Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

Last day of Leather School.

The last two major projects came home with me today. A design based on a saddle bag, vaguely.

When I started thinking about what I wanted for my bag I at first explored Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass designs, but decided to have a look at my friend Caroline Shuttle’s website, and was inspired by her stained glass instead. Those on her website and those in my head from my many years of admiring her designs. Thanks for the inspiration Caroline.

My bag, cut out and ready to construct.

I had help with the colour choices and actualizing the design from Sara Anne Leigh and Gayle Campbell, my fourth set of guests. Sara was my graphic designer for Beaches Therapeutics and Plant Life, and I called upon her skills to discuss the design and cut the leather with her many years of precision experience. Gayle is a colour wizard, and I agreed with her choices.

Sara and Gayle

This was the view from the villa that Gayle and Sara took me for a traditional Tuscan dinner. The food and company matched the view.

We got out of town again, and went to Modena in search of true balsamic vinegar, and we were lucky, very lucky. We went on Sunday, the only day available to us, and found:

but it was closed. We rang, not knowing it was closed, they said it was closed, then they opened up for us. So we got our own private tour and education.

The Acetaia is in the attic so that the heat from the summer increases fermentation, and the cool in the winter allows the particulate matter to sink to the bottom of the barrel. The vinegar is moved from larger to smaller barrels as more of it is lost to the gods. It is a strict system, even down to the type of wood that the barrels are made of. Although a lot more seems to be lost to the gods than in making whiskey. You can see the bottles on the table for sampling. We didn’t try them all but enough to get a good idea of the different flavours. What a wonderful experience, and what a wonderful smell as we walked up the stairs to the attic. They are laying down vinegar now that will take 25 years to mature. Long after the present owners will have left this mortal coil. A bit like Capability Brown designing landscapes for 100 years minimum after they were planted. Needless to say, some is coming home with me. Sara and Gayle both do fermented food, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut and more. They will be one of the first workshops I offer in Owen Sound. Can’t wait.

The earth has turned enough on her axis that the weather is finally enjoyable. Not until the temperature came down to the high twenties rather than the low to mid thirties did I really realize how much I had not enjoyed that hot hot weather. That I had to “gird my loins” to go out in it. What a relief to walk around without feeling that I was on a grill when I was in full sun. It is glorious now, September has been largely idyllic. In two days it is fall equinox, so sadly it is getting darker much earlier. Another year is winding its way to a close. I love December 21st which signals the slow return of the light, but that would be rushing things.

Firenze fact

Apparently someone is going around Florence altering the “do not enter” signs. At first the authorities removed them, but now apparently they are going with the flow and leaving them. Next will be tee shirts. A Florentine Banksy?

Italy fact: They still use corks here in most wine and prosecco bottles. Maybe they have a secret supply of cork producing trees here that the rest of the world does not know about.


Big things and little things


Eleven and a half months


  1. Marnie

    Beautiful bags, Maggie! Here’s to cooler weather and new adventures.

    • Maggie

      The cooler weather is glorious, and the adventure will continue when I set up my new home in Owen Sound, very soon. Yikes.

  2. Christine A

    Love your bags, Mags.

  3. Mare

    Wow Mags quite the colour statement! The French would claim the ‘red, white and blue’… many flags are these colours but the ‘tricolor’ is very tied in with their identity!! Is the red bag the one Sally ordered? Did a double take on the picture of Gayle and you… thought it was our Sal at first sight!! Don’t you love the ‘slow’ pace of (some aspecits of) Italian life. They have a big ‘slow food’ ethic. Cork grows abundantly in tthe hills of southern France (or did so 45 years ago) and also in Tuscany (28 years ago) and Piemonte – this summer. They do things on a smaller scale in general though so many vinyards have their own local sources in Italy. I’m guessing you are back with Sal and Trev and starting to pack everything up… good luck with that one and arriving in your new home… lotsa, m

  4. Sara and Gayle

    Wow, those bags turned out stunning! We are thrilled to have been a part of the one bag, designed over pasta and a bottle of Chianti in your apartment. May you enjoy them for many many years to come!
    We can’t thank you enough for inspiring us to explore Florence and many other parts of Italy. What a wonderful time and beautiful memories!

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