Jupiter and Venus before the Sunrise

So yesterday morning was a pretty neat experience… Quite a beautiful sight as well. I had read on Sunday night before bed that Jupiter and Venus will be the closest together in the night sky that they have been in years. Less than half a degree apart, I think I read, and around 5:30am. Yesterday was the day they were closest, though they can been seen together in the sky all of this week. I was lucky enough to see this when I woke up in the morning. I remembered what I had read, and so I snapped a quick photo with my phone. It’s not great, but you can definitely pick out Jupiter and Venus. Very cool. 

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Tea at Eldon House

A week ago Jay and I did something we have never done before and we are so glad that we did. We had afternoon tea at Eldon House, a local historic landmark and museum. The grounds and the house are both beautiful and I think the city is lucky to have this gem.

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We had tea as a part of their summer tea program. With this program, they serve tea from 2:00pm to 4:00pm on the west lawn Tuesday to Sunday from the end of June to the end of August. The price is very reasonable for what you get as well. You have your choice of four loose leaf teas, scones, fresh fruit with butter, jam and cream. It was delicious.

We wandered around  for a little bit before we sat down to tea. The grounds were very pretty. The gardens are lovely and smell just amazing. I’m sure I could sit in the gardens for hours! We easily spent the full two hours there. When we did actually sit down for tea, Jay went with the more traditional earl grey, and I tried a pomegranate lavender green tea.

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It was a beautiful set up on the veranda

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This little nook was my favourite place in the yard. We sat here for a while before we actually sat down to take our tea.

We were surprised at how busy it was, as many tables were filled aside from our own. There were several mothers and daughters, and it looked like a whole family as well. There was a lot of activity, but it also did not seem too crazy. The service was also phenomenal, considering we were served by museum volunteers. After tea, we toured the inside of the house, the actual museum. It’s a very neat experience and I would recommend visiting Eldon House at least once.

The whole experience overall was excellent and we will definitely before going back. If not again this summer, then definitely more than once next summer!

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Everything was excellent… right down to the strawberries and cream!

If you want to learn more about Eldon House, its history and its events, you can find it all here.

Featherbone Place

Over the weekend we did a little bit of adventuring and it was quite enjoyable. It wasn’t adventuring of a photographic nature as most of our adventures have been of late, but it could have been if we chose. This time I opted to just enjoy the experience for what it was, and Jay followed suit.

There is an old building downtown (among many others) that will be undergoing some extensive renovations and restoration starting in the fall. This past Saturday the owners of the building held an open house to give interested members of the public a peek inside the building before the work begins. In its current state, the building is almost completed gutted but it retains some of the features that gave it its character, including some leaded stained-glass windows and an iron spiral staircase. It is really quite a neat place, even empty.

Now for a little bit of history about the place: This building was built in 1893 to house the Featherbone Corset Company. Over the years it also housed a shoe warehouse, a men’s clothing store and an antiques shop. It opened as a men’s clothing store in 1971 owned and run by Bud Gowan who later became a local icon of sorts. The clothing store closed at this location in the 1980’s when it moved elsewhere. At this time Bud ‘retired’ for the first time from his clothing store which continued to be run by his son. In the early 1990’s Bud reopened the place as an antiques store and remained open until 2012 when he retired a final time. He sold the building to its current owners John and Nancy Fyfe-Millar.

The current owners have big plans for the building with a 2-storey apartment to be built on the upper two floors of the 4-storey building, open up retail/office space on the second floor, and a wine bar/lounge on the main level and in the basement. I think this plan has some pretty great potential. They have called it Featherbone Place as an homage to the original company the building was built for.

It was a very interesting and fun experience exploring the inside of this historic building complete with coffee and doughnuts! I have walked past it for years while I have been downtown, be it for work or recreation. Seeing it now, makes me regret not visiting the antiques store when it was still open. I had been curious about it for a long time, and when I saw the advertisement for the open house I jumped at the chance to get a look inside. It has great bones and it will look great when all the work is completed. I even may have had a ‘paranormal experience’ of sorts while I was there. I’m not sure what it was, but it was certainly something out of the ordinary. Below I have shared some photos of highlights from the visit – forgive the poor quality, but they were taken with our cell phones.

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Hanging out on the third floor. Every floor has great big open spaces.

London's oldest working elevator.

London’s oldest working elevator.

The iron spiral staircase. Not  a great picture of my, but you can see the workmanship that went into this, even if it does look a little bit dangerous.

The iron spiral staircase. Not a great picture of me, but you can see the workmanship that went into this, even if it does look a little bit dangerous.

Paranormal or not? This is the photo of my possible paranormal experience.

