"My mind sees that I am nothing, my heart sees that I am everything, between these two poles my life unfolds."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

'Christmas Must Be Tonight'

Thought I'd close out the year with a little Daryl Hall. This is a snippet from the latest (Dec 15/12) episode of Live from Daryl's House with guest, Shelby Lynne. Did you know that Daryl's 66? Hard to believe. I really enjoyed this Christmas tune and I hope you do as well.

To all my friends & followers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
May all your wishes come true in 2013, and may you live it in good health.

I will be on bloggy-break now until Jan 1st., 
but will continue to visit blogs the rest of today and tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

From Calgary to Toronto Via The North Pole

Have you ever flown a red-eye? If so, it's certainly well named, isn't it! I've travelled through the night from Edmonton to Toronto on a number of occasions and it wasn't pretty :) On Dec 4th, these West Jet employees may have helped to brighten the arduous journey between Calgary and Toronto for 166 weary travellers. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Here's a little Harry Connick Jr to get you into the Christmas spirit :)

I'm finally getting down to some serious baking today & tomorrow.
How about you? Are you done or are you like me - just getting there!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Who's Naughty List Are You On?

Instead of attaching a Christmas letter in an email last week, casual friends mistakenly sent us their 'Christmas Card Register.' Turns out they meticulously keep a spreadsheet of who they've send out cards to (it dates all the way back to 2005) and who's responded in turn: be it via a card, email or a phone call; it's all noted in fine detail! 

To be honest, at first I wasn't sure what this Register was and once opened, I wasn't sure if I was somehow expected to update it... What was glaringly obvious though, was that we haven't been very consistent throughout the years - we're definitely sitting in their Naughty category!! 

I hate to be critical, but to me this type of list-keeping doesn't seem at all in keeping with the true generosity of the Season, so I couldn't resist: I sent it back and asked if they were working for Santa, hehe!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weird Homes

I have been meaning to profile another Weird Home for a while now,
 and the timing for this one couldn't be more perfect! 

If you had the funds, how would you furnish your 'Weird Home'?
What is your secret (or not so secret ;) passion?

Have a great weekend everyone!


* A quick update: I saw The Hobbit this evening :) 
I know I said I was going to wait, but I'm glad I didn't.
We already had our tickets, went an hour ahead - and 
I was even able to get my coveted back row seating.

Incredible, amazing, visually stunning!!!
Go as soon as you possibly can... I'm going again on Friday :D

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Some Christmas Cheer

The few times in my life that I've ridden the subway were not the most exciting on record... I really didn't enjoy the feeling of being herded into slots like cattle! I'm thankful I don't need to ride it on a daily basis like so many millions around the world. Judging by the smiles on their faces, this impromptu concert the other day must have helped brighten an otherwise dull transit for some Torontonians; many couldn't resist singing along :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

No Matter the Medium

I recently remembered it's almost a year now since Santa brought me a Kindle. At the time, I wondered how much I'd actually use it. Turns out, I read 6 books on it... not bad for a start - and I find myself using it more and more as time goes on. It's so light and portable, I even bring it in the tub with me - all safely enclosed in a zip-loc baggie :)

In fact, I just downloaded 'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell' (which I am currently in the midst of re-reading) last night. 'Jonathan Strange' is a huge monstrosity and my arms simply refuse to take the weight of it again! - so in this instance, a reader is the perfect solution. I don't think I'll ever stop buying and reading actual books, I love the feel and smell of them too much, but once again, new technology has earned it's place in my life.

Haha! Ever feel like this guy?

Why do old books smell?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Botanical Cactus Gardens

"I'd like to be under the sea,
In an octopus's garden in the shade."

For some reason, this song is now playing in my head and it won't go away... !

 I've ditched the parka for today. 
Here instead, is the Mojave Desert - and you're looking at +42C :)

On our trip to Vegas in August, we visited a Botanical Cactus Gardens, situated at the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory in Henderson, Nevada. These gardens are beautifully landscaped, with walking trails throughout. 

