A Day at the Spa, Two Days at the Cottage and Cleaning the House

….a busy week

Last Friday my good friend, Arlene and I went to the Elmwood Spa for our birthday lunches, water therapy and facials. My birthday isn’t until the end of August but we decided to have our birthday lunches at the same time. We enjoyed salads, a main course and dessert. The only thing we had to pay for was our wine and coffee.

When you have  a treatment for more than a $100 you can also do the water therapy at no extra charge. This includes the steam room, the whirlpool tub and the salt water pool. We did it all. After 30 laps of the pool I showered and then proceeded to to the rooms where the facials are done. What a relaxing afternoon. We left the spa feeling renewed and refreshed.

On Saturday my husband and I left for the cottage. This was Kevin’s first trip and my fourth. The weather wasn’t great but it was nice to get out of the city and just chill. Sunday was overcast but for the most part the rain held off and Kevin and the dog were able to go for a long walk through the woods. Frances loved the freedom to run and roll in every mud puddle she could find.


On Monday morning we left but not before Kevin made us a delicious breakfast that we affectionately call hopple popple. It’s a fry up of bacon, vegetables (usually onions, potatoes, mushrooms, etc.) and scrambled eggs.

For the rest of the week I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and reorganizing some of my art supplies and paintings. Our son and his wife are vacationing in Toronto and will be staying with us for a several days. I spent most of my time cleaning the spare room and framing and hanging some of my art work around the house. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to see some of my work hanging on the walls.

On Wednesday Kevin and I went out for dinner at Nodo on Dundas St. W.. The meal was so good that I didn’t get a photo of our meal until it was completely gone. IMG_2737

Our daughter-in-law and daughter were at the baseball game for Josie’s birthday and we agreed to stop by their house to check up on the dog, Olive. After our meal we made the short trip to their house and spent some time playing with the dog and catching the baseball game on their TV. The Blue Jays were behind 2-0 and in the top of the ninth they pulled it off and scored three runs.


First of Many Retirement Parties

…..not sure why but this is the fourth time I’ve tried to write about this

As many of you know, I retired from teaching on June 30. Four of us all retired this year so there were many parties to attend. The first party was put on by the Toronto District School Board. I’ve been with this board for my entire career.

Back in May over 900 employees from the board were celebrated. That’s how many people retired this year. The highlight of the evening happened at the end of the evening when each of us was gifted a bronze school bell. At the countdown every recipient rung their bell at the same time. It was deafening. In the video below only three of us were ringing the bells.

The Town of Assisi, Italy

….despite being occupied with the wedding we did manage to hire a taxi to take us into the town of Assisi for a few hours

On the day our train arrived in Assisi we were scooped up by family and friends who were already there and we quickly drove through the town and up into the hills to get to the ‘farm’ where we were staying and where the wedding was being held. We got a glimpse of the narrow cobblestone roads and the facade of the Basilica of St. Francis and I knew that we needed to find a window of time to return to the town.

That evening we hired a taxi to take us back into the town, where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with our newly acquired family from Iran and Germany. It was a beautiful evening and dinner was served outside on the brick patio. The meal took several hours so there was no time to walk around. Besides we had a big day ahead and we needed to get our beauty sleep. Little did I know how important that was going to be. The next day was long and sleep was next to impossible.

On our last day, after the wedding, we woke up to pouring rain. It was a welcome relief from the heat we had been experiencing on this trip. It did, however, put a bit of a damper on the brunch that the newly married couple had planned. Instead of all of us gathering outside in one location we held a couple of brunches inside a two of the cottages. More food. After the wedding I couldn’t even imagine that people would have room for more copious amounts of food. Somehow we managed to indulge in fresh fruit, home baked breads and cakes and platters of cheese and meat.

Later in the day the rain stopped and we hired another taxi and made our way back into Assisi. We stopped in front of Basilica di Santa Chiara. It is dedicated to and contains the remains of Saint Clare of Assisi, a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi and founder of the Order of Poor Ladies, known today as the Order of Saint Clare.

After a quick look inside the basilica we headed out on foot, over the cobblestones, on our mission to find the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Around every corner we found magnificent views of the countryside and quaint shops. bistros and town squares.


Eventually we came upon the basilica. The entrance was patrolled by armed guards and our bags were checked before we were allowed to enter. It is built into the side of a hill and is comprised of two churches known as the Upper Church and the Lower Church, and a crypt where the remains of Saint Francis of Assisi are interred. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs inside the church itself but the courtyard and the grounds and the building itself are beautiful.

In my next post I will finally share the photos of the wedding and discuss the symbolism of a Persian ceremony. Till then, ciao!


In the Hills of Assisi

….my favourite part of my trip to Italy took place in Assisi

Part 1

I’ve saved the best part of my trip for last. As some of you know my son was married this summer. The family part of the wedding took place in the hills of Assisi. In June, B and A were officially married in the registrars office in London, England and the guests that  attended were mostly friends and work colleagues who lived in England.

In July friends from Canada, England, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy and family from Canada, Germany and Iran came together to celebrate the union of our son and his beautiful bride in a traditional Persian ceremony.

