What’s a “Diva on the Run”?

Sure, life is harsher, faster and more complicated, and keeping up leaves little time to nourish the diva that is at the heart of our creative selves.

I can hear you: Who has the time? I think we all do, once we get past mourning what was, isn’t and never will be.

If you’re a Diva on the Run, you grab and make the most of a few minutes or hours to flex your creativity and feed your mindful grace. Divas on the Run recognize this as vital to survive/thrive in the complex world we live in.

Over the recent “festive holiday season”, I took a good, hard look at unemployed, frustrated, middle-aged and BORED me … and kicked myself in the ass-brain to make a big change for the better. First, I watched all four seasons of Game of Thrones. When that didn’t make a difference, in January, I went back to school for the first time in 25 years, to pursue a Certificate from U of T in Digital Strategy (more on why later).

First assignment: create a blog.

“Diva on the Run” is the result. My goal is to find and share things I discover I can do in just a few minutes or hours … without blowing up my bank account … to take back the fun for a more mindful and graceful me.

Stay tuned!

Garden 2014 - just 2 more weeks to go before gardening season starts again!
Gardening is one my biggest pleasures, even with our short growing season. Come back soon for ways to get started now on the 2015 season.
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It’s almost thyme to garden

Some sage ideas!

Journal of a Traveling Heart

I love Spring. Almost as much as I love Fall. But definitely way more than I love Winter.

It’s the way the birds sing in the morning, how the sun glistens on the new condos in Toronto and the smell of flowers sprouting up after a long, long winter. You can finally leave the house without 8 layers of clothing on and can open the windows for the first time since October! I love Spring!

Oh dear god, please yes_Glee_Kirk

I want to make this Spring season count, which is why I have a plan. I am going to become an urban gardener! I only have a 4X10 balcony and a large window sill to work with but I am motivated to grow my own plants and herbs. The hardest part of this plan will be the research for pre-planting and the maintenance of the seeds and/or plant(s). During my research I found some helpful infographics that lay…

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Looking for a few good books to join my shelf

While I have read a few good books lately (when I’m not on the run), for the most part have been disappointed. I’m looking for suggestions!

book

Just be advised that, while I have read most of Dickens’ and Dumas’, my literary tastes are not of the highest brow. Here are the recent reads that I’ve enjoyed:

  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. A sweet and funny read about a man who Asperger’s who is meticulously searching for a wife, now that he’s hit 40.
  • The Girl Who Saved the King Of Sweden, by Jonas Jonasson. By the author of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, this is an adventure/triumph tale of a young South African girl, told against a true historical backdrop. Cynical, funny and quirky.
  • Leap into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe, by Leo Bretholz. Bretholz’s account of his journey out of hell during World War II is gripping.
  • Home and Vacation, both by Matthew Costello. My teenage son gave me the first one for Christmas and I enjoyed it so much I had to read the sequel. Nice horror suspense writing, even if it is of the zombie genre.
  • Heart-Shaped Box: A Novel, by Joe Hill. An aging heavy metal legend collects creepy stuff and gets more than he bargained for with his latest order. Another selection by my teenager. Had to read the whole book at once – darkly funny and gripping, too! Help! I’m getting hooked on horror suspense!
  • Gray Mountain: A Novel, by John Grisham. Don’t know because I left it at the dealership when I went for car repairs. But I am sure I will love it! Anybody have a copy?

What are your favourite reads, of late?

Courtesy: CC0 original source.
Courtesy CC0 original source.

Flower frogs are the strong, silent type

In a recent post, I included this photo of a “flower frog”.frog

Mine is one of the simpler versions. It would have been made to actually fit onto the rim of a depression glass bowl. Google “floral frog” or “flower frog” and you will be surprised how many times you’ve seen one and didn’t know what it was. The Flower Frog Gazette (I know, right?) has some beautiful images of more intricate frogs.

Flower frogs come in sizes large and small, in a variety of materials like porcelain, stoneware, metal and glass. They sit on the rim or in the base of the jar or vase – either detachable or as part of the container itself (like the one below, which has been handily re-purposed).

Photo courtesy: A Vintage Industry
Photo courtesy: A Vintage Industry

Flower frogs seem to have emerged in the 16th century in Europe. My guess is they originated long before in China, a country that historically was ahead of everyone else in creating useful and beautiful household items.

