Saturday, December 26, 2015

Blue Rocks? I have no idea what you are talking about.

If you come to Lunenburg, don't bother crossing over the town line and driving an extra ten minutes along highway 332.  There's really nothing to see.

If you are looking for untouched beauty then I suggest........ Peggy's Cove.

Spectacular biking and kayaking?   Ummm...Cabot trail.  Ya, that's it.  I hear the Cabot trail is incredible.

Folk art?  Lunenburg has a great festival in the summer.

So, if you happen to notice a place on the map called Blue Rocks.... don't bother.  It's not even in any of the tourist brochures.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Touchy Feely Christmas Message

The following blog is brought to you by a little extra something that I poured into my coffee.
Was just thinking back to an Ideas on CBC episode that I heard over a year ago.  Whoever was speaking was talking about how every major religion begins with the welcoming of a stranger.  That's it.  When I heard it, it blew my mind.  I thought, that's the gold standard of how we are doing as human beings in this world.

I'm grateful to live in a town where there really is so much generosity.  I walked into the farmers market and the first thing I saw was a table of people collecting donations for the Syrian refugee families that will be arriving here.  So many people doing good things.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Whatever.  Here's to a welcoming and generous new year.
Lots of Love.  Anna   (Hope I won't regret this post in the morning.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Anna Goes to The City

When I signed off yesterday,  I was just about to curl up into a ball and settle in for the night in a pile of Edie's fabrics, but instead Edie and I decided to head into Halifax.... to look at more fabric.
Patch is a beautiful little shop on Robie st. in the North end of Halifax. It is filled with pretty things.

I have a weakness for pretty things.  I had no idea safety pins could be so beautiful.  I needed to buy those safety pins and I have been staring at them all day.
Eventually, the young lady working at Patch wanted to go home and we were evicted onto the street.  Edie and I walked around the North end while blabbing and gabbing.  I had confessed to Edie that I hadn't yet found a part of Halifax that stole my heart.
Edie grew up in Purcell's Cove and used to secretly meet up with her boyfriend in the North end back in the seventies (against her parents' wishes).  Apparently, there were no trendy restaurants in that part of town back then.  It was so fun to walk around with her and hear her stories.  Loved this skinny little house.  I can now say that there is an area of Halifax that has stolen my heart.  The North end appeals to my inner, shallow, trendy self.

There was just so much good food everywhere and beautiful, overpriced little niche grocery stores.  I'm really not above that.  I did draw the line at buying the Gluten free shampoo.  I just couldn't go there.
We had dinner at this incredible restaurant called, Agricola st. Brasserie.    Oh my Lord, that was good.  Really good.  Everything.  The atmosphere, all the beautiful people with beautiful hair, the meal, the deserts....  Sometimes you have to splurge.  But, like I said in my last post, this was actually a tax deductible business meal,  exchanging millinery techniques, suppliers, visions of the hat future, etc.,   ahem, cough, cough....

After filling up on my dose of city life,  we headed back to Edie's place for the night and in the morning set out on our next adventure.  Part three tomorrow.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Competition - Edie

I know I should be in competition with another curly haired, ex dancer, mad as a loon hat maker that also happens to live in Nova Scotia, but the fact is, I just adore her.  What's a girl to do.  How can I feel anything but love for a woman that happens to love all the same things as I do.

So, on Thursday when I happened to hit the wall and was ready to go hide in a cabin in the woods for some time, my wise husband suggested I give Edie a call.  Edie, want to run away with me?........Of course I do.  You see, a kindred spirit.

Notice any similarity here?  My great escape began with a trip to Edie's house in Timberlea. Just a modest little suburban home but walk down to her basement and.....

This is what you will find.  Paradise on earth.  Edie is a true master milliner.  She at one point had one of the largest hat shops in Canada, called Edie hats, on Granville Island in Vancouver.  She is also an unbelievable costumer.  She knows anything and everything there is to know about historical fashion and she is also trained as a men's hatter.

