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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Mop Philosophy Monday

Green beans, local.
 It's pretty wonderful to pop over to the store any old day and buy green beans that were actually grown in Ontario... we have to enjoy our very short local vegetable season while we can.
 Canadians get pretty excited about the everyday things, especially in the summer.  It's like being drunk on weather.  This flower arrangement, for example, came out of our garden and I can't stop looking at it.  I was theming red and white, for Canada Day of course!
Tabs of the greatly missed blog Bourbon and Pearls gifted me this green dress.
That's a Kate Spade necklace.
 We've been partying around here with abandon I have to admit.  My friends had a dance party for my birthday last week and I learned something: at 47 staying up dancing and drinking until 2am requires a three day recovery!
Peter Rabbit
 At least I had my garden bunny rabbit (his name is Peter Rabbit by the way) to keep me company.  It seems every time I look out of my bedroom window I see adorable PR hopping around (eating things he shouldn't be, never mind he gets a pass due to cuteness).
 My rascal kids have all been home for the Canada Day weekend, there is nothing better.  Soon we'll be down to one rascal kid living at home (Lil'Rascal who has only three short years of high school left, how is this happening?) and while we're not at the empty nest stage I see it looming.
Orange tree in the kitchen.
I hope I don't kill it.
 Do you ever throw together stuffed zucchini?
 I think I'll be slapdash with these beauties.  I'll carve out the inside and chop it into bits, then saute with basil, kalamata olives, parsley and pepper.  Add cheese, whatever is lying around, stuff and bake.  Super with grilled chicken off the BBQ.
 We bought some new Emma Bridgewater 1 pint coffee mugs, just the sort of super-large coffee that a person who is not-a-fan-of-mornings prefers.
Mason Cash measuring cups.
 Even though it's summertime I still like to cook up a batch of soup for lunch.  How about a vegetarian Irish Stew?
Irish Stew with lentils not mutton.
My own slapdash recipe is below.
Start by sautéing a chopped shallot in 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add in 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk like mad.  After a minute or so start adding in some nice vegetable stock, about half a cup at a time, whisking between additions.  After you've added about 2 to 3 cups you're ready to simmer your vegetables.  I prefer chopped celery, diced carrots and finely diced potatoes (the holy vegetable).  You'll want 5 to 6 cups of chopped vegetables, then add in some parsley, dried or fresh, it doesn't matter.  Simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes, or until your vegetables are tender.
In the meantime boil up some green French lentils with a bit of salt and a sprig of rosemary, if you have it.  Remove the rosemary before adding your lentils to your finished stew.  Add in lentils until you find the amount looks pleasing, I find my family doesn't care to be overwhelmed by lentils, they like to think they're having more of a potato stew.
Serve with some good bread and a big chunk of Irish cheddar cheese!

Hope your Monday is as good as possible and that you have a lovely week,

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!

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Coffee Table Problem

Flowers in the Foyer

 I am so happy to see spring arrive.  I've been working in the garden, spring-cleaning the whole house, spending countless hours on dull administrative tasks (most to do with the dreaded tax season) and lecturing my rascal kids.  So, all normal here.
I've also been doing a bit of re-decorating, you know, shifting stuff around, de-cluttering, creating room and just generally giving things a refresh.
It started with the Coffee Table Problem.

This is what our sitting room looked like last year:

Giant Barrymore loveseat paired with a glass coffee table.
 We bought a big puffy Barrymore loveseat sofa when we renovated the house in 2015.  Honestly, it was too big for the sitting room and I don't know what we were thinking. We also bought a big round glass coffee table at the same time.  I'm telling you it looked small in the store, but in our house it was far too large.
You can see there wasn't much room for people walking around the furniture comfortably, never mind the fact that the dog is giant and fluffy and takes up so much space in this room anytime we are in it.
No room to walk around, especially when you add in a giant fluffy dog.
This room started to change a year ago when we were given an antique sofa by Poppa Max, along with lots of other beautiful antiques that travelled to Canada on the ship from Austria in 1938.

The glass coffee table looked even worse when combined with the antique sofa.  I started to have serious hatred for it.  We had moved the loveseat downstairs to our family room (where it looks much better) and I became obsessed with moving the glass coffee table downstairs as well.

But what to replace it with?  I don't know if you've tried to purchase a coffee table lately but if you have you will understand how complicated it can be.  First of all there are thousands of choices but many are too large, or too cheap looking, or too expensive, or are constructed of the wrong woods, or are made of things not wood (terrible composites).
I looked at approximately 6000 coffee tables and this is what I ended up purchasing:
It's a black lacquered chinoiserie coffee table with a protective glass top.  I just couldn't add another wood tone to the room.  I was over the whole glass and metal coffee table thing, and so I started to think that adding in another black element to the room would be pretty nice.
 You can see the fireplace front, which is a major original feature of the room, is a solid beautiful black.  I like that the table ties in with this feature.
 The shape is a small rectangle which suits the antique sofa much better than a big round glass and metal thing.
 I was pretty nervous about the painted design on the table because I ordered it online.  I had total buyer's remorse until it arrived.

 As soon as I opened the box I knew it was a win.  I love the size, the pattern, the black lacquer, the solid wood and the protective top.
Coffee table from Wayfair

 I'm madly getting ready to go away again.  We travel to Italy soon with our friends and I keep changing my mind about what to pack up, I'm driving myself crazy.
How have you been?  What are you up to?  Any decorating going on in your house? Spring cleaning? Taxes?
Whatever you've been up to I hope it's going as well as it possibly can.

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.