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

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Holy Vegetable

 I brought home a giant bag of potatoes (the Holy Vegetable) this week in order to celebrate St. Patrick's Day properly.

I'll be cooking a colcannon dish, an old favourite around here.  Back in 2013 I posted on this dish, and this is the recipe I linked to.

These days I use olive oil and some reserved potato water for mashing, to keep it plant-based (and rather than mash the potatoes I whip them up in my KitchenAid mixer).  I increase the amount of kale I use as well, and I'll give it a good saute before adding it to the mashed potatoes.
We live in a University town and the mischief level will be high tomorrow.  The weather is meant to be fine which may well add to the hijinks.

We'll be going for a walk and dreaming about spring.  And then fortifying ourselves with the Holy Vegetable, of course!

Happy St. Paddy's Day and have a great weekend.  I'll be back for Mop Philosophy Monday, see you then.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


 Exactly one year ago we were in Savannah, Georgia for a little day visit.

My Dad had arranged a horse-drawn carriage ride for our group, and we huddled together inside the carriage under blankets.  It was a bright, clear day, but really cold.

First we stopped for coffee, and it was clear that Savannah took the upcoming St. Patrick's Day festivities very seriously.

 It was difficult to take pictures from the carriage, but I think you can spot the fountain spouting green water, below:
 The houses in Savannah are completely charming, but I was most enchanted by the trees and greenery, and the look of the branches and leaves against the buildings.

 Wish we were there now!
Have you been to Savannah?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Toast and Honey

 The first thing I saw when I entered the grocery store yesterday morning was a potted hydrangea so perfectly pink and fresh looking that it looked like Spring itself.

I brought two home with me, one for the foyer and one for the dining room.
 One unfortunate thing about this flu that we've all had is that it is a real appetite-killer.  This is not helpful when it comes to recovering, it just adds to a weak feeling in the body.

As I walked around the grocery store picking up this and that I just felt ill at the thought of eating lunch or dinner, or anything really.
Then I thought, no, toast and honey will be just the thing.

Years ago we spent a night travelling north of Toronto to attend a dinner at Eigensinn Farm, the home of the famous chef Michael Stadtlander.

It was truly an extraordinary evening, made perhaps more so by the care and generosity of his wife Nobuyo, who held six month old Lil' Rascal at various stages during the evening so we could enjoy the seven course dinner!

The next week we were home in Guelph at a cocktail party when our friend John asked me about the night at the farm.  So of course I went into (at times rapturous) detail about the extraordinary food, and the atmosphere, and the presentation, until suddenly John's eyes glazed over completely as he blurted out:
"Yes, but sometimes don't you just want toast and honey?"
Quite right!
This toast and honey combination, above, gets all of the credit for bringing my appetite, and therefore my health, back in line.
I think I'll have it again this morning.
Have a healthy, energetic day today.  Maybe you'll have toast and honey?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Black Bow

 My most calming hobby has to be visiting my Pinterest boards and I've certainly been doing plenty of this the past week.
I woke up this morning feeling like I've turned a corner, perhaps toward health?  Fingers crossed but I'm really looking to forward to getting back on my cooking game for one.

Today I thought I'd share some of my favourite images from my Winter Pinterest board.  There is a recurring theme to the board that I only noticed yesterday... and that is the black bow.

I have a black silk charmeuse hair ribbon just like the one in the top photo, but of course I can never get it to stay tied around my hair.  It must need loads of pins to keep it in place?

Chanel 2015
 This gorgeous thin black bow, set off against quilted ivory fabric and a pearl choker necklace, is from Chanel's 2015 runway.

The classic bow blouse in black: my favourite!  I have this blouse from Tory Burch and year after year I wear it, it's a lovely warm silk and it layers well too.
Tory Burch silk bow blouse.
 How about a vintage black lace dress tied with a silk bow at the bodice?  This one is 1960, Christian Dior.
 You may have heard of the Canadian coat brand, Sentaler.  They have become famous in the last couple of years mostly due to being worn by certain women named Kate and Meghan.

I have this very simple Sentaler coat that I bought many years ago (before their prices went through the roof).  It is snug and warm and it ties at the front with a big black bow.
Sentaler coat in black.
Do you organize your wardrobe using Pinterest?
My seasonal boards are set up with the items I actually own and wear, with some inspiration thrown in there as well.  When I do a closet edit (as I did this past weekend) I also do a Pinterest board edit, removing the items I've removed from my wardrobe.
It's a great tool for wardrobe organization!

