hanging on for dear life

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Fall is my absolute favourite season. I love cozy fall sweaters, wearing my fave boots again (delicious!) and the routines of school days and kids activities are all settling into a comforting rhythm. It’s that magical time of the year when the fall colours are at their most exquisite – golden yellows, burnt oranges and rich browns. The remaining leaves on the trees are hanging on for dear life. Knowing that a swift wind or rainfall will all but wipe them out for the season.

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When we lived in Ottawa, fall wasn’t complete without a hike in Gatineau park. The fall colours in Quebec are simply glorious. Although Fall here in St. John’s is not the same at all, there is still beauty all around in a uniquely Newfoundland way. My son and I were reminded of this today when we walked on the Rennie’s River Trail this past weekend.

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The Rennie’s River trail is an easy trail to walk.  It doesn’t get your heart pumping with exertion like the Northead Trail does, but it is a lovely walk and wonderful for walking your dog too.  There are garbage bins all over the place and there is even a station with little baggies for your dog’s business if you have forgotten yours. There were lots of In Memorium stones and benches on the side of the path. I think it is a perfect way to remember someone special to you. Who wouldn’t want to be remembered in such an uplifting environment.

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You can hear the water rushing by as you follow the trail. So peaceful.

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I hope the leaves can hang on for just a little longer.

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girl’s night

Last Friday night I invited some girl friends over to see our place and have a visit. I used a Pinterest board to keep track of my plan.  There was only 4 of us, so I didn’t need loads of food, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overdoing things and that I had a good mix.  Since I am a visual person (as most of us are) I LOVE that Pinterest allows me to see my plan at a glance and even link to recipes and notes.  If you want to check out my Girls Night Pinterest board just click here.20131026-114955.jpg

I love these little individual crudités cups – very colourful and fun to eat.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen these.

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Another of my go-to appetizers is these caprese salad bites. The bocconcini is my favourite part – mixed with the basil and grape tomatoes – YUM!

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I used dark chocolate to dip the strawberries. I melted white chocolate to “drizzle” over the dark chocolate, but it plopped more than drizzed lol.  Still delicious but not as pretty as the photo online .

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I found this website and LOVED the signs she used.  She has free downloads – you can click here to find them and download them yourself.  So fun!  Below you can see the prosciutto wrapped aged cheddar.  Now this is one of my absolute faves to have with a glass of wine on the weekend and my family loves them too.  So I made a few extra and left them in the fridge.  The only issue is that I bought mint flavoured toothpicks!!  I didn’t notice Friday night, but Saturday night when we pulled out the extras, I couldn’t figure out at first, why they tasted funny.  Take it from me, mint does NOT work with this lol.  I guess I still have some work to do, to be a Hostess with the Mostess. (btw: the Leek and Goat cheese brule looks much nicer when it has been baked…. I took the photo before I popped it in the oven).

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Did you notice my food signs?  I used the Stampin’ Up! Thankful Tablescape kit and the Chalk Marker to make them. So easy and they added a nice touch to the display! Click here if you would like to order one for yourself.

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My lovely friends brought me some Champagne, Bagels from Georgetown Bakery and these sensational flowers from The Flower Studio.  I’m a lucky lady.

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What is your favourite appetizer to make when you have company over?  Leave a comment in the blog comments to let me know. Christmas is coming and we could all use some ideas!

cape spear

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Thanksgiving Monday we all headed out to Cape Spear, the most Easterly point of North America – the closest you can walk to Ireland without getting wet. When we left our house, it was cloudy and the weather wasn’t that promising, but by the time we picked up my parents and started walking around Cape Spear, the sun came out and it was simply glorious! It was chilly, but in a crisp, fall way – fresh and invigorating.

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There are signs all over the place warning people to stay on the dedicated trails. It is so tempting to walk down to the rocks and be close to the waves, but NOT a good idea. People have drowned. The waves can be unpredictable and are very powerful. Incredible to witness, but only safely from the trails.

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There are gun emplacements/bunkers that are so interesting for photos. We had fun taking some shots with the kids.

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The lighthouse was built in 1836 and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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It really was a magnificent day. I can’t possibly fit in all the photos I took. Some of these photos are from my iphone and some were taken by my Dad.  Thanks for sharing Dad! I am still so happy to be living close to my parents – they are pretty awesome.

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Cape Spear is a must-see if you are visiting St. John’s.  Another stunning vista to add to the long list around here.

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pottery in quidi vidi

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A lovely friend asked me to join her at the Quidi Vidi Plantation last weekend for A Feast of Pottery. It was a delightful way to connect on a Saturday morning.  The sun was shining in the Gut and it was gorgeous, even though it was a bit brisk. Sidenote: I wonder why they refer to such a beautiful place with such an unbecoming name.  Calling it “The Gut” seems wrong somehow. Perhaps that’s a blog post for another day.

