IODE Christmas House Tour: Decking the halls in Goderich

19 Nov

IMG_3251By Diva Shari Parsons

GODERICH – I usually prefer to spend glorious, sunny autumn days outdoors but the lovely weekend weather provided the perfect accompaniment to the 2015 IODE Christmas House Tour.

The tour consisted of five different homes – two modern and three historical. The homes themselves were decorated with both modern and traditional themes. The trend colour for this year appeared to be silver and aqua along with other glitzy metallics like gold, bronze and copper.

IMG_3239In the first home I visited, the master bedroom was a glistening ice palace of silver, white and blue. A guest bedroom was decorated in rich tones of spring green and peacock blue against velvety chocolate brown walls. The smallest bedroom was done in a rustic Canadiana theme with red, green and white engendering images of cozy, fire-lit wooden cabins. The living room was modern with silver and gold and touches of deep purple. I think the most eye-catching display was the long dining room table done in muted silver and gold with a centerpiece created using long, twisting and twining vine-like branches that were the colour of long exposed driftwood.

Visitors to the second home I toured were first greeted by the cheerful sight of a vivid IMG_3247orange VW Beetle topped by brilliant orange and purple presents. The large tree in the front room was festooned in glittering aqua and silver. The bright, candy-coloured decor in the living room took its inspiration from the beautiful quilt that the homeowner had created and hung on one wall. A small den featured a smaller tree decorated in the traditional colours of red, green and white. The eating area of the sunlit kitchen was sparkling with silver and gold contrasting with rich blue napkins and candles. The exterior of the home displayed its share of Christmas pizzazz too. A green topiary was accented with sparkling, icy crystals, chrome silver and fancy wrought iron. Large planters filled with evergreens, bronze, gold and copper flanked a side door.

IMG_3281Visitors to another home were welcomed by a cute black bear wearing a red and black plaid hat and scarf and holding on to a pine tree with one paw and a Welcome sign in the other. The circular front room featured a tall tree wrapped in clouds of white, silver and pale blue topped by a white heavenly angel. The dining room table was set with elegant burgundy, white and gold china. Each place setting was completed with the cutest little silvery-gold nest containing three little silvery-gold eggs. A life-sized doll of Santa relaxed in a chair in the corner of the music room. The warm and sunny kitchen table was decorated in a cheerful winter theme inspired by red cardinals.

Another cute little bear, this one sitting on an old-fashioned bobsled, complemented the updated rustic style of the Christmas tree in the fourth home I toured. The dining room evoked the sense of icy coolness with its white, pale blue and and glittering silver tableware and decor. The Christmas theme was carried out to the charming back porch. A variety of accent pieces were artistically combined to produce a “modern” take on a rustic theme.

IMG_3272The final home I toured used rustic style elements that had been designed with a contemporary feel. Large candle holders on the dining table and buffet were modern, stylized silver metal branches. The master bedroom was an ice palace of pale blues and silver. Unperturbed by the crowds roaming through the room, a large tri-coloured cat lay on the bed and attended to its grooming. One of my favourite pieces in the home was a triptych print of the head of a regal looking buck, which graced the mantel in the living room. The Christmas tree was decorated with over-sized red silk poinsettia blooms, which contrasted nicely with the white flocked branches of the tree. The country-cozy upstairs bedroom was the home for two friendly looking polar bears sporting handsome red and green Christmas bow collars.

IMG_3252Even the pool deck outside received a Christmas trimming. A stunning, tall silver and glass lantern contained a display of a snow-white pillar candle surrounded by white flocked greenery and glittering ice crystal branches.

After the tour, I wanted to go home, throw everything out and totally redecorate! My hubby may never let me go on another tour!

I want to say kudos to the IODE for a very well organized and thoroughly enjoyable event and to all the designers and decorators for doing such a fantastic job!

