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

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.


  1. Dani, I'm so very sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you. It's fresh in my mind that even when someone is ready to go, it's still hard. Honoring her through leisure and pleasure is wonderful, and I know she'd approve. We had my grandmother's celebration of life today and I am so pleased. I was horribly nervous that we wouldn't have enough people, things would go wrong, and was having nightmares my ex came walking in! It couldn't have gone better and I feel so much better. Though I did have an argument with the resident event planner. Seems to be a theme with me. This woman was mad at me because I was dragging rugs from all over to map a path on the polished travertine lobby. I was so worried someone would fall with the snow today and wet shoes.
    I'm glad to read this today. Hope you're feeling comfortable and wishing you a fabulous trip!
    In conclusion-New Year, same old disappointing me.

    1. Stephen Andrew if you are having an argument with an event planner I'm just telling you right now: your are right and they are wrong. Those highly polished marble floors give me the willies, there may as well be banana peels all over the place. Good for you for saving your guests from breaking their necks.
      What a day you've had! So happy it went well. Thank god the ex didn't show up. Thank you for your sympathy, I was devastated the day she died. I knew it was coming but it doesn't matter.
      We are having a memorial for my Grandma Jean in Amherstburg in May or June, my Aunt and Uncle are arranging a boat to take us out on Lake Erie/Detroit River/into Crystal Bay to visit all of her old fishing spots and have a few beers. We may or may not find a place for her ashes, and the ashes of my Grandpa Norv. They were out on the water in their boat every day, they loved it. They would take me when I was a kid even though I threw up every single time. That's love.
      New Year, Same You? Sounds Perfect to me Darling SAJ XOX

  2. what a wonderful, heart-felt tribute to your grandmother. she sounds like she lived life fully and with tons of zest. i admire that so much and want some of that zest myself, so reading this is actually v inspirational to me. hurrah for her and for you sharing bits of her life with us. i look forward to your color story/packing story as you do an amazing job with those! happy new year dear dani. x

    1. Thank you Janet and I know you would have loved Jean. I actually have some of her writing in which she describes growing up in Detroit, I'm thinking of sharing parts of it here, she was an amazing writer, but I need to ask my Dad if he thinks it's okay.
      Happy New Year to you I hope it's a great one for you and your whole family too XOX

  3. What a treasure your Grandma Jean was and continues to be as a force in your life. Yes, it's time to savor and enjoy life, not taking a bit of it for granted. Wonderful pinks!

    1. Lane thank you and yes she was a force, really the leader of our family. In a family of very strong-willed men with big personalities too, she more than held her own. XOX

  4. Your grandmother sounds like such an interesting woman...we can learn so much from ladies of this generation. Spunky and independent in a time when these qualities were pushing the "conventional envelope" of the era.
    I miss my grandmother and she passed away many years ago but she had a huge influence on my upbringing and I hold her close to my heart...
    Keep those precious memories alive and remember her often.

    1. Thank you Hostess, I know that you are a very involved grandmother which is so wonderful and a rarity these days with people living far from family etc. XO

  5. Hi Dani, Happy New Year! So sorry to hear about your grandma though - she sounds like quite a character, I'm not surprised you'll miss her so much.

    I hope your trip to the sun cheers you up a bit - it sounds like so much fun!

    1. Thanks Patricia she was a character- who could hold her own with the strong male personalities in our family that's for sure.
      Really looking forward to this trip which we haven't done for years, thanks very much. XO

  6. Sorry to hear about Grandma Jean. That is one thing I never really understand and medicine and genetic science has a long way to go. Why do some smoke and live a long life and some others die of second hand smoke? You know what one doctor actually told me - if the stress of not smoking or drinking is bad then might as well smoke or drink bc that stress will hurt you. Very confusing...

    But I do love a saunna and if I could i would install an infrared sauna because it would justify my lazing about!

    happy new year Dani xx

    1. Naomi me too I love a sauna! I've looked into having one put in our house but we don't have the space. If we ever bought a ski chalet it would have to have one though.
      I have heard the same about the stress of not drinking/smoking. Longevity is a funny thing, genetics must play a huge part but environmental factors have to figure in as well? Though in my family it doesn't make much sense, both of my grandmothers lived to be 93 and they were both big smokers, drinkers, had bad diets. I do think that while they may not have lived any longer their health in later years might have been more tolerable if they had been healthier, in particular with diet and exercise. XO

