Category Archives: Country life

20170713_133828

MY LATEST VISIT TO PORT HOPE ENDS WITH A TRANSFORMER AND T-REX! HUH?

I took my friend, artist Nancy Bennett, to Port Hope (my “spiritual home”) today where I introduced her to my fave cafe & bakery, bling store, boutiques and flower shop, ending with a quick visit to Primitive Designs on the outskirts of town where giant metal dinosaurs roam and a huge Transformer greets visitors. So come along for a virtual visit with us…… 20170713_112639Driving into Port Hope, we made straight for the Ganaraska River (above) that rushed through the genteel little town where fat lazy Canada Geese waddled and wobbled leaving a rather unsightly trail of poo…oops, watch where you’re walking Nancy.20170713_11241320170713_112406Our first port of call, as always, was Queenie’s Bake Shop where today we enjoyed coffee, tea and sticky buns, courtesy of chef/owner Adam and his charming server (below)20170713_115627 20170713_112915…then once we’d polished off all that, we popped next door to visit the super fabulous Kenneth Bell in his jewellery & accessories store. Kenneth supplies hundreds of boutiques across the country with their bling and baubles. He was already busy entertaining two other lovely ladies, Helene (below L) and Nancee (below R).20170713_113746What a warm welcome….and it just so happened that he was starting a 50-80% off sale so talk about perfect timing! Nancy and I dove right in and found some lovely sparklies…  www.kennethbell.com20170713_120538 20170713_120952Nancy found a great pair of sunglasses for her daughter on the rack of shades (below)…20170713_120958 20170713_121014And I loved these stylish silk embroidered clutch purses (below) from the Far East with tiny tassels and charms.20170713_120947Bidding adieu to Ken, we then headed up Walton St to a relatively new boutique called Turquoise where we found multiple pretty pieces that would look good in our closets!  www.Facebook.com/TurquoiseBoutiques20170713_123030 20170713_122943 20170713_122845Then into Flourish, another new shop…. www.flourishfashions.com20170713_124414….and Nancy’s eye was caught by a beautiful green lightweight top, perfect for wearing over a camisole or tank top. What do you think…should she buy it?20170713_123400Well, she did! A perfect top for an upcoming art expo where she knows she’ll get a tad chilly in her booth. Big thanks for her warm hospitality to owner Julie Pandoff (below) and congrats on such a lovely boutique. I then spied the sock rack…wow, these are too cool!20170713_124126 20170713_124215…and I loved these two tunics (below) that could hide a multitude of my caloric sins…LOL!20170713_124357Past the flower shop, we trekked further up Walton St where I discovered yet another fab new store…20170713_124436 20170713_124446….Dwellissimo, a beautifully presented vintage furniture store that was a treasure trove of mid-century modern. Oh my, I was in heaven!   www.dwellissimo.com20170713_124903_001 20170713_124827 20170713_124922 20170713_125139I really really really want this red horse lamp. Hey, Santa, make note of this one, okay? You never brought me that pony I asked for when I was 6 so now’s the time to make up for that glaring omission.

As we wound down our Port Hope walkabout, Nancy and I popped into the Art Gallery of Northumberland shop on Queen St, and found these beautifully crafted works of art….20170713_131201 20170713_131207 20170713_131215 20170713_131336We enjoyed a quick late lunch at Jim’s Pizza but we were both too hungry to even think about a photo so we just gobbled it all up. But we both recommend Jim’s for a great Italian nosh! www.jimsporthope.ca

In between rain showers, we made it down to the lakefront beach…er, where’s the beach? Due to high water levels, the beach, the kid’s playground and picnic area were all complete submerged. Yikes!

One last drive thru town….20170713_131704….then off to visit Primitive Designs, a very strange, wonderful and fantastic series of barns, tents and outbuildings devoted to exotic imports. Located a little N.E. of town, you cannot miss this place – you’re greeted by a Transformer and a herd of huge metallic dinosaurs – yep, talk about eye-catching.20170713_151850 20170713_151655 20170713_151725Thank goodness this happy little Buddha watched over us as we left the car park…I was gettin’ scared!20170713_151810You gotta go visit in person to truly appreciate the weird, wild, wackiness of this place.  www.primitivedesignscanada.com

So there we are, another trip to Port Hope done and dusted! If you would like to learn more about this friendly small town that offers big entertainment, sports, shopping and dining, you can visit their tourism office for more information and directions:  www.visitporthope.ca  and tell them Glenda sent you!

27. Arabella Summer-Fall 2016

MEET THE PUBLISHERS OF ARABELLA, CANADA’S PREMIERE ART & DESIGN MAGAZINE

Having been a regular reader of ARABELLA, the quarterly magazine featuring the best in art, design and architecture, I thought my own readers would like to learn more about this gorgeous glossy mag and meet the publishers who bring us the beautiful images and stories of those who create and exhibit such masterpieces. You can view the magazine here:  www.arabelladesign.com

Debra and Brian Usher have been supporting Canadian and international artists and galleries with their magazine for many years – in fact, I first met them at Westmount Gallery in Toronto several years back when I was working with artist Bruce Lawes whose stunning hyper-realistic equine paintings were being showcased there at the time. While gallery visitors ooo’d and aaah’d at Bruce’s work, I quietly sat in a corner eagerly thumbing through the current issue of Arabella, intrigued by the contents and marveling at the new artist discoveries to be had inside the covers. (2 of Bruce Lawes’ equine paintings have been featured on the cover – below)9. Arabella Winter 2010 21. Arabella Spring-Summer 2014After many years of living and publishing their magazine in Toronto, a couple of years ago Debra and Brian decided the time was right for a move down east so they purchased an historic home and barn in the seaside town of St. Andrews, New Brunswick and established their business in this picturesque new location. I recently caught up with them via phone and asked them to share their thoughts on the art world, publishing and their new home amidst the salt air and crashing Atlantic waves….