It’s here: The Christmas holiday season in Huron County

14 Nov

goderichparade17BY DIVA CAROLINE THUSS – Don’t get me wrong. I have been enjoying the unseasonably warm and sunny weather we’ve been lucky to have so far this fall but there is something about the holiday season that makes me crave a light dusting of snow, hot chocolate with a splash of Bailey’s and all the Christmas displays that neighbours and storefronts prepare.

There is so much going on in Huron County to get you in the spirit and it all starts this weekend! From the lighting of trees to Santa Claus floats in the local parades to the famous ladies night to get a jump of your Christmas shopping.

Here is a rundown of events:


Christmas in Bayfield

Friday, Nov. 13 to Sunday, Nov. 15

Lighting of the lights in Clan Gregor Square took place last night and the Santa Claus parade got under way this morning. FREE horse drawn carriage rides all weekend! Lots of shops are open for fun Christmas shopping.


Brussels Business Group & Municipality of Huron East’s Brussels Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Nov. 28, starting at 5 p.m.

Come out and enjoy a great family evening. Visit with Santa after the parade and be sure to bring your picture for the colouring contest (ages 1 – 12). Free skating and face painting. Make plans to attend this wonderful evening.


Clinton Santa Claus Parade

Friday, Dec. 4, starting at 7 p.m.

A regular Santa Claus Parade with floats, bands, etc. and the “Jolly Old Man” himself!


Exeter Tree Lighting

Friday, Nov. 20, starting at 6:30 p.m.

MacNaughton Park, Exeter

Exeter BIA’s Exeter Christmas Open House

Friday, Nov. 20 to Sunday, Nov. 22

Celebrate the Christmas season in Exeter! Check out its fabulous shops and restaurants, then head to the Santa Claus Parade!

Exeter Lions Club & Exeter BIA Exeter Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Nov. 21, starting at 7 p.m.

Come and enjoy a parade of lights along Main Street! Part of “Christmas Weekend in Exeter” festivities.


IODE Goderich Christmas House Tour

Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15

Area homes decorated for Christmas are open to ticket holders for touring. Saturday Nov. 14 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 15 from noon to 4 p.m. Refreshments at the Goderich Library. Tickets, $20, available at the Goderich Library or by contacting 519-524-6700.

Goderich BIA Ladies’ Night Out

Thursday, Nov. 19, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Enjoy refreshments, nibbles, free gifts, and in store specials. Why not treat yourself? You work hard all year round, but the holiday season is especially hectic, so treat yourself to a night out on the town, in downtown Goderich.

Festival of Lights Celebration

Friday, Nov. 20 to Sunday, Nov. 22

Let Goderich brighten your mood and gladden your heart with yuletide joy, glittering lights, charming displays and special events during this annual salute to the festive holiday season.

Friday, Nov. 21: Candlelight Ceremony at Lions Harbour Park to remember and honour those who are no longer present with us.

Saturday, Nov. 21: 6:30 p.m. – seasonal music; 7 p.m. Court House Park light displays will be turned on; 7:15 p.m. – Santa Claus Parade beings.


Hensall Kinsmen and the Hensall Fire Department’s Hensall Wreath & Tree Lighting

Friday, Nov. 27, starting at 6 p.m.

Folks gather at the Jennie Smillie Parkette for BCES choir performances and tree lighting. Hot dogs and hot chocolate are served following this at the Hensall arena, as well as games for the kids.


Christmas Show and Sale of Pottery

Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15, noon to 6 p.m.

Studio open house featuring new work in stoneware and porcelain by award-winning potter Robert Tetu. Choose from functional pottery or beautiful one-of-a-kind decorative items, all displayed in an historic general store.

Location: Beechwood Pottery, 44004 Bridge Road – 4 km north of St. Columban (Hwy #8) on Beechwood Line, corner of Bridge Road.


Lucknow & District Chamber of Commerce and Lucknow Kinsmen’s Lucknow Santa Claus Parade

Friday, Nov. 27, starting at 7 p.m.

Main Street is aglow with lights and music as our many floats usher Santa to town. Visit with Santa at the arena and get a free treat bag. Free skating from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the arena.