Paranormal or not? This is the photo of my possible paranormal experience. I was just trying to take a picture of the natural stone foundation. There are a couple bricked up windows that are below grade today. To me it looks like there is sun shining in the far window, which is impossible! What do you think?

I am hoping that once renovations begin, the owners of Featherbone Place with hold another open house to share the progress of the restoration. I can assure you I will be going back if that is the case. If you are interested in more information about this location, you can check it out on Facebook. They have a page called Featherbone Place where they have been and will continue to share photos and updates. The building is located at 387 Clarence Street here in London, Ontario if you are interested in checking it out for yourself.

A Thriving Garden

The garden was planted this year, albeit a little late, same as it has been the past two years with some minor changes. Things didn’t get planted until early June, whereas last year I had sprouts and seedlings by the first week of April. Despite the late start, things are growing well.

Compared to last year and the year before, the tomatoes are doing great. Actually having proper drainage has seemingly made all the difference in the world. I think thriving would be the appropriate word. Both plants have a combination of bugs and flowers which means fruit will be on its way soon. I am looking forward to bring able to harvest some ripe tomatoes for the very first time in the history of my balcony garden.

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Spinach was planted for the first time this year, and I have to say I loved it. The first round is now finished, and I will be planting a second larger batch as soon as I have to ambition to do so – likely this coming weekend. In other leafy greens news, the lettuce was a huge hit in the household. On fact, it’s been eaten. All of it is completely gone. I am going to attempt a second batch in hopes that we have more lettuce before the end of the season. That lettuce made some of the best salads I have ever eaten.

I added a couple of window boxes with flowers to the mix this year. They were planted late along with everything else, but once the flowers bloom, the planters will look pretty amazing. The pansies and black-eyed pennies I chose are going to look great together.

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Regardless of being planted late, it’s looking like this may be the most successful year yet. I am looking forward to getting use out of everything for the first year ever.

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A panoramic shot of the balcony in its current condition. Loving it.

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A rundown of what was planted this year: green onions, romaine lettuce, butter crunch lettuce, sub arctic plenty tomato, spinach, chives, plain parsley, moss-curled parsley, thyme, basil, sage, oregano, swiss giant pansies and black-eyed pennies.

Learning More Behind the Camera

Yesterday was a great learning experience with my camera. We went to a cemetery nearby and I basically went to town taking photos – intriguing headstones, interesting items, wildlife… You name it. If it was there I probably took a picture of it. It was good fun.

I was playing with the manual focus and full manual settings and I discovered that I still have a lot to learn. I am by no means a good photographer but I enjoy it. The hope is that I continue to learn and also improve. I think more learning experiences like yesterday are required. I really don’t her out enough taking photos. But back to the things I learned:

  1. I have trouble with exposure. My photos have a tendency to be over-exposed.
  2. I can’t focus manually, at least not yet. Many of my photos were not fully in focus. Auto-focus it is, for now!
  3. I am terrible at changing settings through the viewfinder. Is moving the camera away from my face to change my settings and that doesn’t do much good as the picture will not be the same one you are changing your settings for. Something that will take don’t practice I think.
  4. My composition skills were lacking, especially in my wildlife photos. Something else I think will take practice.

The result of all of these overexposed, out-of-focus, poorly composed photos was that I learned something, and know exactly what areas I can improve upon and how. I decided that until I am able to master my camera settings I will stick to auto-focus, as while practicing later on last night I had much better luck with my photographs. It will make things easier as I practice. I had a lesson last night after we got home in metering – choosing the proper exposure. I was using the wrong things to set my exposure for my photos. Usually an 18% grey card is ideal, but something that acts as a neutral in the environment works fine as well. Grass will work, for example. I also sat down and went through the settings and buttons and other wingdings on my camera and learned exactly what each of them do, and how to change my aperture and shutter speed and ISO all on the fly while looking through the viewfinder. This was all really valuable information. I feel much more confident with camera in hand than I did when first heading out yesterday. I will have much better luck next time.

I really got a lot out of yesterday aside from fun and the things I learned were really invaluable if I really want to take better pictures (and I do). And who do I have to thank for all of this? None other than my fantastic fiance and his wealth of photography knowledge! If it weren’t for him I’d be so clueless and would have no idea where to start. The best part is his own DSLR should be on its way to us. Soon we will be able to go out and take photos together! I’m really looking forward to that.

Though the photographic outcomes of the cemetery outing are far from great, I see it as an invaluable experience and process. Here are a couple of photos I didn’t deem total failures. It’s good that some of them turned out okay!

Mossy Headstone

A mossy headstone. I thought it quite lovely to look at. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

 

Old Lock

An old lock on the gate of probably the most depressing mausoleum ever.