What first inspired you to launch a big glossy art magazine?  We didn’t start with the idea of “big and glossy” but instead looked at what other art magazines were doing and tried to determine how well they provided art consumers and art lovers with an experience that portrayed both the art and the artist in the most effective way.  The artists and galleries we talked to were concerned about reaching a wider audience as the standard “art tours” had pretty much ran their course and their audiences were dwindling.  We started with the business idea – how can we best promote and support the sale of art? To accomplish this we needed to really reach a national and international audience.

Editor-n-Chief, Debra Usher

Editor-n-Chief, Debra Usher

A magazine with national and international distribution required a look and feel unlike anything on the book-shelves. While “big and glossy” is often seen as a waste of a natural forestry resource, it in fact was an important feature for ensuring that ARABELLA was going to be treated much like a coffee-book, a keepsake that could take readers on an artistic and engaging journey that lasts beyond a quick scan and becomes a lasting visual and narrative treasure.

When we looked at “the competition” for the most part, other art related publications seemed to be more focused on “critical dialogue” as this was central to their not-for-profit, charitable commitments to “educating the public”.  As a result their editorial content tends to place more of an emphasis on thoughtful, academic analysis and less on the raw, emotional experience of the visual.  We knew we had to get beyond the boundaries of conventional art publications. ARABELLA had to be about beauty in all its forms and provide readers with an unforgettable reading experience! It was a gamble on our part but we had all sorts of feedback that the audience for critical dialogue was much smaller than the audience of those who want to be visually and emotionally engaged by the art, the artists and their stories. Maybe it’s just a different audience, but we now believe they overlap.23. Arabella Winter-Spring 2015 24. Arabella Summer 2015So, we started ARABELLA in order to help support and promote artists and galleries from a commercial perspective first and recognized that in order to sell art the consumer or reader had to get as close to the art as possible. In designing our format, we emphasized the visual through full colour large scale imagery which requires the highest quality of printing – or as you say “big and glossy”.

As opposed to presenting “analysis and critical dialogue” from an external, expert perspective, we decided to focus on what is now pretty much accepted as the most critical aspect of selling – i.e. namely to tell stories, particularly from the perspective of the artists and the gallery owners.   ARABELLA gives artists and galleries their own voice and helps readers connect with the people behind the art.22. Arabella Fall 2014Are you both artists yourselves? Have you dabbled in any creative arts?  Both our careers have involved multiple aspects of creative arts. Brian and I have been involved in painting, photography, and creative crafts.

For the most part, these activities have been secondary to us pursuing business careers that focused on helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses through effective change management and leadership development.  Anyone involved in these aspects of businesses will recognize and identify with the creative processes and innovation required for success.

With so many newspapers and magazines going out of business on almost a monthly basis, how do you keep Arabella relevant & popular?  Well actually that’s two questions.  I’ll deal with last one first.  The relevance and popularity factors are pretty much driven by having a strong network in the commercial side of the art world. We are constantly monitoring and research trends and patterns through direct contacts; as many forms of media as possible; and feedback from artists, as well as our readers.

The format and editorial focus on the magazine, as outlined above, is built on understanding what is popular and relevant with our readership. It pretty much follows that we have a very strong chance of addressing customer needs.

The issue of newspapers and magazines going out of business is really a direct result of these mediums failing to understand what readers are looking for in their lives. ARABELLA recognizes a critical reality – namely that we are in the entertainment business. Our readers are looking for an opportunity to take a journey, to appreciate beauty and make it a part of their lives.

Having said that, our biggest challenge is funding the production of the magazine through direct advertising revenue. This is a problem that we share with newspapers and other magazines.

Brian, a couple of years ago, you moved home & business out to St. Andrews, New Brunswick, from Ontario – how did this move impact your work and lives? And can you tell us about your lovely new home?  Our move to St. Andrews was first and foremost a lifestyle decision. We were first enchanted by the people, and the architectural and cultural charm of the town and the region. Something about moving to the sea seemed almost like a natural at this point in our lives.

There’s no denying that there were clear economics involved as the real estate values were significantly more affordable. But at the same time we realized that a lot of what we do to produce the magazine is actually done via the internet and we actually had already established a virtual team of writers, photographers, and designers.  With access to “relatively high-speed” internet we thought the move was well worth it.

Brian Usher, Publisher

Brian Usher, Publisher

There have been some limitations – but most of these are now under control as we have now established a local New Brunswick production team and we are looking to reach a wider audience by using a Toronto-based publicity specialist and targeted advertising to continue to expand our footprint in the market.  The one limitation Debra will be sure to mention is access to the range of food stuffs we were used to in Ontario. But no question the seafood is bountiful and we have a much better appreciation for what’s involved in being a part of the fishing industry on the East Coast. It’s certainly not an easy occupation, particularly given the amount of time spent on the ocean in winter months.2. The Anchorage and BarnOur new home (pictured above) is locally described as a Maritime Gothic Revival residence and is listed in the Canadian Registry of Historic Places. The original house was built in 1825 as a rectory for the first Roman Catholic priest and the house is now known as The Anchorage.

