In my daughter’s school playground there is a small log. It’s big enough that I can stand on it and try to balance as it moves under my feet, but small enough that the kindergarteners can move it around easily. The other day, I went to pick up my daughter and saw some kids trying to stand on it as it rocked back and forth. Their substitute teacher rushed over and told them to get off: “That’s not what it’s for!”
What is a small log in a school playground for, exactly?
Silly teacher. Nature is for playing on and in and through.Read More
Wabi-sabi is the Japanese concept of finding beauty in imperfection. Or so I’m told. I’m actually not that up on design philosophies.
My kitchen has lots of wabi-sabi.
A business called Kitchen Fitters recently opened up a store front down the street from my store on Ottawa Street in Hamilton. Their idea is pretty cool – they replace your existing cabinet doors and hinges with newer styles so that you can quickly and inexpensively update the look of your kitchen.
Right now, they are running a contest to find the UGLIEST kitchen in Hamilton, and I think we’ve got a good shot. The picture of a kitchen on their marketing material is almost IDENTICAL to our kitchen – go ahead and look – it’s hilarious! So of course I absolutely had to enter when I saw that. Go ahead and jump on over to their Facebook page and vote for me. All you need to do is (1) like their page and then (2) like my picture - go on! It’s okay, I’ll wait…
Here is the image that I submitted (but of course, you know that – you just went and voted for me, right?)
Let me point out some of the features…
I had assumed that we’d redo the kitchen fairly soon after moving into the house. That was back in the days when we rented and had things like disposable income. Oh, silly us.
But despite that I don’t have the kitchen of my dreams, there are things that I love about my kitchen – little quirky things that make me happy.
1. The matryoshka dolls on my oven. They’re actually measuring cups, but I don’t know that we’ve ever used them to measure anything. They are there mostly to make me smile.
3. Our worm composting bin. We like digging through it and looking for worms. Okay, the girls have lost interest, but I still like digging them up to say hi.
4. Our bulletin board covered in art work. Honestly, I love seeing how my daughters skills grow with each new picture she creates.
This next picture shows two of my favorite things:
5. Our chalkboard wall filled with lists, inspirational quotes, goals, pictures and words that we’re learning to read. In June, I’d like to make the whole board into a giant summer bucket list.
6. Our dresser that we use for baking supplies. I really love the dresser – it’s unexpected but so totally practical – it just fits the space perfectly.
It’s funny. My house doesn’t have a lot of character in itself, but I’m happy that we can still fill it with whimsy. And even if we never redo the kitchen at all, it’s still one of my favorite rooms to be in.
(Seriously, go vote now: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152757089075013&set=o.371656242899597&type=1)
What room do you want to redo? What is your favorite thing about that room as it is right now?
I don’t know about you, but when I get into a TV show, I really get into it. I’m the kind of person that watches “just one more episode” at 2:00 am and frets constantly over the characters in the show. Battlestar Gallactica left me wondering which one of my friends could be a Cylon. Project Runway had me looking up contestants on Twitter so I could tell them they didn’t deserve to be cut. And Downton Abbey? Season three left me with stabbing chest pains and the overwhelming need to call a therapist. And I can’t WAIT for season four.
But with no new episodes coming out for awhile, I thought I’d get a quick Downton Abbey fix by visiting Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle, which I’ve heard has a similar vibe to Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England, where the show is filmed. Perfect.
Yesterday after school, the girls and I headed over for a quick visit. We showed up at 3:30, and at first I wasn’t sure if we would be able to catch a tour since the museum closes at 4:00. Luckily, there was a tour set to leave right as we arrived, and because we were the only ones that decided to stop by on a Tuesday afternoon half an hour before close, our guide was able to give us a fast-moving tour that was perfect for my girls’ short attention spans.
As we walked to the entrance, I asked if more people have come to the castle because of the show. She laughed and said that Downton Abbey is a popular topic. She told us that the show is actually set a few decades later than the museum display – season one starts off in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic whereas Dundurn Castle has been restored to 1855, when Sir Allan MacNab was a the height of his career.
Regardless, when we walked in, I was delighted by how much it felt like the show, despite a 50 or so year difference. But really, how much difference would a few decades make? It’s not like the fictional Crawley family rushed out and bought the latest in furniture each year – they passed down their belongings from generation to generation. Oh, can’t you just hear the delicious disdain in Lady Mary’s voice as she responds to the suggestion that they purchase new furniture to furnish Hacksby Park? “Your lot buys it, my lot inherits it.” How I love Lady Mary.
The tour of Dundurn Castle was great and I’m so glad we went. The beautiful chandeliers, the bells lined up in the kitchen, the servants quarters in the basement – they all had that Downton feel. And rather than seeing the cook’s bedroom and the butler’s office, I imagined Mrs Patmore’s heading to bed and Carson working away. During my last tour, I didn’t really know what a butler did (Mr. Belvedere was not super educational) and having characters I could refer to really made the place seem more alive and less like a museum.
I think The Princess enjoyed herself too. She liked seeing the children’s bedroom and sampling the shortbread made in the old-fashioned wood stove in the basement kitchen. We both enjoyed looking at a large painting of children wearing surprisingly fancy dresses and trying to pick out the boys from the girls (the girls have their hair parted in the middle while the boys had their hair parted on the side).
I wonder what The Princess thought of Dundurn overall. When I was small, I thought the castle was enormous and a bit intimidating. Now that I’m older, it doesn’t seem nearly as big (though still ten times bigger than my own house).
I read up on about the castle some more when we got home. It was the home of Sir Allan MacNab, Premier of the Province of Canada (before Confederation) and apparently Dundurn Castle was famous across Canada for hosting grand parties. Sir John A MacDonald and King Edward VII were both guests of Dundurn Castle – AND they were both guests of Highclere Castle in England too. I also learned that Sir Allan MacNab was the great-great-great grandfather of Camilla Parker Bowles – some trivia for fans of the royals.
We will be hitting a lot of museums in the next couple of weeks because – and this is what I really want to share with you – we’ve taken out a Hamilton Civic Museums Family Pass for 4 from the Hamilton Public Library. For three whole weeks, we can visit SIX museums completely free:
Battlefied House Museum & Park
Dundurn National Historic Site
Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum
Hamilton Children’s Museum
Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology
Whitehern Historic House & Garden
That’s a lot of museums. For FREE.
All you need to do is log onto the library website and place a hold on a museum pass. Don’t be put off by the waiting list of nearly 100 people – there are 84 passes and we waited a week or two to get ours. We’re going to head back to Dundurn this week and check out the Military museum, which has costumes to try on and a big play area. And then maybe Whitehern? Battelfield? We have a couple more weeks, so really we could hit them all.
Do you have a favourite museum to visit around Hamilton?Read More