Tuesday, April 26, 2011

under the sea

Lumpfish by Eric Allaby

In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that the artist featured today sponsored my room, board, piano lessons etc. for 17 years and put me through college...

A while back the Hunstsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews asked my dad to submit a painting for their upcoming calendar.  It surprising that as a diver for more than three decades and a painter during that entire time, Dad hadn't painted underwater life before.  He's preferred to focus on sailing ships and seascapes although he's recently started painting the birds that frequent his cove on Grand Manan island.  When he was given the list of potential sea life to paint, he opted for one that he thought no one else would pick: the humble lumpfish. (Dad shares his firsthand impressions of lumpfish behaviours over on his blog - they're great little creatures!)

I love Mr. Lumpfish - he has so much personality! - and am now considering asking dad to paint me a series of underwater creatures.  The whimsical creatures and the underwater atmosphere and light make me smile.

The lumpfish, along with many of dad's other works, are available on his Etsy shop.  If you're interested in painting, he offers great behind the art tips each week on his blog as well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

a visit with... tina robinson of lovely betty

If Astrid Lindgren had ever written about an adult Pippi Longstocking, there’s a good chance she’d have turned out a lot like Lovely Betty owner Tina Robinson.   

Like her style inspiration Pippi, Tina is a red-haired iconoclast and she’s created something of a Villa Villekulla for Fredericton fashionistas with bright colours and big surprises lurking in every corner.

Growing up in her mother’s British Woolens store, Tina says learned an appreciation for fine fabrics - wool, silk, cashmere – and certain classic styles.  She’d been a serious thrifter for decades but it wasn’t until she opened Lovely Betty as a consignment and vintage shop a year and half ago that she considered making a living at it.

“It wasn’t until after I opened the store that I realized I’ve been doing this all along I just didn’t realize I did it.  I was always attracted to classic things but I don’t think the word ‘vintage’ was banged around as much as it is now.  I’ve been doing this a long time without realizing what I’d been doing and just incorporating it into my wardrobe. ”

The shop originally opened in Brookside Mall but on March 1 moved to its new home in Marysville. Perched high on a hill with a view of Boss Gibson’s old mill, the house itself was built in the mid-nineteenth century for Gibson's son John.  Today decades-old wallpapers mix with electric paint colours and every room of the two-storey home holds temptations for fashionable treasure-seekers. 

The racks at Lovely Betty aren’t solely devoted to vintage.  Tina accepts many more recent items as well.  There's one standard they all meet: interesting well-made pieces with fine details - and a sense of fun.  While she steers away from being matchy-matchy, the vignettes she creates around the store show a natural editor's eye for playing dress up.

Just as she relies on her instinct in picking great pieces for the shop, Tina bases her business strategy heavily on her intuition.

“I’ve been winging it from the beginning. I definitely have a little guy on my shoulder that is my inspiration. My mom’s old boyfriend when I was growing up was an entrepreneur who moved to Canada from Ireland with nothing,” explains Tina.  “And I’ve read recently that entrepreneurs look at the world upside down; that they see what’s missing instead of what’s there and that’s what John did.”

“He took tons of risks but had a really good intuition. He made a million, lost a million and made it back and ended up dying a multi-millionaire. He generally made the right decisions and jumped on things -even though it was risky - if it felt right.” 

“John had died just a couple of months before I opened the shop.  He really didn’t want to die, he went to the Mayo clinic, he tried everything to stay alive.  So I always thought if he was given the chance to take over my body and do whatever he wanted to do would he open the shop?  And I think he’d be like, ‘Hell yeah. Go for it!  What do you have to lose?’”

That same sense of adventure lurks around every corner of the shop - velvet capes, leopard-print ankle boots, fantastic costume jewelry?  Go for it! 

Lovely Betty is located at 277 Canada Street in Marysville.  They’re open Mon-Thur: 11-6,  Fri: 11 -8 and Saturday: 10-6.
Got some great pieces you’re ready to part with?  Bring them in to Lovely Betty on consignment.  Tina selects what she thinks will sell and prices according to what she thinks it will go for.  You’ll receive 40% of price if the item goes for under $100, 50% if it sells for over $100 and 60% if it sells for over $200.  She generally keeps items for three months.

Monday, April 18, 2011

sissy & the hobos

I was predisposed to have a favourable opinion of Sissy & the Hobos even before hearing them based on my general good feeling towards anything involving hobos and/or mandolins.  But when they opened their afternoon show at Dolan's with the Be Good Tanyas' Littlest Birds I was truly hooked.

(Please excuse the wobbliness of the video. I won't lie, I may have been ordering nachos and a caesar while shooting.)