This style is characterized by the three Gothic gables that break the plane of the roof-line. The central and largest cross-gable, with a pitched roof, is flanked by two smaller cross-gables with jerkin head roofs. The cross-gables are heavily molded and each contains Gothic Revival windows. Gable returns and single-story bay windows are used in the side façade. This attractive property has beautiful grounds which, when built, occupied an entire block-face.1. The AnchorageIt has both the charms and the wrinkles of a building that age. One of St. Andrews most historically significant homes, The Anchorage has been fully restored and up-dated while remaining faithful to its design and character.  The main house has undergone several renovations and extensions over the years with the addition of a major size barn/garage now adjoining the swimming pool area. This building is almost critical for housing all of Debra’s various

Your gallery advertisers are treated to lots of non-traditional perks such as editorial coverage of their shows and individual artist profiles – how has this impacted your relationships with advertisers?  You’re right! The promotional aspects of the business involve a combination of advertising placement; features on galleries and artists; and social media promotion for artists, galleries and events. It’s an extensive package and the editorials are extensive (usually 16 pages) and provide an excellent marketing vehicle for individual artists and their galleries.  This service is not offered by other Canadian or US art magazines.11. Arabella Summer 2011 12. Arabella Fall-Winter 2011With more and more magazines going strictly online, have your subscribers remained loyal to the quarterly hardcopies? Let’s face it, Arabella is more like a collectors’ coffee table book than a regular magazine.  ARABELLA is available both in print and online versions. You’re right about the magazine being more like a collectors’ coffee table book. That was our intent from the get-go.  We have both print and online subscribers but the unanimous feedback we get is that there’s nothing like the print version. Only print can present the visually stunning content and readers consistently remarks about the importance of “touch” and physically turning pages.20. Arabella Winter 2013 26. Arabella Spring 2016You’ve just released a new hard-cover art book, The Love of Flowers, and previously had published It Starts With a Dream, your first hard-cover book highlighting images of Canadian art, architecture and design. What’s next on your book publishing agenda – can you give us a hint or two?
We are currently planning the creation of a book to be released in the spring of 2018, as homage to the coastal areas of Canada and the artists who capture its mystery and its siren call. Four hundred (400) pages of extraordinary art and artist profiles will be showcased through a myriad of forms, styles, and mediums. At the forefront of the book, Canada’s legendary artists – both living and remembered – will be featured. These will include Alex Colville, Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt, Tom Forrestal, William Forrestal, Fred Ross, David Blackwood, and Maude Lewis. Following these featured Canadian icons will be 40 other Maritime artists, each celebrated with an eight-page profile, with full-bleed images of their best art and words to describe their own personal stories. This book will heighten any art collection, jump off bookshelves in Indigo and Barnes and Nobles stores across the continent, become gracious gifts for family and friends, and will have a special spot on coffee tables everywhere.arabellaMailercopycopyAnd any exciting new artists or galleries being featured in the next Arabella (and when is it due for publication)?  Frank Hyder is truly one of our more unique artists to grace the pages of Arabella Spring 2017. His unique sculptural heads and swimming fish are bound to capture our readers’ attention.

Spring 2017 will have an assortment of artists but this issue more than any other will showcase the work of artists across the country as well as their will be quite a selection of 3 dimensional work as well as paintings and craft.

We are bringing back two stunning architectural homes – one from Paris and the other from California.

A new feature is the gallery listings and shows at the back of the periodical. We are trying to make each issue more in keeping with a book, and the cover will be slightly heavier – more life a soft cover book.

We introduce in this issue the start of Gallery Owners and Collectors Comments which should interest a lot of readers to hear different points of view from around the country.

To read the current issue online, plus subscription and advertising information, visit: www.arabelladesign.com

A little more about ARABELLA magazine:

ARABELLA’s mission is to produce the most exquisite Canadian Art, Architecture & Design magazine edited for those with a passion for transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary and living life well. A truly unique Canadian magazine created for people who aspire, are achieving, or have already accomplished a luxury style of life reflecting what it means to be Canadian.
Each issue presents original, in-depth editorial on the best of Canadian contemporary and historical fine art; galleries to visit; artists to collect; architecture and living spaces; unique stores to visit; business and personal life style profiles, landscaping and interior design; luxury properties for sale; unique travel destinations; and food and wine to savour.

ARABELLA is dedicated to supporting and promoting creative talent and related businesses through specialty print and digital media publishing, special events/destination marketing, and professional development programs. We believe in the power of arts and culture in building stronger communities, national identity and economic development.

ARABELLA, our major quarterly magazine publication, is now in its ninth year and is distributed across Canada (Chapters & Indigo, Coles and Smith Books) and the US (Barnes & Noble, Books a Million) and has a global digital circulation on all major platforms. With each quarterly issue we reach 350,000+ readers.

ARABELLA’s print and digital publications play a critical role in presenting Canadian creative talent to the widest possible audience while providing in-depth, visually compelling insight into the best of art, residential architecture, landscaping, interior design and luxury lifestyle products and services.

ARABELLA’s vision is to go beyond the boundaries of conventional publications and produce the most exquisite Canadian Art, Architecture & Design magazine for consumers who aspire, are achieving, or have already accomplished a luxury life style and have a passion for transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary and living life well. It’s about beauty in all its forms and providing readers with an unforgettable reading experience!