I could have just curled up in a pile of fabric and spent the whole weekend in Edie's studio.

But we had bigger plans.  I thought that this was just two mad hatters running away for the weekend, but Edie explained to me that we were actually having our first annual east coast milliner's convention.  (we can expand that title if anyone else wants to join us)  Seeing that this title made our getaway tax deductible, I decided to go with it.

I'll post more from our adventure tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I Cried on Columbus

This little sad tale is the prelude to a happy announcement about a beautiful little craft show that I will be doing this coming Sunday, right here in lovely Lunenburg, NS.
Every year at this time I am asked if I will be doing any big craft shows and my answer is always the same.  Uhhh, no, sorry, but please come visit me in my studio or at our local farmers' market or you can order online.  It's just that I have a bit of a history with large craft shows  (as do most crafts people) and at some point I had to admit defeat and come up with a new business plan.

My story begins with this beautiful display booth, built for me by my husband, Tony, who was not yet my husband.  The sort of  booth constructed out of  new love, with no hope for ever being repaid for the effort.
I remember when Tony built this booth, he stated that his goal was to make its assembly so simple that I would be able to put it together all by myself.  He later went on to call this booth the biggest failure of his life.  He had not accounted for my ineptitude with a screw gun.  I'm sorry all you competent, power tool yielding lady friends of mine.    I am not one of you.  I tried.  I swear I did.   In the end, Tony had to come to every craft show with me.  Not once was this accomplished without a fight.  And this one particular fight will forever be etched in my memory.

At the time, we lived in Marblehead, MA and the craft show in question was in New York City.  A mere 4 1/2 hour drive away.  The show is called Crafts on Columbus.  It is an outdoor show that takes over a few blocks of Columbus ave.  It takes place on Columbus day weekend in October.  Now, some of you that live in the North east of the United States may already be cluing in to the first hurdle.  Holiday weekend traffic out of Boston.  I had no idea.  Hurdle number two was "that car".  You know the one.  The lemon.  The vehicle that vacuumed up your life savings, or worse, put you into ridiculous credit card debt.  Every replaced part accompanied by a small prayer that this would be the last one.  But it never was.  It just went on and on.  It was a Chevy GMC Van.  Front wheel drive for the suckiest of winter driving.  To this day I can not look at one of those vans without crying.

We hit the road around noon.  The clouds above were ominous and angry.  Tony and I had already had a few preliminary warm up fights under our belts to set the mood.  As I hinted at already, traffic was insane.  I could of strolled out of Boston in better time.  It took us two hours to just pass the city line.  And then the skies opened.  Torrential down pour.  Zero visibility.  Faded yellow lines, faded signage and the windshield wipers stopped working.  I kid you not.  Thirty more miles and two hours later, the passenger seat belt broke.  I awaited my death.  No concern or pity from the driver side of the car only contempt and brooding resentment.

Nine hours into our four hour journey we came to a roadside diner in Yonkers.
After hours of stony silence, Tony turned to me, eyes narrowed, and said, "Go inside and ask for a potato."
Hands trembling, heart pounding (not from fear of my future husband, but from having been sure for several hours that I was about to die) I replied in a quiet voice, "A potato?"
" Yes", he said, "I heard it on NPR's Car Talk.  If the windshield wipers stop working, rub a potato on the windshield and the starch will lessen the rain drops."
I knew this was no time to argue and despite my embarrassing mission, I was relieved to have an excuse to leave the car.

I walked into the diner and was met by one of those sweet looking older NY Diner waitresses that make you want to put your head on their shoulder and call them, Mom.
"What can I do for you, Sweetie,"  she said in her raspy voice.
"Umm, I know this is a strange request, but do you happen to have a potato that I could buy from you?"
  After a quizzical moment of silence, I told her about our arduous journey and she insisted I call Tony in from the car.  I knew this woman would make everything better, so I did as I was told.
Tony came inside.  She sat us down and  put two pieces of blueberry pie and a potato in front of us.  Amazing what blueberry pie can do for a man.  The things we can learn from an older generation. We paid our bill, the waitress gave me a wink and we returned to the Van.

