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

Showing posts with label Miller Time. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miller Time. Show all posts

Friday, February 16, 2018

Rascal Reunion

Miller Time
The week flew by and here we are at the start of the Family Day long weekend.

This hasn't always been the case, but this year for the holiday Monday all of our Rascals will be home: the older two will make their way back to the homestead from Toronto and we'll have our houseful back.

It's difficult to describe how much I miss my older, independent rascals.  Did I mention they are very independent?  I guess this is what made them truly "rascals" when they were younger, they all have strong personalities and "minds of their own".  Our youngest is still a teenager so we're still in the thick of real rascal behaviour... but I have the perspective of seeing the other side of that now.

When we have kids we groom them to exist outside of ourselves, and it's a long road from infant to young adult.  Some exhibit rebellious spirits that need careful coaxing and understanding from the get-go, others are perhaps much calmer and closer during the childhood years but then snap into a "different personality" during adolescence.
What I've noticed is that the centre of the individual, that bright light constantly shining during childhood, comes back in early adulthood.

So, even though my older rascals have forged lives of their own, and they are independent from us in every way, I still feel as connected to them as I did when they were young children.  Yet I have to exist knowing that they are walking around in the world, navigating all kinds of situations good and bad... without me.
I know that all parents go through this, and this is the end-goal of parenthood, but I still find it shocking.

We try to drive in to Toronto every three weeks or so to see our older rascals for lunch or dinner but we've been unable to do so since Christmas.  So I sent them care packages instead, a box of Clarins skin care and make-up ordered from the website for our older daughter (as a graduate student she really appreciated the luxury of this) and this care package for our Ole Rascal son.


 Ole Rascal famously has the stomach that is an "Empty Pit of Misery" so of course I sent filling foods.  Lots of potato gnocchi, some ramen, dark chocolate and a bit of tea.  He is most definitely a coffee fellow but he does drink tea in the afternoons and evenings.
I sent him some pumpkin seeds which are terrific for sprinkling on everything but are very good on potato gnocchi, especially paired with the sun-dried tomato pesto I sent.

I had to add a book to feed the soul!  Ole Rascal studied physics and works as a software developer, but since graduating University and immediately going into a demanding job he seems to really enjoy reading fiction.

I found some stainless steel containers perfect for transporting lunch to his office, and an extra-large water bottle.  Stay hydrated Ole Rascal!
If you have any care package ideas I could use for the older rascals please let me know.

Today I'll be prepping the house for our long weekend, planning the dinner menu for Monday, buying flowers for the bedrooms, tidying and polishing. My favourite kind of day.

I hope yours is a happy day, which might seem an unattainable objective after the devastating news out of Florida this week.  Sometimes when the world seems heavy and perhaps hopeless due to all of the grim news it can be difficult to find a balance.  These are the times our humanity is in question.  This is when we need to look to the core of the best of ourselves, our love and care for each other, to see us through.
Love to you,
xoxDani

ps I'm going to halt my daily posting streak for a couple of days due to the Rascal Reunion.  I'll be back for Mop Philosophy Monday xx

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Rowing Team

 One of the best things I've done in recent memory was to hire the University Rowing Team to shovel the snow on our driveway and walkways.

More than a month ago now the doorbell rang one evening and I looked outside to find 7 or 8 young people, all tall and with massive shoulder spans, selling a season pass of snow shovelling to raise money for their team.  "Sign me up" I fairly shouted.
It wasn't inexpensive but I knew that for us it would be a bargain: my snow shovelling muscles have gone kaput and MrBP is busier at work than he's been during any winter ever.

I woke up this morning at 7am to a house of absolute silence: Lil' Rascal is at a sleeplessover, MrBP is already at his office, and Scout is flaked out in Ole Rascal's room in a deep dog slumber.
 I peeked outside to find our snow already cleared.  The Rowing Team shows up at about 6:30am if we've had any snow at all, so all is sorted by the time I have my first coffee.

I still haven't seen them in action but my hubs caught them one morning.  He said they swooped in, the team of them, and made quick work of it, effortlessly throwing snow up on the banks with those strong young backs and shoulders.
They're like superheroes!
I leave you with a picture of my neighbour's house across the street, on a snowy but bright morning last week.  Today is overcast with heavy snow clouds and cold, we are blanketed in a winter wonderland.

I'll be home tackling my housework today and then sorting out snacks and treats for later this afternoon: it's Miller Time tonight aka The Super Bowl!  Are you watching?  This is like Christmas for football-crazed MrBP.

