St. Marys Memorial Hospital Fundraiser Dinner

On May 4th, the St. Marys Memorial Hospital Foundation, along with the St. Marys Kinsmen, hosted a gala dinner and auction to raise funds for our local hospital. One of the many items up for auction was a four course dinner hosted in four different St. Marys heritage homes.

This item offered the generous winners the possibility to start the meal with the appetizer in one home, and finish with dessert three houses later. Doug Holliday, member of the St. Marys Memorial Hospital Foundation, president and chair of the board, is head of the Fundraising Committee. He and his wife Barb are the instigators of this original and very successful idea. This dinner raised $1,200 divided between four couples. We were delighted to host the dessert portion of this special evening, which took place on July 20th.

The appetizers were served in this charming limestone cottage. It's one of the oldest in St Marys.

Then the entrees were served a block away in this grand red brick Victorian 
with a rounded veranda.

The main course was served in the elegant limestone home of Doug and Barb Holliday, the organizers of this fundraiser.

And the evening ended at the DV with yours truly, Brian, Astrid, three crazy dogs and two budgies. All the houses were a short walking distance from each other.

 Preparation for the exterior included many tea lights all the way up our steps...

and little sugar bowls, also containing, tea lights hanging around the veranda. The glassware was found at my local Salvation Army Thrift Store for 25¢ each.

The paper lantern gave a hint of what was to come on the inside.

 This night shot gives you an idea, but doesn't really display how effective it was.

My old chinese paper lanterns were given new life with flowery tissue paper, the biggest one hanging from the entrance medallion.

The library

The lanterns in the dining room were made with the frilly part of leftover coffee filters from my paper dress of last October. Astrid did my garland using the round centre part of the filters folded in half and sewn together.

The table was extended to its full three leaves so we could sit eight people comfortably. 

The pocket doors were opened up to my studio so it would feel less cramped.

The buffet or sideboard served its purpose nicely.

Flowers and branches of raspberries from the garden graced the table and the ladies were given all natural homemade soap as little thank you gifts.

Moi. We had the most delightful guests. Does it show?

 Petit G√Ęteau Angelique au Coeur de Framboise - my mother's angel cake recipe.
It was the first in a two-course dessert; I forgot to take a shot of the second: Mousse au Chocolat Demi Demon served with butter pecan cookies.

A month of preparation flew by in an instant. 
Hosting family and friends is one thing, but hosting people that we had never met before was nerve-wracking to say the least. Upon meeting our guests, we were instantly put at ease 
and charmed by them. 
They were the embodiment of graciousness - the spirit of St. Marys. 

St. Marys Memorial Hospital

Victorian Style Shed & Playhouse

The time has come to paint our shed/playhouse, so while I'm working on my veranda, Brian and Astrid will be tackling our functional yet fancy Victorian-style little cottage. It's not an old building, twenty years at most. The previous owners had this two-storey structure, with balcony and deck, built for garden storage and their three children to play in. Rarely do we see such attention given to a backyard construction. Gingerbread details found on the DV have been replicated for the adornment of the shed. Even the swing set is nicely coordinated. It is fully wired for electricity and a water pipe has been brought to the shed for ease of watering the garden. The stone steps leading up to the the playhouse are engraved with the names of the previous owners' children. Astrid was just a little too old to fully enjoy this amazing playhouse, so even the upstairs serves as storage now.

It's often referred to as the tree house because of the huge pine growing in the back, giving the illusion that the deck is built around the tree. You can see in the shot below that the tree is several feet away.

After scraping and sanding, Brian and Astrid are now priming. The colours used on the DV will be repeated on the shed/playhouse, along with two new ones to make it more whimsical. Stay tuned for shots of work in progress.

Until then, here are a few of my favourite garden cottage sheds, aside from mine of course.

English Tudor cottage, Great Britain, photo by Tom Schroeder
Charlotte's Post Office of Spindle Cottage, UK

Water tower cottage by Geoffrey Holton and Associates, S.E.A. Construction, San Carlos , CA
Uncredited photo of hen house from
Rabbit cottage by Cordwood Construction
Pigeon cottage (an original pigeon house converted into a  retreat)
Living Roofs, Inc.

Arva Flour Mill - Day Trip

On our monthly trips to London, we nearly always pass through a little community called Arva. When I say little, I mean that if you blink you almost miss it. But I always catch sight of the Arva Flour Mill from the highway, telling myself that we have to stop and check it out one day. Well, that day finally came. I was so impressed by this 194-year-old mill. 

Turning off the highway we came upon a small winding road flanked by a stream...

and a shadow box sign giving a brief history of the mill. 

At the end of this charming road was the mill and general store.

The little red building on the left is the general store filled with artisanal local products and of course many kinds of flours milled on the premises.

Entering, one truly feels as if time traveling is a reality. I'll let the images speak for themselves.

There is also a newly built store/gift shop housing more refined items, refrigerated and frozen produce, gourmet style. 

"We mill the "best flour by a dam site". Changing trends indicated households and businesses wanted a whiter finer brand of flour but the Arva mill resisted the movement towards extracting the natural vitamins and food value. In spite of modern technology, Arva Mills has remained a vibrant business into the 21st century. Quality has been a tradition at our mill since 1819 and we continue to supply our customers with a variety of Natural and Certified Organic flours."

click on the image to enlarge
Take a drive down memory lane, literally and support small businesses dedicated to high quality, artisanal products with a strong sense of history. I do not profit from promoting the Arva Flour Mill, I just admire their business philosophy. We will definitely be regular clients from now on. Please click and view a short Ken Burns style video on the Arva Flour Mill. You will see how the flour is milled using original leather, wood and steel machinery. Priceless.