There are 300 types of cacti on a 3-acre parcel of land. 
I've only ever seen the miniature versions of some of these.

Here is my lovely daughter Caroline & her buddy Prickly Pete;
Caroline's an extrovert - she seems to make friends everywhere she goes, lol! 

I love cacti and succulents and only wish some of the rooms in my house received the proper sun-exposure, or I'd grow them myself. I do have quite a few 'Hens 'n Chicks' in my back yard though, and they have survived many a harsh winter - which always amazes me each spring.

Here's an interesting factoid I learned while putting this post together:
All cacti are succulents - but not all succulents are cacti... confused yet?

The Ethel M. Chocolate Factory, which we also toured, has a system in place, called a "Living Machine," where all the waste water from the factory is recycled into an on-site waste water treatment facility, and by using bacteria, snail, fish & algae (completely chemical free), 100% of the waters needed to maintain the gardens are generated. There are also ponds which attract and water the many birds which live in the gardens. You can just see the blue of one of these ponds directly behind this knoll.

Expand these panoramics!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Snug As a Bug

Here's your Tuesday chuckle!
This is me last night, just as I headed outside to shovel. It was -14C.
Let's see: skidoo boots, snow pants, down-filled parka, hood, face mask, Hot Paws mitts :)

I don't know about you, but I'd rather start out slightly overdressed and peel back layers 
as necessary - as it turned out, I only pulled back the hood. 

I'm not saying I did or I didn't, but a shovel full may or may not have landed on Dan's van...!!

How do you gift wrap a cat?

Very carefully...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Weird or What?

Is it still 2012? 
Have I been watching too many X-Files re-runs...
or did I recently fall through a portal into Bizarro World? 

I still can't believe I actually read the following two stories in the news last week:

"In an announcement Friday that seems better suited for a fairy tale, a North Korean state news agency reported that archaeologists recently reconfirmed the lair of a unicorn once ridden by an ancient Korean king.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, the lair of the mythical creature is located 200 meters (about 219 yards) from the Yongmyong Temple in Pyongyang. A rock that sits in front of the lair contains carvings that some believe date back to the period of the Koryo Kingdom, the outlet notes." (Source)


'Put garlic in your windows and crosses in your homes': Serbian council warns residents vampire is on the loose after his 'house' collapses

Pictured above is the notorious vampire Sava Savanovic

"Sales of garlic are booming in western Serbia today after the local council issued a public health warning that a vampire was on the loose. The official announcement came after an old ruined mill said to once have been the home of the country's most famous vampire collapsed.

Sava Savanovic was believed to have lived in the shack on the Rogacica river in Zarozje village in the municipality of Bajina Basta. It is said he drank the blood of anybody that came to mill their grain.

Local mayor Miodrag Vujetic admitted: 'People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people. We are all frightened.'

He added that it was all very well for people who didn't live in the area to laugh at their fears but he said nobody in the region was in any doubt that vampires do exist." (Source)

There you have it! It seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Happy Monday :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Viva Las Vegas, Part 3

Pretty soon, we're going to find out Whoo's been naughty or nice...!!

December greetings! Have you got your tree up yet? I put mine up this week. I find I feel SO much more festive once I've decked the halls. I listened to my 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' cd while decorating and it was warm fuzzies all the way :) I find this album has a very cool New York jazzy feel to it -- I can't help but imagine I'm in a Nora Ephron or Woody Allen movie when I listen to jazz. 

Here's a bit of New York for you, Las Vegas style.
I quickly snapped this from the window of our tour bus as we drove by. 

Many modern iconic structures are immortalized on a smaller (yet still quite significant) scale. 

When we were in Vegas, I happened upon a vending machine that dispenses art. For $5, you receive a small original painting or photograph, all mounted and ready for hanging! 

Here's mine :) 
The colours are much richer than this photo demonstrates... it's hard to take a good photo of a photo.