Happy Sunday,
xoxDani

Friday, February 2, 2018

Smythson Antonia Wine Tote


I'm just kidding, I don't think Smythson really designed the Antonia bag to tote a bottle of wine, but yet it does.  Isn't this a good feature of a handbag?  I am often on foot and I don't really want people to remember me as the lady with the booze tucked under her arm... a handbag must have the capability to hold a bottle of wine.
This past week I brought this bottle of Pinot Grigio to the little spa I go to for my facials, as a bit of an apology.  I missed my last appointment which is something I never do, in a fog of headaches for a good part of January I've been completely off my game.
As anyone will tell you Health Is Everything, so I've been focussed on wellness in a much more serious way (as opposed to my usual slapdash style).  This means lots of sleep, some exercise but not too much, regular balanced meals (never any sugar) and zero glasses of wine, but plenty of water and herbal tea.
I went to Gentle Yoga yesterday with Laura and even that I managed to overdo, I've strained my neck and woken up with a headache... fortunately the coffee is easing that a bit.  In all things, sometimes we just need to Calm Down!
Speaking of calm, here we are at Friday, any plans out of the ordinary?  I have a Graston Technique massage today for my neck and you'd think it was Christmas I'm so excited.  My Lil' Rascal has a medical appointment today too so there will be driving around.  The cold snap is back which will make Scout the Fur Pony very excited to go on a walk, who knew a dog could love cold weather so much?
I hope your Friday is calm if that is what you need today, or full of beans if it's not!
Have a good one,
xoxDani

Friday, January 19, 2018

Chip Shop Dinner

 I try to keep some items in the pantry or freezer that are what I like to call "cheater food", things that can be thrown in the oven to heat up when I really, really don't feel like cooking.
Last night was just such an evening.  I was out a good part of the day and part of that time was spent at a diagnostic appointment with my new physiotherapist.  I was in quite a bit of pain by the time I arrived home so all of my thoughts around dinner came down to one question: what sort of cheater food did I have in the cupboard?
I bought these tinned mushy peas in the British section of the discount grocery store I occasionally visit.  They have great international foods but it was the first time I'd ever seen these tinned peas on this side of the pond.  Perfect to serve with freezer fish and chips for a cheater food "Chip Shop" dinner.
 It couldn't have been an easier dinner: heat up the mushy peas and shove the freezer French fries and breaded sole into the oven, and just to keep it from being completely devoid of vitamins I did put together a simple green salad.
It looks like I'm in for several months of physiotherapy for my levator scapulae and referring area around the shoulder blade and into the spine.  I'm looking forward to getting better, that's for sure!

Any Friday night plans?  I'm planning to copy my friend SunnyDay and have a date night in with my hubs.  I might have to think of another cheater food dinner!
Cheers to Friday,
xoxDani

Friday, January 12, 2018

Coat and Scarf

 Unless you're doing a Year of No Shopping (and perhaps there is no one writing more eloquently on this subject than Ann Patchett in the NYT) this is a great time to purchase some coats.
I have less clothes now than I have had in many years, and I'm not quite sure how it happened but I've gone into uniform mode, most especially in the cold months.  I tend to wear pretty much the same outfit every day: black pants, very slim and made of a Ponte fabric (of which I own two pairs) with a black crew neck or turtleneck sweater ( I own one of each, it's not a lot of clothes).  Over this I wear a long cardigan of black boiled wool around the house (I am always cold) with Glerups slippers, and to go out I wear boots, a coat and a scarf.
During Christmas week I did some shopping of the sales, buying a couple of coats from Boden (70% off, free shipping, duties all-in) and one from Club Monaco (again, 70% off, clearly this is the time of year to buy coats!)
I also replaced my black skirt suit.  I say replaced but I haven't had one for a couple of years and I don't feel quite right unless I have this type of suit, almost like an armour or protection, in my closet.
A black skirt suit, with very tailored, simple lines, is appropriate for so many situations.
The Boden coats are both in blue, which is a favourite colour of mine.  I love blue mixed with black, and with a colourful scarf the whole concept of a uniform base is transformed.  No one will notice you're wearing the same pants and sweater absolutely all the time, if you have a colourful coat and scarf over top.
MrBP is very talented at choosing scarves for me and when he wants to buy me a special gift this is the route he takes.  This scarf, my Christmas present from him, has a pale blue base with cobalt blue in the pattern and edging.
Incidentally those Boden coats have very fun linings, with piping and polka dots.

