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

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mop Philosophy Monday

 We still have many weeks of winter ahead of us so I thought I'd source some beeswax candles: un-fussy,  simple and they smell so good. 
I did find this really gorgeous looking bottle of rose at The Happy Store.   Just looking at it reminds me that summer is around the corner:
Hang on summer is coming.
 How about a celeriac salad?  This recipe is the classic, and you really can't go wrong with Nigel Slater.  Did you know that celeriac is very high in Vitamin K?  It's true, I looked it up.
The ugly yet nutritious celeriac.
 I managed to find an organic cauliflower for $3.79, I know, what a bargain that is these days!  I roasted it in the oven and then swished it around with some sauteed kale and roasted hazelnuts: it was a very good and simple dinner.
Cauliflower, kale and hazelnuts.
 Wondering what Scout has been up to?
Oh Hi
 She has a new best friend!
Farfel and Scout
Well, the truth is it might well be a love affair.  Farfel moved in three doors down which means that Scout now spends all of her time looking out the window, just waiting for him to walk by.
Sometimes Farfel runs away... to our house that is.  

 We took them on a hike and they had a stand-off with another Doodle:
Doodle in the distance.
 Farfel is so soft and fluffy, like a giant teddy bear.  
  He likes the water, isn't this unusual for a standard poodle?
  Scout's having none of that swimming business:
Love: exciting and new!


Friday, February 5, 2016

The Home's Engine

 January was such a busy month that by the end of it my house was a filthy, disorganized mess.  I went back to basics this week with a whole-house scrub followed by a detailed kitchen cleaning.

The kitchen is the engine of the home and family, there's no doubt about that, and the center of the kitchen is surely the refrigerator (as evidenced by the typical magnet-like qualities of the fridge: walk into kitchen, open fridge and stare inside).

A good refrigerator cleaning begins with removing most of the food and scrubbing away at all surfaces.  I usually just use a mild dish soap with warm water.  If things have become really out of hand I might throw a couple of cups of vinegar into the dish water to add some natural disinfecting power.

 As you can see I avoid plastic containers whenever possible.  We are fortunate to have our milk cheerfully delivered in recyclable glass bottles (by Wolfgang of Pfennings Organics) and whenever possible I store food in re-purposed glass jars.  I'm also a fan of wax paper to wrap up cheese.
 With the price of nuts and seeds gone through the roof it's an excellent idea to store them in the fridge- which gives them a better chance of staying fresh. 

As you can see my family are fans of cheese, we always end up with odds and sods which need corralling into some sort of container: I use this wire basket I bought in Provence many years ago:
 There's a whole debate about storing eggs on the fridge door (is it cold enough there etc) but I think it's fine.  I also like to see them lined up like little soldiers:
 When I do a big fridge clean-up I have a peek into every jar and bottle to look for freshness.  If your family are extremely messy sandwich-fixers they are more likely to stick knives and spoons with peanut butter and crumbs into jars and vessels in their haste to make that sandwich pronto. 
 There are a couple of recipes I can pretty much always put together out of the contents of our fridge and pantry.  The first is the old reliable crepe.  These are so easy to whip up and always have the feeling of a special treat.  They are great to serve for breakfast but I also give them to my youngest daughter for an after-school snack.
This is the recipe I use (the basic crepe recipe, this link includes a delicious-sounding mushroom sauce paired with asparagus, there's a good crepe lunch recipe right there).

 To tell the truth I don't even measure it out, I know the crepe batter has the right consistency when it falls off the whisk in cascading ribbons:
I use my flat grill set-up on my stove top to cook them:
 Serve a stack with various jams, maple syrup and for a bit of decadence some whipped heavy cream.
 How about an easy lunch recipe?
I've been trying to incorporate pumpkin seeds into our diet as they are so healthy.  The raw seeds are quite bland so I roast mine in a skillet:
Don't get distracted: they burn easily.
 It took me some time to get used to cooking quinoa but I'm not sure why, it's actually so easy.  I buy mine in bulk from the health food store and I cook it at a 2:1 ratio (two cups of water to one cup of dry quinoa).  I saute a shallot in olive oil, add the water and an organic vegetable bouillon cube, some chopped parsley and the quinoa.  Cover and boil low for 15 minutes or so... towards the last 5 minutes I chuck in some greens, in this case a bit of shredded kale:
 Top with the pumpkin seeds and you have a filling, superfood lunch:
 I garnish it with a bit of pink salt:
If the refrigerator is clean and organized I find my nerves are far less frayed.  How about you?
Enjoy the weekend Tooties.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Palm Beach Style

 If you are craving warm balmy air, fresh ocean breezes, superior window-shopping and people-watching I highly recommend a few days in Palm Beach Florida.

