Ray Mears’ Northern Wilderness: the last episode was awesome…
Posted in canada, nature, pia's photos November 30th, 2009 by pia


Last night was the final episode of Ray Mear’s Northern Wilderness. It was set on the west coast, around vancouver island and on the mainland. The scenery, as always, was breathtaking. Among other things Ray went berry picking, hand carved a lid for a cedar box, was taken to a sacred island to view an ancient totem pole, made a beautiful basket from the bark of a cedar tree,  stood underneath a cedar estimated to be around 2000 years old, and cooked halibut in little leaf parcels, in the sand, on the beach.

PJB_canada_mixA medley of photos from my times spent on the west coast of Canada. And yes, that’s me in the kayak, with short hair,  about 4 years ago. The sunset is on Chesterman’s beach, Tofino, and the sea lions and bald eagles (two bottom shots) are around nanoose bay.


In honor of Ray’s awesome series, I thought it would be nice to show some photos from my personal album from various trips to Canada. Although I lived on the east coast for a few years when I was younger, these shots above and below are from my west coast travels in more recent years.

PJB_whistler_1a peek through the mountain tops of whistler, on my way ziptrekking – an amazing experience.


There were no black bears on Ray’s series, but here is one I ‘met’ in the wild a few years back. He was on the search for salmon, and I was in a canoe, very calmly paddling first in his direction, until we spotted him, then casually out of the bay. We ended up about 10 meters from him, in water. And then later we crossed his path again on land, only 10 meters too. The land sighting was a little worrying, but he seemed quite nonchalant about the whole thing.


This is one of my favourite photos  – and favourite moments – ever. The water, as you can see was glistening, reflecting the light and creating a spectacular mirage-like effect over the ocean. We were out in a little dinghy when we came across this special place, aptly named “mistaken island”. I wanted to stay there forever.


And above is a little view while coming down from whistler and back into vancouver. It’s a magical place, don’t you think? If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you go sometime, and if you haven’t seen Ray’s show, you can watch the full series here if you live in the UK, or you can buy it here.

Thanks Ray! Can’t wait to see where you go, what you create, and what you cook up next.

inspirational artist: ana tuominen…
Posted in artists November 27th, 2009 by pia


I am rather taken with the work of Anu Tuominen. And particularly her alphabets made from found stone and twig, jar collections of nature, and her crochet work. Above are just a few of my favourites from her extensive portfolio.  Click here to peruse her work, and here to see where she will be exhibiting in the coming year.


found via slow progress – there is loads of inspiration on this blog, perfect rainy weekend reading.

i’ve been wandering…
Posted in artists, blog favourites, photographers November 25th, 2009 by pia

manda_bootsso autumnal! boots, by amanda.

The weather has been sucky here, to say the least. Windy, rainy, and chilly – these are all the elements that keep me tucked up inside my cozy boat home, blanket over my lap, and cup of hot tea at the ready. But you know I have a wandering spirit, so thank goodness for the internet. While I’ve been working on the book (only one week of photo processing to go!), I’ve been taking little blog breaks, clicking on a recent comment  or a blog in my blogroll and being whisked away to another world. Here are some of the things I’ve found…


Jen has an incredible photo project in the making which involves a natural history museum. Above are some little snippets of what she is making, I simply cannot wait to see more, click here to read her full post about it.



Today Lucy from The Design Files posted about the illustration work of monsieur qui. Now when I am in Paris I will know who makes some of the beautiful street art! Click here to see Lucy’s post.



Anna Spiro from Absolutely Beautiful Things lead me to the illustration portfolio of Samantha Hahn – stunning work, check it out here.


lubitel_moonflowerlubitel 2 photo by rachel jan

And Jen Laceda just left a comment on my previous post to let me know about an awesome giveaway she is hosting on her two blogs Les Filles Giada et Cairo, and Folie à Deux – you can win a Lubitel 166+ Universal Lomo medium-format film camera along with accessories, colour ring flash, Lomo book, a box of limited edition Agfa black and white film, and coloured films. Wow!!! I’ve already added my name to the draw, click here to learn how you can too. Thank you Jen!


