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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.

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.


Annual Bayfield Fall Foto Fest: Your imagination in focus

9 Oct

IMG_2722By Diva Shari Parsons

BAYFIELD – Nature photography is one of my passions, particularly using macro shots. This past weekend I was able to learn some new skills in the area of macro photography and digital video at the Bayfield Fall Foto Fest.

The Foto Fest, organized by the Photography Club of Bayfield (PCoB) and Photo TourTrekkers offered a variety of workshops over the weekend. I chose to attend two workshops on Saturday. Pre-registration was required and I did mine online.

Participants were invited to wander around the temporary photo gallery in the town hall and view the photos entered in the photo IMG_2678contest. There were photographs to suit almost every subject taste from nature, people, domestic and exotic scenes, reality, digitally enhanced artistic impressions, stark black and white to vivid colour.

I had a quick chat with Jack Pal, president of the PCoB. We both agreed that photography is very subjective. One viewer may see or feel something different compared to another viewer looking at the same photo. While it was evident that talent was present in the creating of all the photos, I can’t say that I liked all of them. There were definitely a few that spoke to me more so than others. I like photos that make me smile or say “oooooh” automatically without thinking about it.

My first workshop was macro photography, which is close-up photography, usually of very small objects, in which the size of the IMG_2692subject in the photo is larger than actual size. The instructor was Nancy McRae from Sarnia, who is not only an avid photographer but also a potter, gardener, world traveller and nursing educator.

Nancy gave us a short but interesting and informative blurb about herself and some tips on macro photography. She shared some of her “tricks of the trade” such has carrying around a small spray bottle of water to spritz on flowers and spider webs for IMG_2759a dewy look or applying a drop of thick glycerin in place of a runny water droplet. Dark coloured backgrounds, especially black, make colours and shapes pop. Small
mirrors can be used for lovely reflections. Interesting “modern art” can be created by
shooting multi-coloured paper through a glass plate of vegetable oil and water. She also gave us some great tips on how to avoid spending money on expensive photography equipment. Tricks like using large embroidery hoops with white, silver or gold fabric to make light reflectors or using a Pringles chip tube with one end cut out to fit over a flash and the other end covered in wax paper as a flash diffuser.

Nancy had several work stations arranged around the room and she bade us to jump right in andIMG_2735 have fun experimenting. There were several “water droplet” stations where you could try to catch an image of the droplet splashing as it hit the water. Some of the water was coloured and one was made using cream. A couple of stations had small mirrors that we used to get shots of reflections of butterflies, flowers and jewellery. There were a couple of stations set up with black backgrounds and one with a royal blue background inside a small, white fabric “tent” lit from the outside. I found the most amusing station was the one with the coloured paper, oil and water. The resulting shots made me think of planets in another galaxy.

This workshop was a little challenging for me as my camera does not take different types of lenses. I could only use the macro IMG_2698function on my camera, which does not work as well as an actual macro lens.

Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My afternoon workshop was digital video taught by Tony Shantz, a freelance cinematographer from Sarnia. We started with a discussion about some of the differences and similarities between photos and video. Tony told us that video is made up of a rapid series of still images, 24-30 per second, which gives us the illusion of movement.

IMG_2738Tony showed us a still image of a blacksmith working in his shop. He then gave us the task of thinking about how we would tell the story using various video images. An important step in preparing to shoot a video is to build a “shot list” which is the sequence of scenes being shot to tell that story. He also told us to think about the composition of the shots such as wide angle or close-up and how to use tilt or pan to show movement.

Tony then taught us how to set up our digital cameras so that they could be used to record video images. We were told that it is important to remember WISA – White balance, ISO, Shutter speed, and Aperture.

The workshop ended with a discussion about some of the online and computer programs available for editing and sharing videos.

IMG_2724Although I was not able to attend, the Foto Fest also offered a keynote speaker, a wine and cheese reception and a movie by local filmmaker and environmentalist Jennifer Pate.

The cost of attending the workshops was $50 for one day and $70 for two days and included two workshops each day, keynote presentation and wine and cheese reception.

Next year’s Foto Fest will take place Oct. 1 and 2, 2016.

First-ever Bayfield Volkfest: Love, peace and fun, fun, fun

30 Sep


By Diva Shari Parsons

BAYFIELD – This past Sunday my hubby and I enjoyed travelling through a time warp when we visited the first-ever Bayfield Volkfest in Clan Gregor Square.