Tony was not yet speaking, but the smoke was no longer coming out of his ears.  He rubbed the potato on the windshield and we continued on our less than merry way.  The potato thing doesn't work, just to save you the trouble, but the last leg of our journey was easier than the first.

We arrived at our hotel at 2a.m.  We awoke at 6 a.m to set up the show.  The rain had not let up. We set up the tent and the booth.  I put out the hats.  After an hour or so, I began to notice little rain drops leaking through the tent.  The rain was coming down so quickly that it was gathering in pools on top of the tent.  Every few minutes Tony would take a stick and lift up the top of the tent from the inside, and we would watch gallons of water hit the sidewalk.  Still, not a word had passed between us.
I stood on Columbus ave. sopping wet and exhausted and I started to cry.  I cried on Columbus.  I let loose and let it go.  Tony came over, hugged me and slowly my tears turned into laughter.  We both laughed uncontrollably.

An amazing thing happened then.  Many women had run under my tent to escape the down pour.  As they huddled close, they looked around and noticed the hats.  They began to try them on.  In typical NY fashion, they found the sunshine on a rainy day.  I was swamped, both literally and figuratively.  I sold a lot of hats that day.  I could never call that show a financial success, but I covered my costs and a little more and we lived to tell the tale.  We always refer to this memory as the time I cried on Columbus.

So here we are in Lunenburg, NS, almost fifteen years later and I am about to do a tiny, beautiful, manageable little craft show this coming Sunday.  It's called the Old town Craft Show and it will be at The Lunenburg School of the Arts this Sunday from 1-5.  You can check it out here. No death defying car ride, no stress, no potatoes.  I'll post more photos tomorrow.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Unsung Heroes

Last night we went to a beautiful tribute to veterans who had been unrecognized by the Canadian Government: Aboriginals, African Nova Scotians, Acadians, Canadian Merchant Marines. It was called Unsung Heroes.
I had no idea what I was in for, but it was very beautiful.   Music, traditional dances and story telling at the beautiful St. John's Anglican Church.

The highlight for me was when an ancient aboriginal man who had served in the second world war stepped up to the microphone, with the help of two people, and recited a traditional prayer.
 I'm going to have to paraphrase what he said.: We ask the creator to give us strength to enjoy each day and to always be grateful. 

I think that's the only prayer I will ever need.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

For The Love of Colour

I have a little obsession with colour.  If I look back on my life I can see that it's always been this way.  I remember sitting on a subway in New York City and using all my powers of restraint to not take a little cutting from the skirt of the woman standing in front of me.

It's no wonder then that one little photo of Lunenburg's waterfront viewed from my computer screen in my former home in upstate NY caused me to make the proclamation to Tony that we would be moving to Nova Scotia.  Two years later we landed in Lunenburg and there is not a day that goes by that I am not overwhelmed by its beauty.
But paint is just paint.  It's the true colours of Lunenburg that steal my heart.  My daily walks through the graveyard, the back harbour trail and  the colours of the sky and the plants.  Even if every house in Lunenburg was painted grey (God forbid) I would still be in love with this town.
But the most vivid colours of all come from the colourful people.  This is John.  For the life of me I can't remember his last name, but we just call him Johnny Knot.  John can be found most beautiful days sitting by the waterfront, selling knots.  Every knot comes with a story and a sales pitch that will have you in stitches.  One woman stopped to look and then said she had to go check with her husband who was waiting in the car.  John yelled after her, "Tell him I'll lend him the money!"  And he probably would, too.  If there's a sunny weekend before winter hits us, be sure to walk by and see if he's there.  Stop for a chat and be prepared to have the money charmed out of your wallet.  It'll be worth it.  I promise.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Ethics of Polka Dots

I believe we have a moral and ethical responsibility to wear polka dots in the winter.  