Okay I have to get some work done now, but I will be back soon. Enjoy your Wednesday!


rain can be such sweet inspiration…
Posted in (blog)house news, etsy favourites November 23rd, 2009 by pia


How incredibly gorgeous are these translucent porcelain cups by stepanka? They even have little rainclouds in the bottom…


Go and check out the rest of stepanka’s creations – no doubt you will flip out like I did when you find the abc cups, the polka dot cups, and double cup set.  I was going to save them for my upcoming holiday gift ideas bonzanza but I couldn’t resist! They are too darling and I want all of them.


PS Cath just posted the next incredible sequel to her Spain adventure in the (blog)house guest quarters, it will brighten your day for sure! Click here to read her post. Thank you dear Cath.

PPS it is so rainy here!

Spain. Montserrat and winery – part two.
Posted in guest quarters November 23rd, 2009 by pia

After almost 5 weeks in four international cities (Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona) we were well and truly ready for a country escape. A popular day trip from Barcelona is to Montserrat Monastery. This Christian abbey is located high atop a winding road (or hair raising cable car ride) in the Monserrat mountain range. The jagged peaks clustered together are a peculiar formation that make for a breathtaking site.

We decided to hire a car and take our time meandering through the countryside. Allowing ourselves 3 leisurely days meant plenty of time for exploring, impromptu picnics, hiking and taking in that fresh country air we’d so been craving.


I’ve got a confession to make – I’m a self proclaimed planner and organizer! One of the reason’s we decided not to pre-book any of our trip is to allow ourselves the freedom to be spontaneous. Now I’m not going to lie, when this turned pear shaped I often found myself tearing my hair out wondering where we were going to stay next. Luckily for us this was one of the times it paid off. I found this gorgeous little boutique winery tucked away at the base of the Montserrat mountain range complete with a gourmet restaurant serving local cuisine. Best of all, being summer – when most Spaniards head to the beach to escape the sweltering heat – we had it virtually to ourselves. Care to take a look around?




I have a penchant for good design and this tiny hotel was one of those places that got the details just right. From the vibrant yellow building that contrasted so well with the surrounding  lanscape, to the rich earthy tones inside. Arriving somewhat weary from the heat we were greeted with the lush, strong smell of wine wafting from the basement barrel room  (and really who wouldn’t feel uplifted by that smell?).The materials used inside the hotel are not only synonymous with a winery – concrete / brick walls, heavy wooden doors – but enhance that wonderful feeling of entering a soothing cocoon of relaxation. DidI mention the 5 star room, complimentry wine and a spa to boot? No wonder I slept like a baby. (I should also note these guys use solar heating and water purification – an eco friendly bonus).



After a good nights rest we set out for a morning stroll. Wandering amongst the vineyards, marvelling at the plump grapes and enjoying the quiet countryside was the perfect way to start the day. There’s something so fresh and invigorating about working up a healthy apetite in the country so we were delighted to discover breakfast served on the sunny deck overlooking the mountains. In fact the view was so mesmerizing before we knew it breakfast became lunch and relaxing with a book became watching the sunset with a chilled glass of wine. Oh how time flies when you’re doing nothing! You can forgive me for getting a little distracted by this wonderful little find? I hope so!



We awoke early refreshed by the previous days relaxing ready for our leisurely drive. Lucky for our early start as the winding road did not exactly endear me to this excursion. I was glad for 2 things: 1. We could keep moving for there was no traffic and 2. I didn’t catch the daunting cable car (having vertigo). Once at the top of the mountain I could breathe a sigh of relief and we enjoyed the lilting sound of the early morning hymns as we wandered around. The importance of this site lies in the “black virgin” statue that is housed in the Basilica. Said to be carved in 880AD it is visited by millions of pilgrams every year. After wandering around the grounds, and tasting the monks frangelico we were ready to explore the surrounding mountains.



The freedom of taking our time made our day truly special and we were glad we didn’t have to rush to get back on a bus or a train and fight the traffic. Our afternoon was filled with – a picnic lunch, a wrong turn down a dirt road to discover a beautiful abandoned church, conversing with some local children in our bad Spanish (ok they laughed), taking pictures, enjoying a stroll though a deserted hiking trail and finding ourselves in the middle of a tiny village drinking icy cold cerveza at sunset. The idyllic end to the day and our little adventure in the countryside! Did I tell you we fell in love with Spain? Wait til I show you where we went next…

all photographs and text by Cath Conroy.