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

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Organized Calm

 What could be more calming than an organized pantry cupboard filled with food stored in gleaming glass jars?  At the end of July I was feeling overwhelmed with a general feeling of mess and disorder, something had to be done.  I started with the pantry and then just kept going through the house, one room at a time... success builds on itself is my working theory.
 You'll be pleased to know I found an excellent recipe for spiced walnuts.  I omit the sugar too so the only sweetener to them is a bit of honey.  The recipe is here... try it with double the honey and no sugar, it works very well.
Look, spicy walnuts.
 They are so delicious in a salad with green leaf lettuce and blue cheese.  I know, not everyone is a blue cheese fan, you could try it with goat cheese, or a sheep's milk feta would be nice too.
This is my favourite salad.
 Even though it's hot as Hades I've been cooking up a storm:
 How about this fetching little brass planter?
Bought it on Etsy last winter, threw some potpourri in it.
 With all of my crazy hungry Rascals I figure I've baked at least 9000 batches of chocolate chip cookies.  Taking them out of the oven though, smelling so wonderful, it just never gets old.
I'm trying Stephen Andrew Jones' recipe next.
 Anyone else have a pie dragon hanging around?  This one was my Grandma Jean's, it's a treasure:
 I bought this wonderful new edition of one of my favourite children's books when we were at Stratford with our friends Ade and Tony.  Look at the cover:
 We're on holiday this month but that's not stopping me from looking forward to September.  I'm going to embrace cooking, baking, organizing and polishing just as September deserves.
Ready for some cooking.
 It wouldn't be August without baskets full of zucchini everywhere, and that old standby Zucchini Crusted Pizza by Mollie Katzen continues to be an A+ recipe year after year.
 Here's the link to the zucchini fabulousness.  I omit the flour and use ground almonds to make it gluten-free.

Ready for some toppings.

I hope you're having a lovely August with many moments of feeling either organized or calm or ideally both at the same time.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Picnic champers.
 After some faffing around with various settings on the blog I'm back to publishing it publicly.  I do have a comment moderation on, something I've never done and should have thought of earlier, after all it will let me control content and keep any inappropriate comments off the site.  We aim for The Good Life and we don't want a random bozo here or there upsetting us.
How's your summer going?  We've managed to fulfill our goal of picnics, picnics, picnics.
 We saw these ducks on our way to our favourite picnic spot in Stratford and they won me a bet.  I said "Make Way For Ducklings", and MrBP said "we're not in their way", to which I replied "referencing Robert McCloskey of course", to which MrBP replied "that's not the title".

Whipping up any quinoa salads lately?

 Laundry is so much more pleasant a task in the summer.  Drying it outside, contemplating the clouds in the sky while pegging it to the line...
Hanging laundry: such a soothing task.
 I don't know why I ever stopped making risotto, it's such a delicious dinner.  My stand-by is mushroom, with some red peppers and maybe parsley chucked in towards the end of cooking.
Risotto fixings. Strawberries and cream for dessert.
 I found an old French asparagus serving dish and it had to come home with me:
Bought it at Pariscope.
 My garden has gone mad this year:
Lovage, which fortunately I harvested before the dry heat set in.
 Anyone else have a fondness for folding tea towels?
How about a refreshing yet filling new potato salad?  Add shallots, lots of lemon juice, capers and steamed green beans and you will have this:

Lunch on the porch.
I'm headed south to my hometown for a bit but please leave a comment, I'll read them and respond when I return.
Be good but have fun too. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Frock Philosophy

JCrew Suiting Dress with Hermes Mythes et Metamorphoses
I have a new post up on Frock Philosophy today, it's all about the structured dress. XOXdbp