  7. Happy New Year! Grandma Jean sounds wonderful - heard a wonderful quote :"do what you do, do it your best everyday and you will die a happy person". Have a wonderful time in Florida - we have that Jamie book sitting on our counter as well! Anna26xo

    1. Anna the Jamie book is so good! I've been meaning to email you because there was a big commotion in front of 26 the other day with a fugitive from the law, undercover police officers, guns etc. I was having a normal day and then suddenly it turned into an episode of Homeland. The fugitive escaped but not before running over my garden with his truck, taking out our dogwood tree and then destroying two parked cars on the street, it was crazy.
      Fortunately our new SUV was over at the office with MrBP or that would have been taken out too.
      Oh I love that quote thank you XO

  8. What a wonderful woman your Grandma Jean was. You're so fortunate to have had such an inspiration in your life.
    I'm off to a healthy start this year. A lot more exercise at a new Barre 3 studio that I like, and where I work up a good sweat. I'll be popping into the book store today and may grab Jamie's cookbook. I do need some fresh ideas. Happy New Year. Have a lovely holiday with the gals!. I've got San Diego this weekend for work and can't wait for the get away.

    1. Julie I know it I was fortunate to grow up with her around the corner! She was a huge influence on all of us grandkids.
      I would love to go to a Barre studio. Although as my friend Kristy says "going to the Barre is not as much fun as it sounds" hehe Miranda workouts are very ballet based which is why I like them so much. I've considered taking her teaching course for years, then I could open the local barre studio myself.
      Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy San Diego XO

  9. Happy New Year to you and your family, Dani! Your Grandma sounds just wonderful. It sounds like she really lived life to its fullest. What a beautiful tribute. A trip to Florida sounds like just thing to shake off the winter blahs. Love the bright pink outfit, so cheering and I am seriously envious of your figure, must look up Essentrics. xo- Louise

    1. Louise she really did and she had to deal with hard times too, that's for sure, but she didn't let it upset her balance or her view of the world. I feel my strongest when I channel her. So looking forward to the sun and the warm air! Essentrics is terrific and I started doing it years ago to deal with the pain from running, now I'm addicted to it and if I miss one day I feel it. I highly recommend it and most of the workouts are only 25 minutes and very easy to fit into the day. I think you would love it and if you have any neck or back pain from sewing it would relieve it! XO

  10. Your Grandma Jean was my kinda gal and very sorry for your loss.
    I'm loving that foxglove pink...very Dani!

    1. G you would have loved her and she was born in Chicago! My great-grandfather moved the family to Detroit for his work, he did logistical work for Dodge. Detroit was very different back in the day. XO

  11. Happy New Year to you Dani! Granny Jean looks to be such a hoot with her healthy attitude to life. I'm sorry for your loss.

    What a fabulous husband you have arranging monthly flower deliveries to lift your spirits and brighten your home.

    Adore your pink outfit, so fetching and stylish. I hope you a little of that bright spirit stays with you during your upcoming trip with friends. How could it not. You are set to have a fabulous time.

    1. CD She was a hoot it's true. So funny and straight with everybody.
      Isn't my MrBP clever in arranging that, I love it, it is a highlight of the month when the flowers arrive. Thank you CD XO

  12. Your grandmother sounds like a terrific lady: a life worth celebrating, indeed. I should check out that cookbook. I keep seeing it at the supermarket and should get it.

    Is that a Mai Tai collar? Gorgeous colour.

    Have an amazing time in Florida. Looks like you will be missing some cold weather!


    1. Jen it's a good cookbook, pick it up! It has some nice breakfast/lunch/snack ideas too, always helpful with a houseful of hungry kids.
      That is a MaiTai collar good spotting! Love that. Really warms up a scarf and I went for a bright colour rather than a neutral which I'm quite happy I did.
      I will be missing the cold but I'll also be missing a good ski weekend! I hope you enjoy it XO

  13. Happy New Year Dani. I am so sorry to read about your loss, I wish you much comfort.
    I was smiling wide when reading this post, I more often find many similarities between our interiors and I wonder if one day you will see me as a stalker, but seriously I am not!!!
    I have the same kitchen book stand as you do and recently bought the Jamie Oliver "Every Day SuperFood". Just great! I also bought his 15 minutes meals and they are two inspirations when doing my meal planning. I can't go shopping anymore without this plan...
    Have a fabulous time in Florida and I can't wait to read your posts on Fashion (I am completely lost here for the moment as being in a transition phase!)

