Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Couldn't Think of a Witty Post Title.....

I'm kind of in love with this dress....

I spotted it on the rack at The Sentimentalist, and had to try it on - it hadn't even been priced yet.
It's made in Thailand, but from the style and label in the dress it appears it was likely made to be sold in that country, not exported to North America.

It falls into the category of outfits I call, "not very flattering to my body, but like it anyway".  It's a nice cotton, and the pattern consists of pieces of fabric that have been sewn onto the basic black dress.  It is also embellished with pieces of silver metal that look like small bells cut in half.  I imagine it's going to be a pain in the butt to wash.  Hmmmm......unflattering shape, hard to clean, yet I had to have it - must be one of those impossible to explain relationships.

Another dress made in Thailand  - this one is from Red Light Clothing Exchange in Portland.  It's a very light weight silk and the black underlayer is pretty transparent.  Unlike the other dress, I'm guessing this one was likely imported by one of those stores that sell handicrafts from Southeast Asian countries.
Thifted dress worn with the hand beaded neckpiece I purchased from Debra Rapoport during one of my New York visits, a duck-print scarf from The Sentimentalist on my head, and my FitFlop sandals.
I really tried to come up with a post title that incorporated the word "Thai" or "Thailand" but I had to give up, otherwise it would be the end of the week before this was published.  If you have any brilliant ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Art and Soul

Each year the students in the Art program at H.B. Beal Secondary School here in London have an end-of-year show of the work they have created.  The BealArt program is very well-respected, and many talented Canadian artists attended classes, or taught there.  The students can take classes in sculpture, drawing, photography, painting, print-making, ceramics and textiles.

I enjoy seeing all the students' work, but especially that of those select few who have already found their voice, so to speak, and have the talent to translate their ideas into a work of art.  I always start my tour with the Ceramics Studio, where I have seen some beautifully creative work in porcelain, clay and stoneware over the years.

This year the first thing that caught my eye were these stunning porcelain pieces by Tiffany Nichol.  I can't imagine the number of hours of work that went into creating the various pieces of marine life.  The piece in the bottom right corner was used as the poster image for the show.

Another artist who demonstrated a style of her own was Cesia Ignacio, who incorporated her own face into the design on her porcelain pieces.

I really liked these stoneware heads, made by Samantha Tsang.  The heads appeared as a pattern on a dress that was on display in the textile studio.

I admired the shape, and treatment on these Stoneware Oryx by Heather Young - they looked modern and primitive at the same time.

The painting studio

My other two favourite mediums are sculpture and textiles.  This giant (it appeared to be at least 8' long) steel horse made by Faith Robinson was sold - I hope whoever purchased it has a very large empty wall to hang it on.

At first I couldn't figure out what this wire sculpture made by Mason Nesbitt represented and then after I read the title ("The Jump"),  my eyes adjusted and I could see the figure in various stages of a giant leap through the air.  The more I looked at it, the more I liked it.

One piece of sculpture that was definitely more statement than decoration was this pregnant female torso constructed of cigarette butts titled "Born in Addiction" by Danielle Harris.  It was a powerful piece that spoke to the dangerous, and repulsive aspects of cigarette smoking (including the smell).

The Textile Studio was my last stop where I found colourful crocheted barnacles by Jaymz Ropp, (top right), a felted top hat made by Cassandra Robinson, and on the left, a jacket by Rachel Simpson and pants made of found materials by Matt Meiller.

Samantha Tsang painted the pattern on this dress (called the Grumpy Man Dress) incorporating images from her stoneware heads in the Ceramic Studio

The BealArt year end show runs for three days every June  It provides an excellent opportunity to see the work of up and coming artists and as most of the work is for sale, you can pick up a new piece of art for your home at very reasonable prices.  Put it on your calendar for next year!

 And, just because...a couple of gratuitious photos of yours truly taken by random folks during the Fringe Festival..

Richard Gilmore, Communications Coordinator at The Arts Project, took this photo of me during the Fringe Festival, and I rather liked it - yes, I am leaning on a torso-shaped piece of art.

 Heidi Wholeness, aka Patti-Ann Sim, owner of the Dear Thelma Love Louise craft trailer seen in my previous blog post, took this shot of my attempt at hula hooping on Saturday. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Let The Festing Begin!

I have feeling I may have used this title on a post a year or so ago, but I'm over 50 now so I'm allowed to repeat myself...

When the London Fringe Theatre Festival rolls around in early June, you know that summer has officially begun in the Forest City, or as we like to call it - "Festing Season".  From now until Labour Day weekend the city's parks, streets and public squares will be taken over each weekend by one of the many festivals that have become a staple of the summer months.

I try to attend as many Fringe performances as I can, and the highlight of the last week for me was having my photo taken with God, who apparently is a Scottish Drag Queen, according to performer Mike Delamont, who brought his one man (woman) show, God Is A Scottish Drag Queen 2, to the London Fringe Festival (he performed Part 1 last year).  The material is wickedly funny and Delamont is a wonderful performer.


