Monday, December 07, 2009


On Saturday, J and I were intent on starting our Christmas shopping. However, we also wanted to take in a bit of culture at the same time. We were in luck. Hidden Art was on and we figured we could pass a few studios on the way down to the East London Design Show which was part of Hiddent Art. (If Hidden Art sounds familiar, I've mentioned it before as we've been we've been a few times before- I wrote about it back in 2007).

We ended up seeing 2 groups shows and the opening of Gerry Juddah's Babylon show at Flower Galleries in Shoreditch. We just happened on the show and felt so lucky to have stumbled on such a powerful show.

I'm not much of a writer or art analyst. Although, I do know when I saw these scultped paintings, I couldn't take my eyes off of them. As you maybe able to see from the photos above, each painting/sculpture shows what appears to be a miniture city (but blown out) and all the details of the cityscape. The stark colours (they were painted white, black or wine/rust) on such a detailed sculpture ensured one would notice the details of the city even more than if the city was painted in technicolour.

If you are in London, try to visit the Flower Gallery. It is definitely worth the visit. The Small is Beautiful Exhibit that was exhibiting upstairs was also a pleasant surprise. Plan to take enough time to explore both.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

An Ode to Literature

I discovered this amazing video via our twitter feed at work which thanks to the lovely D and the other team members always has a wealth of fun stuff to distract you from your other duites. So check it out.

Here is a short video that should amaze anyone when you begin to think of the intricate work that went in to making it. I loved it and decided to post it here so I won't forget about it or lose it.

Here is what Creative Review said about it.

Using around 3,000 still images, Andersen M Studio has animated an extract from Maurice Gee's novel, Going West, for the New Zealand Book Council...

Now that you watched it you can appreciate it took 8 months to complete. Beautiful. Let's read books.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kseniya Simonova: Now she really does "got" talent

Thanks to my friend, Gosia, I was treated to an unexpected treat this evening. She sent a link to the following video out to some of us on her email list. I clicked to YouTube and within 10 seconds I was hooked.

Many of you may have already seen this video from Kseniya Simonova. She was on Ukraine's Got Talent and does she ever. She's 24 and created a series of sand pictures which depicted German's invasion during World War II.

I think it is amazing and in this day of short attention spans; I managed to watch for the whole 8 minutes. I would encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Barbie-licious Birthday

On Sunday night, I attended one of the best birthday parties I've ever attended. And, the best bit was it was a SURPRISE birthday party for me. I was caught off guard because like all surprise parties, there was a lot of secrecy involved. Also, my birthday was the last thing on my mind as I approached my Aunt's home. Remember,
  • I was visiting my Aunt's for dinner (natural event as I had not yet seen her since I had come back to Canada)
  • my birthday was over 15 days away
  • this year is NOT a big birthday
  • it wasn't my birthday
So, the last thing I was thinking when I walked in to my Aunt's home was that I would be met by all the wonderful women in my family* dressed up as their favourite Barbie waiting for me. Yes, that's right. It was a surprise birthday with a theme - A Barbie Birthday. And this big girl loooved Barbies as a child and was more than happy to partake in this fun-filled craziness.

My first thought was I wouldn't get to dress up as Barbie as I hadn't brought a change of clothes. Boohoo! I'd miss out on the dress up component of this soiree. Oh no! Thanks to my Aunt and her many visits to Value Village I had a wardrobe of clothes & accessories to choose from and felt right at home in my Barbie-wear. [I'll post all the outfits of the evening on my other blog.]
However, I wanted to share some of the decor and silliness here that my Aunt Kathy had planned so perfectly.

Here's a few shots of the evening's antics.

Here's the amazing woman behind the craziness
dressed in her Barbie outfit:
yellow polyester pant-suit with wig (which no-one realized it was one)

All of my remaining Barbie stuff made an appearance at the festivities
(including the United Airlines airplane, bungalow and bathtub)

Here are a few of the presents & cards I received:
Did you notice the 41 year old princess card?

I received a new carry-on suitcase (I think it's my colour).
It's ideal for all my work travel

Turns out it's better built for Barbies than a laptop.

I also received a new matching handbag (backpack) and wallet.
My cousin embellished the wallet with small hearts

My family thought this sleeping bag would be perfect to keep me warm on all those Trans-Atlantic flights.
I'm tempted to pull it out on flight back to London on Virgin-Atlantic.

