Monday, November 25, 2013

Frunchroom is coming, Frunchroom is coming!

I just like saying Frunchroom. I also think that has to be one of the coolest names for a restaurant ever.

I didn't know what was behind this cool poster when the Budster and I strolled past, I just liked the name Frunchroom and the vintage photos they used. I was intrigued.

I was curious.

I was hungry.

I thought it might be a new breakfast place.

Our family is obsessed with going out for breakfast.

Our unofficial motto is "if you bacon, we will come." Yes, bacon is a verb in this house.

So I Googled Frunchroom when I got home (and I defrosted enough to type) and it turns out this is a new bistro style restaurant/pizzeria/wine bar opening up just a few walkable blocks away from my city pad.

Actually, it first caught my eye because it's situated in my old office building, and whenever I walk or drive past it, I look over and think back to those days, when I had not one but two secretaries, and an office with a window (it overlooked a courtyard, but still, it was window, which counted as a promotion in those days) and nice clothes and client lunches and I could go for drinks after work on Crescent Street with colleagues and dine on happy hour snacks, which counted as a full meal for a single gal. This was the advertising agency I transferred to after my move from Toronto to Montreal many years ago. I don't regret it. Politics aside, Montreal rocks. It is never, ever boring in this city. The agency is gone now, as is the fancy furniture store downstairs, but rumour has it Frunchroom will have all-you-can-fries, with steamed mussels. And pizzas. And a Thursday night "ladies night" with 50% off the menu and special martinis, on the SAME night when someone's husband is out playing hockey COULD THE TIMING BE ANY BETTER?!

Anyone want to join me? I'll let you know when it opens. I think an official taste testing is in order.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nana Patchet

This, my friends, is the beauty of the internet.

I was contacted last week by a second cousin named Cynthia Adams, who was looking up information on her grandfather, George Adams. Years ago, I did a post on my blog about my great-uncle whose diaries and letters are now in the War Museum in Ottawa. When Cynthia looked up her grandfather, my blog post came up and she contacted me. We may have met once when we were children, at a big family party to celebrate my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary, but neither of us remember clearly.

It also turns out that there were members of her family attending the same high school in Quebec as that of my husband and his brothers. Small world, indeed. We're still sorting that out.

Today Cynthia sent me this photo of our great-aunt Edie (on the left) and my grandmother (and Cythia's great-aunt) Nora on the right.

I can't tell you how overcome I was to receive this. I have precious few family photos, and only a couple of my grandmother. We were very close. My dad was her youngest child, and we had many Sunday dinners at their home in Toronto, on Glen Manor Dr. in the beach. In those days, it was cobblestones, and as children, my sisters and I would climb the hill and run down the sidewalk before climbing into the car to go home.

It's amazing that I got this photo this morning, of all mornings, because today is my grandmother Nora's birthday. She was born November 24th, 1889 in England. When she her older sister Edie were practically babies, their mother died at the age of 32. Their father remarried, and George was born, then they boarded a ship and left England behind to settle in Toronto. My cousin Cythia is from George's line, and I'm from Nora's line.

What a wonderful treat to receive this today.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dorchester, now René Lévesque Boulevard - A Little History

More stories from my 'hood.

When I head south for my walk, I pass by these properties which are a mere ten minutes from my flat and situated side by side. Yesterday, while I was taking these photos, I managed to flag down a young man walking to his car to ask him about these homes, whether they were still occupied, etc.

The first one (below) is the Judah House, also known as Villa Rosa, which dates to around 1874. Located at the corner of René Lévesque and Fort Street, this house was built for a lawyer named Frederick Thomas Judah, director of the Montreal City and District Savings Bank. The Judah family owned it until 1949 after which it was given to the Franciscans. It was originally part of the Franciscan Domain and there was a church next door, but sadly that burned down a couple of years ago.

The second house is the Maison Joseph-Wilfrid Antoine-Masson. It is a gorgeous baroque, house built around 1850, and one of the oldest still standing on Dorchester Avenue (renamed René Lévesque Boulevard.)

George Winks took over ownership of the house in 1860 and added a porch and mansard style roof, then it was John Hope, then George Hall, a coal baron. From 1934 until 1943 it was abandoned. The Franciscans bought it, and there are commercial tenants in there now.  Unfortunately the church between these two homes burned to the ground in 2010 and now there's just a big empty lot.