I wish I had a pic of my daughter's - if I remember correctly, hers was a painting and the artist's name and email address were on a business card that was in the tiny cardboard box it came in. What a novel way for struggling artists to get some advertising and small commission. 

Check out the prices on these rare books I spotted in a showcase outside Bauman Rare Books.
Scarce first edition of Fleming's second James Bond novel - $30,000!

A little blurry, but I'll bet the $16,500 price tag still jumped out at you!

And lastly, for all you Sci-fi fans.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Middle Earth News

Are you getting excited yet?

The world premiere of 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' took place in Wellington, New Zealand yesterday and an estimated 100,000 New Zealanders turned out for the celebration -- and what a celebration it was, with all the stars and production crew (including Peter Jackson of course) there as well.

'The Hobbit' won't be out in the theatres here until December 14th and I don't expect to see it myself till a number of days after that - I will wait to see it at a matinee showing, after some of the hub-bub has died down.

As most of you may recall, I was blessed this past May/12 with an unexpected journey of my own, when I was given the opportunity to travel to New Zealand (& Australia) and while there, visit the official Hobbiton movie set. If the truth be known, I still haven't come down yet!

For anyone who has still not yet seen the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, you have my sincerest sympathies, lol! When you finally do see it, you will realize just WHAT you've been missing... maybe all your life :D The Hobbit (which is also going to be a trilogy), is in effect, the backstory to The Rings trilogy.

Above are a few postcards and a pendant I purchased in the gift shop situated on set.

It's a rock with the form of a silver tree inset (carved) into it, for which I paid $80... but it's from Hobbiton - so it was worth it and I truly treasure and wear it quite often. It came in the little leather pouch you see. Aside from a few postcards and a fridge magnet, it was probably the only thing I could realistically afford in the entire shop. I had hoped to purchase 'The One Ring,' but the cheapest ring there was priced at $800! There was a line of Elvish clothing, with some truly gorgeous pieces (wool capes for example) that were around $1000. Middle Earth sure is pricey!!

Here's a shot from inside the gift shop, which was much tinier than I'd expected.

Hobbit mania has apparently gripped everyone in NZ.
Yesterday, the weather was announced in Elvish, for the very first time ever!

When you have the time, check out my Middle Earth page, which I've put back up. I had foolishly deleted it when I took my extended bloggy-break back in August, but I managed to source out almost everything I previously had on it - and a few new ones. You'll find the link under my header pic.

Oh what I'd give to board this airlines again...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Are You Driving Your Neighbours Crazy?

We really like you Dan - but could you please move your van?

The other morning while my husband and I were having coffee, the subject of why our neighbour Dan, insists on parking in front of our house (despite the fact that he has both a driveway and a garage) came up once again. For some reason, this really bugs us!! Poor Dan - if only he realized we don't want to look at his van every day, right outside our front window - no matter how lovely it may be.

I got to thinking afterwards that we can't be alone in this. I expect everyone has something that drives them crazy about their neighbour. Small, ridiculous, petty complaints. It's inevitable.

Our neighbours on the other side also irritate us in tiny ways that they are, in all likelihood, completely unaware of. They seem like very nice people - that's why we wonder why they only cut their half of the green strip we share between our driveways - while JJ Hubby cut the whole thing for years (now he only cuts our half, lol!)

When we first moved into this home, close to 12 years ago, I remember these same neighbours shaking their heads at the previous homeowner, who liked to vacuum at 11 pm, with a very loud built-in vacuum system.

This all makes me wonder what WE do that drives our neighbours crazy... ! I bet Dan doesn't like that my vines start to crawl under his fence by about mid-June every summer. Especially since he literally doesn't have a tree, bush or flower in that backyard to speak of - another thing that really irks us, haha!

As for our neighbours on the other side, it could be anything - maybe I water too often or too long. Perhaps we don't pay enough attention to their dog when we happen to meet them on the street (that dog creeps me out for some reason - it's quite unfriendly itself). I bet they suspect I try to avoid them when we are all outside at the same time. I admit I do - I am an introvert, after all!