I hope you have a great day today, healthy and happy.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mop Philosophy Monday

 Rye bread has been top of the menu at our house lately.  It's very difficult to cook when under the weather with The Plague, I'm sure we can all agree?  Bread and soup are just the thing.
 You may not know this but MrBP is actually a really good cook, I'd go so far to say that he's A Natural.  He threw together a pizza for us on the weekend, it was delicious.

 We can now source pizza dough from Polestar Hearth, it's so good I may never make my own again.
Capers, Artichokes, Sun-dried Tomatoes
+Polestar Hearth Pizza Dough=Perfection
 Do you read many print mags these days?  I still subscribe to House Beautiful, and we get other things like newsletters from the Bruce Trail association and alumni mags.
 I can't help but find them cluttery, they never last long on the coffee table before being thrown into the recycling.
I do share the decorating mags with my girlfriends though.
My neighbour Eileen heard I was sick and brought me some flowers.  Wasn't that kind of her?
A little kindness goes a long way I think.
I hope someone is kind to you today, and that you avoid The Plague at all costs,

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Boat Shoes New Orleans

 For once in my life I'm going to attempt to be sensible by beginning a travel colour story with some practical, super-comfortable, weather-resistant shoes.

These black boat shoes are from Kiel James Patrick.  You might remember that I have discussed this brand before, there's so much to admire about this American company (you can read about them here).

They manufacture their boat shoes in the US, and they are the most rugged, well-made shoes I have ever come across.  In fact I like them so much that I bought a pair for MrBP and another pair as a birthday present last summer for Poppa.

I wore these shoes all over Italy last spring, including many days spent hiking the Cinque Terre, at times in the pouring rain and after guzzling back gallons of wine with my friends.  I brought them to Newfoundland last summer and wore them to hike the East Coast trail, sometimes in muddy, rocky, sliding conditions.  They are made for rain and slippery terrain, and yet somehow manage to be quite darling with dresses and skirts.
I am noticing that they are not on the KJP site just now but I've sent an email to the company inquiring on their whereabouts.  I really hope they haven't stopped manufacturing them, I'll keep you posted!

Back to our travel colour story for New Orleans, beginning with the black boat shoes and working out from there...
If you read my post yesterday on the Dreaded Bathing Suit Search you'll know that I've organized a birthday present for myself from MrBP, aren't I helpful? ;)  Here it is in its entirety:

Birthday Present Outfit
 When I chose the swimsuit from HunzaG I knew I wanted a new pair of espadrilles to wear with it, and some sort of cover-up or dress that I could wear over the bathing suit on my way to the pool.
Years ago I owned several pairs of espadrilles but the ones with the low heels I wore until they were ruined, and the ones with the too-high heels I could never wear at all.  These espadrilles from Castaner are the 80mm heel height I prefer (the style is called Carina).

The dress is one I found under the "beach cover-up" category but as you can see it is quite versatile and looks like more of a day dress than a cover-up.  It is by Mara Hoffman, and made in the US out of very structured hemp fabric.  I've never owned a dress made out of hemp before and it is a surprisingly fine, almost polished fabric, very like a high-quality linen.

This dress really fills a gap in my summer wardrobe, I wish I could find more black dresses made out of cool fabrics and in a structured yet not constrictive fit.
Mara Hoffman "Ingrid" hemp dress.
 I should be able to get two or three different wears out of this dress on our four-day trip.  I can wear it with the black boat shoes, or with the espadrilles, depending on our activities and on the weather conditions (espadrilles by their nature demanding a dry, sunny day).

So, I'll be bringing the black Mara Hoffman dress and two pairs of shoes, but what about a light rain jacket?  Many of you suggested just such an item and fortunately I have the perfect one.
Saint James raincoat.
Two pairs of shoes: boat shoes and espadrilles.
 This Saint James linen raincoat is super packable and lightweight, in fact it folds up easily to be stored in my tote bag, it is rain-repellant (even though it is 100% linen, how did they do that?) and it  can be worn on a very hot day without causing overheating.
Saint James raincoat in ivory.
Water-repellant linen.
I'll bring two bags with me, one a black tote from Kayu and the other a straw clutch bag with an optional long strap, also from Kayu.
Kayu bags,
 In looking through my closet I discovered a very sensible cotton twill skirt from Horse Atelier that is perfect on a warm, humid day.  It doesn't wrinkle and it's not overly warm to wear.  I have a Saint James shirt that I love wearing with it, in an ivory and dark red stripe:
Saint James stripey shirt.  

