  I hope “Pink Days” will be embraced and celebrated by flower nurseries, large and small.  Please encourage nursery owners where you live to get involved.  It truly is a ‘beautiful thing’…

As an individual – and particularly if you’re a gardener and like to share your garden with others – you might even consider hosting your own Pink Garden Tour and Tea (especially when pink peonies and roses are blooming at the peak of the garden season).  And, if you don’t happen to be a gardener, a Pink Tea is lovely, too.  About six years or so ago, I recall hosting a ‘Pink Tea’ – open house style – in support of my dear mother-in-law who had gone through a mastectomy a few months earlier.  I ordered the hostess kit from CBCF and invited family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. The front door was decorated with pink ribbons and there were fun touches of pink everywhere.  The good people at Living Rooms offered up a beautiful basket filled with tons of useful pink gadgets as a door prize, and even loaned me a pink Kitchen Aid mixer to use as a centerpiece on the kitchen table!!!  Gorgeous!  About 30 people came on that wintry Sunday afternoon and together we raised nearly $500 for the cause just over coffee, tea and dessert!  I remember looking around the room that day wondering how many of us would be diagnosed with breast cancer in the future – it turned out to be three of us…the current statistic is 1 in 8 women.  Visit the link to CBCF-Atlantic below for ideas as to what you can do!

Customers line up to buy pink plants! Everyone was so kind and caring, just wanting to help in any way they could...What a special day!

 

Even the posters and prizes were trimmed with pink ribbons and roses! The rose photo is from my garden - "Climbing New Dawn" does well in Zone 5...

“The Pink Pampering” ticket prize…  WOW!  We all would have loved to win this luxurious treat for body and soul.
Lots of beautiful prizes to be won to decorate your home, too, compliments of Haywards, Living Rooms, RONA, House to Home and so many more …

We love these tees from Proven Winners - Aren't they the most beautiful shade of pink?! Their 'Invincibelle Spirit' pink hydrangea is in tribute to breast cancer survivors. For every plant sold, $1 is donated up to $1 million for breast cancer research. Did you get your pink hydrangea in celebration and support of someone you love? What a beautiful way to add beauty and meaning to your garden...


Judy is always smiling...She is a long-time employee of Pat's Plants & Gardens and loves her job! She is truly part of Pat's family..."Find a job you like, and you'll add five days to every week." Anonymous

“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.”

Lance Armstrong

Awareness and education in the prevention of this dreaded disease is the ultimate goal. We have to believe it can happen in our lifetime and that pink will just be a beautiful colour once again! We can “Do Everything” to change it!  

Thanks for dropping by everyone!  


Reg & Pat with the 'pink gang'. Everybody enjoyed the cotton candy! What great fun we all had! It is something special to always be remembered...We're already looking forward to the next "Pink Days" in 2012.


CBC "Morning Show" Interview - Beautiful Pink Days
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Beautiful “PINK DAYS” At Pat’s Plants & Gardens…

This beauty of a teapot was a gift from Brittania Teas, 199 Water Street for a 'once-upon-a-time' fun'draiser. Watch for an interview soon with 'The Tea Lady'...

Glorious Bright Sunshiny Day, Everyone 🙂

At long last, we are seeing the SUN – the first time in a very long time, maybe even weeks.   Doesn’t it just put a skip in your step when the sun shows its face?!   I am so excited that you are here and am just about to prepare the teapot to brew some delicious Darjeeling tea.   I would love it if you would sit with me awhile to share a steaming cuppa…Do you have time today?  Even though it is sunny outside, it is still not warm enough to sit out on the deck and sip iced tea…Sigh.

Pink 'New Dawn' climbing rose and clematis embrace one another on a garden gate post last summer...It will be awhile yet before we see these darlings!

BEAUTIFUL IDEA:  One of my many favourite local garden centres is Pat’s Plants and Gardens, Bay Bulls, about a 30-minute drive from where I live.  I am thrilled to tell you that Pat is generously hosting a “PINK DAYS” at her amazing garden centre to help raise funds to support breast cancer programs, research and equipment in Newfoundland and Labrador.  So, if you live near, we’d love to see you there and join in the fun!