The family stayed in a beautiful hillside resort, Casa Rosa, above the town of Assisi. Originally all the cottages had been farm buildings. The cottage we stayed in was formerly the pig barn and then later the horse stables. The view from our patio was breath taking and the property was surrounded by olive groves, lavender, fruit trees and rosemary.

Our accommodations were very comfortable and you would never have known that some of the cottages previously housed farm animals. We were warned to watch out for scorpions, yellow spiders and asps but we didn’t encounter any of these creatures. We kept looking over the hills in hopes of seeing some wild boars but we didn’t see any them either.

We took a walk along some of the trails that surrounded the farm. The trip out was pretty easy because it was mostly downhill but returning was a little more challenging. We passed numerous pieces of abandoned farm equipment along the way.

On our first evening in Assisi we took a taxi ride into the town of Assisi and had a wonderful meal on the patio of a local restaurant. It was our first real introduction to the family of the bride. We pretty much took over the restaurant for the evening. I tried to take photos of all the entrees that were placed before us but sometimes they were so mouth watering that half the plate was eaten before I remembered about taking photos. All in all it was a great evening and a good start to the wedding festivities that followed the next day.

More about the Persian ceremony in a few days.


Two Birthday Parties and a Trip to the Antique Market

…..as promised in my last post, Last Four Days at the Cottage here is the rest of that weekend

Going to the cottage with A and J is always a lot of fun. This year my birthday happened to fall on the last of those four days. Our good friends and neighbours at the cottage were also up and they invited us over for dinner on the Saturday. It turned out to be a little bit of a celebration. They toasted A and J’s wedding which took place earlier in the year and to my ‘last year of being young’. This was in reference to the fact that next year I will be officially declared a senior. I personally don’t think that I will all of a sudden become old just because of a number attached to my age. I never tell the students at school how old I am because I know they will automatically think that I’m ancient. They think that 40 is old.

The next day, which was my actual birthday, we packed up to go home. I’m sure that my daughter was given instructions by my family to be back by a certain time. When we got to the ferry dock we were the last car put on the barge so we had enough time to make a few stops on our trip back to the city. We stopped at Wendy B’s in Lafontaine and picked up a few snacks to enjoy on the trip home and the girls picked up a birthday present for me from her small gallery in the back corner of her store. img_9906

This lovely bracelet also came with a pair of beautiful hand painted earrings.

On the way home we were approaching an antique market outside of Cookstown that I’ve always wanted to stop at but never have. This trip we decided that we had enough time to stop and have quick tour of the place. We weren’t disappointed. I love collecting old bottles and found a few to use as subjects in my paintings. I also found a rack of new linen tops that were on sale and I treated myself to a beautiful orangey button down blouse that I can also wear like a jacket. Here are some of things that we saw there:

When we got home there was a parcel waiting for me from my friend, D, from the cottage. She ordered me a new game called King’s Cribbage.

My daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law were already there. My husband and son-in-law were busy cooking up ribs. We had a glorious outdoor meal with the family. The baby is walking holding onto things but she has managed a few steps on her own. I received a gift certificate for an art store (always appreciated) and my husband combined my anniversary gift with my birthday gift and bought me a great macro lens (which most of you already know I’ve been using a lot).

Last weekend my husband and I made our final visit to the cottage to close the place up for the season. I know it’s early but this year is an exceptional year with milestone birthdays in October.


Share Your World 2016 – Week 20

….thanks to  Cee for hosting Share Your World

When do you feel most connected with others?

I feel most connected to people during those quiet one on one conversations over a cup of coffee or tea. I like that intimate personal time with people where you can really get to know them.


Tea and Panettone

What daily habit would you like to introduce to your life?

I would like to do one creative activity every day. I paint and read sporadically  now but I’d like to be more consistent. I’d also like to do some volunteer work.

What one mini-little-adventure would you like to have in the coming week?

This week I’d like to visit the art gallery or the museum. It’s a long weekend here in Canada and sometimes it’s a good time to visit places in the city because so many people head north to open their cottages.

List things or events that changed your Life: It could be as simple as a book or meeting a certain person?

• meeting my husband 43 years agowedding photo

• the birth of my childrenIMG_8312

• graduating from university and becoming a teacher

• the death of my mother

• meeting my best friends AB in 1976 and LC in 1989

• learning to drive when I was in my 20s

• my first art class where I learned how to paint with watercolour

• building a cottage next to my good friend DM

• the birth of our first grandchildIMG_6535

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for being able to continue on my weight loss journey and for the support of my husband and my friends at work. My husband has lost 26 pounds and I’m down 18. My new passport arrived this week and I can check off one more thing from my to do list before I go to Italy in July. I’m also grateful that my photo isn’t the worst passport photo that I’ve ever taken. I have to live with it for the next 10 years. IMG_8311

For the rest of the week I’m looking forward to our girls’ soccer tournament on Friday, visiting our daughter and her family in Hamilton on Saturday and seeing my older daughter on Sunday or Monday. Since it’s the long weekend here I’m also looking forward to planting some things in the garden and firing up the barbecue for a meal or two. It’s also suppose to be a spectacular weekend, weather wise.

Here are a few photos from this past week.