This year, it was decided to hold one of the summer's Car-Free Street Festivals in my hood, otherwise known as "Old East", or EOA (East of Adelaide).   It was a beautiful day and lots of locals were out enjoying the festival.

There was lots of creativity on the street, from pottery-making demonstrations, painting (that's my neighbour, Natalie, in the upper right), chalk drawing, and live music

Speaking of creativity, Patty-Ann Sim brought her trailer, Dear Thelma Love Louise, to the festival.  It was stocked with fun jewellery, greeting cards, craft supplies, and other bits and bob, most of which was made by Patty-Ann as her crafting persona, Heidi Wholeness.

I purchased this card, made from a photograph taken by Patty-Ann

One of the prettiest buildings in the neighbourhood, the Palace Theatre, is one of the venues for the Fringe Festival this year.

This little pup, who had the waggy-est tail, was enjoying the sunshine with his owner, as were many of the other neighbourhood pooches.


Sunday was London's first Forest City Flea, an outdoor market with local vendors selling vintage and repro furniture, hand-crafted goods, art, clothing, and household items held in the parking lot across from the London Convention Centre on York Street. 

 Paul Dromgole, owner of Heist in Wortley Village, organized the event

I loved the apron worn by the woman at the Littleshout Vintage booth

She had the cutest cross-stitched art at her booth 

You could find mini dinosaur planters at Botanista,  teepee style tents for your kids to play in from Row Row Apparel, lots of bicycles,  and fancy hula hoops at Candice Sheriff's booth

Local artist Shayna Patterson had prints of her skull and heart-themed art for sale

Erin named her booth after her rescue dog, Kurt, who was filthy when she found him.  She was selling homemade preserves and syrups

This beautiful carry case at  Jackpot Vintage still held the original hair dryer, hose and bonnet.

Back to the Fuchsia had a taxidermied duck, pipes and an old radio, amongst other treasures

The two dapper gents in the top photo were modelling the wood bow ties they were selling at their booth Upcycle Bowties.  The fab brogues in the bottom right from Revival 72 went home with a happy customer, and the paisley print dress lit up the Brookside Vintage booth.

It was great to see the eclectic crowd of people who came out to support the first Forest City Flea -  vendors seemed to be busy and happy with the turnout.  Hopefully it was enough of a success that it won't be a one-time event.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Portland - Food Trucks, Vintage Shopping, Flowers, and a Chicken

I can't believe that an entire month has passed since I was in Portland.   I really enjoy the reseach/planning part of a trip, and the anticipation of a new adventure, but then when I'm back home, It often feels more like a dream than something that actually happened, so I have to remind myself by looking at photos and remembering how I felt at that moment.  There were so many wonderful, happy moments during my visit with Krista and exploration of Portland that I had to do one more blog post before it becomes just a distant memory....

The Food.....

The impression I had after spending three days in Portland was that there is a serious obsession with food, and as far as I'm concerned, that makes a place even more attractive to visit.    Krista took me to a couple of cool neighbourhoods, and each one was chock full of delightful little restaurants and food trucks.  You could pretty much find any kind of food you could possibly want to eat.

In the neighbourhoods we visited, there were several parking lots that were home to one or more food trucks.  I'm used to the one or two food trucks we have at home that sell Souvlaki and grilled cheese sandwiches, but in Portland you could get almost any kind of food you wanted, from omelets and quiche at Lulas, tamales and enchiladas, to meatloaf and collard greens at the Cultured Caveman.   Unlike in my hometown, it is not expensive to get a license to operate a food truck in Portland, and as they seem to co-exist peacefully with the restaurants in the neighbourhood, Portland has wisely realized that not everyone has the time or the money to eat a sit-down meal in a restaurant for lunch.

My most memorable meal - the chicken and waffles I had for breakfast at  Bread and Ink Cafe on Hawthorne Street.   The restaurant, which has a "Waffle Window" on the side, is known for their chicken and waffles, and I was not disappointed.  The chicken was juicy, the coating crispy, and the waffles were fluffy and crispy on the outside.  It came with a yummy parmesan lemon dipping sauce for the chicken, and we ordered blueberry basil mimosas (although I couldn't taste the basil) and I was in breakfast paradise.

There seemed to be more little pizza joints and coffee places than I've seen anywhere else.  I don't drink coffee, but I do eat pizza, and the one we had for dinner one night was delicious.

The sign in the window in the Hawthorne district pretty much summed up my idea of a good time

Cool Neighbourhoods..