Come on out to “PINK DAYS” at Pat’s Plants and Gardens, Bay Bulls on Friday through Sunday, July 15th-17th.  A percentage of all Pat’s ‘PINK PLANT’ sales during this entire ‘PINK WEEKEND’ will be donated to this very important cause.  Thank you, Pat!!! We hope that this first “PINK DAYS” fundraiser will be so successful that it becomes an annual event!!! AND, We need YOU to help us do that…

Click the link below for a recent interview re “Pink Days”, Scroll down to Pink Days cancer fundraiser

CBC RADIO MORNING SHOW INTERVIEW

“PINK DAYS”, PAT’S PLANTS & GARDENS, BAY BULLS, FRIDAY – SUNDAY, JULY 15th – 17th (10 a.m. – 5 p.m. all 3 days)

Different things will be happening on different days but Saturday, July 16th, will probably be the best day to bring the kiddies!

Enjoy sweeping ocean vistas, Sugar Mama’s Cupcakes,  ice-cold ‘Pink Drinks’, Pink Cotton Candy, Sky-High Amusements twisty animal balloons, Wonderbolt happy entertainment, pretty ticket prizes, glorious give-aways and special surprises!

To tempt you, here’s just a sampling of the many beautiful things you could win during ‘Pink Days’ at Pat’s Plants & Gardens:

  • “Tea-by-the-Sea”:  A tasty lunch for two from the nearby Bread and Cheese Inn, just mere minutes from Pat’s Plants and Gardens – check out the awesome view from their dining room in the sidebar of my blog, or better yet in person!
  • Gift certificates from Alderberry Blum Country Gifts right next door to Pat’s Plants and Gardens!  Be sure to drop by this beautiful country store and say, “Hi!” –  Christine and Sandy would love to see you!   And, there’s always fresh coffee brewing and sweet treats.
  • “Tea Garden Lunch”:  A lovely dining experience for two from The Tea Garden in Holyrood.  Their fresh panfried cod, ‘secret-recipe’ house salad dressing and homemade chocolate cake is devine…You’d better make reservations!
  • “Ice-Tea Time”:  “Santa Fe style” pitcher, beverage ladle and delicious pomegranate ice-tea mix – Bring it out when guests arrive!
  • “Tea-for-One”:  A fine bone china floral-patterned tea set beautifully presented for gift giving, wrapped in cello, trimmed with lifelike roses and even a gifttag…Just perfect for the tea lover or gardener! 
  • “Fun-in-the-Sun!”:  The softest, prettiest beach towel you’ve ever seen, a cute thirst-quencher ‘takeaway tumbler’ with straw and pink lemonade mix – the perfect ensemble for “Me Time”!
  • “Coming Up! Roses”:  A gorgeous rose-covered  serving tray, coordinating theme napkins & the sweetest floral tea lights – all from Bowring and  simply perfect for garden entertaining!
  • “Lunch for Two” from Pasta Plus, Avalon Mall – Enjoy their yummy panini sandwiches and strawberry spinach salad!
  • A fabulous home decor item from Hayward Interiors
  • Something wonderful from House to Home
  • A special gift from Living Rooms 
  • A hair care basket, including straightening iron, from Chatters, Mount Pearl
  • $50 gift certificate for a yummy meal at Bagel Cafe, 246 Duckworth Street, St. John’s and the list goes on!
  • And many, many more beautiful things, so be sure to stay tuned… 

Thank you, too, Tony and the Print Shop Ltd.; Paulette, Margaret and Alyssa at Sky High Amusements  (they have great ideas for children’s parties!); Beni Malone and his Wonderbolt Circus – check out Wonderbolt’s Summer Camp for kids!  and Sugar Mama’s Cupcake Bakery – YUM! YUM! 

PLUS

Be sure and get your tickets on this  fantastic prize  “The Pink Pamper” valued at over $550!!! You won’t want to miss out on your chance to win this beauty:

  • Signature Salon – “The Signature Look”: shampoo, scalp massage, cut and finish style, dimensional colour, eyebrow shaping, make-up application and manicure   WOW!
  • Lindor-Avalon Mall – Gift certificate (Check out their gorgeous pink dresses!)
  •  A Special Touch  ‘Kameleon’ pendant and jewel pop (It’s all the craze!)
  • Guess Fragrance – ‘Wild Summer’
  • Jeanne Lottie clutch purse
  • Estee Lauder ‘Tea Rose’ lipstick
  • Estee Lauder ‘Beautiful’ bath and shower getl
  • The Tea Garden Restaurant – Lunch date for two

Presented in a gorgeous floral bandbox, wrapped in cello and trimmed with roses!  A beautiful, luxurious treat for any woman!