Horses Atelier skirt.
Saint James stripey shirt and raincoat.
Black boat shoes.
 I loved this dark red colour that Horses Atelier featured in their collection last summer.  They do wonderful linen blouses that cover the arms and are very cooling with their swingy style.
Horses Atelier dark red linen blouse.
 If you're not familiar with the Horses Atelier brand I recommend them, they use terrific natural fabrics, their tailoring is lovely and they manufacture everything in Toronto.  You can see their site here.

I like both Kayu bags with the dark red colour, and while I will use the black one when wearing the boat shoes, the smaller red bag will be handy to wear out for dinner, paired with the skirt, the linen blouse and the espadrilles.

 In total this colour story only involves three outfits, a skirt and two different shirts to wear with it, and a dress that can be worn very casually with the boat shoes or slightly more dressed up with the espadrilles.
 I don't mind wearing outfits on repeat while on holiday, and I always remind myself that if something is soiled I can send it out to be cleaned.  Most hotels we've been to offer a same day or one day dry-cleaning service.
Straw hat from JCrew.
Saint James stripey shirt.
Black boat shoes from Kiel James Patrick.
Oh, and I shouldn't forget my straw hat.  While this takes up considerable room in my carry-on it's definitely a must, I burn something terrible these days (why? older skin plus weakening ozone?) and I'll need to wear it out in the sun at all times.
So there you have it, a sensible (for me) travel colour story featuring a minimal amount of items.  How do you like this one?
Hope you have a really lovely Sunday.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Dreaded Bathing Suit Search

 I'm very grateful to all of you who commented on my recent post Blue and Green New Orleans.
Due to the excellent advice you left in the comments I've been re-thinking the entire colour story for that trip.

 This past week that has been a great little activity for my mind,  I've been so ill with a winter virus and it's been a really wonderful distraction.

I knew pretty much right away that I'd have to go in a completely different direction as far as the New Orleans colour story was concerned.  I've decided to start again, and to begin this time with the shoes.
I have a pair of boat shoes in black and tan, with ivory laces, that are the best, most comfortable summer shoes I own.  They can handle any conditions, and I really love the look of them as well.
But more on those shoes, and the resulting colour story, tomorrow.

 For now let's discuss swimsuits.

I knew my swimsuits for my original blue and green colour story were not quite right: one (from Lands' End) didn't fit very well and was almost impossible to put on due to a tricky clasp.  The other (a pale green from JCrew) had a better fit so I knew it was the one I'd end up wearing.  Both looked quite nice under the Le Sireneuse cover-up, featured above.

I finally decided just to try them on, which resulted in them both ending up in the garbage.

The ill-fitting one from Lands' End with the tricky clasp?  The clasp in fact exploded into pieces as I was trying to manhandle it into place.  The pale green suit from JCrew?  I must have last tried it on wearing some kind of self-tanner, it was covered in an orange mark from top to bottom.

Now what?  Due to my No Shopping Year I really shouldn't be buying anything new for my trip.  But obviously I can't be without a bathing suit, I love swimming and lounging by a pool.
Solution:  upcoming birthday gift from my hubs.  I'll pick some outfits, get the best one sorted, send the others back and wrap up my gift with a big ribbon.
Outfits?  Yes it has to be an outfit, that's the rule for clothing gifts.  (Yes I did make that up.)  This suits my new colour story scheming quite well (Boat Shoes New Orleans being our new working title).  With a new swimsuit a cover-up must follow, and maybe some espadrilles for the trip to pool-side.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's for now just discuss the actual swimsuit.

If I'm only going to own one swimsuit I would prefer that it be a basic black with a classic shape and fit.  No patterns, nothing too fussy, and please no tricky clasps!

Have you heard of this swimsuit brand, Hunza G?

 These swimsuits are made in the UK out of a super stretchy fabric that is thick, somehow cozy, and hugs the body beautifully.
The thing about this fabric that is quite extraordinary?  It stretches and conforms to the body in such a way that the bathing suits can accommodate a wide range of sizes.  That's right, they are one size fits all.
My first thought when I read that?  That is awesome, because year to year if one gets a bit fatter the bathing suit will still fit!

So here it is, my new Hunza G swimsuit.  I loves it.  It's super comfortable and has a lovely braided strap detail.  The dark red and green on the straps add some visual interest while complementing the basic black stretch fabric.  There are no gapes or pulls to the suit, the fabric does just hug the body.  I have a bit of a longer torso so swimsuit length is often an issue for me, not with this one, it just stretches to accommodate my length.
I'll be back tomorrow to discuss the new colour story Boat Shoes New Orleans.  I hope you'll join me then.
Have a lovely Saturday.  I'll be clutching my Kleenex box and cough drops while binge watching Broadchurch with MrBP.