Given my reputation of being late for events, they felt an alarm clock was in order:

And even more Barbie themed gifts:

Other gifts included a foot-care & massage set (for the days out in heels),
a fun desk emoticon calendar and a Barbie Video.

Here is the dinner table with guests from the soiree:

This was a special glass for the Princess Barbie (moi).
In fact it was a glass from my
50th anniversary over 30 years ago.

My Barbie Pink Cake

Now for the thank yous. I want to thank everyone for coming to my birthday party and playing along (i.e. dressing up, bringing their Barbie and sharing their Barbie stories). In particular, special thanks to Aunt Kathy for the idea and the organization of the party. Plus a call out to my very own Aunt Barbie (who also happens to have the same last name as Barbie and is married to her very own Ken-- how cool was I growing up?) for hosting the festivities at her home.

Finally, an artsy shot of me in my Barbie attire

PS if you loved Barbie's too, you might enjoy E's post about her Barbie collection.

PSS More photos from the evening can be found on flickr.

*sadly, Julie was sick; Al & Maggie were across the country. Yet, my other sister was there (E)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dancing Words Coming to a Screen Near Me

I often find myself peering over J's shoulder to see what's happening on his computer screen. Sometimes, I find it filled with designs for anything from chocolate to pitas to dog treats. Other times, I might get a glimpse of a travel company's brochure, signage for a gala event or even a dubstep video.

The last few days have been filled with dancing words for the Bach Festival in Montreal. I maybe biased but I love the idea and the execution. (Watch it full scren and turn up your sound to enjoy)

Montreal Bach Festival 09, English version from Jonathan Howells on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stella Artois Ad Rips off Retro CBC Logo

CBC Logo Rip OFF
Originally uploaded by praguelondon
Last weekend we spotted this poster in the Tube for Stella Artois. As an aside, I never drink Stella Artois as I was once told that it was rated the worst in blind taste tests. However, the purpose of this post is not to discuss its virtues rather this poster.

The ad as you can see is eye-catchingly retro. It even features a suave French gentleman who definitely pleases my eyes. However, that is not what grabbed our attention. Surprisingly, it wasn't even the classic car for J.

No, it was the old CBC logo that was included in the poster that got our tongues wagging. We just couldn't figure it out. Why would they take an old logo and cut it in to pieces and include it here.

It is the CBC logo isn't it? (here's the 70's logo). Am I missing the idea of the ad? Is it supposed to be recycling old logos? I doubt it. Who in the UK even knows what the CBC is. Any ideas about this ad? Anyone?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Be A Maestro in B Flat

I think the moment this is posted, I'll realize I am about 6 months behind its discovery, but I don't care. I LOVE it.

A bit of background. I work in an office that loves to share. We share commentary (on anything and everything), jokes, websites, technology, DVDs, books, advice, opinions and everything else you can think of. Most days I ignore what is being passed from in-box to in-box. However, tonight I happened to click on what one of my colleagues (who rarely shares) sent around. There was no commentary associated with this link but I clicked anyway.

The link led to a page filled with YouTube video screens. There was a line of text which read
"play these together, some or all, start them at any time, in any order" So, I did. And, I loved what happened. I started with 3 screens and then quickly added another and another and another. Wow, I'm a conductor, DJ, producer all in one. So, not only did I get that good feeling of creating, it also gave me something to write about here which I haven't done in a LOOONG time (YYZ-LHR and the MOO Cryptic Quiz have been keeping me busy)

By the way this brilliant idea was conceived by Darren Solomen.
Could someone now break it to me and tell me how out of touch I am with this find.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Better than I remembered

The summer before I started university, I worked at Lincoln Motor Inn in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This was 22 years ago (eek!), so I was rather excited to see that 1) Lincoln Motor Inn still existed and 2) it has a website. They've come a long way!

Having grown up close by and then working in Niagara Falls one summer, I've visited Niagara Falls probably 100s of times and I know I took them for granted. They are pretty impressive when you get up real close.

It's just that when people especially from the UK find out that I lived 15 minutes from Niagara Falls, they always seem in awe. Little do they know that after you spend 20 minutes looking at the Falls you then have to spend the next few hours in amusement hell on Clifton Hill surrounded by thousands of toursits. That's probably why I don't always think so kindly on The Falls.

So, when I saw this post today on Fubiz, my first thought was why would a cool site like Fubiz feature Niagara Falls on their site. Well I think the video shows that even amusement hell can be beautiful.