  • Tickets:  $2  3/$5
  • Draw Date:  Sunday, July 17th
  • Draw Location:  Pat’s Plants and Gardens


And, of course, there will be lots of ‘pink plants’ (lilies, astilbes, roses, hydrangeas, to name just a few) to select from for your own garden during “PINK DAYS” at Pat’s Plants and Gardens!  Pat will be donating 10% of all pink plant sales during this pink weekend to help fund breast cancer programs, research and equipment in NL.  And be sure to get your “Invincibelle Spirit” pink hydrangea to add true beauty and deep meaning to your garden (read about it further below)…

Ooh, “PINK DAYS” at Pat’s Plants and Gardens – What a beautiful idea!

Talk with the owners of garden centres where you live about hosting a “Pink Days”…

INVINCIBELLE SPIRIT:  Get your ‘Invincibelle Spirit’  PINK HYDRANGEA during “PINK DAYS”!  The grower of this wonderful plant, Proven Winners, has hybridized the world’s first-ever PINK ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea.  This gorgeous, show-stopping shrub reportedly grows on new wood, can withstand heavy rains and high winds, tolerates poor soil and drought conditions, and blooms and re-blooms all throughout the garden season.  And regardless of soil pH, it maintains it beautiful PINK colour all season long.  Even if due to extreme weather, it is reduced to the ground, you can take heart – it will return!!!  It is surely a true survivor plant – hence, its name ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ in tribute to breast cancer survivors!  Proven Winners is donating $1 for each of these hydrangeas sold to garden centres up to $1 million to help fund breast cancer research.  It’s a beautiful thing! I’ve got mine already and you won’t want to miss “PINK DAYS” at Pat’s Plants and Gardens so you can get yours, too.



If you’ve never visited Pat’s Plants and Gardens, you’ll want to see these images of her glorious flower nurseries and grounds. Click the slideshow below.   These photos were taken several years ago, but the views are still just as beautiful today as then.  I hope to take more photos this season to share with you in a future post.  Turn up the volume and enjoy the music, too!

Mark your calendars in PINK and bring your family and friends to “PINK DAYS”, July 15th-17th!!!!  Be inspired to host a “PINK DAY” or “PINK WEEKEND” where you live and help make PINK just a colour again…Wish you were here, so we could all go together!!!

Thanks so much for stopping by everyone.  Wishing you a beautiful day!

Linda

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ABOUT SOUP, ‘A BOWLFUL OF SOULFUL’…A ‘Beautiful Chat’ with Red House Soups’ Carolyn Norberg

Welcome, Dear Friends!

Hmm…It still ‘smells like winter’ with chicken soup (and dumplings) simmering on the stovetop –  there’s something about a pot of soup cooking gently on the stove that makes the house all cozy and heartwarming.  You’re just in time to fill your bowl or cup 🙂  And, as always, the teapot’s on. Today I have a fascinating treat for you – a special interview with Carolyn Norberg of Red House Soups! It’s time to pull up your favourite chair…

‘SOUPER HERO’   First, let’s talk a little ‘About Soup’…What words come to mind when you think of soup? Nourishing.  Restorative.   Nurturing.  Happiness (good soup, that is). Spiritual – think of all those ‘Chicken Soup For The Soul’ books!  And, what does soup mean to you?!

There is a sense of physical satisfaction from a warm bowlful  of soup, as well as an emotional one – wouldn’t you agree?  Soup is especially comforting on a chilly, damp day (like it is here today). Our mothers feed us soup as a gesture of love. Soup feels safe and comforting to us.  Soup is mystical; once thought to have transformative powers – even today soup is still believed to possess ‘healing powers’ and frequently touted as medicinal, acclaimed to cure everything from the common cold to uplifting our moods. People turn to soup when they are feeling ill or depressed.

Soup is social and welcoming.  When we gather people where we live, we sometimes put a boiler of soup on the stove  to ‘warmly’ welcome family and friends, and even strangers, into our homes and to feed them. Soup can be a poor man’s meal or an elegant starter to a dinner for kings – a great example of this is in a previous post “Impress Your Guests with this Wonderful Winter Soup”.

Soup makes for a thoughtful and caring gift for a senior, someone who is ill, or just to let someone know that you are thinking of them. My own mother adores soup – she is near 83 and enjoys soup at least once a day.  Her 77 and 87 year-old sisters frequently bring her their homemade soups. Soup is the ultimate ‘Thinking of You’ gift…

“Only the pure of heart can make good soup.” Beethoven


During the Great Depression, "soup kitchens" fed the unemployed. This particular soup kitchen was sponsored by the Chicago gangster Al Capone. Who knew?!