Read the article about the fire and see photos HERE.

Apparently there are still manicured Franciscan gardens in the back of both houses. That will be my next mission - find and photograph the secret gardens with Buddy the wonder sleuth.

Villa Rosa AKA the Judah House. One of my cameras converts photos to drawings, in camera.
The Judah House
Railing outside Joseph-Wilfrid Antoine-Raymond Masson House
Maison Joseph-Wilfrid Antoine-Raymond Masson House
More detail of the railing

Friday, November 22, 2013

Snow, she is on the way

I may not have my snow tires on yet, but at least one of us is ready to meet winter head on.

Don't blame me. This is what happens when I shop with Youngest.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

If you're looking for a bit of escapism, look no further

My friend Laura just published her first book, a memoir, about her life in France. I've read it and I can say without question that it is a wonderful book. It's the kind of book that makes me hug myself, I'm so happy.

Right now it's available on eReader format for about $4. The paperback version will be available shortly.

I put a review up on Amazon, but I'll repeat it here.’t we all had the fantasy of dropping everything and running away to a more exciting life in France? Fairy tales may not be real, but Laura Bradbury’s life comes pretty close.

As a young graduate of Oxford law, Laura’s path was predestined; she would remain in London, continue post-graduate work, and accept as a matter of course a grueling work schedule which would leave little time for anything else. Trouble was, she just couldn’t imagine her life in those terms, to the point where it induced crippling panic attacks.

She turned instead to the soft rolling hills and gentle light of the French countryside, to the small village where her French husband Franck was raised, in order to figure out what kind of future she really wanted. And that future, they decided together, would begin with the purchase of a decrepit 200-year-old winemaker’s cottage in the tiny village of Magny-les Villers.

The Grape Years is warm and honest memoir of that first year in Burgundy. Laura took a leap of faith and did what so many of us only dream about. It is pure escapism, a scrumptious story of love amidst the Burgundian ruins, with a side of local wine and cheese. It is also a triumph over inner demons, the ones that whisper lies and convince us we can’t have what we deserve to be happy.  I reveled in every detail, from polishing door hinges that date to the dawn of the French revolution to the tastes and smells of an open air market in France.

If you are a fan of A Year in Provence or Under the Tuscan Sun, you will love this book. The Grape Years is more than a memoir. It is a journey, a shining example of hope and joy, and a manual on how to find your bliss. I am looking forward to the next installment of la belle vie.


And the very very best part of all?  Laura and her husband now own several properties in Burgundy, and you rent one of them for your very own self! I'm going to. Who's with me? Show of hands who wants to join me and drink wine and eat baguettes slathered in cold, unsalted butter and jam and meander around the markets with a shopping basket (a real basket) full of cheese. Go HERE to have a look.

If you can't come with me, this memoir is the next best thing. Happy sigh.

Find it at  or at

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oblique Strategies for Writers and Other Artists

Here's an interesting website.

I found this via the New York Times Magazine, on their page 'How To Write A 'LIVES' essay' and this was part of the list.

It advises writers to try Oblique Strategies.

Oblique Strategies is based on a deck of cards, on black backgrounds, each containing random, terse statements of truth and/or principle of craft which encourage artists, musicians, writers, etc., to use lateral thinking to get the juices flowing. It was created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt.

A quick perusal reveals things like:

Ask your body.

Tape your mouth.

Shut the door and listen from outside.

Consider transitions.


There are other ENO LINKS if you so desire. I kind of dig it.


The 'How to Write a 'LIVES' essay' guidelines piece is quite good, in and of itself. Just go to the New York Times Magazine website and use the search bar to find it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


If you haven't heard of StoryCorps, you're missing out.

It's a place where ordinary people tell their stories, some happy, some sad, most a bit of both. They're short, under five minutes, but each one is a like a perfect truffle.

I love this one about Kay Wang, a feisty grandmother who was talked into going to the StoryCorps booth with her son and granddaughter to answer a few questions.

And this one? This one will break your heart. It won a Peabody and if you watch it, you'll know why.

Friday, November 1, 2013

On Character, as seen on Facebook

Character is 
you treat
who can

True dat.