Friday, April 15, 2016


Antique Paisley I bought from Ellie's shop.
I'm thinking of Ellie these days.  I know you know her, she writes one of the best blogs on the internet.
Chinoiserie wall sconces I bought from Ellie's shop.
I often fill them with fresh rosemary.
 Ellie has been such an influence on so many people.  Her humour, her good taste, her bravery, the love she has for her family and friends, her kindness, her loyalty... all of these qualities, she absolutely embodies them.
French serving pieces I bought from Ellie's shop.
 I've bought a few things from her shop that really completed the decoration of my house.  Sometimes I look around at these few items and I feel like Ellie has been here, with her magic touch of great taste, her intolerance for the useless, for the un-beautiful.
Brass candle-trimmer I bought from Ellie's shop.
The beautiful Vintage Contessa wrote a lovely post about Ellie, detailing what we can do as her admirers and friends.  She's auctioning off a Chanel bag (fabulous!) that was donated by a reader (the lovely Carol).  All proceeds will go toward Ellie's care.  I didn't bid on the bag but I donated directly to Ellie's fund, all of the links are on the Contessa's post HERE.
Love and hugs,

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

Wishing you a lovely Easter Sunday whatever you're up to.
It is Spring here today, we've just emerged from an intense ice storm, all has melted and the neighbourhood feels like a fresh beginning.
Peace and love to you today,

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Cleaning

Cleaning Bucket

Trusty Supplies
De-cluttering is on the agenda.
I've managed not to kill this plant!
Now that spring is here I'll bring another plant home and cross my fingers.
Time to take stock of bathroom towels.
I also need to sew up new towels for the kitchen.
I have to get the laundry room organized and in good shape.
Why does so much clutter end up in here?
My clothesline fell down during a winter storm.
A top priority is to get that fixed and soon.
Then I can dry the linens outside once more, can't wait, there's nothing like sun and wind for freshening.
Meal planning is key!
It's been a busy winter and I'm feeling off my game with dinners.
I have to scrub the whole kitchen and get a good meal plan on the go.
Happy Spring!
I'm trying to motivate myself with visuals and a list this morning, I've set aside the whole next week for spring cleaning.
I have so much to do so I think I'd better start at the top of the house and work my way down.  I'm going to thoroughly clean and de-clutter every room in the house with particular attention paid to the bathrooms, the kitchen and the laundry room.
How does my laundry room end up in such a mess?  It's the dumping ground for all of the unwanted things apparently.
I've been in a real rut with family dinners these last weeks, I need to get my cookbooks out and make some lists of meals and re-stock the pantry.
Hostess asked me for some of my favourite recipes and I'm happy to oblige, it's one of the posts I'll work on this week...
Have you helped your parents down-size to a smaller house or an apartment?  We did that this past winter for my in-laws and the whole process really knocked home the fact that it's much easier to keep things clean and tidy with less stuff around.  It's that old rule that I must remember: keep nothing that is not useful or beautiful.  We just finished the clear-out of their house yesterday so this first day of spring is perfect timing to start a big clean of my own.
Wishing you a happy, beautiful Spring!  (Or a wonderful Autumn if you are in Australia.)
Any big cleaning plans up your sleeve?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Decorating a Seasonal Rental

Wool cushion from Pottery Barn, wool throw vintage.
 We've been busy these last few months travelling back and forth to a ski chalet near Georgian Bay.  We didn't buy a vacation home, we rented it for the winter season.  Why would we do this?  Well, to ski at a club we're trying out for one, but we wanted to try to holiday differently this year: rather than one or two vacations we've been able to get away every weekend if we chose.
If you are thinking of investing in a vacation property (and judging from the activity in this category in the area we rented this is a very popular purchase these days) I would highly recommend renting for at least a couple of seasons- or maybe for always.  An additional property is very expensive to maintain, is a constant worry (is it being broken into while you're not there etc, mechanical things breaking down etc) and if you ever need/want to sell it you'll be paying capital gains tax on the selling price: what a commotion.
We were excited about our rental (especially considering we weren't very familiar with the area) and we spent the first weekend in December moving in our own linens and kitchen things.  If you're going to be using a place for just inside of four months it can be much more pleasant to fluff it up with your own items, your own style.  Rentals are typically a bit utilitarian when it comes to bedding and kitchen items, you'll feel more at home with your own little "extras".