With layout and design features unlike any other North American print or digital magazine, each issue (which is more like a book) provides visually compelling, in-depth information and insight on the best of art, residential architecture, landscaping, interior design and luxury lifestyle products and services from the traditional to the contemporary, from the local to the internationally inspired. 18. Arabella Summer 2013

arabellaMailercopycopy

JUST RELEASED: STUNNING NEW BOOK OF FLORAL PAINTINGS FROM CANADIAN AUTHOR & PUBLISHER DEBRA USHER

For a number of years, I’ve been reading a wonderful quarterly Canadian magazine featuring stories on artists, art galleries and news about the business of the art world – it’s called Arabella Design and can be found in major bookstores across the country as well as by subscription.Arabella cover

I first met publisher DEBRA USHER and her charming husband BRIAN while visiting one of my favourite galleries in Toronto, Westmount Gallery, when I was working with internationally renowned hyper-realism artist Bruce Lawes who had a special exhibition at the gallery – see Bruce’s equine art featured on the magazine cover (above). While waiting for media and art lovers to arrive, I spent some time flipping through the pages of back issues of Arabella and chatted with Debra and Brian about their ongoing support of emerging as well as established artists and regional galleries.

A few years later, I’m now able to support Debra & Brian as they rollout the promotional campaign to introduce their spectacular hard-cover book, THE LOVE OF FLOWERS, to readers and those who love all things floral. But be warned…this ain’t your grandma’s pretty flower book! The 450 pages are packed with nearly 2,000 glossy images of paintings depicting all manner of blooms from a wide variety of common garden flowers as well as exotics from far away lands. The book is big, bold and sexy and is the perfect addition to any personal library or coffee table. Once you start flipping through the pages, you won’t be able to stop!1. Beauty of White Flowers 18. Dennis MagnussonI recently spoke with the author and publisher and asked her about the inspiration for the book:

I am extremely proud of this book and the artists represented on the 450 full-colour pages. There are over 1900 paintings and images and 50 stories represented in this hard cover book.

 After the death of my mother, I decided to present a floral tribute to her in our spring edition of Arabella magazine and asked floral artists from all over Canada and the US to send in images of their paintings. Because of the overwhelming response, an idea to incorporate all of these stunning paintings into a book was formed and now here we are – The Love of Flowers was born and I’m so happy to be able to share all these glorious images with my readers.

Artists who paint flowers and capture the beauty and time of a fleeting moment are truly special but very often ignored in the artistic world. This book showcases both the range of talent and diversity of ideas out there. Each artist has a unique reason they paint flowers and our floral landscape and the book is a journey of the world around us that we sometimes miss. So I invite you to come travel down a road with a fragrance so delightful, is filled with colours and transfixes the heart and soul with both love and laughter.   Debra Usher, author (below)Debra-UsherHaving just received my own copy of The Love of Flowers, I can tell you that this is an extraordinary book, ideal as a family keepsake and something to be shared with children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours. The luxe matte finish of the hardcover invites the reader to turn the first page where the colours jump out at first viewing. Each of the artists, most of whom are Canadian, is profiled along with the richly toned images of their skilled works, and turning the pages, you will discover all sorts of flowers and blooms that will brighten even the dullest winter day.10. Brian Davis 22. Adriana Rinaldi 4. Rena BiermanDebra is currently planning several book signing appearances across the country, the first of which takes place at Handworks Gallery in Saint John, NB on Thursday February 9, then at the Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre in St. Andrews, NB on Sat. Feb 11, with additional appearances and art lectures in BC slated for March. Please check the Arabella website and Facebook page for upcoming events in your region.

The Love of Flowers
450pg full-colour, hardcover book (1,900 images + 50 artist stories)
Published by Arabella Inc.
$85.00 (plus shipping & handling) available online

The Love of Flowers will soon be available in major bookstores but why not order your copy now direct from the publisher:  http://www.arabelladesign.com/flower_book.htm

20160726_145916

Playing hooky mid-week in Port Hope!

Earlier this week, as Toronto sizzled and steamed, my friend Teresa and I played hooky and journeyed the 50 minutes east to the wonderful lakeside town of Port Hope (my fave small town in Ontario).  Over the past couple of years, Port Hope and I have become good friends – the welcoming shopkeepers and cosy cafes, the historic restored Capitol Theatre, the stunning Municipal Building, the charming little beach and the tumbling Ganaraska River have all worked their magic on my soul.