 Add a big dangling flower and you can really feel good about yourself.

 We may have no control over the temperature outside, but we can certainly warm hearts. (and your ears)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Let's Talk About......HATS!

Today I would like to talk about something that I feel really strongly about.  Hats.  Polka dot hand felted hats....
Hats in alley ways modeled by bag lady wanna bes.....
Hats in fields of flowers.......
Hats for singing in the rain.......
Hats designed on beautiful summer days.............

Hats designed on desperate snowy April days........
Hats for ladies on bicycles.......
Hats made for gorgeous women in Paris.........
Hats for three generations of Russian beauties......
Hats for timeless beauty......
Even hats for dogs.

Hats that make women feel beautiful, hats that make the world a gentler place, hats that make people smile, that's what I would like to talk about now. Hats.  Just hats.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Advocate Harbour and The Fundy Coast

Lat week I knew one thing above all else and that was that I really needed to get away.  If you ever want to test your inner strength, try challenging your local government.  It's a character building experience.   So, I grabbed the husband, dropped off the kid with some wonderful friends and took off for the Fundy Coast.    A few unconnected Facebook friends mentioned a place called Advocate Harbour and they both raved about a restaurant called Wild Caraway, so with a name like that and a name like that, how could I resist?
 I know I should show you more of the magnificent, rugged beauty of this part of Nova Scotia before talking about food, but, Honest to God, I have never had better food in my life.  In two days we ate there three times.

We stayed at a sweet little B and B that was right next to where I was standing when taking this photo.  It is called Spencer's Island Bed and Breakfast.  My weekend largely consisted of walking out the door, down this path....
stopping to smell the roses and then ....
Sitting on this beautiful beach totally alone  and staring at the water and the wild rock formations off in the distance.  There is nothing better than being overwhelmed by beauty.
Then we would head to The Wild Caraway,  and get overwhelmed by the food and the decor and the colours and the friendly and shockingly beautiful waitresses....
and by their amazing garden, fenced in by their fire wood.

Another view.
I can't say we really hiked, we really more promenaded and stared. 
This part of the province is very sparsely populated.  I think Advocate Harbour has around 200 people, but they have a little school that goes from Primary to Grade 12 and has a total of 55 students. This abandoned home was particularly mind blowing.
I didn't dare go in as it didn't really inspire confidence, but what a beauty.  Thinking of making a coffee table book, The Abandoned Houses of Nova Scotia.  Would make a great Christmas present for Nova Scotia politicians.
But let's get back to The Wild Caraway.    Aside from being able to say that this is the best restaurant I have ever been to in my life, I was just amazed that this couple from Alberta and Australia made the bold move to buy the old doctor's place and turn it into this destination.  What a leap of faith in a sleepy little remote town.  But it worked. They built it and the people came.  In every little detail you can see care and passion for what they do.  They even have a little Bed and Breakfast upstairs. Not to get too preachy in my first few hours back into the real world, but people like this are the future of Nova Scotia and The Government needs to recognize it.  Go visit them, learn from them, ask them if there is anything they might need.  This one little restaurant was employing a whole lot of people.  They are open for one more month before closing for the season.  Advocate Harbour is about 3.5 hours from Lunenburg and around 2.5 Hours from Halifax.  We took the slow road on route 2.  It was totally worth it.

  This is what I look like when I am happy.

The last picture I will leave you with is the Saturday Morning scene at the Rite Stop, gas station, general store, diner.  The whole town seems to meet there for breakfast.  Within ten minutes of sitting down I had met many people including the one and only local councilor who, amazingly. had heard of my plight.  His common sense was so refreshing and I felt like Advocate Harbour was in good hands. 
If you love nature, good food and crave peace and quiet then go take the trip.  It is a hidden treasure.