Formed a couple of months ago, this was only the second gig for Sissy and the Hobos.  Fronted by cousins Juanita Bourque and Sylvia Caissie with Tony Scott on mandolin and Ceasar Morales on bass, this is a group that will appeal to anyone with a soft spot for folksy root-based music and sweet harmonies.  While the two songs I shot are both Be Good Tanyas covers, their set was filled with great folk and country classics from Hank Williams, Pete Seeger and Roly Stolley along with some original tunes.

If you like the Be Good Tanyas, Sarah Harmer, the Good Lovelies or Allison Krauss, you'll love Sissy and the Hobos so keep an eye out for them around town this summer!  A perfect sound for sunny days.  

weekend wrap-up: it's such a perfect day

There are certain days that make me fall in love with my little town all over again.  Saturday was one of them:  sunshine, lots of people strolling downtown and lots of things to do.

Our first stop was Fredericton's contribution to the growing movement of Vote Mobs around the country during the current election campaign: the F-Mob.

Lots of energy and patriotism among the many young people (and some not-as-young) who got out to promote voting on May 2.

From Officer's Square and the Lighthouse it was off to Backstreet Records for Record Store Day.  The little shop was packed to the rafters and it was a reminder that I need to pop in there much more often.  Also I need to invest in a decent record player.  My thrift store player looks funky but I fear I risk electrocution every time I plug it in.

Since we were on Queen Street, a stop at the Owl's Nest was a must.  You really never know what you'll find there! 

I can never leave the used bookstore empty-handed.  I love the design of old book jackets and the quirky titles.  To wit, Mrs. Marjory Aitken's 1958 Travel Alone and Love It (which includes an entire chapter devoted to the world's floral clock) and from 1948 Let's Make More Things, a craft manual written entirely in calligraphic hand.  The 8 Western Hits album was Denis' find and it probably should have come with a side of anti-depressants.

We capped off our afternoon adventures with a late lunch, cheap beer and great free music at Dolan's Pub.  Sissy and the Hobos are a terrific new local band (stay tuned for some video from the show later today). Their sweet harmonies and folksy songs were the perfect soundtrack for a Saturday spring afternoon.

How was your weekend?

Friday, April 15, 2011

this weekend... shine on

Sunday brings us the Full Pink Moon, named for the wild phlox that blooms profusely and early in the spring.  Pink Moon is also the title of one of my favourite albums and songs from Nick Drake.  In that spirit, here is some dreamy music to kick off your weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

fresh start

We're chock full of new beginnings these days which is keeping me pretty busy.  But I'm still finding time to get the seedlings started for this year's garden.  I'm basing my veg garden on this design that chef Jamie Oliver created for Better Homes and Gardens.  So far I've got the tomatoes, broccoli and marigolds started.

It's designed as a schoolyard garden so I figure if Jamie thinks young children can tend it, it's just about the right level for me!  You can find all the specs on this garden plan here.

Anyone else planning a garden this year?  Would love to hear what you've got started or what you're plotting for summer 2011!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

play with your food: the glad girl meets the gluten-free girl

Prosciutto-wrapped salmon with wild mushroom risotto and an arugula salad with garlic dressing.
It's estimated that celiac affects one in 133 Canadians.  And celiac and gluten intolerance combined impacts 15% of the population.  I'm not one of them.  But I have watched friends who have suffered from mysterious symptoms for years experience nearly miraculous recoveries by going gluten-free.  Our western diet relies heavily on gluten-filled products: pastas, breads and baked goods made from wheat flour are some obvious culprits but gluten also shows up in unlikely places like sauces and ice cream.  My mom and I have been trying to educate ourselves on gluten-free eating recently in an effort to reduce gluten in our own lives.  Many  people without gluten-intolerances or allergies claim that reducing or cutting out gluten has improved their energy and digestion.

One of the books my mom gave me was Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern's The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. Through her blog Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna quickly became one of the leading internet voices for gluten-free living.  Instead of treating gluten-free eating as deprivation, she made it decadent, a real celebration of amazing food.  It didn't hurt that she married a brilliant chef!

The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef is a mouth-watering collection of recipes that the New York Times dubbed one of the Top 10 Cookbooks of 2010.   And last night's dinner proved why.  For my first attempted recipe, I chose the prosciutto-wrapped salmon with wild mushroom risotto along with the frise salad with garlic dressing (swapping out the frise for arugula). (I like to dive right in there!) Flavourful and amazing.  There's no gluten but you won't miss it.

Shauna and Daniel's recipes and stories are such an inspiration and prove that you create really fantastic (maybe even better) dishes by freeing yourself from gluten.  I'd love to see more restaurants locally take up the creative challenge and offer more gluten-free choices.  But even if they don't, the Glad Girl kitchen, aided by the Gluten-Free Girl, will be having fun playing with her food!

Incidentally a reason I love the interwebs:  Being able to tweet back and forth with a cookbook authour while cooking her recipes.  So fun!

