"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Italy with Friends

The garden in the Italian countryside.
 I have to apologize for my radio silence here on the blog, I don't know what has happened but somehow two whole months have just gone by.  Well things have been unusually busy with our rascal kids so there's that, but I think too once one falls out of the habit of blogging it just doesn't come to mind to load up some pictures and write a post.
I wanted to share a few pictures of our trip to Italy early in May.  It was a special trip for one particular reason: the 50th birthday of dear Laura, one of our best friends.  We had a really wonderful time and I did wonder how it would work to travel as a group of eight friends, not the sort of trip we typically take.  We most often travel as a couple or with our kids, but it turns out a group trip is not just really fun but actually quite a bit easier (anyone who has hauled teenagers around Europe will understand).

There was one bit of technology that we set up beforehand that made the whole adventure quite simple and easy.  I can't say enough good things about the Splittr App.  We put everything into this (our friend David, a management accountant was in charge of it which was an extra bonus) and then when we returned home we just settled up with one another. No worrying about restaurant bills, trips to buy wine, rental cars, hotels etc... we just took random turns paying for things and then "put it in the Splittr" (which became a sort of rallying cry at times I have to say).

We booked a house on VRBO for our first few nights, in the beautiful Tuscan countryside:

 The house was near Lucca, which was one of my favourite places:
Laundry in Lucca

Fresh Veg

The parting view from the wall in Lucca
 It was close enough to Florence that we were able to fly in and out of the airport there and also do a day trip in the city:

Love these bottles.

David! (The other one, not our friend the accountant).

I'm missing the food.
 We spent one day by the seaside near the country house:

 Then we moved on to the gorgeous Cinque Terre:
 The views from the hiking trails were so amazing:

I was fascinated with these terraced farms.

Hanging laundry, not just my specialty but a common activity the world over.

 The loveliest view of all:
If you ever get a chance to visit the Cinque Terre you must go.  The hiking between villages is a bit of a workout but it's fairly easy to see the whole region in a couple of days.
I'll be back with a typical domestic post soon,
Hope you've been well and happy!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fresh Eyes

The azaleas in bloom all over Hilton Head Island
We're back from our trip south which was fun and relaxing for multiple generations of the family.  A week away with both of our fathers was priceless.
We nearly froze on a daily basis, something about a nor'easter named Stella blowing arctic air all down the eastern coast?  We bundled up in our layers and looked longingly at the swimming pool, but our eyes did have some reprieve from winter by way of spring flowers everywhere.
A window box in Charleston.
 Charleston is my favourite.  How pretty is this city? I had no idea.  The day we visited was bright, sunny and cold, but the garden finery of Charleston is permanent and classic:
Old brick, garden urns and wrought iron: Charleston themes.

 The gas lanterns! So gorgeous:

 We had lunch with some super-fun friends of my father-in-law at this really lovely restaurant:
Recommended for the food and service.
After a grey winter here in Canada the bright (if cold) days south were really welcome to our eyes.  You know how returning from a holiday sometimes brings clarity of vision?  I arrived home to see my house and how I've organized it in a new light.  I've been moving furniture, cleaning like mad, and donating a few things.  I've done twenty seven loads of laundry, found the perfect coffee table and bought a lamp for the dining room.
More Hilton Head Island flowers.
I've been mulling over the ideas behind this blog too, and questioning the purpose of it.  I feel that blogs have changed a great deal since I started writing Mop Philosophy in 2009.  Many of my favourites have sadly closed, or moved on to Instagram.  I continue to read and enjoy blogs that are highly personal, and that is how I shall proceed with my own.  I'll focus on domestics which are such an interest and a pleasure for me, even if I am a slapdash cook, decorator and baker.
I hope you've been well Darling Tooties.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