 Worth Avenue is definitely, well, worthy of a stroll.  All of the beautiful things are there.

Nice yellow and pink combo.

Somehow seems over-the-top fabulous and Palm Beach-ish.

This makes me want to go to a Blue and White Ball.

Jen I thought of you when I snapped these!

Superior car-spotting as well.

A few knick-knacks for the home.

Yes thanks.

World's most gorgeous and elegant Italian paper shop.

Even the outdoor lanterns are stunning.

One of each please.

Through the garden gate.
I hope you've been well and staying out of mischief.
Have a lovely Monday,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

From Snow to Sun: A Holiday Colour Story

I have a new post up on Frock Philosophy today, for those of you who enjoy a fresh new colour story please click HERE.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year New You?

 Happy New Year!
I hope you were able to ring it in just the way you liked.
 We're well into the second week and I think it's safe to say that most people's resolutions have either taken hold... or not.  If not, eh who cares, people are far too hard on themselves.  I for one refuse to burden myself with gadgets, insane regimes, "cleanses" or the like.  I think it is a natural time to pull back on a holiday lifestyle because we've run out of brandy and other seasonal treats anyway.
  As far as exercise, well you know my feelings on that: walking in nature for the pleasure of the outdoors is one of the best things you can do for your health, and as far as strengthening and toning muscles, I rely on my daily dose of Miranda.
I do go to a gym as well for a bit of running, and let's face it, mostly for the sauna.  If I was sensible and/or Finnish I'd have one of those in my house.
I have set up a couple of little stations to keep me better organized in the kitchen.  For one, pencils and bits of note paper so that I stop going to the market without a list: that is a ruinous habit for me.  My mind goes completely blank in the grocery store and I need to clutch that list and stick to it so that my dinners are easier to throw together.
Note-making station in the kitchen.
 I'm also cooking through Jamie Oliver's new book these next weeks, it's so good.  This book is based on healthy foods and the recipes have that signature Jamie Oliver flavour.  He also discusses issues of diet and health in a very reasonable manner, with interesting chapters on sleep, sugars, the protein/carb/fat mix, the amount of vegetables we should be taking in each day and alcohol intake.
Jamie Oliver does it again.
 He also discusses longevity.  I've been thinking about this topic quite a bit because we lost Grandma Jean last week and she lived a good long life.  She would have been 94 this coming May.
My Dear Grandma Jean
She was very well-loved.
 The thing about Grandma Jean is that she wasn't exactly a champion of healthy living, yet she still lived such a long life.  She smoked (you can see the ciggie in her hand in the picture above, yes she was handling a giant mackerel and a cig at the same time), she drank alcohol every day (beer mostly) and her favourite foods were sausages, fish fried in Crisco, and ice cream.
I remember about twenty years ago she said to me "the Doctor wants me to walk because I'm fat, but I'm too fat to get up and walk, so hmmmph".  And that was that.  She spent plenty of time outdoors (without sunscreen) but she never exercised a day in her life.
She was happy though, always laughing.  She read loads, she could talk about anything.  She was an American (living in Canada), and damn proud to be so.  She was also proud to be Irish, and when my youngest daughter was born with auburn hair and green eyes she was thrilled to bits: "she could wave the flag for Ireland" she yelled.
She had lots of friends, many through her job at the town library, everyone loved her.  She was honest as the day was long and hated disloyalty and back-stabbing.  If you proved to be such a person heaven help you.
I loved her so much and I'm going to miss her forever.  I'm happy she had a long life but her health problems these last years were really becoming unbearable, it was time for peace and quiet to find her.