Before I entered the building to see the pottery, I had to take a few photos of the harbour. Doesn’t the scene below look like it should be on a postcard?  Actually, I’m willing to bet it IS on a postcard somewhere in St. John’s.

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The sun was shinning right at me, so not great for a photo, but still such a picturesque place – I couldn’t resist. You can see the Quidi Vidi brewery, which is the green building. I’ll have to check that out another time ;-).

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I tried to capture the sun sparkling on the water – millions of little dazzling diamonds! LOVE!

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When I finally did go inside to check out the pottery – that was a wonderful treat too.  Such incredible work.  People are just so talented – it is truly astounding sometimes. We saw lovely nature-inspired pieces, and many wonderful colours, shapes and patterns. I learned about Raku clay and saw a dozen items that I would love to have in my home. I just don’t have room for anything without ditching something so I managed to hold back from buying anything, but they were positively delicious to behold.

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Upstairs in the plantation, there are different artisans who are working on their craft and selling their wares. If you are in town, it is definitely worth a visit!  One of the artisans had a sign in her booth that I really liked.  It said, “Have nothing in your home that is not useful or beautiful.”  Words to live by.

north head trail

September 30th was a record breaking day for weather in St. John’s.  It was also a PD day for my daughter so I convinced her to join sister #2 and I for a hike on the North Head Trail at Signal Hill.   The last time I did this trail, I started at the top of Signal Hill, walked down the trail and then retraced my steps again back up the trail. This time Sister #2 parked halfway up the hill and we walked down the road through the Battery and onto the trail to do a full loop back to the car.  I’m not sure I would have found the beginning of the trail on my own.  You have to walk through the houses in the Battery and then walk over someone’s deck to get to the beginning.  20131014-182334.jpg

The houses are all built very close together and in many cases, built right into the rock and very close to the road. While it is quaint and interesting this time of year, I can’t help but imagine what it is like in the winter time. I’m guessing just a bit harsh!

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It feels like you are in a totally different country.  So interesting.

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There is definitely a view like none other.

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My ballerina striking a pose.

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When I did this trail in July, you could smell the wild roses everywhere.  This time of year, the trail was littered with dogberries and you know I love them!

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I don’t think it matters how often you do this trail, it is always breathtaking.  You can see Fort Amherst in this photo below. One of my favourite things in the world is to see the sun sparkling on the water.

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Rocky came with us – He was pretty pooped by the end of the walk but he’s always happier to come with us. 20131014-182506.jpg

The hike up to the top got my heart pumping. It is such an invigorating hike – you feel like a million bucks when you are done.  SO much better than heading to a gym.

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St. John’s is so fortunate to have this (and many other) wonderful hikes.  LOVE.

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extraordinary, ordinary moments (the mary pratt exhibit)

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A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriends and I went to see the Mary Pratt exhibit at The Rooms. I was knee deep into house painting and renovating and getting kids adjusted and I would not have made it out of the house, were it not for a reminder text from my friend. Am I ever glad for that reminder, because the exhibit was just incredible!

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Mary Pratt’s work is truly astonishing. Many of her paintings are so realistic, they look as though they could be photographs. When you are viewing her paintings, it is as though there is a light shining behind them, illuminating them from behind. The jam jars was one of my (many) favourites.There was no photography allowed at the exhibit, so I found these photos online to give you an idea, although there is no substitute for seeing them in person.

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WOW – it is so amazing to think of all the talent this woman possesses! Many of her works include tin foil, plastic wrap and glass.  It is just unbelievable how she is able to capture these everyday reflective items so clearly!

I found this quote on the National Gallery of Canada’s website talking about Mary Pratt.

“She began to experiment with the use of light to transform an ordinary moment into a charged theatrical scene.”

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As I said, we weren’t allowed to take photos but I did sneak a photo of a description of her work. (Hopefully the Rooms “police” aren’t reading my blog and don’t ban me from the building lol.)

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What really struck me was how stunning the mundane can really be.  We are surrounded by ordinary, regular, mundane things/experiences every day. I may not be able to paint or create like Mary Pratt, but I loved this fabulous reminder to stop and appreciate the beauty of simple, everyday things.

dogberries

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This time of year the dogberries are BEAUTIFUL.  These pops of orangey-red just catch your eye all over town and I keep stopping to try and take photos.  I don’t think my iphone is doing them justice – they are just so stunning in real life!

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The other name for the Dogberry tree is Mountain Ash. If you believe the folklore, an abundance of dogberries predicts a harsh winter (presumably to help the birds survive). My fingers are crossed that a harsh winter is not looming, but in the meantime I am loving these beautiful trees.

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There are four Dogberry trees that line our driveway in the new digs.  So pretty and welcoming.