Frogs seem to have reached their heyday in North America in the ‘20s and ‘30s, which was also around the time many glass and pottery manufacturers were expanding and prospering (must have been a real rush on frogs).

The likely reason for their name is that they were originally made to sit in, or on, water … um, like a frog.

Photo courtesy: Katja Schulz
Photo courtesy: Katja Schulz

Teatime in Ottawa: Talking Turkish

The kids in our family are growing up fast and this was ever more apparent in our recent visit with my sister and her family in Ottawa.

  • This is our first visit without my nephew – he’s away in second-year university.
  • We played “Cards Against Humanity“, a self-described “party game for horrible people … as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.” There are plenty of sexual and scatological references, so the kids won. 
  • My son and niece talked a little and ate/texted a lot when we went out for lunch. Nobody asked me where worms come from or why the sky is blue.
  • We went for tea after lunch – at their suggestion – and they put their phones away so we could talk. WHAT?tea2

The Tea Store in Ottawa’s historical Byward Market offers hundreds of options. I chose the Turkish Apple tisane (herbal tea), and loved it so much I searched for the recipe to make it at home.

By Carlos Dufour
Photo by Carlos Dufour

I’m still refining my approach, but here you go for now. This makes 4 or 5 servings (if properly served in tea glasses) and the ingredients are all available at the Bulk Barn.

  • 1 cup dried apples slices
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • Honey to taste
  • Half a lemon, slices
  • Dash of cardamom (optional)

Combine everything but the honey in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Strain brew into a warm teapot – use a wire sieve if you don’t have a fine tea strainer. Add honey and swirl/stir. Pour into heat-proof glasses so you can enjoy the way your infusion looks like it tastes. You may wish to add more water to the pot and let the fragrance linger. Just remember the stove is still on, and to toss the remnants in your composter when you’re done

  • Total time for a Diva on the Run: 45 minutes to shop and brew. As much time as you like to enjoy.

Did you know? 

  • Tea was discovered in China in the 3rd century BC. Tea first came to Canada in the early 18th century when it was imported by the Hudson Bay Company.
  • Some countries regulate the use of the word “tea” to apply only to real tea vs. herbal infusions.
  • The Tea Association of Canada (who knew there was one?) has curated some interesting statistics on the health benefits of tea in their blog.

What’s your favourite hot beverage?

Start seeds now to save your money … and your sanity!

Courtesy: Brianna Privett
Courtesy: Brianna Privett

It’s not too late to start you seeds indoors for this summer’s garden. In fact, many of the annual seeds that thrive in our Toronto climate should be planted indoors now. The timing will be perfect for planting the seedlings at the end of May, after our last frost.

I have dozens of packets of seeds that I never plant. They’re all over the house – purchased on a whim in previous years at the first hint of spring or liberated from other people’s gardens and stuffed in baggies. They are…somewhere.

They’ve been left to languish because I could never seem to find the time or energy to add them to my personal oasis.

IMG-20150401-00801
I know I put them somewhere…oh yes, with the vacuum attachment, leftover business cards and painting drop cloth! Incidentally, that’s a flower frog in the foreground. More about frogs in a later post.

I am determined to use them or lose them this year. Some of the more hardy types (like most perennials), I will simply toss into the back of the beds to see what happens. Annuals typically need tender care and a head start inside.

All the home reno stores carry seeds, but I like Sheridan Nurseries the best for freshness and variety. Their staff are more knowledgeable when it comes to choosing what’s right for your garden’s micro-climate.

There are umpteen resources on-line for guidance in all things gardening. I like Mark Cullen’s blog the best. Born and raised in southern Ontario and a member of the Cullen Gardens dynasty, he has the best advice for local gardeners, including this posting on starting seeds.

The glass on death row

Carrots and Peace

This glass is 54 trillion years old. True story. She has travelled with me to at least eight different homes on two continents. When she first started life with me, she had five brothers and sisters. They were a lovely set of sextuplets. Impressive, efficient, obedient (easy to clean). Back then, printed glasses were a thing. And they usually had to be anorexically thin and hold like 2 ounces of water. Hell no, I said. I like my water. So I stuck with the plus-sized glasses. Beautiful, beautiful creatures.