 

Family Bench

This was a flimsy old wire bench we came across as we were strolling along. I didn’t really notice until right before I took this photo that a family had left it. It is in quite terrible disrepair. It has been here a long time.

Change Coming… It Isn’t the End.

You may have noticed that over the last several months I have been posting very infrequently. Over those several months a lot has been happening, and I have been re-evaluating a lot of things – the way I approach things in general, priorities, myself, and even this blog.

This blog as it has been for the past two and a half years has become much to restrictive for me. I have not felt inspired to blog at all for quite some time, and as a result I even considered doing away with the blog completely. Though I seriously considered this, I ultimately came to the decision that I didn’t want to do that because it felt like I would be throwing away two and half years of hard work and a lot of my time. It just didn’t feel worth it to get rid of it and start over. Instead, I have decided to make some major changes. A few of these changes include a drastic theme change, and maybe even an eventual name change if I find one I think suits the blog better in its new form. I’ve decided to refresh just about everything.

I have only just begun making all of these changes. It will take some time to get things the way I think they should be from now on. I’m looking forward to what may come though. My hope is that I will want to blog again and that it will be fun. Maybe down the road, it will truly become something I think is amazing again. I am already starting to get a little bit excited again.

Has my Stitching Rut Come to an End?

I am really hoping so! I spent a couple of hours last night with one of my ongoing projects and it felt pretty great. I accomplished quite a bit on it as well, and the colours are coming together quite beautifully. Even Jay commented that the colours were pretty when I showed him my progress.

The project I pulled out of storage was the Bird of Hope 2.0. A full wing is now complete. Well, it will be with six more stitches anyway. It is looking really good on the blue-grey fabric.

I am happy about this because for months and months I have wanted too stitch, but every time I actually sit down to stitch I haven’t been able to do so for longer then about ten or fifteen minutes. So the two hours I stitched for last night was a return to “normal” for my stitching habits. Here’s hoping it continues.

Oh yes, and here is where I got to last night:

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It’s not looking like much just yet, but what is there is looking pretty great to me.

The Balcony is “Spring-i-fied”!

A few weekends ago while I was out for a fantastic birthday lunch with my Grandma, Jay did something pretty great. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day, and he “spring-i-fied” the balcony!

He brought our balcony furniture out of storage and onto the balcony, and he organized all of my gardening pots and supplies on my stand as they were all tucked away for the winter. It was such a great surprise to come home to and it looked (looks) pretty awesome. We even got to enjoy it for a little while before it started to get chilly again.

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A handsome fella :)

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It’s not completely finished, but that will have to wait for the weather to be more friendly to the seeds i intend to plant for the garden this year.

So far, all of the days that have been warm enough to enjoy some time on the balcony haven’t been days when I get to take advantage. I always seem to be at work. I hope we start having some warm balcony-worthy weekends very soon.

Delightful Discoveries: The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

OK. We’re going way back here. Working on finally getting caught up. For my birthday at the end of February Jay took me to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory. Let me tell you, it is a fantastic place. If you can get there, you need to go at least once. It was an amazing birthday gift, and a perfect destination for the day as it was still quite dreary, blustery and just plain cold.

We set out in the morning, treated ourselves to some yummy Denny’s coffee and arrived right around lunch time. The butterfly conservatory is such a bright and airy place. It was very welcome considering the winter weather. We purchased our admission in the gift shop and wandered about it for a little bit, the we wandered the lobby area a bit. There was a very pretty mural and some framed butterfly pieces that were very pleasant to look at. There was also a room with some nature photography on display. It was all very neat to see. After we had seen everything we could see around the lobby, we made our way to the cafe for lunch. I had a tasty hummus and veggie plate and Jay had a wrap and salad. It was all quite delicious. And the prices weren’t too extravagant either.

After lunch we wandered some galleries with various collections of butterflies and moths on display. They were very interesting – we learned to recognize the differences between butterflies and moths. Some of them are hard to tell apart! It was so neat to see these things when you don’t see them every day. Following this, we made our way into the conservatory area itself.

I was in awe. What a beautiful place. You walk in and it is this warm, bright tropical space with walking paths and benches and even a waterfall… It left me speechless. It was amazing. And on top of all that, butterflies everywhere!

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Having a great time!

We wandered for a few hours and I took tons of photos. It was just a fantastic day all around. The only downside was that most of the photos taken weren’t nearly as good as I had hoped, but that’s okay. The photos took a backseat to the whole experience Jay created for me. It was probably the best birthday gift I have ever received.

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It was a truly beautiful place.

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I had a little hitchhiker for the first little bit of the visit to the Conservatory.

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Most of the butterflies were colourful and generally gorgeous, just like this one.

The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is open year-round, and they have a website as well. Be sure to check it out here!