Shop Seaforth & Win – 2016 Edition

This year the Seaforth BIA is once again holding our Shop Seaforth and Win Christmas promotion, and its gotten the okay from the big man himself (Santa, of course!) to add to the prize pot. Four prizes of $mart Money to be won.

All you have to do is collect five receipts from any of our BIA business members, put them in an envelope with your name and phone number, and drop them off at the tourist information booth in the Santa Mailbox! It’s super easy, and the promotion runs until Dec. 22.

Seaforth Lions’ Santa Claus Parade  

Friday, Nov. 27, starting at 7 p.m.

Lighted Santa Claus Parade.

BIA No Tax Weekend

Saturday, Dec. 5 and Sunday, Dec. 6.


Wingham and District Lions Club’s Wingham Santa Claus Parade

Saturday, Nov. 28, starting at 11 a.m.

Children are invited to meet Santa at the Fire Hall following the parade.


Poinsettia Festival at Huron Ridge Acres

Thursday, Nov. 19 to Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Thursday, Nov. 26 to Saturday, Nov. 28, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Experience the wonder of thousand of beautiful poinsettias during daytime hours, the soothing atmosphere created with twinkling lights, candles and music during evening hours. Greenhouses are decked out to get you in the Christmas Spirit. 47101 Bronson Line, Zurich.




A kaleidoscope of colours, patterns and textures

10 Nov


By Diva Shari Parsons

GODERICH – The Huron County Museum played host to the Huron Tract Spinners and Weavers Guild’s annual show and sale this past weekend. The museum was also the location for the Goderich Quilter’s Guild first show and sale.

The museum’s foyer featured a variety of small weaving looms along with other spinning and weaving tools and materials. One spinners11lady was in the process of threading warp threads onto one of the looms. It all looked very confusing and complicated to me but she assured me that it was not. Then she explained how different patterns were achieved by the way that the machine was threaded, the sequence in which the foot peddles were pressed and the way in which the weft (right to left) thread was used. I nodded my head like I understood but my brain was as knotted as my threads would have been if I had tried to weave!

Another young lady, Alana Maaskant, was demonstrating how to spin wool using a spinners16foot-pedal operated Louet spinning machine, which is also known as a Dutch spinning machine. With the finished spun wool, she makes slippers with sheepskin lining and leather soles. Sounds cozy and warm.

I thought one of the most interesting and unique machines being used was an antique sock-knitting machine known as “the cranker”. Yarn is threaded onto pins on a circular metal tube and then a handle is “cranked”, which somehow spins and threads the yarn into different sized tubes. Monika Kropf was making a thin tube called an I-cord using leftover sock wool. The I-cord will then be used to weave rugs. Apparently these types of machines were often used in the home to make socks for the men who were in the wars overseas.

Along with the interesting demonstration of the use of various spinning and weaving machines, there were also a wide variety of spinners9hand-crafted articles for sale. Rugs, pillows, bags, scarves, slippers, blankets, jackets, vests and yarn, all in a variety of colours and textures were available. One of my favourite clothing accessories was a lovely cream and brown felted alpaca wool collar. I also loved the stunningly beautiful jewel-toned, hand-dyed, hand-woven, silk scarves. For the cuteness factor there was a felted penguin ornament and kits that you could make your own felted ornaments. The most unique product had to be the hand-felted goat’s milk soap bars – whoda thunk??

Along with the spinning and weaving, there were also demonstrations of quilting. Two ladies were hand-quilting a lovely rainbow coloured quilt that was stretched in a floor frame. Another lady was using a sewing machine to piece together coloured squares for a 9-patch quilt.

The walls of the exhibition room were hung with a wide variety of quilts in a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns. My 18-month-old granddaughter is known as a little monkey so I was spinners17particularly drawn to a crib quilt decorated with cheerful monkeys swinging from the trees. I was also amazed by the work that went into creating a lovely reversible quilt with Fall colours on one side and Christmas colours on the other.

The Quilt Guild had created a beautiful quilt featuring different piecing and applique techniques. The quilt was being raffled off with a percentage of the proceeds to be donated to the Huron Women’s Shelter.