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Diva on the Run discovers the power of positive lighting…

…and learns to at least sorta’ like her kitchen again.

I’ve been hating my kitchen. It’s in perfect shape but is horribly dated in style. Even an earthquake could not dislodge the discoloured white melamine cabinets. They were manufactured and installed by Binns, so they had to have cost a pretty penny. Too bad they don’t look pretty. (No offence to Binns, after all, the cabinets are over 20 years old).

In an effort to offset their dowdiness, I tried to get funky and painted/papered the room in shades of black and espresso. You know, to make the white look whiter. Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.

My sexy, new halogen fixture
My sexy, new halogen fixture

It never occurred to this Diva on the Run that lighting affected the aesthetics. Renowned as one the world’s largest investors in decorating magazines, I nevertheless had failed to make this connection in my own home.

It was only when the dimness of the kitchen had turned me right off cooking that I took the critical step and, after painstaking on-line searching, visited Electro Light at 1412 Kennedy Road, just south of Ellesmere in Toronto. This is my tried-and-true lighting store and I wasn’t disappointed. As much as I fell in love with the gold and glass waterfall-like chandelier (think under the sea, mermaids, treasure…) with the $3,999 price tag, I was happy with my purchase of a very sexy halogen fixture with directional lighting, especially since it was on clearance!

Like magic, my kitchen has been transformed! (Or almost like magic, because when we took off the old fixture, the new one’s flush mount didn’t cover the hole, so my friend had to come back the next day after I purchased a ceiling medallion to cover the hole … and then my house’s old wiring snapped off, so my generous and handy friend climbed up into the attic to replace it…what a good friend!).

OK, maybe transformation is going overboard. But I don’t hate the room anymore. I can see clearly now (see why this is below, after you complete the poll) and have cooked dinner happily each night since it was installed.

What is a Halogen Bulb?

Halogen light bulbs contain tungsten filaments (the part that glows) and are filled with halogen gas. Because they are brighter and hotter than incandescent bulbs, the light seems to make things appear sharper. Depending on who you’re talking to, some experts say halogen lights have a longer, more energy efficient life than other bulbs. Just remember…they are hot!

Why my sister is my favourite person

A Diva on the Run is nothing without her support system. How can I possibly find the time (or the money – did I mention I am still out of work?) to visit so many new places?

Last week during March Break, my sister donned the DOR mantle to visit New York City with her daughter and husband. We don’t live in the same city, so when she returned, I texted to asked her what she brought me – I was teasing, REALLY. They had a full itinerary of cultural hot spots planned in this, one of the most bustling and avant garde cities in the world. Art, cuisine, architecture and history in the making…

“I actually tried,” she answered. “But there was nothing I thought you’d like.” Then…”I will text you the proof.”

Here’s the proof.

brooklyn sign

flea

Knowing you’re in someone’s thoughts is the best present of all.

Who’s your favourite person and why?

Wining for patio time

A salute to spring!
A salute to spring!

This past weekend, the girls and I had simply had enough of this darn weather and were determined to celebrate the first days of spring. But, what was supposed to be a sunny day was frigid and damp. So, I emptied out the storage shed (note BBQ and table legs haphazardly thrown on the driveway) and we headed outside with our blankets, gloves and white wine bottle…um bottles. When, oh, when will this deep freeze end?

How are you getting a head start on the warmer days?

Change the look of your living room in an afternoon

Painted Ladies

The fireplace mantel in my living room was feeling a little bland. It was in need of a refresh. So, I now had a project for Saturday afternoon. I hit Moss on the Danforth in search of accent pieces.

I found these two stainless steel lanterns. They’re modern looking, but evoke the feeling you get during of a seaside vacation. Just what I was looking for. I added two white candles to finish the look.

Coastal Lanterns Coastal Lanterns

I headed home. No need to spend any more money. I have a kitchen shelf full of vases. I pull out three similar glass vases. These will do just fine. Now, I’m on a mission for seashells and rocks to keep with the modern coastal design. I know I have both from a trip down south years ago.

Seashells Seashells

I fill the vases and add them to the mantel. I stumble across…

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