Monday, April 11, 2011

weekend wrap-up: sunshine, shandies and sunday night supper

Finally!  A true spring weekend - it felt like it would never get here.  I spent most of the weekend at my parents' place on Grand Manan.  With an east-facing house, waking up early to enjoy the sunrise over the cove is a must. 
I'm looking forward to warmer weather and taking the kayaks out but this weekend I was content to cozy up on the sofa and bask in the morning light.

Made it back to Fredericton mid-afternoon Sunday.  Loved seeing so many people out on the Green along the river enjoying the sunshine.  Took a quick stroll to the exhibition centre for the spring antique sale.   Glad I did as I scored these great vintage earrings.  I'm loving this corally orange colour right now and paired with gold it's a classic summer earring.

Finished off the weekend with a Sunday night supper courtesy of Bridget and Vince.   Bridget whipped up some bright citrusy shandies -  the perfect drink for an early spring weekend.

 And Vince worked his magic on couple of curries.

Who could ask for a better weekend!  Hope you had a great one too!

Friday, April 8, 2011

hope your weekend...

...is smooth-sailing.  I'll be spending a couple of days visiting my family on Grand Manan.  First trip back since Christmas - looking forward to seeing everyone!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

project yellow: office space

And so it came to pass last week that the Glad Girl found herself self-employed and in need of a home office.  Faced with embarking on a rather big adventure, one of my first priorities was to create a beautiful, energizing space. Working from home takes discipline and I wanted a space that would inspire me and that would be a pleasure to spend my days in.   Luckily I had a spare bedroom that had been little more than a repository for craft supplies, ephemera and, well, junk.  I can't even show you the before photo.  It was that horrifying.

I wanted the space to be cheerful and this pot of daisies from my thoughtful friend Jilanna provided the perfect inspiration point - right down to their pale aqua wrapper.  This of course meant lots of yellow which prompted Jennifer to dub the entire enterprise: Project Yellow.

The blue-green wall colour is both calming and uplifting but pale enough to function almost as a neutral which allows me to bring in a lot of other bright colours. (Please note the office mascot there in the left corner.  The office has no furniture under which his ball can get stuck.  I can't tell you what a relief this is.)

You just knew there had to be stripes right?

I'd love to splurge on a retro mid-century desk at some point but for now dining room set from my old apartment has been re-upholstered and repurposed for my work station.  (That great mug is by Shanie Stozek.)

This will never be a paperless office.  I love my notebooks!

These tissue paper pom-poms have been showing up everywhere but why wait for a party to make and hang them? 
Whiteboards are for boardrooms, I'm more of a chalkboard kind of girl.

Colour! The question written in the bottom of the newsprint is taken from Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule.   Simple and inspiring.

I love creating little vignettes of things that make me happy: flowers, apothecary jars, old Underwood typewriter, vintage decorating books and a peony candle.

So I've got a beautiful space and I'm pleasantly overwhelmed with some of the opportunities I already have before me.  The future of bright for Project Yellow!

seeing clearly

One of the challenges of decorating a century home filled with antiques and heirlooms is to keep things from looking too museum-like.  I love throwing in a few contemporary pieces to lighten things up.  I've had this coffee table in mind pretty much since I moved in but couldn't source one locally and I couldn't bring myself to 'big city prices' and have one shipped.  So when I spotted this one at Urban Almanac yesterday I didn't think twice.  Perfectly-proportioned, tempered glass, locally purchased and the right price? Love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

correspondence course: robert schumann to clara wieck

After seeing 8 year-old Clara Wieck perform, 17 year-old Robert Schumann quit his law studies to pursue music lessons with Clara's father.  When she was 15 he was completely smitten with her and wrote this charming and whimsical letter....

Mr. Green in the Albion Balloon, Having Ascended from Vauxhall, Metropolitan Museum of Art
...In the beginning I had various plans with regard to our correspondence. I wanted, for instance, to start a public one with you in the music journal; then I wanted to fill my hot-air balloon (you know that I own one) with ideas for letters, and arrange an ascent in a favourable wind with a suitable destination... I wanted to catch butterflies as letter-carriers to you. I wanted to send my letters first to Paris, so that you should open them with great curiousity, and then, more than surprised, would believe me in Paris. In short, I had many witty dreams in my head, from which only today the horn of the post has awakened me. Postillions, my dear Clara, have, by the way, as magical an effect on my as the most excellent champagne. Once seems to hvae no heqd, one has such a delightfully light heart, when one hears them trumpeting so joyously out into the world...

Leipzig, 1834
Photo: NY Public Library

Monday, April 4, 2011

what a circus

I nabbed these circus-themed cards at Michael's a few weeks ago.  I loved their whimsical retro feel. They seem like just the thing for one of the inspiration walls of my new office
(The '5 things to be happy about' calendar page was given to me by my friend Lori in March 2000 - I've been carrying it from office to office for 11 years and it still makes me smile!)