As per usual, our first port of call was a visit to Kenneth Bell – the king of bling, the sultan of sparkle, my go-to guy for all things fabulous! I managed to get Teresa into a tiara, too, so we now have matching crowns!! Below, Teresa meets Kenneth for the first time…a match made in bling heaven! Follow Kenneth-Bell-Fashion-Accessories on Facebook.20160726_120435 20160726_123212 20160726_120517 20160726_122852 20160726_123339Next door to Kenneth’s shop is the always-awesome Queenie’s Bake Shop where we indulged in some deelish lunch sandwiches. Both Teresa and I were so brave – we resisted the incredible giant strudel and cookies on the front counter (sssh, don’t tell Teresa but I snuck home with a couple of their famous butter tarts). Follow Queenies Bake Shop on Facebook.20160726_113232 20160726_113235A littler further up Walton Street we found Bubbles and Gems, another fab fashion house where Teresa found a cute skirt and I found these amazing cushions…something for everyone at 20% off!  www.bubblesandgems.com20160726_130124 20160726_130130 20160726_130148 20160726_130327 20160726_130314 20160726_130501We walked past Holton Flowers who always have fabulous arrangements in the windows…we went inside to find floral heaven!20160726_13244620160726_132434We dropped in quickly to G. Facey’s, another fave fashion store of mine, where Teresa found a few more additions to her wardrobe, then down to the new Joie de Vivre store (below) where Teresa found some sweetly fragranced body creams. The new store is twice as big as the previous location further up the street, and offers a lovely range of goodies for your face, body and mind.  www.joiedevivrearomatherapy.com20160726_134850 20160726_134855One of the new Walton Street shops we found (new to me, anyway) was the Marche 59 cafe and artisan bakery (below) offering organic breads, vegan and gluten-free tasty treats and all sorts of goodies from local producers. Must give ’em a try next time I’m in town. www.marche59.ca20160726_132750 20160726_132754Time to head over to the beach so we made our way down Walton Street, past these beautiful hibiscus pots, along the riverbank to Teresa’s car parked near the Municipal offices….20160726_135057 20160726_144822…then over to the lake (Lake Ontario). Wow, what a lovely glimpse of the beach (below)20160726_14575520160726_145915We even saw a dad teaching his son how to fish…so cute!20160726_150323Thanks again, Port Hope, for your warm welcome – it always feels like coming home for me. See y’all again real soon.20150613_111719

 

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

YEE-HAAAW! TORONTO JOURNALISTS COWBOY-UP TO LAUNCH THE CALGARY STAMPEDE’S 2016 MEDIA CAMPAIGN

Last night I had an absolute blast with the folks from the CALGARY STAMPEDE and their local PR reps, Immedia PR at the Boots & Bourbon Saloon on Queen St East. All us city-slicker media types had a hoot’n’hollering good time pressing the flesh with all the cowboys, rodeo queens, the beautiful and charming Indian Princess and marketing representatives of the “greatest show on earth” taking place out west this July. 20160428_174224So nice to be greeted at the front door by such pretty cowgirls (above) who were all well-versed in the history of Canada’s premiere outdoor western festival. I brought along my singer/songwriter friend Laura Rock (www.lrockmusic.com) who immediately became a fan of country music!!20160428_180430The drinks and food were simply outstanding! The catering was handled by Good Son Restaurant as well as Boots & Bourbon’s own team, and the mouthwatering BBQ treats would satisfy even the most jaded old trail hand. They were all served by the cutest waitresses and bartenders. Ladies, you looked after us so well, thank you, and the massive buffalo cheesy balls (2nd pic) were incredible….yummmmmm20160428_183007 20160428_180159(0) 20160428_180007Lots of great photo opps with all the Stampede celebs and mgmn’t….here I’m flanked by (LtoR) bullrider Kynan Vine plus dancer, language keeper, traditional storyteller and cultural presenter Treffrey Deerfoot and chuck wagoneer extraordinaire Mark Sutherland.20160428_181118I participated in the event social media challenge, hashtagging all my Instagram pics and videos…whew, that was exhausting, but I was thrilled to see Likes and Follows from as far away as Texas, Florida, California and even Mexico!20160428_175935I was particularly excited to see that a Ft. Worth boot designer liked this pic I snapped of our lovely Indian Princess’s stunning hand-tooled boots…what do you think of them?20160428_194116Even shots of the Boots & Bourbon interior garnered lots of social media attention…20160428_17452220160428_183032We were all a little nervous about seeing the mechanical bull set up…no, don’t make me get on. I wouldn’t last 2 seconds let alone 8, especially after a couple of drinks…yikes!  Fortunately it disappeared before the intro’s and official announcements were made. Whew!20160428_182933Everyone was excited to hear the entertainment line-up at this year’s Stampede, especially these folks from Budweiser who were particularly impressed with the announcement of Aaron Pritchett as one of the musical guests.20160428_192212 20160428_192446The entertainment was provided by The Washboard Union band who had everyone up on the dancefloor…20160428_193319

I followed (stalked?) sponsor Jonathan Welsh of Banff Trail Riders through the crowd….great jacket!20160428_193449I then ran into one of my fave reality TV hosts Kevin Brauch (formerly The Thirsty Traveller, from back when reality tv really was fun and entertaining!). Kevin (below) had received his souvenir white Stetson earlier and had spent time “decorating” it for the event….LOL20160428_184853 20160428_185433…and I loved all the cowgirl fashion. When I was little, all I wanted to be when I grew up was a cowgirl. These ladies are lucky to be living MY life…grrrrr20160428_182257 20160428_182304After all the western fun, food and friendship, Laura and I rode the rails (subway rails, that is) home. I’m sure we scared a few fellow riders with our antics. LOL!!

20160428_200842 20160428_200915And when I walked in my front door I just had to share my adventure with my own western compadres….20160428_202336 20160428_202422Check out some of the goodies in my gift bag…20160428_202642Thank you to EVERYONE involved in presenting such a fun media launch. If you’ve never been to the Calgary Stampede before, this is the year to go. All details can be found at www.CalgaryStampede.com and please visit their sponsor sites, too.