I myself am marking 2018 as a Year of No Shopping.  After looking at items I purchased during the last year, and perhaps more significantly items I tried to purchase, I'm fairly sick and tired of the whole online-shopping racket.  I returned nearly everything I purchased: what a waste of time, money and resources!  I've become increasingly picky while at the same time it seems quality has plummeted for many brands that were once my "go-to" shops.  And for whatever reason I am happiest with very few items, and happy to wear pretty much the same thing every day.

I wouldn't mind taking a couple of years off of buying anything new, truth be told.  I'm gearing up for 2020, when I enter my next decade and might be tempted to invest in something special.  What that is yet I don't have an idea, although I do have a style-planning Pinterest board on the subject, which is titled Next Decade Wardrobe.

We'll see how it goes.  It's best to approach an extended period of no-shopping with all of the items in your cupboard that you might need at the ready, this way you won't be annoyed with yourself for a lack of an outfit for whatever occasions arise.  Hence my new black skirt suit, the coats I bought on sale, and the undergarments I stocked up on in December as well (incidentally I was fitted for a bra for the first time ever and it changed my life: I recommend!)

As far as the next season goes, it seems I am an eternal optimist, I was looking at my summer clothes yesterday and I certainly have lots to wear in that category.  In the past years I usually buy new outfits around the time of my birthday in June, and for trips.  Then, due to our short summers, they don't get worn that often, which both preserves them and makes them seem new in my eyes.

How about you?  Are you embarking on a No Shop year?  Do you think it would be refreshing to save your time by skipping the scrolling through of the online shops?  I know my friend Jen is having a No Shop year, anyone else considering it?  Have you read the article by Ann Patchett?

Happy Friday!  My gosh, what happened to the week?
xoxDani




Friday, January 5, 2018

Cinnamon and Ginger

 I really like the colour of the underside of these dried magnolia leaves.  Don't you think it's the exact shade of cinnamon sticks?  Dried bits of stuff in this large vase are the perfect easy centrepiece for the piano in the foyer, requiring no upkeep whatsoever
The orange tree is another story, I had placed it on our bar cart during the holidays and sort of forgot about it.  I'm a terrible plant-owner to be honest, I never should have brought this orange tree home.  I doubt it will make it, the way it's been ignored.  I finally noticed it yesterday afternoon and gave the poor thing some water, and moved it to this sunnier location.  Fingers crossed for it!

I did another gym session yesterday and before I left the house I put together a bit of homemade granola.  I've been trying to incorporate hemp hearts into our diet: they are super high in protein and in omega 3 and omega 6, making them a terrific post-workout boost.  Mixed with some oats and almonds, and eaten with fortified almond milk they would also make for a densely nutritious breakfast.

Homemade granola is so easy, and in my typical slapdash fashion I don't do any measuring while concocting mine.  For this  granola I used approximately 1.5 cups of hemp hearts, 2 cups or so of oats, and 1 cup of sliced almonds.  I stirred through a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and ground ginger.
On the stove top I heated up about 3 tablespoons of maple syrup with a tablespoon of olive oil, then poured that over the lot, giving it a fairly good stir before spreading it out on a parchment lined baking sheet.
 I baked it at 325 for about 15 minutes, just until it was perfectly golden.
I don't care for dried fruit in granola for some reason, I prefer it rather plain.  But I did add some chopped apricots to about half of this granola before packaging that up for Middle Rascal to take with her back to school.  You could also add raisins, dried cherries or blueberries, whatever you fancy.
If you're on the East Coast I hope you've been surviving the Frozen Bomb Cyclone.  Yesterday at the gym Laura and I saw an old friend of ours with her Uni aged daughter, she won't be getting back to school in Halifax this weekend by the looks of it, it seems many flights were already being cancelled.
Tuck in and stay warm and safe Tooties!

Happy Friday,
xoxDani

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sofie

 We went to visit Poppa and his new puppy yesterday and I managed to capture some pictures of the whirling little ball of energy and fur.
 My father-in-law has been thinking of getting another puppy for over a year, and he went about it very methodically.  Sofie is an Australian Labradoodle, a Labrador retriever crossed with a miniature poodle, a cross-breed which originated in Australia (hence the name).
She wanted the contents of this shopping bag!
 We were there for two hours and she ran around the whole time, I think she has "Fear Of Missing Out" because she was clearly very tired too, I kept waiting for her to pass out with exhaustion.
 Isn't she a doll!
As if our day wasn't cute enough already we received a package from the North Pole, oh I mean from Fort Simpson, where my brother lives with his family.
The package contained gingerbread cookies baked (with help I'm sure) and decorated by my three year old nephew.  And some pictures of our cute fella just to pull the heart strings a little tighter!
They've had a lovely Christmas up in their northern home.  I'm grateful for frequent texting updates from my far-flung family, we miss them.
This Christmas week is just flying by... today I have to tackle some housework and the business month-end, there's no way around it.  Then it's off to see our friends later this afternoon for you know what... Miller Time!
Have a really good day with cute things in it,
xoxDani