EMPTY BOWLS During the days of ‘The Great Depression’, soup kitchens seemingly sprung up everywhere. They served, for the most part, only soup and bread – you probably have seen the iconic images (similar to the one at the right) of folks lined up to eat…for many, it was the only meal of the day.

Although the numbers of ‘soup kitchens’ may have declined, they remain throughout our communities in various forms, some distributing groceries and/or serving hot meals on specific days (rather than every day of the week).

There is support for those who ‘fill up their bowls’ at  food-sharing organizations, shelters and soup kitchens.  (Some of you may remember my post about Amazing Apple Cake and Street Reach). One local high school recently started a ‘Soup Club’ and regularly cooks up large pots of soups and delivers them to Street Reach, an amazing organization that helps street-entrenched, at-risk youth. On St. Patrick’s Day, when I was delivering some Apple Cake to Street Reach, they had just received from the students a huge pot of beef stew to serve to its clients.  Bravo!

SOUP IS ‘HOPE’  Soup is sustaining and, perhaps just as importantly, soup is symbolic. Soup gives a sense of relief, a sense of hope…

DID YOU KNOW? In March last year, food banks helped a record 867,948 people across the country (Source:  thestar.com).  According to our local Community Food Sharing Association, there are 32,000 people who live in our province who don’t have enough to eat – 60% of families who access food banks are families with children. At the top of the organization’s grocery shopping guide for those wishing to donate food, is……Yep, you guessed it – SOUP.

Soup is a meal in itself.  Soup is nutritious.  Soup is convenient.  Soup is economical, too.

Canned Soup & Stew
Peanut Butter
Canned Beans
Macaroni & Cheese
Dried Pasta, Noodles & Rice
Pasta Sauce
Canned Meat & Fish
Beans & Legumes
Canned Vegetables & Fruit
Canned/Powdered Milk
Breakfast Cereal
Baking Supplies



A ‘BEAUTIFUL CHAT’ WITH RED HOUSE SOUPS’ CAROLYN NORBERG,  AT HOME IN HER FLATROCK, NEWFOUNDLAND ‘SOUP KITCHEN’…

Whenever I think of Red House Soups, I imagine Carolyn Norberg (company founder, owner and expert soup maker) driving a tiny sporty red convertible, wearing a blousy red cape with a generous hood tied around her shoulders; and lengths of brown wavy hair flowing straight behind her in the wind. The  back seat is piled high-to-the-sky with layers of wicker picnic baskets containing bottles upon bottles of her delicious and restorative homemade soups.  While Carolyn may not be on her way to grandma’s house,  she caters to her customers’ needs the old-fashioned way, and personally delivers her tasty soups – in a modest van – directly to the homes and offices of her thankful and loyal customers.  They look forward to that familiar knock on the door and seeing Carolyn’s smiling face, her arms filled with mason jars of yummy soup ordered on-line through her website!

RED HOUSE SOUPS celebrated its first year of success recently.  Weekly soup menus of several varieties are posted each Monday and customers have until Thursday to make their choices for delivery the following week.  Prices are very reasonable (each mason jar contains three servings) and range from $10 and up per jar.  Soups can keep up to three days in the refrigerator and many varieties can be frozen.  They sell out fast – sometimes within mere hours of posting the new menu – so it’s wise not to delay selecting your soups. Deliveries are made Wednesdays and Thursdays depending on the area in which you live.  Carolyn sometimes makes several hundred jars of soup weekly.  Sign up to receive her fantastic menus at Red House Soups.  Soup varieties have included:

  • Beef and Wild Rice (with squash and turnips)
  • Curried Cream of Carrot
  • Mixed Bean, Squash and Espresso Chili
  • Creamy Chickpea (with Carrots and Rosemary)
  • Lamb Tagine
  • Red Potato Soup (with Feta and Lemon)
  • Cream of Cauliflower, Corn and Cheddar
  • Sausage Minestrone
  • Hot and Sour (with pork, mushrooms and tofu)
  • Old Fashioned Chicken
  • Mulligatawny
  • Asparagus and Spinach with Fresh Basil
  • Cod Chowder
  • Onion (with Garlic Scapes)
  • Coconut and Cashew Stew
  • Malaysian Chicken
  • Moroccan Beef Stew
  • Mexican Red Bean
  • Cranberry, Black Bean and Sausage Chili

While I am refilling you teacup, won’t you pull up your chair to the table as I chat with Carolyn, the creative genius behind this lovely-spirited entrepreneurial endeavour.  Carolyn runs her flavourful and unconventional business out of her home kitchen in the petite scenic community of Flatrock, Newfoundland situated near the famous East Coast Trail. Carolyn’s unique soup operation originated from her desire to have a satisfying career doing something she truly loves balanced with the need for gainful employment.  Thus, Red House Soups was born!