Banff trail Riders  www.horseback.com

Alberta’s group of Fairmont Hotels:  www.Fairmont.com 

Boots & Bourbon Saloon: www.bootsbourbon.com

The Washboard Union band: www.thewashboardunion.com/

Jelly Modern Donuts:  www.jellymoderndoughnuts.com

Immedia PR: www.immediapr.com

Blog title photo courtesy of Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Shane Kuhn

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin/ Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin/ Calgary Stampede

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

Photo Credit: Bill Marsh

DSC08316

JOIN ME FOR A VIRTUAL TOUR OF PORT HOPE’S HOT SPOTS!

Join me for another virtual trip to one of Ontario’s most picturesque and charming historic towns, PORT HOPE, that sits on Lake Ontario, just 50 minutes east of Toronto. With the Ganaraska River flowing through the downtown, it’s a photographer’s delight, as you will soon see here. My PR intern Gabriella Luchetta is a talented young photographer and most of the photos featured here are hers.  So let’s get started….the first stop on any trip to Port Hope is always Queenie’s Bake Shop. The food, the staff and customers all contribute to that warm welcoming “olde worlde” feel and I recommend Queenie’s for all your refreshment needs. Check out the foodie fun Gabs and I enjoyed with master baker, chef and owner Adam Pearson (below) doing his best “meals on wheels” impression!.DSC08217 File 2016-02-04, 7 17 38 PMFile 2016-02-04, 7 16 13 PMFile 2016-02-04, 7 15 13 PMNext, we went next door to visit the king of bling…the god of glitz himself, Kenneth Bell. I can always find something fabulous there and Ken makes everyone feel so welcome. You HAVE to visit his wonderful jewellery and accessories store – you can find something for every taste from Audrey Hepburn to Rihanna – Ken will kit you out perfectly! www.KennethBell.com DSC08224 DSC08227 DSC08239

 

 

After Gabriella and I injected a little moolah into Ken’s cash register, we went up the street to visit a few more retail friends of mine….here we are at Bubbles & Gems checking out some cool cushions and their “Purse Gallery”  bubblesandgems.comDSC08255 DSC08256 DSC08259Had a blast playing store clerk with Tammy at Susan Dewhurst Limited, a fab fashion boutique that carries so many stylish yet easy to wear designers….and I always buy a pair of their cute socks each time I drop in. Sadly the store will be closing in the Spring as owner Susan is retiring so get your butt in there soon as the deals are going fast.File 2016-02-04, 7 20 46 PM DSC08271 DSC08267 DSC08263

see my new Buddha socks!

see my new Buddha socks!

Further along Walton Street, we passed the stunning floral display in A.D. Holton Flowers. They always put on a fantastic show in their windows.DSC08278 20160204_134153Diane, owner of Joie de Vivre, the sweet smelling bodycare and aromatherapy shop, welcomed us and told us that she’s in the process of moving into a larger store further down the street (45 Walton) in the Spring. The product lines she carries are so lovely and luxurious (see below), and I wish her continued success as she moves into the new space.DSC08288 DSC08287 DSC08290

We decided to stick our heads in the gorgeous old Capitol Theatre (www.capitoltheatre.com), an historic building that rivals Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre. This year’s calendar of shows and concerts include Broadway hits like The Wizard of Oz, Mamma Mia, Crazy For You, August: Osage County and they welcome many professional touring companies. We were greeted by Lynn (with me below) who gave us a tour of the lobby bar and popcorn concession as well as the beautifully decorated theatre itself.DSC08205 DSC08206 20160204_120615 20160204_120636File 2016-02-04, 7 14 55 PMNow it was time to drop in on Teri who runs G. Facey’s, one of the coolest fashion boutiques in PH…they carry both men’s and women’s fashion-fwd clothing and accessories and it was so nice to be welcomed in such a warm fashion (Gabs, you really shouldn’t photograph me from behind…argh!)  http://www.gfaceys.com/DSC08297 DSC08300 DSC08301We then wandered the streets checking out the sights and signs of the town….DSC08220 DSC08292 DSC08294 20160204_140405Now this sign in the window made us giggle way too much. A couple of locals walked by and gave us a wide berth as Gabs and I were making suggestive comments about how we need to experience “a handful of fun”…haaa haaa haaa20160204_140145We headed down to the Ganaraska River to take the obligatory “touristy” shots like these…20160204_140427 DSC08318 DSC08319and here’s my “touristy” video of the fast-flowing river.

By now, it was time for afternoon tea so back to Queenie’s we went for some sustenance before we hit the beach then home to T’rona!File 2016-02-04, 7 23 38 PM DSC08317 File 2016-02-04, 7 23 27 PMJust time for a few more snaps before we left….DSC08251 DSC08252DSC08324You can check out our visit to the Port Hope beach in the previous blog – what a fun day and both Gabriella and I look fwd to the next visit when we can check out other stores, the B&Bs and maybe the nature trail & boardwalk once the weather gets a little warmer. See you soon, Port Hope!File 2016-02-04, 7 26 10 PM

www.porthope.ca

 

 

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BEACH WEATHER IN PORT HOPE!!