 MrBP arranged for flowers to be sent monthly as a Christmas present and the January bouquet arrived just when I was grieving my Grandma Jean.  She would have loved them.

In honouring someone in our life who shaped us it doesn't hurt to try to channel some of their joy, some of their wishes for us.
Grandma would have wanted us to be happy every day, to set gloom aside:
Last winter was very gloomy indeed, as evidenced by these grey sweater pants.
I wore them all last winter, very out of character.
They've been chucked and Grandma Jean would have said "good thing Dani".
 I'll think of Grandma Jean each time I visit a lake or Georgian Bay.
At Berna's island cottage August 2015.
 Grandma always wore lots of blue (to match her beautiful eyes) and white.  I'll think of her when I wear blue in all shades.
 I'll think of her too this week as I pack up to go to Florida with my girlfriends.  This trip does seem perfectly timed, it's the sort of thing she would have approved of: the sun, sand, the water, laughter, boozing and the company of good friends and hilarious conversations.
Already packed up: Brora cropped cardigan in foxglove pink,
JCrew silk dress 2005, recent ebay find.
She'll be with us in spirit I know.

In anticipation of my trip I'm planning to post a packing-up colour story: From Snow to Sun.  These are my favourite posts to put together so I'm going to go for it, even if I am behind on the early-winter colour story I've been working on.

I hope you've been well, happy, not hard on yourself and that you've been having lots of laughs.  Let's have fun this year and do our best to celebrate the important things in life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Gifts of Friendship

 I think one of the best things about Christmas is hauling out the ornaments and all of the memories they bring on.  It's a flood of forgotten moments, people and places suddenly made real once more.
Some of our ornaments have been gifts from friends, others I've bought for fifty cents at Canadian Tire (like that sparkly green reindeer), and then there are the Rascal-produced ornaments (such as the clay tree below).
 We've actually decorated our tree twice: the first time with blue lights which just didn't look quite right.    Did you know there's been a run on white lights this December?  Huge aisles of them were recalled back to the manufacturer and you can't buy them anywhere for any price.
 Little Rascal gave up the lights she had used to decorate her room to help the cause.

 We went to a gingerbread party last night and this was the hostess gift I brought for my friend:
Linen towel for glass polishing and a scrubber.
 Also I brought booze:
 My friends really rallied around me this year and I'm so thankful.  There were some hard times in 2015, some illness in our family that really knocked us on our butts.  Health is everything as I'm sure I don't need to tell you.
Friendship and kindness are also everything.  In this life it's the relationships we build and what we give to others with our own hearts that truly matters most.
Gingerbread house pieces ready to be built.

Have you ever seen so much candy in your life?

Little Rascal's gingerbread house.
 Back at home we're ready for our big Christmas Eve party: 22 for dinner!
 I normally don't buy poinsettia plants but I couldn't resist the dark green leaves on this one.  I found the brass planter on ebay: check out those feet.

I have the presents wrapped and ready for Christmas morning.  Now that our Rascals are older we have fewer gifts so it didn't take me long.
 I'm so excited about my solution for serving the Christmas Eve dinner: chafing dishes baby!
This is the 4 quart for the lemon sole.
I also bought the 6 quart size for the roast beef.
 Care for some piggy cookies?
 We just baked a batch and I have to say it always surprises me how many cookies the recipe produces. We're practically a piggy cookie factory over here.


1/2 cup butter
1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbs. white sugar
Add in 4 eggs, one at a time,  mixing well
Add 1 tsp Cinnamon
Add 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
Add 6Tbs grated orange rind
Add the grated rinds of 2 lemons
Beat in 4 to 5 cups of flour, one cup at a time.
You want a stiffer dough, when the consistency looks ready for rolling you're done.
I typically use 4.5 cups with another half cup on the rolling surface.
(Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is.  Keep an eye on them, you want them golden brown, they are almost a crunchy cookie.)
 Makes 5 to 6 dozen cookies!
When they are fully cooled make an icing with confectioner's sugar and lemon juice, mixed as you go to the right consistency for spreading.  Don't forget to tint the icing a light pink!

Merry Christmas and thank you for your friendship in 2015.
Love to all of you Tooties!