I have a love of old wool blankets and I've collected them over the years, typically from Etsy.  They came in handy at the chalet in the living area, I threw them over the existing furniture which warmed up the room but also protected the furniture from spills and mess.

This black and white wool blanket from Iceland covered a chair.
This one is my favourite, it's from the 1970's.
 I brought in plenty of pillows to throw around, these linen pillow covers from Pottery Barn with the ruffled edges are my favourite.  I have five of them so we ended up using them all over the chalet:
Linen pillow cover Pottery Barn.
 We really enjoyed the fact that the chalet was quite different from our house, very open-concept with a wood-burning fireplace and plenty of space for large gatherings.  High ceilings and huge windows made it feel really spacious and we loved the views of the water and the forest.
Large windows looking out over a forest.
 I was very focussed on fluffing up the beds in the chalet.  I have several quilts from LLBean that are cozy and evocative of the 1970's-1980's.  I put one in each of the four bedrooms.
Rentals rarely have mattress pads on the mattresses, and I'll tell you, as far as I'm concerned mattress pads are KEY.  I buy them from Lands' End typically, and I go for the ones with the highest cotton content.
I then layered the beds with flannel sheets and vintage wool blankets, all topped off with one of the quilts.
 They definitely do not make wool blankets like they used to.  I have a couple from northern Europe that I found on Etsy, they are literally nearly an inch thick.  They also have wonderful patterns and colours:
Thick wool blankets.

 Most of the flannel I own is from Lands' End, and some of it I had embroidered with cute chalet-style monograms:
Cute trees on bedsheets.
Snowshoe-themed flannel sheets from a discount store.
 I brought lots of baskets to warm things up with their texture but also to help keep us organized.  We typically had friends and family with us which meant that we had plenty of recycling to do (wine and beer bottles hehe) as well as lots of supplies coming in to feed the crowd.
Basket for recycling.
 There was a large square table in the open living area that was perfect for meals, I warmed it up with a tablecloth that had belonged to my in-laws.  They used it at their ski chalet so the cloth itself holds many happy memories.  I also love the colours and 1970's-feel of the loomed texture:
The tablecloth warming up the dining area.
 The kitchen was quite small and somewhat primitive: no dishwasher and limited cupboard space.
 I brought our own dishes in a white, yellow and blue colour scheme as well as a good coffee maker, electric milk frother for the coffee (that was a popular item) and an electric slow-cooker.
 We typically had plenty of snacks and late dinners, usually out of the slow-cooker.
Snacks.  Yup chips and dip.
 Even though I am a big fan of cloth napkins this was not the place for it, I bought colourful paper napkins:
More snacks, and paper napkins.

A typical dinner, chicken from the slow cooker with vegetables.
 I really enjoyed cooking at the chalet, I just did lots of easy meals like minestrone, here ready to go in the slow cooker with a wedge of reggiano thrown in for flavour:
 Lemon garlic chicken was another favourite dish:
The slow cooker insert with chicken ready to start cooking.
I liked this one because the insert was stove-top safe.
This allowed me to braise things before the slow cook process began.
 In the early winter we went for plenty of walks in the area:
 Scout loved the chalet (it was dog-friendly, that was key for us).  She especially loves the snow, she was in heaven on those chalet weekends.
Scout living the life.
 Our rascal kids did lots of skiing with MrBP:
Ole Rascal and MrBP ready to head down the black diamond slope.
 The evenings were cozy by the fire and felt especially good after the fresh air and exercise of the day.
Scout loved lying around by the fire:
Scout holding hands with Rascal G.
 It was a busy winter going back and forth, this is one of the reasons I haven't had much time for the Mop Philosophy blog.  I have our chalet extras back home and stored away in a trunk for the next time we rent for the season, probably not next year but maybe sometime in the future.

Have you ever rented a vacation home for a season, be it winter or summer?
Do you have a dream of owning a cottage or a chalet in the woods?