Is that Waikiki? Bora Bora? How about world famous Bondi beach in Sydney? No, believe it or not, this is the lovely little beach on the shores of Lake Ontario at Port Hope, a charming historic town just 50 mins. east of Toronto. And with our unusually warm weather in the middle of what should be winter, my fabulous intern and photographer Gabriella Luchetta and I decided to take a little road trip yesterday so we could have some fun as well as getting work stuff done! Come run your toes thru the sand with us on this virtual beachcombing stroll…..File 2016-02-04, 7 30 14 PMI grabbed my Samsung Note 4 and started shooting video and snapshots…stand still please, seagulls!20160204_145223 20160204_145703

Here’s Gabriella in action…20160204_145047

and this is the shot she just took…File 2016-02-04, 7 25 56 PMWe took some cool “boomerang” videos, too, and I’ll upload those later. I’ll also take you for another walk along the streets of my favourite town and intro you to my PH friends who welcome visitors year-round to their stores and restaurants in another blog that should be published by the end of today. Until that’s uploaded, enjoy the beauty and peace of Port Hope’s lovely little beach….where’s my sunscreen???File 2016-02-04, 7 30 49 PMwww.porthope.ca

 

 

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I WANNA BE A COWGIRL! ARTIST BRUCE K. LAWES COMPLETES ANOTHER STUNNING EQUINE PORTRAIT

Is this not the coolest cowgirl painting ever? Yes, this is a painting… not a photo. I must say it brought back many happy horsey memories of my own youth, spending hours in the saddle and in the barn with ponies and horses at the local riding stables back home in Australia.

Internationally renowned artist Bruce K. Lawes has just completed this 18″ x 13″ oil on linen painting of a girl and her horse titled “Partners” in time for The Great American West art show and sale at the Settlers West Gallery in Tucson, AZ. taking place Nov. 21st.  http://www.settlerswest.com/html/gaw.html

So if you need to feed that inner cowgirl (or boy) soul, check out Bruce’s brand new website for more details of this and other horse paintings. “Partners” will soon be available for sale as a Limited Edition print – but why not sign up for Bruce’s e-newsletter and you could actually WIN a print of “Partners” or other Limited Edition prints (see samples below) as Bruce will be drawing a name each month from his subscription list to win a Limited Edition print of your choice, valued at US$195.00.   http://bklawesart.com/a-pryor-engagement gypsy-blu-sunrise in-the-ready

paint-over-time

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GOATS AND HORSIES AND MODELS, OH MY!

Several weeks ago, my friends Carcia and Telly Campbell of ItsMusicFashionLife.com web-magazine asked me to suggest a rustic, farm location for their upcoming fashion shoot and without missing a beat, I suggested the new Haute Goat farm in Newtonville, just ouside of Port Hope. So yesterday, we packed the clothes, accessories and photographer/creative director Aleyah Solomon (co-founder of the brand new HereandThere magazine) into the car and headed east through the the glorious fall colours to meet the models, and the goats and horses owned by Debbie and Shain of hautegoat.com20151017_111333 20151017_111241As soon as we pulled into the farm driveway, we realized the shoot would be stunning – the farm house was perched high overlooking the rolling hills and woodlands around Clarington County (see below).20151017_121311 20151017_132815We were soon joined by gorgeous models Tara and Taylor, along with make-up and hairstylist Alexandre and photo assistant Candace….and set to work rounding up the 4-legged livestock  who turned out to be fabulous models, too.20151017_134930 20151017_135046 20151017_121618The wee goats (above) were such hams! Many tried to pull focus from Tara’s posing…bleating and bah’ing making us all laugh so hard.  When Taylor came out in his winter fashions (below), the goats fell in love with him, following him around, nuzzling and begging his attention. We now call him the “goat whisperer”!20151017_150532 20151017_150640 20151017_145955Above, Aleyah was laughing so hard at the goats swarming Taylor sometimes it was difficult to shoot. Debbie (the goat mum) joined in the hilarity. Carcia (below with Taylor) enjoyed a cuddle with one of the baby goats while sister Telly (centre, 2nd pic) quickly snapped shots between pats.20151017_150721 20151017_150749Carcia’s and Telly’s bestest selfie ever!20151017_150238

20151017_150804…and above, Eden, one of the wranglers at Haute Goat, posed with one of our favourite goats, Yoda, as the models went inside to change for their next look. Below, Jack the farm’s guard dog got into the modelling act, too, and loved Aleyah’s impromptu ukulele concert on the lawn!20151017_135738 20151017_135806Next, it was time to cowboy-up. Tara and Taylor got their city-meets-country looks on and Shain and Debbie’s Icelandic horses got into the act, too.20151017_155315 20151017_155634 20151017_155653Alexandre and Taylor had fun taking horsie selfies!20151017_155007And I had quite the “Legends of the Fall” moment snapping this shot of Taylor (below) who looked so like Brad Pitt as “Tristan” dontcha think?20151017_160205I was thrilled to be invited on an ATV ride through the woods behind the farm while more photos were being taken so I jumped at that opportunity…have you ever tried taking photos while riding on an ATV? Naaah, too shaky, but when I got back to the farmhouse, I relaxed in the huge kitchen and snapped a few pics of the decor as well as the awesome goats milk treats Haute Goat produces and sells: soaps, body creams, lip balm, caramel corn, fudge….you can guess what came home with me!20151017_143337 20151017_162821 20151017_162847 20151017_162851 20151017_162857 20151017_162902None of us wanted to leave the Haute Goat farm last night but the big city lights beckoned us home.  Here are a few more parting shots of the lovely farm and wee beasties.20151017_150055 20151017_181851 20151017_142200

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20151017_121610 20151017_150259Don’t forget to check out ItsMusicFashionLife.com for the upcoming photo essay, as well as HauteGoat.com for more product info and sales of their handcrafted skin care and edible treats, esp. now you’ve met the goat workers who make it all!

