Four county napkins | Four county napkins

place name napkins

I picked up four little linen cocktail napkins at HomeSense last week. They were pretty unremarkable and drab but a great soft washed linen fabric.

One of my favourite things is lettering, monograms or text on linens and if you add in a Nova Scotia reference, even better. So, of course, I had to tart up my drab little napkins with some text.

I used a permanent black marker and traced over a computer print-out of four Nova Scotia county names against a window. Remember what you did as a kid? Tape the print-out up and then tape up the fabric and viola… instant lightbox.

four county napkins

I am absolutely going to make more of these in blue and white for the summer.

$16 million in inspiration in the Don Valley | Inspiration in the Don Valley

For years I’ve looked at the rainbow painted tunnel south of Lawrence Avenue when we drive or bike the Don Valley and thought it was a charming Toronto landmark but not much more. Well, apparently it is more… $16 million more! 

Peter Doig’s painting Country-Rock (wing-mirror) based on this same rainbow tunnel was the centre piece of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London on June 30, 2014. A link to that event can be found here. There is a video on the Sotheby’s web site that depicts a dreamy inspirational drive and that can be found here. The final sale price at auction was £8,482.500 British pounds or $15.46 million which includes the buyers premium. The buyer bid £7.5 million pounds and must pay the auction house a percentage in commission.

Doig’s painting The Architect’s Home in the Ravine (seen here) sold for $12 million in 2013 at a London auction  and when his White Canoe (seen here) sold at Sotheby’s for $11.3 in 2007 the sale set an auction record for a living European artist.

The subject matter for Country-Rock was originally created 40 years ago by mural artist Berg Johnson when he was 16. He arrived from Norway and noticed that “People in Toronto never looked up. They looked down. They never smiled too much.” The self-proclaimed “Caretaker of Dreams” decided to create an uplifting piece of art. Johnson rigged up a swing system to lower himself from the train track above to the grey cement tunnel. Great plan except the train promptly came along the tracks, sliced the rope of his swing and sent Johnson tumbling down the bank breaking his leg. That first attempt was painted over by the city back to the inspiring grey. In 1994, after four arrests and 40 attempts the mural was finally finished. The city now provides touch-ups as needed and the site was recently restored by a group of volunteers. See the Toronto Star’s story on the tunnel here.

So a piece art inspired by a piece of public art created to uplift the spirits of Torontonians for free,  has now been sold for tens of millions of dollars.


The best cinnamon biscuits | Cinnamon biscuits

We were so lucky growing up, our Mom was one of the best bakers around. If we walked in the back door after school and saw a pan of her cinnamon biscuits cooling on the top of the stove we were happy campers.

Cinnamon bun

Made as biscuits as opposed to yeast raised buns these are a wonderfully flaky treat. I come from a big family so this recipe makes a substantial amount of biscuits and is not for anyone avoiding carbs and fat. It’s an old comfort recipe.

And yes, in honour of Valentine’s Day I did make them in the shape of hearts.

unbaked cinnamon buns

baked cinnamon biscuits

two cinnamon biscuits

Cinnamon biscuits

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of shortening
  • 8 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 tab of sugar
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/3 cups of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tab cinnamon

Combine dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Beat eggs in with milk and add to dry ingredients. Mix gently and be careful you don’t over mix. Tip out and pat out to a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Coat dough liberally with butter and cover with mixed brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up tightly like a jelly roll and slice into 1/2 inch thick rolls. Place on a non-stick pan and bake for 11 to 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven. I like to place them fairly close together because it keeps them more tender.