Historian Ruth Goodman

Several Christmas’ ago I received a coveted boxed set of Upstairs Downstairs DVD’s. While watching my 69 hours and 4 minutes of this classic British drama my small interest in domestic history grew. I started reading about it, came across The Victorian Garden, an excellent series that revives a derelict kitchen and kitchen garden of a large country estate and discovered Ruth Goodman. Ruth is a social and domestic historian which sounds drab but the way she brings history to life has made me a big fan via her shows aired on TV Ontario. She’s definitely not sentimental about the past but gets involved in the nitty gritty bits of history that are often left out. Bits like how did our ancestors keep clean or warm, how did they preserve food or deal with sickness. Basically how did the average Joe and Jane survive day to day. The programs follow the format of Ruth and two archaeologists taking up residence in a period property (usually a farm) for a year and showing the processes, indoors and out of what was done to exist. Here are some episode links:

Victorian Pharmacy
Edwardian Farm
Victorian Farm
A Tudor Feast at Christmas
Tales From the Green Valley

Lately I’ve noticed quite a few other programs popping up that deal with the same subject: The Country House Revealed, At Home with the Georgians, If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home. Maybe getting back to some basics is on other people’s minds too.


This is such a great phenomenon and appeals to so many of my quirks that it’s like a match made in heaven. Very simply put this is a website that allows you to create an online catalogue of your books. So what’s the big deal? The big deal is, is that once you’ve created your catalogue LibraryThing allows you to organize your collection any way you like. It also generates statistics, makes recommendations for further reading, connects you with like minded readers and groups as well as book reviews, author chats, the list goes on…

Recommended to me by a library studies student it’s been on my back burner for a few years until a quiet day found me looking for something to do. The simple process of entering my books was highly addictive and I tried to limit myself to a shelf a day which didn’t happen. Once you add 200 books you either have to stop, buy a yearly membership or become a life time member. Of course I signed on as a lifer, how could I not? Now I have a one spot where I can keep track of books I’ve read, own, would like to read next as well as find out what other people are thinking and enjoying.

Check out my library by clicking on the LibraryThing logo in the side bar.
(they have downloadable book marks too!)

Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese

We took advantage of the great weather today to drive over to Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese shop located south of Woodstock, Ontario which just happens to be the dairy capital of Canada. The area has a long history of cheese making and it’s nice to see this continuing at Gunn’s Hill. Owner and operator Shep Ysselstein graciously gave us a tour of the new facility and walked us through his cheese making process. Shep currently produces three Swiss style varieties of cheese – Gunn’s Hill Hard, Semi-Hard, and Soft. All of the cheese is made with milk that comes from his father’s dairy farm next door. We left with pieces of the hard and semi-hard cheeses and will be happily tucking into them later.

Nicholas Hoare Books

I love Nicholas Hoare mostly for its particular selection of books but also for its cozy, library like interior and the way the books are displayed. As soon as you walk in you see beautiful books that have room to breath with their covers facing out. Not to judge a book only by its cover, it’s just easier to browse. You don’t have to pry a book out of a tightly packed shelf by its spine only to have to try wedging it back in when you’re done. My first stop is always the biography section where I usually find a title I can’t leave without.

Royal York Hotel

This week I’m working at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. I love the atmosphere this grand old hotel exudes and the Christmas decorations just make it a bit more special. The hustle and bustle of guests, restaurants and special occasions all mix together to create a unique world within the hotel’s walls. You can’t help but sense the history and tradition that have built up over the years, it’s great to soak it up and reflect.

Jonathan Adler squirrels

Lost my heart to these beautiful little creatures. They’re almost as cute as the squirrels that try to raid our bird feeder! At Jonathan Adler. They are destined to be sitting on top of our mantle some time soon!