All the wonderful hand-crafted items were certainly a feast for the eyes and a temptation to the pocketbook.

Goderich Little Theatre strikes it big with Steel Magnolias

7 Nov


This photo of the cast is courtesy of Heads Up Hair Team, which has done a masterful job of setting hair.

Photo courtesy of Heads Up Hair Team, which has done a masterful job of setting hair.

By Diva Shari Parsons

GODERICH – Big hair and big personalities were center stage on the opening night of Goderich Little Theatre‘s production of Robert Harling’s play, Steel Magnolias.

The evening began with the play’s director, Colleen Caesar, sharing the interesting factoid that while many of us may be familiar with the 1989 movie of the same name, the film was actually based on the play written by Robert Harling who wrote about the true-life story of his sister, Susan.

I was uncertain as to what to expect from a small town theatre company putting on a play whose story was first made known to the general populace through a well-known movie filled with famous actors. However, the Goderich Little Theatre surpassed all my expectations with their excellent rendition.

The stage was set to resemble the interior of a home-based beauty salon. I appreciated the clever use of a lower level for the placement of the stylist chairs, leaving the sight-line to center stage clear as this was where a lot of the action took place. With the exception of a few thematic prop changes that indicated time changes, the setting stayed the same throughout the play.

The brassy, bold and somewhat over-the-top character of salon owner, Truvy Jones, was humorously played by Lisa Hood sporting a bright blonde puffy hairstyle and slightly tacky, curve-hugging clothes.

My favourite actors were Leigh Ann Van Aaken as the mother, M’Lynn Eatenton, and Sherry Marshall as Claree Belcher, the former first lady of Chinquapin Parish. Both ladies portrayed their characters with such natural ease and realism that you forgot they were just the actors and not the real characters themselves.

I was very surprised to see a young lady that I know from my ladies’ fellowship group  – Courtney Henry – playing the part of the somewhat lost apprentice, Annelle.

The irascible character of Ouiser Beaudreaux was portrayed by Annie Coulter. Annie did a good job carrying out the physical demeanor and voice of her character.

Shauna Clark did a good job portraying Shelby, the young woman whose story is the centre of the play. I can’t describe her as being the main character as I found that each of the characters was larger than life and each of them had her own story to tell.

I was very impressed by the incredible amount of dialogue that needed to be memorized and by the almost flawless delivery of the famous Southern drawl.

My friend and I both thoroughly enjoyed this play portrayed with great humour and gentle sorrow. To top it off, I won a door prize! I highly encourage everyone to see this production.


If you go:

What: Goderich Little Theatre’s Steel Magnolias

Where: The Livery, 35 South St., goderich

When: Nov. 7 and 11 to 14 at 8 p.m. Nov. 8 at 2 p.m.

How: Tickets are $20 / $18 for members and $25 / $22.50 for non-members. Buy tickets online or at the Box Office, open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday, from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 30 minutes before each performance. Phone 519-524-6262 for reservations. Please note a credit card number is required for ticket reservations





Mike Janzen Trio delivers fun, sassy evening of jazz

2 Nov

mikejanzentrio3By Diva Heather Boa

GODERICH – Monster musicians. That’s how Al Mullin describes the Mike Janzen Trio, after their performance at St. George’s Anglican Church in Goderich last night.

I don’t know much about jazz, but I’ll take Al’s word for it that these three guys – a piano player, a bass player and a drummer – are up and coming musicians to watch. After all, Al is a talented trumpet player with The Howlin’ Dogs Vintage Jazz Band and has the credentials to make that call.

Indeed, Mike Janzen on piano, Ross MacIntyre on bass and guitar, and Ben Riley on drums have wedged this Goderich stop into a schedule that will see Mike head into Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio to wrap up his latest CD and Ross and Ben head off to Japan in two days.

Mike Janzen on piano.

Mike Janzen on piano.