This isn't to say that over the years we haven't had to address some issues; we've had to politely work things out with Dan on a number of occasions - he regarding where our drain spout was pointing - we regarding his drainage hose. But these are legitimate concerns. How do you go about telling your neighbour where to park? You don't - you just chew about it over coffee :D

Well, what does your neighbour do that bugs you? What do you suspect is driving them crazy about you?!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Viva Las Vegas, Part 2

Lol!! Here I am, living it up in Las Vegas! Do you like my new bikini top? I think I may be in danger of a wardrobe malfunction if I don't watch out... :D Until my visit this summer, the above is what used to spring to mind whenever Las Vegas was mentioned,

or this. 

When in fact, this was more my experience.

I really enjoy taking a guided tour whenever we visit somewhere new. I think the insights a tour guide imparts are invaluable. On the first part of our tour, our guide walked us through many famous and incredibly beautiful hotels, sharing the history behind each and pointing out many, many details we would never have found out on our own, simply wandering about. As well, we were driven all around 'The Strip', visited the famous Las Vegas sign and toured a bit of Old Las Vegas (which included the quickie wedding chapels Las Vegas is known for). Today's post, I'll share pics from my favourite four of the hotels we toured: The Cosmopolitan, Wynn, the Bellagio and Palazzo. I feel it only fair to warn you ahead of time that although I've whittled down to a few select pics for each, it's still a fairly heavy picture load nonetheless.

1. The Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan which opened in 2010, is the strip's newest hotel. It cost a whopping 3.9 billion to build and boasts 2,995 rooms. Like all the hotels, (they are essentially resorts) it is a world unto itself with it's own casinos, nightclubs, pools, restaurants, convention rooms, spas, stores and an 1,800 seat theatre all nestled under one roof!  

Some of my pictures didn't turn out, but I am posting them anyways. There were a number of these stunning glass towers in the foyer when you first walked in - a photograph simply can't do them justice.

As you can see, this hotel is all about the opulence. It's very Art-Deco in style.

You are looking at 6 million individual Swarovski crystals in this chandelier. It was otherworldly.

2. Bellagio

When the Bellagio opened in 1998, (to an original construction estimate of 1.6 billion dollars), it was the most expensive hotel ever built and is now considered to be one of the world's most spectacular. My neighbours, who visit Vegas at least once a year always stay at the Bellagio. They love it and I can certainly understand why.

In the lobby you are greeted by this astounding murano glass ceiling entitled 'Fiori di Como'.
I wish I could remember what it's valued at... a lot!

Built around a garden theme, there are flowers and fountains throughout.

The hotel contains a Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. As well, a Gallery of Fine Art.

It's a sight to bee-hold :)

The Bellagio has been the setting for a number of movies, including: 
Ocean's Eleven & Thirteen, Rush Hour 2 and 21.

The above picture is comprised entirely of living plants! It's watering system is housed within the frame.

3. Wynn

The Wynn, built by developer Steve Wynn (who was also responsible for developing the Bellagio), is a luxurious, visually stunning hotel - which is why I am surprised I didn't take more pictures of it while I was there... !! I think I was overwhelmed. 

It opened in 2005 to the tune of 2.7 billion. On a side note, it sure makes you wonder the amount of money that Vegas must bring in on an annual basis.

4. Palazzo

The Palazzo Waterfall & Atrium Gardens

When it was completed in December 2007, The Palazzo displaced the Pentagon as the largest building in the United States in terms of floor space! The 1.8 billion dollar resort is reported to be the eleventh largest building in the world, in terms of available floor space and is also currently the second-largest building in the Western Hemisphere.

The sheer scale and opulence of everything in Vegas far surpassed anything I could have imagined. 

Hope you enjoyed our walking tour. Viva Las Vegas, Part 3, will have us move outside for some street scenes. I will try to keep the picture load down.