    1. Steph I think we have the same style I agree! That picture up top of the primula is in a broken Emma Bridgewater mug, I always find an alternate use for them if I can't fix the handles back on because I love them so much.
      Meal planning is definitely key. Then if I go to the store without my list it's hopeless so I have to remember to bring it with me... Jamie's recipes are great but they typically use many ingredients which makes planning even more key I find.
      Thank you so much Steph XO

  14. Oh, Dani, I wondered if that 'fugitive' incident was near your house! So sorry to hear about the damage, and glad it wasn't worse.

    Loved hearing about your Grandma Jean...she sounds wonderfully uninhibited and must have been a real pistol. I'm always inspired when I hear about such long, enjoyable lives.

    Have a wonderful time in Florida. Bet the snow will still be here when you get back.

    1. LocalSue I saw the whole thing from my dining room window, just metres away. It was crazier than it even sounded on the news and when the 5 or 6 undercover cops started pointing their guns I have to say I hit the floor (and tried to get Scout, who was barking like mad, to do the same but apparently she is not scared of guns)-I'm really not used to seeing weapons like that, it totally freaked me out.
      It could have been much worse, the guy was CRAZED, thank goodness there wasn't anyone walking on the sidewalk, I don't think he would have stopped for them, he was driving one of those big Ford pick-up trucks.
      Good point I shouldn't miss the snowy weekend because it will all be here and more when I return I'm sure!
      Thanks Sue XO

    2. Yikes - that's far too close for comfort! I'm so glad no one was hurt, especially after the tragic similar incident a few weeks ago. This 'getaway' schtick seems to be a new and dangerous trend in town.

      On a happier note, if you time things right you might get to enjoy wine on the beach and skiing in the snow within a few days of each other - not quite the B.C. thing of doing both in one day, but not too shabby, either!

  15. Dani, I'm sad to hear of your grandma's passing. It's amazing the influence they have on us, more than our own mothers in many cases. I'm as lucky as you to have had a grandma that taught me so much and I miss her every day. As she pointed out though, it's good to be missed. That ensures you won't be forgotten.

    Have a wonderful trip. Florida will be a welcome break from the winter weather!

  16. Imagine the changes Grandma Jean must have seen in her lifetime! And how lovely that you have such nice memories of her...
    Looking forward to color stories and packing post!

  17. I'm so very sorry to hear about your loss of your Grandma Dani. She sounds like such a fabulous person and a total character, but she'll no doubt leave a big hole in your life. Big hugs across the internet.
    Have to get my hands on that Jamie book. I watched a program of his on the plane ride home "Jamie's sugar rush" or something like that. It was very interesting. While I've already heard a lot of the sugar messages it was confronting seeing that so many children are having teeth removed or being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because of the amount of hidden sugar in processed foods. Has made me want to redouble my efforts at home, and that book looks right up my alley.
    Love the flowers from Mr BP - such a great gift! And also love the pink. I've also done my regular New Year clean out too of the wardrobe and cupboards. I seem to start pulling down the Christmas decorations and that then gets me in the mood to purge a few cupboards of things after. So far the laundry has a huge tidy up, every child's bedroom and our dressing room have been done. Feels so good! xx

  18. Gosh what a lovely New Year post and I am sorry I didn't read it sooner. You are so right Dani, the key to happiness is really not being so hard on ourselves and enjoying each day like your dear grandma. I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a ball and so much like my dear grandma. Mine is 98 and no she never exercised, but did walk as long as she could. Mostly she was like your grandma and loves people and life. It's all in your outlook really! She always tells me to have fun and enjoy each day and I do try. I hope you are having or had a good trip to the sun and now I am popping over to read about the frocks! Thank you Dani, always a dose of healthy thinking here and good thoughts. xoxo Kim

  19. Hi Dani,

    I can't believe that we are already 3 weeks into the new year! What a beautiful tribute to your grandma. I'm very sorry for your loss. What a blessing to have her spirited inspiration and joie de vivre as a foundation in your life.

    Hope you had a wonderful time in Florida. The pink dress and cardigan are very flattering and seem perfect for winter getaway.

    I'm curious to hear more about the Jamie Oliver cook book. I am very big on delicious super foods and trying to eat a "rainbow" of vegetables every day. It sounds silly, but the more colors (crunchy veggies) I can eat in a day, the less trouble I get into with my sweet tooth.

    A very happy, healthy and joyous New Year to you and your family.