Carolyn's red salt-box styled, two-story near the water's edge where she creates mouth-watering gourmet soups in her fully-equipped commercial kitchen.

SOUP MEMORIES

LINDA:  What is your first ‘soup memory’?

CAROLYN:  My first soup memory is of my grandfather dicing turnips for soup into perfectly even pieces and getting mad at anyone who tried to help.  My grandfather never cooked until he retired from fishing and he quickly acted as if he had been cooking his whole life.  Fresh Meat Soup was his speciality.   From what I recall, it was good.

LINDA:  When did you make your first pot of soup?

CAROLYN:  The first pot of soup I made was a chicken soup for grandmother.   She was dying of cancer.   I decided to make her soup.  She couldn’t really eat it but I know she appreciated it.

LINDA:  Who taught you how to make soup?

CAROLYN:  I taught myself to cook.   I didn’t grow up in a family that cooked much besides traditional dishes.  However, there are stories of my great-grandmother pickling cauliflower with turmeric in rural Newfoundland which was pretty adventurous in her day.

My real passion for cooking began in university.   I had a boyfriend who liked to cook and we learned from each other.  This passion was strengthened when I moved to Flatrock in 1995.   During that time, I stayed with a couple who cooked everything from scratch.   They had a vegetable garden, fished and hunted and picked berries.   The first meal I ate with them was moose burritos, from a moose they had killed and butchered, and they were making their own flour tortillas, and I thought it was exotic.

LINDA:  What’s your favourite homemade soup and the memory tied to it?

CAROLYN:    It’s difficult to pick a favourite.  I love anything with potato.  I also love Avgolémono which is a Greek lemon soup and Cream of Onion.

LINDA:  Do any of your ‘Red House Soups’ creations come from childhood memories?

CAROLYN:  Only  in the sense that they’re the opposite of what I ate growing up.

LINDA:  What does soup mean to you?

CAROLYN:  Love, comfort and sharing.

THE ‘IDEA’ OF SOUP

LINDA:  What was your job before you began ‘Red House Soups’?

CAROLYN:  I was an English Teacher, Computer Programmer and a Writer (Poetry & Short Fiction).  I also worked as a Caterer.

LINDA:  What was the impetus behind ‘Red House Soups’?

CAROLYN:  I had been catering on and off and wanted to take things to the next level.  Plus, I was tired of working for other people.

LINDA:  How did you come to start a soup-delivery business?

CAROLYN:  I knew I wanted to do something original and thought it was best to focus on one thing and do it well.  I’ve always been good at making soup and one day the idea just came.   I googled it and learned that others had been successful doing similar things.  I had actually written business plans for other business concepts – this was the third one and my gut told me it was the right one.   So I applied for funding and my father lent me money to put a commercial kitchen in the back of my house.

LINDA:  Where do your inspirations come from for your soup recipes?

CAROLYN:  Ideas and recipes come from many places.  It helps to be fearless in the kitchen.  What’s the worst thing that can happen?   I also read a lot of cookbooks.   But I never follow a recipe.

LINDA:  Would you say making soup is a creative or even inventive process?

CAROLYN:  Yes, but I don’t think anyone should take themselves too seriously.

LINDA:  How do you decide which soups to offer each week?

CAROLYN:  I try to create a balance.  If I do a Mexican soup one week, I won’t do another Mexican soup for awhile.    I listen to which soups my customers want repeated.  Sometimes it depends on what I’m in the mood to make.  During late summer and fall, I like to choose soups based on what is in season.

LINDA:  Are you ever asked to make large batches of soup as custom orders?

CAROLYN:  Yes, but I don’t usually do it as I’m so busy.

LINDA:  What’s the most unusual ‘soup request’ you’ve ever had?

CAROLYN:  To make a soup using Edamame.  I would love to do it but Edamame is not an ingredient I can get a large amount of.