Niagara Falls in Motion from Matthew Wartman on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Day Out at the Seaside

A few weeks back J and I decided to do something we had been talking about for ages. We decided to be spontaneous and take a day trip down to the seaside. We've lived here 4 years and have never gone for a day on the beach. We felt it was high time we found out what the fuss was all about. We jumped on a train to Brighton and spent the day down relaxing on the stoney beach and checking out the fun and games of the pier. And of course a lot of great people watching. Here's a few shots that capture our day:

A great shot of the deck chairs we didn't rent. We went for the slightly cheaper option of our portable beach blanket which we purchased in the post Xmas sales and have been waiting to use.

Merry Go Rounds and Pier Shot (oh, and some woman in the foreground)

We had a few hour rest on the beach. Ahhh bliss.

Brighton Boogie on the Boardwalk. Seeing these dancers made me a bit depressed that we have failed with our Swing Dancing lessons. We'll have to get back on that horse again.
We helped another couple take their requisite postcard Brighton shot so they volunteered to help us. We had to oblige.
We tried our luck at the penny arcade. Of course I lost more than I won, but did cut myself off at £2. As always J was attracted to the Star Wars connection.

We took a short break after our try at gambling sitting in the *free* deck chairs (introduced in '84) on the Pier overlooking the big blue sea. The Pier was built in 1899 and is the second most visited leisure facility (hmmm interesting term) in the UK according to the Pier's website. If you want to get a real sense of tacky fun the Pier has to offer, visit their website and make sure you have your speakers on.

We checked out all the crazy rides on the Pier. However, we didn't partake.

We found a cute little oyster bar along one of *the Lanes* for a glass of champagne and early dinner. We loved the communal marble tables, dripping candle wax and of course the fish. What a perfect end to the perfect Brighton Day!

Fish decor inside Riddle & Finns.

And finally, the sunglass pose to prove it is sunny in England (sometimes - not as I type this post)

More photos from the day at the Seaside.

I definitely recommend being spontaneous!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

London Taxi ALMOST on the Move

When I first started writing this blog, the first posts I did mentioned a documentary J was starting to develop. It was about 4 young women (my Mother was one of them) who traveled Europe in an old London taxi cab. Here is a reminder of the story from the depths of the internet (circa 2005) and my first post EVER.

Now I'm happy to introduce you to J's current Taxi endeavour - Alfred and Jakobine - the documentary. Here is the trailer for the movie or you can read more about the project over here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Recipe for Joy

This may be a slightly misleading title. Decide for yourself after reading this post and the recipe itself.

The title refers to a recipe especially developed for Ms. Joy T. She was our HR manager in London MOO offices up until she moved backed to the US in February. It was a sad, joyless day when she left. (we love our puns at MOO).

As a going away present we all contributed (except me) our favourite recipe for Joy's cook book. Now if you know me, you will understand why that has taken a few months for me to complete. I just don't cook and I wasn't about to put a recipe in there for peanut butter and banana toast. Also, when I do attempt to cook I follow the recipe to every last pinch of salt. I never stray as I'm worried what will happen if I do. I couldn't very well plagiarize a recipe for dear Joy.

Now, a funny thing happened on Saturday....

J and I decided to have Nick (J's cousin) and Mark (our Filmmaker/Musician friend - also Canadian) over for a BBQ. It was forecast to be nice weather and I was keen to eat outside. I was in charge of the table and ambiance (I think I did quite well on that front).
You'll see I kept it low key but funky with our map placements, chinese lanterns and cool new coasters brought to me from Boris of Prague.

I realized while J had a perfect meal we needed some low key appies. After looking through the aforementioned cook books I found what looked like a good recipe for guacamole.

Now, what happened next was created completely by accident. I soon realized we were missing a few key ingredients so I improvised. The results were scrumptious and I declared I had a recipe for Joy! All of you (my millions of readers) can try it out here but Joy you'll get it printed and ready to insert in your MOO cookbook when I come to Providence next month.

Sweet Joy Guacamole*
2-3 avocadoes (make sure they are ripe)
2 tomatoes seeded and diced
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1/2 red onion - chopped finely
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fresh cilantro or coriander (depending on what continent you live in)

2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce
2 tbsps Mandarin Yogurt**
pinch of salt and pepper

*Joy is one of the sunniest people I have encountered so I think it is fitting this guacamole is actually sweet
**The mandarin yogurt add the sweetness and creaminess to the guacamole

Basically you crush/mush up the avocadoes, then add the garlic, onion and tomatoes. Stir in the Yoghurt, the tobasco, cilantro and a bit of salt and pepper. Yum Yum Yum. This is really a sweet spin on typical guacamole. EnJOY!

