Scrumptious summer

I’ve come to accept – almost enjoy – my hectic pace of life. I work hard, visit with many beautiful people, volunteer a lot, keep a cleanish house, maintain a decentish garden and try (rather unsuccessfully) to squeeze in time for JF, writing, exercise, reading and music in between.

Still, there’s something about summer that forces even the busiest of bees to slow down. I swear every time I hear the hum of a cicada or the whirring of a lawnmower, my shoulder muscles relax subtly. Here are some highlights from the last few warm and wonderful weeks.

Festival du Loup

After months of hard work, the Festival du Loup committee (of which I am a lucky member) enjoyed a successful few days of great Franco-Ontarian music, local food, and cool artisans.

More cheap stuff

In my latest garage sale haul, I picked up an original piece by local painter Ila Kellerman as well as an ancient croquignole board.

Garage sale treasures

Garage sale treasures

A little romance

When my calendar is filling up, the first item on the chopping block is usually date night with JF. But lately, I’ve been making and enjoying a lot more time for us. Here’s a shot from our visit to Penetang’s “World Famous” Dock Lunch.

Me, stuffing my face as I always do on date night

Me, stuffing my face as I always do on date night

Omazing Ontario

We’ve also hung out on Tiny’s Beaches, visited Awenda Park with our dear friend Pascal, and eaten a lot of fresh local produce. My avo’s garden is dripping with beans and it makes me such a happy camper.

La belle famille

But my favourite event was Thursday, when dear friends and family surprised me with a patio party to celebrate my “new” job. I was so touched, and so delighted to see everyone. Thanks guys!

Some of my favourite people

Some of my favourite people

My house may be a little dirtier, but at this moment I’m feeling refreshed and relaxed. And for that reason, I say long live summer.

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Busy nothings

Life in sleepy Elmvale is ticking along quietly. The garden is now only 80% weeds. Slowly, slowly we are making progress on house projects. Barbecued broccoli is my new favourite food. And there are orange popsicles in the freezer.

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The beautiful thing about summertime is that there isn’t anything big and exciting to report. Instead, life is a series of non-events. Here are some recent ones:

Toby turned 100,000 kilometres

Can you believe my little Honda Fit, Tobias, has aged 40,000kms since I got him? I hardly know where the time and distance have gone. JF gifted him to me about this time last year, and my life has been infinitely more mobile since.

Tobias' widgets the other day.

Tobias’ widgets the other day.

I exercised a few times

Confession: my January health revolution never happened. Instead, I gained a remarkable 10 pounds over the winter. So, I’ve given up on self-guided fitness regimes, joined shame-inducing Zumba classes at No Borders Fitness, and started briskly walking with colleagues at lunch. I also do weekly lifts, squats and planks at Swift Fitness, the most sophisticated garage gym I’ve ever seen. And I hate burpees.

My choir put on a show

Le Choeur de la Clé, the francophone community choir I belong to, put on a love-themed concert late May. It was great fun. I even performed in a trio with my lovely cousin Nicole and dear old friend Joël.

My view, every Tuesday night during choir practice

My view, every Tuesday night during choir practice

JF and I went garage sale-ing

As you all know, there is nothing I love more than old or dead people’s cheap stuff — except maybe barbecued broccoli. Toronto garage sales are expensive and infrequent. Their Elmvale counterparts are far more fun and plentiful. Plus they often come with ¢25 cookies baked by little old ladies. My favourite find was the scarred wooden duck/target I purchased for a steep $2. I called him Ferdinand, and he lives on my front porch.

In the words of Fanny Price (movie edition), “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”

 

Adventures in Antiquing

I generally believe that old things are much better than new ones. Old music, old recipes, old houses — they are simply more remarkable than their modern counterparts. And few activities get my heart pumping like shopping for vintage furniture.

This chair is on for $55 at Country Connection in Elmvale

This chair is on for $55 at Country Connection in Elmvale

To me, antiques are, by virtue of their age, special. They have stories to tell. Their dents and scratches are like Girl Guide badges: proof that they’ve been there and done that. They make spaces totally inimitable, are often better constructed, and are good for the planet.

But here’s the best part about antiques: they can save you money. They can even be cheaper than IKEA, if you know where to look.

This chandelier was on for $50 at the north Toronto Re-Store

This chandelier was on for $50 at the north Toronto Re-Store

After years of hanging out with my mom (who taught me the value of a lick of paint and new hardware), I feel like I know how to shop for nifty and thrifty old stuff. Here’s my best advice:

1)   Always go with specific items in mind. If you shop aimlessly, you will end up with VHS tapes, santa claus cake molds, and shot glass collections.

2)   Start with the classics. Value Village, the Salvation Army and Goodwill are well organized and cheap. Try asking when they pull out new arrivals, so that you’re looking at a fresh batch when you go.

3)   Move on to garage sales. When garage saleing, start at 7 a.m. and bring caffeine. Come prepared with lots of change, the latest local classifieds and a GPS. Always stop at unadvertised sales for better odds of finding good pieces.

4)   Then check out consignment, estate sales and auctions. I have to be honest, I’ve never been to an auction. But if they’re like estate sales (which are usually advertised in the paper) they are fantastic. Of Things Past and Around the Block, both in north Toronto, are great consignment stores.

5)   Try the Re-Store. Support Habitat for Humanity AND find cheap sinks, light fixtures, and wallpaper.

6)   Next stop, antique stores. When you go to antique stores, you’re buying from people who have scoured sources 2 through 5 as well as hockshops and curbside garbage piles. You pay a bit more for those efforts, but there are some gems out there:

7)   Finally, flea markets. I have better luck buying food than antiques at flea markets, but the 400 market isn’t bad and the Elmvale market surprises me sometimes.

These benches were $40 and $60 at Dead People's Stuff in Bloomfield, PEC

These benches were $40 and $60 at Dead People’s Stuff in Bloomfield, PEC

Because I’ve basically been antiquing since birth, I already have a lot of old stuff. In fact, I probably have enough teak credenzas, rustic wardrobes and musty wicker baskets to fully furnish our new house. That said, I’m still pretty darn excited at the prospect of a few new little nooks to fill.

I’ve already dragged friends to antique stores in Toronto and Prince Edward County (side note: MacCool’s Reuse is a PEC mid-century mecca!) and look forward to more adventuring over the next few months.  Bring on the cracked tables and blue mountain pottery.

My mom scored two of these lamps (sans shades) at a Midland garage sale for $5

My mom scored two of these lamps (sans shades) at a Midland garage sale for $5