Thursday, April 28, 2011


My Mom, who is away right now, sent me a bouquet beautiful lilies for Easter. They've opened and are filling the house with their perfume. I miss her. So in honour of missing my Mom I've been working on my Pavlova making skills. Her birthday is coming up in May and she will return by then. This is her favourite dessert.

I used a recipe I found on the lovely Mai Tai's blog and highly recommend it.

Pavlova is named for Anna Pavlova, a famous Russian ballerina from the last century. The parallel being they both seem as light as air. This photo of her would have fit perfectly into my Cottingley Fairies post!

Photo courtesy of

I found some amazing footage of her performing her famous 'Dying Swan' that I hope you'll enjoy.

The Dying Swan / Anna Pavlova from Atavisme on Vimeo.



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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cottingley Fairies

Just when I decide it's time to give up TV, it offers me a glimpse of something I'd actually like to see for a change. Of course, I only caught the last half hour, but managed to find a copy of Fairytale: A True Story at my local library and was able to enjoy it in its entirety last night.

In 1917 two young cousins took photos of each other seemingly with fairies in the frame. The photos were published in 1920 and charmed the world over. Photographic evidence of the fairy world gave hope to many at a time when the human world was healing from ravages of war.

Take a look at these lovely old photos the film was based on:

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

I don't want to give away the plot, but if you'd like... more information on Cottingley Fairies story can be found here.



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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Venus Sophia

I've been meaning to write about some developments at one of my favourite tea houses here in Victoria. Just over two weeks ago, the Venus Sophia Tea Room re-opened under new ownership and renamed themselves the Venus Sophia Tea Room and Vegetarian Eatery. I loved it before and I adore it now and I'm very happy with some of the changes they've made to their direction.

First, an introduction. It's an unusual spot in the heart of Victoria's Chinatown, and very hard to miss. Amongst the green grocers and shops selling pottery and wicker-ware stands a lace-curtained cafe front, rose petals strewn on the sidewalk. Wandering inside you'll find shelves filled with mis-matched tea cups, vintage bicycles with baskets filled with dried flowers high upon the walls and cozy spots to settle in and enjoy your organic Darjeeling.

The new owners Sallie and Alain are just completely charming. You could not ask for warmer hosts. Both vegetarians, they have set their sights on creating a very tempting vegetarian menu for the tea room. And be still my heart, they are also gluten-free friendly! Not all their menu items are gluten-free but they've created many options. I've had not had the pleasure of enjoying lunch there yet, but stopped in for a piece of their signature Swiss chocolate cake which just happens to be the best chocolate cake, gluten-free or otherwise, I've had in years!

It went so fast, this is all that I had left to photograph:

If you are a visitor to Victoria and are looking to partake in afternoon tea, I think Venus Sophia would be a great option. It's certainly a more affordable choice than heading to the Empress for tea, but there are other draws too. Chinatown is such a vibrant multicultural and historical neighbourhood worth wandering and Venus Sophia is a welcoming and comforting space to unwind and relax ones weary, well-travelled feet. Venus Sophia is located at 540 Fisgard Street.

Perhaps I'll see you there soon!



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Monday, April 18, 2011

The Princess at the Castle

Another item on the 'reasons why I love this place' list, is the ability to jump on a bicycle and fairly accidentally end up at a castle.

introducing my new Princess Sovereign!

The Mister and I were tempted outside by the sunshine and went for a lovely long ride this weekend to break in my new Pashley. We rode and rode until we ended up on the grounds Royal Roads University and Hatley Castle where we promptly got caught in a hailstorm. (There was a dark and foreboding cloud hanging overhead... sort of suited the place.)

We managed to find shelter in the school cafeteria which, I must give credit where credit is due, seems clearly different than the school cafeterias I've known. Poached pears? Port reduction? Not a bad place to wait out the storm!

And the plastic container it came in is fully compostable! Ah... progress.

I hope you had a lovely weekend too!




Monday, April 11, 2011

Dim Lights, Bright City

I've been away for a few days in an unlikely location and it is about to lead to a long post. I'm generally not one for bright lights and big crowds, so imagine my amusement at the announcement of a work commitment in Las Vegas. It wasn't a long meeting and the trip was a spouses included sort of thing... there was much time for sightseeing and such. Thing is, the mister and I are of similar temperament and were feeling trepidatious. How could we find a way to enjoy a city we had always avoided?

I had long judged Las Vegas harshly believing it to be too superficial and brash for my tastes. I like the old world, the authentic, the simple things in life. The pleasures I had assumed Las Vegas had on offer were much too obvious for me. I thought to myself that a place created solely for entertainment and amusement couldn't possibly have any depth. To go there was to confirm a great number of stereotypes about the place, but surprisingly I left the place feeling far less prickly than when I arrived.

And it's not because we had a gambling win or drank to soothe ourselves. I managed to find a little old-world beauty and a lot of quirky charm in the most unexpected of places.

We saw signs for a show called Absinthe as we wandered past Caesars Palace. The posters caught our collective eye, but the display of junkstore wares was what drew us in. In a city glistening with 'new' it was a relief to see a jumble of old chairs and bathtubs and bikes.

The dimmest lights in Vegas

Absinthe was part circus show, part vaudeville act, part burlesque and balanced beauty and bawd skillfully. The venue was a spectacular touring spiegeltent built in the 1920s. Upon doing a little research I found out Marlene Dietrich sang in this very tent in the 30s. My photo just does not capture the beauty of this tent... the mirrors, the wood, the draped velvet and fringe. Here it is in better lighting.

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

The tent gave such an intimacy to the performance. To sit three rows away from the tiny stage while heroic feats of athleticism took place before us was breathtaking. There was a moment during some high velocity roller skating than stopped my breath quite completely. (Who knew rollerskating could be so exciting!)

My only (very minor) critique is I wish somehow they could have worked in some background on absinthe history into the show. I know one generally goes to Vegas shows for spectacle rather than a history lesson, but I do think it would set the show up nicely. Still, highly recommended to those who already know who the green fairy is.

We had a lovely dinner across 'The Strip' from the show at Mon Ami Gabi located on the premises of the Paris Casino. We were unable to get a table and so sat at the tiny little bar and had a stellar meal while being entertained by the lovely bartenders. It was a bit transporting, really. The restaurants in the casinos seem so immense, to sit at a little 8 seat bar felt like another place and time.

Very good to find the dimmest of corners in the brightest of places.



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Friday, April 1, 2011

Farewell to Lady Grey

As this is the season of cleaning and clearing and renewal, I've been deep into sorting out the closets and cupboards. It's time to let go of a few things. I'm usually perfectly fine with letting belongings flow in and out of my life, but sometimes... every so often, an attachment forms.

And so it is with the Lady Grey boots, not grey at all, but crimson and chocolate-coloured little Victorian lace-up boots. They really don't fit. They never did and I'm sure they never will. I wore them just once and realized I'm no longer at the age where I'd readily opt to suffer for beauty.

I've held on to the Lady Grey boots with the teapot heel, as John Fluevog describes them, because something about them appeals to some aspect of my inner life; the internal landscape where I'm slightly more dangerous and mysterious than I really am. These are the boots of a showgirl. These are boots to inspire rivalries amongst admirers.

Dear Lady Grey, I do hope you find some other well-turned ankles to grace. I hope she takes you on the adventures I never could. I wonder if, with your departure, there might be room for Libby Smith in my life?