Saint John Ghost Signs

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Inspired by Tom Bland's London ghost signs, I snapped a few shots of those I found while walking through Saint John.  I love the way they connect us so subtly to those who walked the city streets before us, the history they represent, and the beauty of the many brick buildings that line the historic city streets.
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Hammock Heaven

Rachel at Black*Eiffel posted the other day about this public building in Vienna that contains nothing but hammocks.  They call it the Bat House, as the empty hammocks hang like sleeping bats.  It looks out on museums and their grounds near MQ Vorplatz.  Gosh, how many times did I wish I had a hammock on a lunch break downtown?  Too many to count (I LOVE a nice relaxing hammock).  I don't suppose Toronto will get one of these any time soon - this would be considered "gravy" I am pretty sure. :)

Designed by Heri & Salli | Photos by Mischa Erben 

Me = Runner ?

While at home in New Brunswick I have started learning how to run.  Since I am now a career mum, opportunities for fitness are harder to come by.  When I was working I could hit the yoga studio at lunch, or even go to the gym before kids... but now it is hard to find an hour to do anything, and there isn't that much around our house.  So running seems the perfect solution.

Every time I think of wanting to be able to run, I think of the Nike commercial above.  I remember seeing it on TV and loving it, and when I looked for it on YouTube (everything is on there!) I was surprised to see that it had been taken off the air after all kinds of complaints that it was making light of violence against women.  I find this surprising, as to me the spot is so empowering (and funny!).  The message I took from it was you have to save yourself and be your own hero.  (Being fit and gorgeous is just icing on the cake!)

I have been using the Couch to 10k app on my iPhone and I LOVE it so far.  It seems like a slow ramp up to actual running, but I can feel my legs getting stronger and my running sections getting more comfortable.  I highly recommend it.  It helps that my route along the river is just beautiful, even in the fog and rain.

It also feels good to discover my inner athlete - as an "artistic" kid I always thought sports and physical fitness were for the jock kids, and not something I should be involved in unless I was a sucker for embarrassment.  I hope my boys grow up feeling that they can be athletic AND artistic - at the same time!

What about you?  What are your fitness routines and priorities?  Anyone else feel like there just isn't enough time?

Enough typing - I gotta get my shoes on and hit the road! :)

My Dream House/Cottage

Sometimes I run across a house or a room in my blog travels that gets me so excited and I can't wait to put the photos on my blog.  I have tried to figure out what elements cause this reaction, and have identified a few themes that I seem to respond to: wood (furniture, floors, shelves or sculptures), white (furniture, walls, or floors), simple, clean lines (nothing too fussy or ornate), a mix of modern and antique, lots of natural light, and handmade objects or original art.

Take this photo above from the cottage of Amie Weitzman I saw on Design*Sponge.  I love the white walls, the simple but elegant wood bench, the big windows, the iron of the modern lamp and the antique window pulls, and the beautiful art - especially the portrait on the wall.  The rest of the house is as beautiful and combines these same elements in many ways.  You can see the whole tour here, but I will post the photos that originally quickened my pulse - the kitchen!
This last photo is my ultimate fave.  Clean white counter, modern pulls, and those SHELVES.  How amazing they look with those wooden bowls on top...  What do you think?  What elements set your heart a flutter in a room?

Photos by John Gruen, styling by James Leland Day (notice the salt and pepper shakers and Jonathan Adler vase moving around in the full tour!)

Le Voyage Creatif

Jewelry and photography - you may have noticed that these are among my favourite things.  Etsy shop Le Voyage Creatif, owned by Norwegian designer and stylist Marie Forsberg, combines these two so beautifully it stopped me in my tracks.  While the wooden necklaces she makes would be gorgeous on their own, the way she combines them with her stunning photographs is just magic.
Are they not stunning?  She makes all her jewelry in her studio on an island in a Norwegian fjord (poor girl, someone has to do it, I guess!) In looking through her blog, I discovered that Marie is currently giving away one of her necklaces, you can see more about it here.  And you really should take a look at her blog, she has more incredible photographs such as these:
Amazing.  I am just in awe of people who can take such photographs!

Wallpaper Happily-Ever-After

I am not sure I would ever use wallpaper.  I love it, and am drawn to it, but I am too much of a commitment-phobe. All that work, all that pattern - what if you change your mind?  However, photos like this make me want to grow up and settle down with a nice, happy wallpaper.  Smile at it over the morning paper and congratulate myself on having made such a good choice; gaze at it by candlelight and fall in love all over again.  With the white floors, natural light, and red cabinet - could you really ever be sad in this room?  I didn't think so.
Although... hmmm, pretty sure my husband won't like that one.  That's the problem - even when you finally find the right wallpaper and are ready to commit, you realize that the other half has to agree, which almost never happens.  (Very much like finding baby names BTW...)   