From Sunshine Coast, with its upbeat sounds reminiscent of a lazy day under the hot sun, through Broadway tunes, country jazz, swing jazz numbers to an end with I’ve Decided, with its touch of gospel, this trio delivered fun and sassy, clever and brassy music. They were precise and tight at the opening and close of each song on the playbill, but spontaneity caught a hold in the middle, for a wonderfully entertaining adventure.

Ross MacIntryre on bass and Ben Riley on drums.

Ross MacIntyre on bass and Ben Riley on drums.

On a makeshift stage in the sanctuary, set against a backdrop of long stained glass windows under vaulted ceiling, they wrung sound from their instruments in what seemed like a million impossible ways. There were elbows running along keys and steel, sticks tapping every possible surface, and sounds I’ve never heard come out of a guitar before. Watching hands fly over keys, over strings was captivating. My heart raced without moving a stitch during some of the songs, as they reached a near collision of sound. Then they pulled it all back. It was quiet. Calm. Settled into a slower-paced classical / jazz piece or a familiar song from the Broadway musical Annie or Mary Poppins.

Then there were the oven mitts. In a bit of a tribute to his childhood piano teacher, who chastised him for not practising by telling him it sounded as though he were playing with oven mitts on, Mike Janzen donned oven mitts and played a fun little piece – which sounded pretty darned good.

The evening was a combined effort of the Riverview House Concerts, which has hosted Mike Janzen at a Toronto venue in the past, and The Livery LIVE series, bringing live music to Goderich. The next Livery LIVE concert is the East Pointers, a freshly formed trio of seventh generation Prince Edward Island musicians, performing on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. at The Livery. For more information, visit online.


Painting outside the lines

31 Oct

watercolour4By Diva Shari Parsons

EXETER – Aside from my love of photography, I have also wanted to learn how to paint something other than the walls of my home. Recently, I had the opportunity to “test drive my creative side” by attending a watercolour painting workshop sponsored by Creative Huron and held at the lovely Exeter Public Library.

The instructor was a lovely lady from Port Albert, Michele Miller, who studied Fine Arts at the University of Guelph. Michele told us that she has been painting since she was a child, mainly using oil or acrylic paints. This changed about 12 years ago after she took a watercolour class and the experience “transformed her painting”. She now paints almost exclusively with watercolours.

Michele began the workshop by telling us that anybody can learn to paint; it is just a matter of training your brain to paint what you see, not what you know, and, of course, to practice, practice, practice!

During the course of the workshop we learned about watercolour materials such as paints, paper and brushes. Michele showed us how to “stretch” our paper before painting so that it wouldn’t buckle.

watercolour2We did a short exercise on “value”, which is lights and darks, by learning how to paint using the “gradation” technique of starting off with the darkest value of a colour and then painting lighter and lighter values by adding a bit more water each time. Michele told us that traditional watercolourists don’t use white and rarely use black. We then tried our hand painting a still life of a coffee mug using the gradation technique. I found this exercise quite challenging as it also involved the practice of painting what I saw rather than what I knew about the mug. This meant that I was not painting stiff and formal black lines but looser shadows and highlights.

Our next exercise involved colour. Michele instructed us on how to make a colour watercolour5wheel using the primary colours of red, blue and yellow. Then we learned how to mix primary colours to make secondary colours such as green, orange and purple. She taught us that warm colours make objects appear to move forward and cool colours make objects recede. The use of warm and cool colours causes contrast and the more the contrast the more stimulating a picture is to look at. Michele also taught us that the use of complimentary colours, those opposite each other on the colour wheel, can really make colours “pop”.

The final subject of the workshop was composition, which is the layout or arrangement of the painting. Composition has a huge impact on the success of a watercolour3painting. There are two basic rules of composition: 1) never make any two intervals or spaces the same, and 2) establish a focal point – the main point of interest in the picture. “The Rule of Thirds” is used to divide up the canvas and establish the painting’s intervals and focal points. A symmetrical arrangement is not as interesting as an asymmetrical one.

Along with composition, Michele taught us how to create a mix of “hard” and “soft” edges while painting in order to create flow or movement through a painting.