As it was the first Volkfest, we weren’t sure what to expect but we were both very pleasantly surprised by the number and variety of vehicles present. We love camping and exploring so our favourite vehicles were the camper vans or buses. A few of them were in a “well matured” state while others had been lovingly restored. Some of the campers featured fun little vignettes complete with funky rainbow tie-dye interiors.

secondleftThere were also VW Beetles, including Herbie the Lovebug Jr. My favourite “bug” was a red convertible – perfect for summer cruising with the top down. There were a few more exotic species present as well such as the VW Thing, some dunebuggies, and an interloping Porsche. My favourite “exotic” was a lime green 1972 VW Karmann Ghia, which had been lovingly restored from the wheels up.

firstrightvwSome of the vehicle owners and a few visitors were dressed as groovy as the vehicles. There was a scent of incense (legal) wafting on the breeze and folk music playing in the background. A few vendors were situated around the park offering health food, locally roasted coffee beans, groovy jewelry, brightly coloured clothes, VW memorabilia, and apparently the grooving hippy’s choice of instrument – the ukulele.

A small stage was available for live music performances. While we were there a cute little girl in pigtails was singing her heart out while accompanied by someone drumming on an amplified wooden box and another musician playing the guitar. In the audience, several little children grooved to the beat including one little girl who twirled a rainbow coloured garland in time to the music.

Festival organizers Ryan Somers, Jen Reaburn and their eight-week-old daughter, River.

Festival organizers Ryan Somers, Jen Reaburn and their eight-week-old daughter, River.

I chatted with festival organizers Ryan Somers and his partner Jen Reaburn, owners of Elephant Juice, Juice and Smoothie Company of Bayfield. Inspired by Bayfield’s Vette Fest and obsessed with VW campers (funnily enough Ryan does not own a VW but he hopes to soon), volkfest4Ryan thought that it would be a great idea to put together a Volkfest. Incredibly, the festival was literally thrown together in about six weeks! Ryan started it off by creating a Facebook event and emailing a few friends to see if there was any interest. Social media was the driving force behind the success of this festival. Apparently classic VW owners are a friendly bunch who like to get together so news of the event spread quickly.

A few area businesses jumped on board. Smackwater Jack’s Taphouse in Grand Bend organized a brunch and group drive. The Ashwood Inn of Bayfield provided the stage and music set-up. Shopbike Coffee Roasters of Bayfield helped to spread the word.

This was a free, fun and relaxing event that was suitable for all ages. My hubby and I left dreaming about what adventures we could get up to if we owned a VW camper.

Next year’s event is already planned for Sept. 25, 2016.

Great Horned owls, frogs and hot dogs draw many to Wawanosh Nature Centre

26 Aug

wawanosh3By Diva Caroline Thuss

NORTH HURON – Packed up the family, flashlights, bug spray and donned rubber boots this past Thursday to head to the Wawanosh Nature Centre for an evening full of discovery for all ages at the annual Wawanosh By Moonlight event.

Located in North Huron, the drive into the Wawanosh Nature centre leads down a beautiful winding country road. It is not very well marked so it was very handy to have my husband with me to help spot the turns. Once we parked the car, we were greeted by staff and shown through the classroom where several artefacts were on display to teach about owls, bats and other creatures in the nature area.

wawanosh1The leader for the event, Erin, informed the group about some crazy owl facts, like they can turn their heads 270 degrees, and although they have amazing sight and hearing they do NOT have a great sense of smell as one of the Great Horned owls favourite snacks is skunks…yes, you read it here: SKUNKS!  Once we practised a few owl calls and refreshed our bug spray we headed out on our 1.5-k hike with lots of other families. There was also a 3-k route for those who were up for the longer adventure.

wawanosh4We kept up with the pace as we explored the woods, stopping a few times to learn about the different creatures in the conservation area that are nocturnal. This was very interactive as Erin got the attendees of all ages involved in figuring which frog call belong to what frog, using our sense of smell in the dark and working on our hearing to have a better understanding of the amazing abilities owls and others have.

wawanosh2At our last stop, we were very fortunate to spot a Great Horned owl perched on top of a tree. We watched it for a short while before it majestically took off in search of its dinner. We tried our best to call it back but many of the younger group members were ready to head for the campfire for hot dogs and marshmallows as a fun way to end the night.

The campfire was a very social event with many breaking out into traditional songs and sharing tips on how to get the perfectly roasted marshmallow. Conservation Authority staff were available to answer any more questions that attendees had. It was a great evening event that had all my kiddos snoring on our drive home.

A nice bonus was the free bowling pass to the Goderich Little Bowl that we received on our way out.


There are many things happening at the different conservation authorities in Huron County.

Check them out:

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority



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