The rest of the home is beautiful as well - check it out on La Maison d'Anna G.  Photos by Stadshem.

New Brunswick Artists: MNO Pottery

Ceramic artist Darren Emenau (MNO - get it?) grew up in New Brunswick on the Kennebecasis River (where I grew up) and graduated from the New Brunswick College of Art and Design.  I have always loved the organic pieces of MNO Pottery and even have a few myself.  His work is constantly evolving, especially in his experimental use of glazes.  

Darren now lives in the countryside near Brown's Flats and built his own kiln on the property, deep in the woods, using recycled materials from older unused kilns.  His love and respect for the natural environment permeates his work, from the use of soft bricks in his kiln (which take half the energy of traditional hard bricks) to the clay and glazes he uses.  Instead of purchasing processed clay and porcelain, he digs up stoneware, earthenware, and porcelain from local New Brunswick river beds, leaving stones and other impurities intact.  He also sources local granite, slate, calcium, quartz, limestone, potash, salts, and wood ash to create unrefined glazes that change depending on their combination, the temperature of the kiln, and the type of fuel he uses.  

How each piece will turn out is a mystery until the kiln is opened after burning, a process during which Emenau and his friends methodically feed the kiln and stoke the fire by hand for hours on end, reaching temperatures above 1260 degrees Celsius.  The combination of materials, heat, and smoke are different every time, and this unpredictability is part of what Emenau loves.  In Man on Fire (a fascinating account of one all-night firing written by Kate Wallace), he states that "I really just constantly want to be surprised. Every firing is different, it's a lot of feel and intuition." His organic shapes and glazes reflect an artist that sees beauty in unique imperfections, much like the beauty of nature itself, which is probably why I find it so appealing.

I think this last one is my favourite, I just love the shape (looks like a wave to me) and the colours, however, I would be happy with any of them.  :)  What do you think?  To see more details on each of these pieces, including the specific type of clay, glaze ingredients, and fire, head over to MNO Pottery's website.  There are also excellent photos and details about how he built his kilns (he is on to his second now), and on his creative process.

This post is one of a series I am doing on New Brunswick artists, which so far also includes photographer Freeman Patterson.

Canada's Parks Day

Today is Canada's Parks Day - a celebration of the many National Parks and Historic sites across the country.  Did you know that Parks Canada was the world's first national parks service? I didn't! We are headed to Fundy National Park with the little guys for a hike (pure coincidence, but what the heck).  I don't think we will have time to learn Sarah Harmer's new campfire song "Park Song" written in collaboration with the CBC to honour Parks Day, but you can listen to it (it is lovely, as all Sarah Harmer songs are) and download the sheet music for it on the CBC website.  They are also having a contest where you could win a year's pass (for you and up to seven friends) to any of our National Parks.  I hope you get a chance to visit one of our incredible national parks this year!  Do you have a favourite?

Here is some more information from the Parks Canada website:
National parks are among Canada's - and the world's - natural jewels. They represent the power of Canada's natural environment -- a compelling force -- which has shaped not only the geography of this country, but also the course of its history and the experiences of the people who live and travel here.
National parks are established to protect and present outstanding representative examples of natural landscapes and natural phenomena that occur in Canada's 39 natural regions, as identified in the National Parks System Plan. These wild places, located in every province and territory, range from mountains and plains, to boreal forests and tundra, to lakes and glaciers, and much more. National parks protect the habitats, wildlife and ecosystem diversity representative of - and sometime unique to - the natural regions.
National parks are located on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts, across the interior mountains and plains and Great Lakes, reaching as far north and south as Canada goes. They range in size from just under 9 km2 (St Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada) to almost 45,000 km2(Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada). And they include world-renowned names such as Banff and Jasper, as well as more recently established Ivvavik and Vuntut.
Source - images are all of Fundy National Park
Here is a wonderful article by the Globe and Mail's Ian Brown on his trip to the Bay of Fundy, it is a great read.  And surprisingly I do not work for NB tourism, but here is the website in case you want to plan a trip or something... :)

Sun-soaked home near Lisbon

From New Brunswick to Lisbon (bet those two place don't end up in the same sentence often), this home featured in Nuevo Estilo wouldn't be a bad place to spend some summer months either.  I love the soft sun-soaked white-washed walls and structures that showcase the vibrant ethnic colours of the decor.  How wonderful would it be to sink into the porch below with a book and a cool drink?  The home is a traditional home in the Portuguese countryside full of modern touches and worldly accents.  It is a great mix!
Originally spotted on Design Elements.