South Carolina Wardrobe

Liberty print shirts, old J Crew.
Kiel James Patrick boat shoes in daffodil yellow.
 I've been very distracted by an impulsive trip we're taking to Italy at the end of April, but in the meantime I'm also packing up to escape the winter weather and seek the sun... a little March trip to South Carolina is just the thing.
As you will know if you are a long-time reader of my blog I have an American father who lives in Georgia.  The Bobster is turning 70 this year so my baby brother and I had a little idea: how about a March beach vacation with Dad?
We decided on South Carolina so we can see the ocean and visit Charleston and Savannah from our home base.
I'm so happy I ordered these daffodil yellow boat shoe from Kiel James Patrick last year, my gosh they are comfy and well-made.  This is a casual holiday so I won't be bringing any high heels, I'm thinking about lots of beach walks, sight-seeing walks, market-shopping walks... you get the idea, there will be walking.
Kiel James Patrick boat shoes, made in Maine.
Kiel James Patrick leather phone case with monogram.
Tory Burch bag.
Le Sireneuse caftan pool cover-up.
 We've rented a house with a pool, and as we are starved for warm weather and sunshine a major item for this packing up is not just a stripey navy swimsuit but a really good cover-up I won't mind wearing for half the day: a Le Sireneuse caftan type cover.
Swimsuit cover by Le Sireneuse, stripey bathing suit from J Crew.
 I think I'm going a little overboard on the stripe theme here!
Striped skirt, shell and cardigan, all J Crew.
 I'm really addicted to all of the pieces I've ever purchased from Saint James, their Breton tops are the best.  They are classic, sturdy, perfect:
Breton tops, bringing three.
 I have this jacket which I think of as my Bill Cunningham-inspired jacket.  I really love the blue colour and workwear vibe (even if it has a pyjama-style piping).  I'm on a search for navy pants or the dreaded denim pants to wear as a basic... it's not going well.
My Bill Cunningham-inspired jacket (old JCrew) with simple tee shirts.
Must find some navy pants or the dreaded jeans to wear with this outfit.
I typically start planning a travel wardrobe with the coat I'll wear on the trip.
In this case I'm wearing a JCrew tweed coat from 2005.
It's really stunning with leather buttons and tie silk lining.
An old JCrew cashmere argyle sweater will be a warm layer for leaving Canada.
 I'm thinking of bringing a bright plaid dress but I'm not sure, somehow it doesn't seem right.  I'd like to bring one special frock, and I have my eye on a vintage Liberty silk dress in cheerful yellows and blues.  I shall keep you apprised.

I'll definitely be bringing a Hermes scarf in a bright, summery pattern along with this old J Crew cashmere short-sleeved sweater. The blues are making me think of the ocean:

One of my best friends lives in Charleston and she told me today they've had one of the warmest winters she can remember.  Music to my ears!  We'll be visiting her and other spots throughout beautiful South Carolina.
Have you been to South Carolina, or do you have plans to go? Any travel tips?
Be Good Tooties,

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sharing Brora Stories

Brora cashmere stole with some MaiTai lavender sachets.
Brora Blog
I'm so excited about the competition that Brora is holding right now, it's fun and easy.  Here's what you can do: share a picture of a favourite piece of Brora cashmere along with a story of why this particular piece has been a treasured item in your wardrobe.  Perhaps it is a cozy cardigan that has been worn dozens of times with your favourite frocks, or a warm scarf that is a constant cold-weather friend, or a polo neck jumper that you rely on to wear under jackets in autumn.

I have many cozy items I could write about (and I share the story behind my treasured Fair Isle accessories on the Brora Blog today, please read that here), but I have to highlight this cashmere stole as well. It is one of the very first items I ever bought from Brora, oh gosh more than seven years ago now!
I remember bringing it to Paris with me in 2010, my very first visit to the city.  In fact it was the centre of my travel wardrobe, I paired it with a mauve handbag, lots of black separates and a white tuxedo shirt.
I've worn the stole at Christmas time with my velvet Brora dress in shades of green and blue, and with navy basics during the cold spring months.  The stole compliments a navy and ivory Breton stripe top beautifully!
This cashmere stole is truly a Brora item "For Life", one that doesn't wear out or become tired looking, just a steadfast wardrobe companion.

I continue to be fascinated by the colour, it is a frosty plum, or a dark aubergine, that somehow seems both neutral and jewel-like at the same time. It almost changes colour depending on what it is paired with.
Brora cashmere stole with a Hermes Maxi Twilly.
JCrew aqua barrette. 
 I love it with shades of blue and purple, as above.  I often wear it with this Hermes Maxi Twilly and an aqua hair barrette from JCrew.

When paired with lavender it almost becomes charcoal rather than a dark plum:
With a Brora cropped cardigan in lavender.
 When paired with a brilliant cobalt blue it looks nearly brown:
With a long Brora jumper in cobalt blue.
How is the colour such a chameleon?  Well, Brora is certainly famous for their cashmere colours, they are layered, complex, reflect the Scottish countryside and stand the test of time.

If you have a piece of Brora that you just adore please enter the #aBroraForLife competition.  You could win a generous gift card or a treat as a runner-up gift.  The best part is that Brora fans the world over will be able to read the stories of other fans of the brand.  I for one can't wait to see the pictures and read the stories that people submit.

Enter HERE.

Have a beautiful day,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Think Pink

Pink pineapple dress on a picnic.
  Feeling like wearing loads of pink to celebrate Valentine's Day? Me too.
JCrew pink toile skirt with a pinky pink Brora jumper.

Brora dress in chinoiserie print with a hot pink Mai tai fur collar.
  That cozy pinktastic fur collar is perfect for a wintry Valentine's Day.
Old JCrew Collection dress in pink brocade silk.

JCrew pink silk taffeta ball gown 2007.
  How about a ball gown?
JCrew Cherry Blossom Dress 2008
  Or a printed silk dress?
 Or better yet, let's keep it simple: pink toes on a beach!

Are you doing anything special for Valentine's Day? I'm going to rustle up some Vodka Penne (it's Nigella's recipe, which you can see HERE).  I gave MrBP a book of poems by Christian Wiman.
Have a lovely Valentine's Day with good things in it.