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ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL DAY SHOPPING & DINING IN PORT HOPE, ONTARIO

As  my regular readers know, I have a real love affair going with this picturesque town located about an hour east of Toronto. Port Hope offers a welcome respite from the hub-bub of the big city – the Ganaraska River runs thru the historic downtown, the stores carry fashions, accessories and nic-naks that cannot be found in the big box chain stores of Toronto and the people….well, they are what make Port Hope such a delight. So friendly you’d think you were in Mayberry. Even the local policeman waved at me yesterday when I was taking photos of the main street (Walton St) as he drove by. So come take a virtual stroll up Walton Street with me….. (all websites linked at end)20151007_135005My best friend, Erena, and I always make our first stop at the charming Queenies Bake Shop (pictured above – far right end of bldg) for a “tinkle and a tea”…LOL The young ladies behind the counter and Adam the master baker/owner always make sure we’re well nourished so check out yesterday’s treats…yummmm20151007_113115 20151007_113156While we sat and devoured our goodies, I overheard an interesting conversation at the next table and before you know it, I’m chatting with Port Hope Councilor Robert Polutnik and the town’s Marketing Manager Kevin Narraway. I shared my love of their town and how I’ve become an unofficial ambassador for the stores and points of interest….hopefully I can add my voice to the tourism siren’s call for Port Hope. I wouldn’t let them leave Queenies without a paparazzi shot so here’s Mr. Narraway (l) and Councilor Polutnik (r). 20151007_115623No visit to Port Hope is complete without a visit to the king of bling himself, Kenneth Bell, whose store is packed to the rafters with fabulous jewellery, accessories and fashion items. And so our spending spree began. Here’s Erena with Ken after dropping a load o’ cash for gloves, scarves and sparklies – no wonder Ken’s smiling…LOL! 20151007_123206Loved the cute toques with fur trim and the cute little owl pendant (below)…very on-trend, and very affordable.  20151007_12312920151007_123051Next up, while Erena was buying up shoes from Gould’s, I wandered up Walton Street to visit the colourful Holton Florists (below)…isn’t this pretty? They even had mini Kangaroo Paw wildflowers from my home (Western Australia) – the red and yellow ones below.20151007_131504 20151007_131601 20151007_132223 20151007_132138 20151007_135201I dropped in quickly to say hi to the ladies of Bubbles and Gems (below) who I visited back in the summer. Lots of groovy sparkly things and I even shot a video so log on to this YouTube link and take a trip down their aisles…. http://bit.ly/1jQPF7K 20151007_135121A block or two further up Walton, I discovered the best smelling shop in town – Joie de Vivre!  Owner Diane showed me around the shelves and introduced me to a new line of Canadian-made hand and body products called Barefoot Venus and I purchased their new Maple Blonde body lotion. My skin is now smooth as a baby’s bottom and I smell like a maple syrup latte…yummmm.20151007_14234420151007_141504 20151007_141508 20151007_141517 20151007_141622 20151007_141531I went looking for Erena who had found the motherlode of fall fashions at Susan Dewhurst, a fabulous ladies’ fashion and accessories boutique. The brightly coloured sweaters & socks were displayed along the walls while racks of well-priced designer separates offered a wide variety of wardrobe choices. Erena really injected major funds into the local economy there!!! No wonder owner Susan (bottom left) and her associate Tammy (bottom right) had big smiles on their faces.20151007_155641 20151007_152656 20151007_152827 20151007_152948 20151007_155931Erena also did some serious damage to her credit cards over the road at G. Facey, another great store offering top of the line fashions for men and women. Owner Teri-Jo has become a friend after two previous visits that helped empty her shelves..haa haa.20151007_140055After 5 hours in Port Hope’s finest shopping establishments spending like two drunken sailors on shore leave, Erena and I had worked up a real appetite so where did we go to end the day? Olympus Burgers….seriously these are the yummiest, biggest and freshest home-made burgers and fries you could ever imagine. No wonder the locals tell everyone to go there. Thanks to owner George (bottom pic) and his staff for taking such great care of our grumbly tummies. I was going to take photos of the burgers as we ate them but we devoured them so quickly (and we needed both hands to eat!) that all I can share with you are the plates as they came out of the kitchen.

20151007_161829 20151007_162632 20151007_163557 20151007_172111Thanks Olympus Burgers for sending us on our way home, well sated and burping happily!

If you want a fun day trip out of Toronto where you can find fashions, home accessories, antiques, shoes and food that you cannot find in the city, then Port Hope is the place for you. Head E on the 401 past Oshawa and it’s probably about 50 mins from the GTA. They have a lovely beach, beautiful heritage houses to admire and…the friendliest residents who make you feel right at home. Lots of community events, festivals and family activities, plus the turn-of-the-century Capitol Theatre (below) that presents amazing big name entertainers. In fact, my friend, Mike D’Urzo, is presenting his mystical and amazing Mega Magic show there on Oct. 30th.20151007_134846

If you’d like to check out the places in Port Hope Erena and I visited, here are their websites (and tell them Glenda sent you):

www.porthope.ca
https://www.facebook.com/Kenneth-Bell-Fashion-Accessories
www.holtonflowers.com
https://www.facebook.com/Joie-de-Vivre-Port-Hope-474932339252880/timeline/
https://www.facebook.com/Bubbles-and-Gems
https://www.facebook.com/gfaceys
www.olympusburger.ca