LINDA:  Which came first: the name ‘Red House Soups’, or the paint colour of your house?

CAROLYN:  The house was red first.

CAROLYN’S ‘SOUP KITCHEN’

LINDA:  Describe your ‘soup kitchen’.

CAROLYN:  I have a separate licensed kitchen in the back of my house.  The kitchen is set up like any other commercial operation – stainless steel and a gas stove.  There are two large refrigerators –one with glass doors to store the soup in.  The kitchen is painted red and yellow to match the company colours.

LINDA:  Do you have any vintage kitchen tools that you love?

CAROLYN:  I love my potato ricer.

LINDA:  Do you prefer to serve your soups in bowls or cups?

CAROLYN:  Depends on the situation.

LINDA:  Do you have a collection of soup tureens or ladles?

CAROLYN:  I actually don’t.  I do have a collection of soup pots, though.

LINDA:  Do people tend to give you soup tureens and/or other soup-related items as gifts?

CAROLYN:  No, actually they don’t.

SUGAR & SPICE & ALL THINGS NICE…WHAT ARE RED HOUSE SOUPS MADE OF?

LINDA:  How do you choose your soup ingredients?

CAROLYN:  I look at what I can get that is fresh and go from there.  Or, I have a soup in mind and I call around until I can find the right supplier for the ingredients.

LINDA:  Do you use only fresh, seasonal produce?

CAROLYN:  I would love to but it isn’t possible.  Late summer and fall is the best time for local produce and, during that time, I try to develop soups that highlight those ingredients.   Last year, we had a special fall harvest menu that featured local produce (squash, beet, and turnip) from three local farmers.  It was a popular menu and we hope to do the same thing this year.

LINDA:  Do you cultivate your own produce?  Or, do you obtain produce from local farmers?

CAROLYN:  I have a very small garden.  I wish I had more time to devote to it.  I do have a local farm in Flatrock that I get some produce from.  Gerhard and Frederique are going to be growing zucchinis and beets for me.  I also give all our vegetable cuttings to them for their sheep.  I get turnips from a farmer in Torbay, and last year I did a squash soup from the Organic Farm in Portugal cove.

LINDA:  Do people contact you about the things they grow in their gardens that they think you might be able to use as ingredients for your soups?

CAROLYN:  Yes, I had a woman who called last year wanting to sell rhubarb.  At the time, I didn’t have a use for it but I think this year I will make a rhubarb soup.

LINDA:  I read that your friend challenged you to develop a soup recipe using the lovage that she had been growing in her garden. Were you able to meet her challenge?

CAROLYN:  Yes, I ended up making a creamy soup with potato, green peas and lovage that was quite lovely.  I will be featuring it again this year.

SOUP SCENTS

LINDA:  Do you enjoy the smell of soup simmering on the stove?

CAROLYN:  Yes, and it’s a good thing—the smell is forever embedded in the walls of my house.

LINDA:  What is your family’s favourite soup? Do they taste-test your recipes?

CAROLYN:  My boyfriend taste-tests and his favourite is Apricot Lentil.  My mother likes Tortilla, my father likes Old Fashioned Chicken, my sister likes Cauliflower, Corn & Cheddar, and my grandmother who is 94 loves them all.

LINDA:  What do you consider to be your best soup recipe?

CAROLYN:  I’m proud of coming up with Apple, Turnip and Brie and Blueberry Beet.  These are soups I developed to highlight local ingredients.

LINDA:  What would you say is the most popular soup(s) among your customers?

CAROLYN:  Everyone seems to have a different favourite.

RED HOUSE SOUPS IS ‘GREEN’

LINDA:  ‘Red House Soups’ are delivered in attractive, glass mason jars that are returnable and refillable.  How do you encourage customers to avail of this option?

CAROLYN:  Pretty much it’s an honour system.  Mostly people are good at returning the jars and they’re encouraged because they’re recycling.  If someone knows they want to keep the jar, then I charge them for it; otherwise they can return it when they order again.

LINDA:  Are there other ways in which Red House Soups is attempting to be ‘Green’?

CAROLYN:  We give our vegetable cuttings to a farmer for his sheep.  We also have our website hosted with a company that offers green web site hosting.

SOUP IS ‘A BEAUTIFUL THING’

LINDA:  The gift of soup is such a ‘beautiful thing’.  Can customers purchase ‘soup gift certificates’ or arrange gifts of soup for delivery?