Friday, December 22, 2017

Pink Piggy

 The Pink Piggy is a revered character in our household.  Lil Rascal's favourite toy was a stuffed pink piggy she received on her first birthday.  It was somehow lost on a trip we took to Montreal when she was four years old and it could never be replaced.  We still talk about losing Pink Piggy!

Fortunately every Christmas we are able to honour the pink pig with the traditional family recipe for piggy cookies.  This recipe came with the family from Austria and it was given to me by MrBP's Aunt.

Middle Rascal has taken over the piggy baking duties in our kitchen and a fine job she does with it too.
 PIGS

1/2 cup. butter
1& 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup & 2 Tablespoons white sugar
4 eggs
MIX ALL
Then add:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
6 Tablespoons grated Orange rind
2 Tablespoons grated Lemon rind
4 cups all-purpose flour, add in up to a cup more for good rolling consistency
Roll out and cut out using a piggy-shaped cutter.

Bake at 400 for 10 minutes
Turn down to 350 for another 10 minutes
(NOTE: this is far too hot for our oven, for us it's more like 350 initially, turn down to 300.  Every oven is different, if yours is a hot one I would go with the lower temperatures.)

While the piggy cookies are cooling completely, mix up an icing of fresh lemon juice, icing sugar and a bit of pink food colouring.  You'll want a nice spreadable icing so just add the lemon juice until you have the right consistency.
Voila now you have piggy cookies!  They are very popular on Christmas Day with a cup of coffee.

We've woken up to a fresh snowfall and it's quite a beautiful (if still dark) morning.  Today is the day we gather provisions for the next several days and I've got a list long as my arm for Costco.  It's going to be a madhouse there.  Thank heavens MrBP closed the office yesterday afternoon so we'll be able to do it together, making it a fun event rather than a chore.

Fortunately I was able to source the roasted chestnuts yesterday and as you can see I won't be running out of them this holiday:



I hope this last Friday before Christmas isn't too hectic for you.  After running our errands today we're planning to have an oh-be-joyful in front of the Christmas tree with a little Bing Crosby playing in the background.  Hope you'll be doing something similar!
xoxDani

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Centrepieces

Mr Cardinal was very popular.
There was a bit of a fight over him actually.
 Yesterday morning I trotted off to Sweet Violets to buy some sort of centrepiece for the table for last night's dinner.
Rather than a single arrangement I really like the look of three small ones lined up down the table.  First of all they are smaller, and therefore lower, but anything in threes looks especially nice.

As soon as I walked in I was captivated because the whole shop was a winter wonderland, and they had some really cute ornaments, which gave me an idea: how about an ornament at each place setting for my friends to take home with them?
The hedgehog: my personal favourite.

But this little truck!
 I took a photo of the three arrangements when I initially set the table with (poorly ironed) white napkins, and later I switched them out for Christmassy ones.  We might as well use everything Christmas that we possibly can!
 How about this cute little guy with the books?

 Here is a picture of the table with the Christmassy napkins.  I like these napkins because they wash up so well and they require no ironing, major bonus.
 The dinner menu was really easy and of course I prepped everything ahead of time so that I only had to turn on the oven and flick on a burner to saute the Swiss chard.
The Swiss chard was really delicious, it's one of my favourite greens.  I sautéed it for a few quick minutes with a bit of olive oil and garlic.
 I peeled and chopped several sweet potatoes and placed them on two baking sheets with olive oil and salt, and a bit of dried thyme.  I shoved them in the oven in the afternoon so that I could just turn it on to 325 about 40 minutes before serving dinner.
Kim was asking me yesterday how I prepared the salmon and I highly recommend this method Kim!  First of all I bought a huge piece, without skin or bones, of organic salmon from Norway, fresh from Costco.  I placed it on a baking tray, drizzled it all over with a balsamic reduction, sprinkled shallots on the whole piece, then drizzled it with olive oil, adding salt and pepper.  I slid it into the fridge where it marinated for about three hours, then popped it into a 350 oven about half an hour before serving it.  It was delicious!