Ooooooo soooo good.You can see from Nick's face how enjoyable the guac is.

The guac was a sweet start to an all and all enjoyable evening. Here are a few more photos from the evening on my flickr account.

Monday, May 04, 2009

J and L's Big Adventure to Kent

I've been a bit remiss about posting any of our London adventures lately. I think that is not because we haven't been having fun, but more that I have started another blog which is also nagging to be updated. The new one is easier to update as I always know the topic - fashion. E and I started it to recreate our high school and post-university days of swapping clothes. Since I've moved across the ocean it's been more difficult to share in the real world, so we've opted for the virtual world. I digress, but now you know that I have been posting just not here.

This past weekend was a bank holiday here in Jolly Old** and that meant time for an excursion from the big smoke. We decided last minute to take a trip to the country side. So, what did I do, i asked my twitter followers. I must admit this was better than
Yahoo! Answers as the recommendations were from people I knew and knew me. Sweet.

We ended up choosing Whitstable in Kent which by the way is the setting for Tipping the Velvet. As usual, I waited until Friday night to secure a place to stay and it appeared to be too late. I didn't tell J that we were landing in Whitstable stableless until we arrived. We really did feel like Mary and Joseph wondering in to little inns and B&Bs asking if they had room and they all said "no room at the inn" and sent us on our way.

By luck (longer story) we ended up finding a Bed & Breakfast that had room for us. It was WAY better than a stable; in fact, it was perfect. I'll write a full recommendation on the Gallery House later on Qype but Gary and Penny were great hosts and we loved our room - so clean and bright. Penny really did think of everything from a toaster and tea to filtered water.

Now on to the activities of the weekend. It was jam-packed with what we love most: eating, walking, drinking, eating, drinking, listening to music and shopping (in that order)

After some fish & chips at the local Harbour Street shop,
we walked the coast from Whitstable to Herne Bay. Along the way, we passed hundreds of colourful beach huts which were mostly boarded up waiting for the real summer to begin.
As you can tell they are quite small. They are only big enough for a little day-bed, changing area and kitchen. Each one was painted and decorated to suit the owner's style. I loved the green and pink one the best as it reminded me of Pippi Longstocking's home in Gotland, Sweden. (I was lucky enough to visit Gotland years ago on a cycling weekend with friends) I wonder if the owner is also a fan of Pippi who I secretly still want to be.
Later we had dinner at an Oyster restaurant right on the water (The Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company) . You can see from some of the shots that we were treated to an amazing sunset. Oh bliss.
The food was nice and I even had a go at Oysters (when in Whitstable!)but not as wonderful as the spot and the company (awww! gag!)

After dinner, we wondered down the beach capturing images as dusk fell. We were going to have an early evening until the sounds of live music drew us in to the Old Neptune.

Bonanza! We hit gold. The Old Neptune was definitely the place to be. The pub was heaving with locals, weekenders and tourists. Not only did we enjoy the actual entertainment - a wonderful blues guitarist with a drummer and base player - but loved the people watching this place had to offer. What a diverse crew all with the same goal -- having a good time. We found ourselves giving them names. Here were a few of our faves:
  • Reboot: The guy who kept stalling. He clearly had smoked more than a few joints
  • Work the Room: The 40-something pick-up man who was busy chatting every lady in the house. He even asked me if I was French (that was before he saw J)
  • Mr. Guiness No Rhythm.: The name says it all. He tried so hard to find the beat but in the end was only able to find the bottom of many glasses of Guiness
Seriously, everyone was groovin to the music and seemed to be happy that it was a long weekend. The Old Neptune was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Sunday was spent doing more eating, walking and some shopping. I won't describe in detail, but here are a few shots to capture the walk that day.
I also would be remiss if I didn't call out an adorable shop called FRANK on Harbour Street. It sold a collection of incredibly sweet hand-made goods and prints from the UK. She seemed to have a special liking for birds. As you can imagine I kept thinking of Tania and Steve.

All in all a wonderful 24 hours out of London. Thank goodness we can still be spontaneous in our older age ;)

** Jolly Old was what my Aunt Barb & Uncle Ken always called England. Frankly, I can't think of something more incongruous when I think of my East End London neighbourhood -- Jolly is NOT what comes to mind.