Our final task was to paint a scene of sky, water and beach using all the techniques we had learned that day. A happy accident created a lovely texture to one corner of watercolour6my sky. When I was lamenting the result, Michele told us that it was important to try different techniques and that often “accidents” turned out to be something wonderful.

The four-hour workshop cost only $20 and included all the materials. I say that it was a “bargoon” for such a wonderful time!

This series of classes is produced by Huron Arts & Heritage Network and the County of Huron Cultural Services Department along with partner arts organizations: Art aRound Town,Blyth East Side Dance, Blyth Festival, Elizabeth’s Art Gallery, Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, Goderich Little Theatre, Libro Imagine Huron and Worth Their Salt. Funding is provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation so that registration to all workshops is just $20.



2015 Halloween activities in Huron County communities

29 Oct

spooktacularBy Diva Claire Carter

The leaves are falling and the days are getting shorter. While this usually doesn’t excite me much, Halloween changes my tune for a few days at least. It seems that there is more festive fun happening around the county for 2015 than usual. Here’s a roundup of Halloween activities for all ages.


Bayfield Witches Walk

Oct. 30, from 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. 34777 Bayfield River Road. Admission and hotdogs by donation.

Explore the 19 spooky acres of woods behind The Ashwood, and check out Spook Stations set up by local businesses! This fund-raiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of North Huron promises to be a blast! Kids enjoy treat bags. Rain or shine.

The Albion Annual Halloween Party

Oct. 31, from 8 p.m. to close. 1 Main St., Bayfield. Admission free.

Prizes for best costumes, awesome drink specials & Live entertainment by the Cheap Shirts.


Poe in the Park

Oct. 30 (6 p.m.) and Oct. 31 (8 p.m.) at McNaughton Park (from Main Street (Hwy. 4) turn east onto MacNaughton Drive, Follow Andrew Street and turn east on Hill Street). Admission – $5.

Arrive in MacNaughton Park and take a stroll along the trails, accompanied by spooky Edgar Allan Poe stories brought to life by local spirits. Presented by Libro Imagine Huron and Him & Her.   Dress for the weather, and bring a flashlight or lantern.



Pumpkin Carving

Oct. 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Huron County Museum (110 North Street). Free with regular admission or with a canned food item for the Huron County Food Bank.

Decorate a pumpkin for Halloween! Try a variety of carving techniques. Pumpkins are free with regular admission.

Tales for Tots

Oct. 30, 10:30 a.m. and noon, Huron County Library, Goderich Branch (52 Montreal St.). Free.

Looking for something to do with your preschooler? Visit the Goderich Library for Halloween themed songs, stories and crafts. Contact Helen (519-524-9261) for more information.

Spooktacular Halloween

Oct. 31, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Downtown Goderich

Visit your favourite stores in costume for a trick or treat! Children must be accompanied by an adult. Over 51 retailers participating.

Halloween Main Street

Oct. 31, from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Huron County Museum (110 North St.). Free.

Trick or treat at the Huron County Museum, and explore the History Hall all dressed up for Halloween. Enjoy cider, popcorn and candy. This family friendly event is hosted by the Friends of the Huron County Museum.

The Haunted Halls of the Bradley Building

Oct. 31, 3:30 pm and 8 pm, 55 Hamilton St. Free.

The Bradley Building is being transformed into a haunted house! Enter at 55 Hamilton St., and exit at 59 Hamilton St. Note: this event is accessed by a set of stairs and is not stroller or wheel chair accessible.

It’s Halloween at the Legion

Oct. 31, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Goderich Legion (56 Kingston St.).

There’s really something for everyone at the Legion! Meat draw begins at 6 p.m., with prizes for best costume at 8 p.m. Entertainment by Sunset Hotel.

If you need a hearty breakfast after a weekend of Halloween fun, the Auburn and district Lions Club is hosting a breakfast to fund-raise for the Huron County Christmas Bureau on Sunday, Nov. 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Auburn Memorial Community Hall. The cost for adults is $7, and maple syrup is supplied by Robinson’s.



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