Today we'll be going to buy our Christmas tree and I cannot wait.  Time to haul out more decorations!
Enjoy your Saturday, hope it's fun and Christmassy,
xoxDani

Friday, December 15, 2017

Key People

 This Gold Santa is one of my favourite Christmas decorations.  In fact I like it so much I also have this same Santa but in red (he looks over us in the family room).  I love the bits of tinsel trim on his outfit, the perfect beard and the concerned but kindly eyes.
The truth is I love Christmas just as much as I did when I was a kid.
 We still have some preparations on our list for Christmas, and I can't believe it but we still don't have our Christmas tree.  We'll be going to the Christmas tree farm tomorrow.  I also have a couple of presents to pick up for Lil' Rascal and hopefully I'll get that sorted today.

I delivered gifts to our accountant's office yesterday.  That might not be something most people do, unless like us you have your own business?  We couldn't run it without their help, they are KEY.  They are a lovely family-run business too.
One of the best aspects of the Christmas season is the ability to show gratitude to all the Key People.
 My neighbour across the street and to the right has the most amazing looking house at Christmas time, and all the time really.  The morning light hits his house in such a way as to take my breath away as I open the dining room curtains every morning.
 His wife has been really unwell and I think I'll drop by today to see how they're doing.
 I'll bring a (purchased) baked good of some kind when I do.

At home in my kitchen I'm prepping for a dinner party tonight and I have an easy menu on the go: roasted salmon (we still occasionally eat fish), roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed Swiss chard, green beans and a salad (my friends are bringing the beans and salad).
I was thinking of throwing together a simple apple dessert, I made one earlier this week and it was cozily good.
TGIF!  I cannot believe another week has flown by.  How can we slow down time?  I hope you have a lovely evening with good food and as my mother-in-law would say, an "oh-be-joyful" (cocktail)!
xoxDani

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tipsy Olives

It's such a nice treat to have some colourful flowers in the bedrooms.  It's not something I do very often, maybe a couple of times a year around holidays, but I found these bright blooms at Costco yesterday morning and I thought they were just the thing.

We are hosting our open house drinks party tomorrow afternoon for the neighbours and it will be the first time most of them have been inside our house.  They all know of course (with the exception of the recent neighbours) that we have spent a good amount of time renovating, in fact we gutted this house top to bottom and lived in Gia's apartment across the street while it was happening.

So I'm expecting to give some Five Cent Tours!  I'll get the bedrooms in top shape (not difficult as the third floor is always pristine with the older two both living in Toronto... no more floordrobes up there) and having some nice flowers around is my idea of decorating.
Now I just have to get Lil' Rascal to tidy her room!

Yesterday I purchased my bar snacks for the drinks party and I made some Tipsy Olives.
 Tipsy Olives are just about my favourite bar snack.  They are so simple to make, they are basically just pimento stuffed green olives soaked in the usual brine with the addition of vermouth.

The tiny little jar you see of Tipsy Olives costs about as much as the giant jar of stuffed green olives sourced from Costco ($6).  I bought the tiny jar last week so I would have the ingredient list but I needn't have done, I just had to tip the olives into a fresh jar and splash a bunch of vermouth around them.
Now we have a GIANT jar of Tipsy Olives.
It's Friday and you know what that means... Miller Time.  I'll spend the day prepping the house for tomorrow but hopefully this evening I'll be watching a movie with my hubs.
Watch any good movies on Netflix or iTunes lately? Let me know if you have, I could use some recommendations.
Have a wonderful day with a treat at the end,
xoxDani

Friday, December 1, 2017

Pizza Night

 I don't know about your household but our theme on Friday nights is "serious relaxing" or should I say "exhausted".  I try to avoid scheduling anything social on Friday evenings.  It's always a crazy day at the office for my hubs and of course I'm trying to keep track of our teenage daughter.  I typically will cook up a pizza and this afternoon I'm going to try this Martha Stewart recipe for a whole-wheat dough that can be portioned up and frozen.
It might be nice to have pizza dough on hand for throwing something together for a football afternoon or movie night, especially during the holidays.
Speaking of holidays my subtle attempts at decorating continue...
Kitchen basket wrapped in ribbon.

Greenery in urns on the porch.
I love these old bells, found those last year.
 I sewed up some new slipcovers for my porch cushions.  The fabric is a toile from France that is a sort of white and gold theme of angels on a bronze background.
 To me it screams holiday without being red and green snowmen etc.
How do you organize your Friday evenings? Are you flopped on your couch with pizza, wine and movies as we are?  Or do you head out on the town?
Whatever you do, hope it's a good one!
xoxDani