CAROLYN:  Yes, they can contact me to make arrangements.

LINDA:  How can people contact you at Red House Soups?

CAROLYN:  www.redhousesoups.com / Email: info@redhousesoups.com

LINDA:  Do you have a recipe that you can share with ‘Beautiful Ideas’ friends and readers?

APPLE, TURNIP AND BRIE SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups of turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 cups of chicken stock (preferably homemade), add more if needed
  • 2 cups of quality brie, rind removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Pinch of sea salt and pepper
Method:
  • Heat oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.  Add onions.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  • Turn heat to low.  Add apples.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes until onions have softened and apples released their juice.
  • Add garlic, cognac  and thyme.  Cook for another minute or until cognac evaporates.
  • Add the stock, turnip and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer until turnip is softened 20-30 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and remove bay leaf.  Add the cubed brie and purée until smooth (using a hand immersion blender) if possible.
  • If desired, add more stock to achieve preferred consistency.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.
  • Or, turn this soup into a dessert:  Pour soup into individual bowls for serving (best at room temperature).  Top each soup with 2 tablespoons of candied pecans, a handful of blueberries and 2 tablespoons of warm maple syrup!!!!

Many thanks to Carolyn for chatting with us about Red House Soups and for providing this glorious soup recipe for everyone to enjoy!  If you try Carolyn’s wonderful recipe, please let us know how it turns out…And I will be ordering more of Carolyn’s soups very soon!!!  You’ll have to order for yourself to find out just how great her soups are.  They make a wonderful gift, too!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CBC’S INTERVIEW WITH CAROLYN

YOU COULD WIN A DUO OF CAROLYN’S DELICIOUS SOUPS – PROVIDED YOU LIVE IN RED HOUSE SOUPS’ DELIVERY AREA – SIMPLY BY COMMENTING.  FOR EVERY TIME YOU COMMENT IN JUNE, YOUR NAME WILL BE ADDED TO THE DRAW.

Pink Love…

DID YOU KNOW? Two Sisters, One Promise: Keeping true to a promise to her sister, Nancy G. Brinker founded the Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the United States to help eradicate breast cancer from our planet! SIP FOR THE CURE: The Republic of Tea will donate $1 from the sale of this tin to support the Foundation in the fight against breast cancer.

Hello, My Lovelies!

It’s been awhile and I’m delighted to be back.  I missed you!  I’m thrilled to share with you on this visit,  a light, fruity tea – lovely in both taste and appearance – it has notes of sweet-tart pink grapefruit and pink peony petals, a tea that I am sure will become yet another new favourite of mine. I have lots!

Mason's Pink Vista tea set - it's a beautiful thing! Tea always tastes better when poured from a china teapot...

Steeping in my favourite teapot (Mason’s Pink Vista gifted to me by my husband on a ‘long-ago birthday’) is a lovely treat of Pink Grapefruit Green Tea, in keeping with my pink theme today. I recently discovered this tea at our local Chapters! You can also purchase it on-line at The Republic of Tea (see the sidebar of my blog for the link to take you there).

I find that I am always drawn to the colour pink – I share this ‘pink love‘ with my niece Ashley and grandniece Victoria (it’s in the genes). Whenever I wear pink,  it immediately boosts my mood and makes me feel happy!  I love the ‘taste of pink‘:  bubblegum, marshmallow, grapefruit, strawberries, champagne, cocktails, cotton candy, lemonade…

If you’ve read any of my gardening posts, you likely know that I love a pink rose against a blue sky.  My favourite flowers are pink roses and pink peonies.

Pink is a youthful, joyful, vibrant colour.  It speaks to passion, romance, and vitality.  Pink is happiness!  Pink evokes peace, innocence, grace, tranquility, and femininity; while at the same time,  strength and determination.  Pink is the colour of hope and of a future without breast cancer.   It’s no wonder pink happens to my favourite colour!!!

“Pink is an attitude…”  Miley Ray Cyrus

Despite the lack of spring in our part of the world, there is hope of beautiful pink things to come…Click below to view some photos of last season’s pinks.  Turn up the volume and be prepared to dance! Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you again soon.

PINK LOVE IN THE GARDEN…

Some inspiring Pink YouTube Videos:

President Obama called her a “catalyst to ease suffering in the world”, Susan G. Komen for the Cure® founding chair and cancer advocate Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker is awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, August 12, 2009 during a ceremony at the White House. Courtesy of C-Span.