We spent most of Saturday in the Hawthorne district, in Southeast Portland.  According to the website Travel Portland, Hawthorne Boulevard is where "Hippies and Hipsters mingle...".  There was a very eclectic and relaxed vibe, and many amenities that would make it a very attractive neighbourhood to live in.   You can enjoy a craft brew and pizza while watching a flick at The Bagdad Theatre, originally opened in 1927, and full restored in 1991 by Portland Brewers, the McMenanin Brothers.   The CineMagic Theatre, top left, opened in 1914, and shows second-run films and classics as well as new releases.   Cycling is extremely popular in Portland, which has earned it many "bicycle-friendly city" awards.  The Community Cycling Center (top right) is a non-profit organization that sells new and used bikes, operates a repair shop, and offers bicycle educational programs for kids and adults.

There were fun things to look at everywhere, and I had to pose with some of the street art.  I wasn't sure if the animal statue behind me on the left was an otter, a beaver or some other critter.

The majority of the houses are made of wood, being the most readily available building material, and many were painted pretty colours.
This little house appears at the beginning of an episode of Portlandia (I be you were wondering when I was going to mention that show).  The sign on the easel on the front porch said "Estelle and Stringbean R.I.P".  Whoever they are, they were obviously missed.

Beautiful Scenery....


Even though the roses in the Washington Park International Rose Test Garden were not yet in bloom, there were lots of other flowers to be enjoyed.  Giant Rhododendron bushes were everywhere, as were Irises, and we found athe hand-sized rose in a small garden in front of someone's house.

I don't know the name of the orange flowers, but they matched Krista's vintage maxi-dress perfectly

There was so much green space to be enjoyed - the trees are huge!  With lots of parks, hiking trails, and special attractions such as Wine country bike tours and Segway tours of the waterfront, Portland caters to the outdoors enthusiast.  Washington Park has an open-air amphitheatre (top right) where every year a Summer Festival takes place with musical performances, and outdoor film screenings.  On Saturday night after dinner, Krista, Cristi and I took a stroll around the Mt. Tabor Reservoir (bottom right) which was lovely and peaceful.

Krista took me to Pittock Mansion, built in 1914, in the style of a French Chateau, for publisher Henry Pittock and his wife.  The mansion, now a museum open to the public, is situated in the west hills of Portland and overlooks the city skyline.  

The museum was closed by the time we arrived, but we were able to enjoy the stunning view from the lawn at the rear of the house.  In the bottom photo is the city of Porland, with Mt. Hood in the far background.

The Critters....

I was in dog heaven during the trip -  adorable canines were everywhere.  I fell in love with an beautiful pit bull named Lola (top photo), whose owner sat at the table next to ours when Krista and I had lunch on a patio on Sunday.  In Ontario we have had a ban on pit bulls since 2005, and owners find themselves constantly in the position of having to defend their choice of pet.  I had never been in close contact with a pit bull before, but Lola completely won me over with her gentle nature and doggie kisses.  I spent much of the weekend with Krista's little shadow, Peetee (bottom right), and we met the young woman with the lovely smile and cute pup in the bottom left photo while out shopping Saturday. 

In addition to dogs and cats, there was another critter I met while I was in Portland.  Krista and I were at her friend Cristi's house, and I happened to glance out the front door and was rather surprised to see a chicken peering in from the other side.  Apparently Red belongs to the neighbours, and makes regular visits to Cristi's for a snack of freeze-dried meal worms.  Only in Portland....
And how could I forget?

The Shopping....


On the second day of my trip, these two crazy chicks and I were psyched for a day of shopping.
After a quick trip to Sock Dreams, where I got some fab cotton blend tights for next winter, and fortified by chicken and waffles from Bread and Ink (see food section above), we arrived at our main destination - Red Light Clothing Exchange.  I had heard so much about this place from Krista and was sooo excited to experience it for myself.

There was no photography allowed in the store, but I did snap this photo in the change room while trying on this heavy cotton blouse.  I loved the pattern and the pin-tucking at neckline, but it was just a bit too voluminous.   Not to fear - there was a whole store full of fabulous stuff to choose from!  The stock was an awe-inspiring mix of contemporary, vintage, designer, and ethnic, and the prices were extremely reasonable.  I felt like I had died and gone to secondhand-shopping heaven.  I made two trips to the change room, loaded down with things to try, and we spent 2 1/2 blissful hours there.

I purchased six items, my favourite being this vintage palazzo pant jumpsuit.  I've worn it to a party (where this photo was taken) and I wore it to work, and it was a big hit both places. Best $20 I've ever spent.

I scored these Missoni-collaboration Converse at the Nordstrom Rack in Krista's neighbourhood.  I also picked up a pair of fancy knickers and a cute flowered pencil skirt from Naked City Clothing, a fun shop full of punk, goth, rockabilly, and pinup-inspired clothing.  The verdict -  New York may have the glamour and high fashion, but Portland has lots of places to find affordable, unique, new and used clothing. 
Whew, that was a lot of photos!  Hope you enjoyed these Portland posts - if you ever get a chance to visit, I would encourage you to go.  If a  Portland Tourism website offered to pay me to visit again and write about it, I'm 100% on board with that...