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

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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

South Carolina Wardrobe

Liberty print shirts, old J Crew.
Kiel James Patrick boat shoes in daffodil yellow.
 I've been very distracted by an impulsive trip we're taking to Italy at the end of April, but in the meantime I'm also packing up to escape the winter weather and seek the sun... a little March trip to South Carolina is just the thing.
As you will know if you are a long-time reader of my blog I have an American father who lives in Georgia.  The Bobster is turning 70 this year so my baby brother and I had a little idea: how about a March beach vacation with Dad?
We decided on South Carolina so we can see the ocean and visit Charleston and Savannah from our home base.
I'm so happy I ordered these daffodil yellow boat shoe from Kiel James Patrick last year, my gosh they are comfy and well-made.  This is a casual holiday so I won't be bringing any high heels, I'm thinking about lots of beach walks, sight-seeing walks, market-shopping walks... you get the idea, there will be walking.
Kiel James Patrick boat shoes, made in Maine.
Kiel James Patrick leather phone case with monogram.
Tory Burch bag.
Le Sireneuse caftan pool cover-up.
 We've rented a house with a pool, and as we are starved for warm weather and sunshine a major item for this packing up is not just a stripey navy swimsuit but a really good cover-up I won't mind wearing for half the day: a Le Sireneuse caftan type cover.
Swimsuit cover by Le Sireneuse, stripey bathing suit from J Crew.
 I think I'm going a little overboard on the stripe theme here!
Striped skirt, shell and cardigan, all J Crew.
 I'm really addicted to all of the pieces I've ever purchased from Saint James, their Breton tops are the best.  They are classic, sturdy, perfect:
Breton tops, bringing three.
 I have this jacket which I think of as my Bill Cunningham-inspired jacket.  I really love the blue colour and workwear vibe (even if it has a pyjama-style piping).  I'm on a search for navy pants or the dreaded denim pants to wear as a basic... it's not going well.
My Bill Cunningham-inspired jacket (old JCrew) with simple tee shirts.
Must find some navy pants or the dreaded jeans to wear with this outfit.
I typically start planning a travel wardrobe with the coat I'll wear on the trip.
In this case I'm wearing a JCrew tweed coat from 2005.
It's really stunning with leather buttons and tie silk lining.
An old JCrew cashmere argyle sweater will be a warm layer for leaving Canada.
 I'm thinking of bringing a bright plaid dress but I'm not sure, somehow it doesn't seem right.  I'd like to bring one special frock, and I have my eye on a vintage Liberty silk dress in cheerful yellows and blues.  I shall keep you apprised.

I'll definitely be bringing a Hermes scarf in a bright, summery pattern along with this old J Crew cashmere short-sleeved sweater. The blues are making me think of the ocean:

One of my best friends lives in Charleston and she told me today they've had one of the warmest winters she can remember.  Music to my ears!  We'll be visiting her and other spots throughout beautiful South Carolina.
Have you been to South Carolina, or do you have plans to go? Any travel tips?
Be Good Tooties,

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Italian Riviera Wardrobe

Hermes Jungle Love
 On a complete impulse we've booked a trip to Italy with six of our best friends to celebrate one friend in particular, Laura The Blonde Sophia Loren.  Laura is turning 50 and was feeling a little mardy about it... solution sorted: mad trip to Italy!
Laura is actually Italian, unlike the rest of us.  So of course we relied on her for our destinations and itinerary, and in the end we'll be near Lucca for a few days followed by three days in the area known as the Italian Riviera, in particular the Cinque Terre.

So of course as usual I've been straight to the real business: what I am going to pack up to wear?

I do like to start with a coat (as I always wear one on the plane) and we will be there in May, it might be chilly (though I doubt it will be chilly by any Canadian standard).
This tweed coat is an older JCrew item, from 2007, and is a gorgeous shade of coral with metal stamped buttons.  It has three-quarter sleeves so it is rather a silly item, I could never wear this in any kind of weather at home, but for travel? Perfecto.
You can see it pairs well with the Hermes scarf I'll be bringing: blush pink, coral, ivory and bits of bright green in the scarf compliment the coral tweed.
Jcrew Pembroke Tweed Coat Collection 2007
 I'll be bringing this treasure of a cropped cardigan by Brora, another piece in coral as a basic warm layer:
Brora cashmere cropped cardigan in coral.
 My main frock for the trip? This really basic shape in ivory, so easy to wear, paired with the cardigan and suitable for sightseeing and dinners:
Dress from Betina Lou
 I sense an opportunity to bring some really special pieces that I wouldn't normally wear, like this JCrew silk chiffon blouse from 2007:

Silk chiffon blouse JCrew 2007
I'll wear it with jeans.
 I hate wearing jeans but the blouse demands it.  Never mind, it is a sensible choice to have some sturdy denim along:
The cursed skinny jeans!
Ugh I sort of hate them but these ones from Madewell are comfortable at least. 
 I have a really great tote bag from Tory Burch that is lovely for travel, large in size, nice pebbled leather, and it has an elephant on it.  It's clearly perfect:
Tory Burch Tote
 I guess I won't be able to wear heels climbing up and down all of those walled cities and whatnot, so these ballet flats will be my go-to for footwear:
 I definitely want to bring a party dress for the actual birthday night of my dear friend Laura.  How about this old frock from JCrew?  The Cherry Blossom silk frock:
JCrew Cherry Blossom Dress, silk, 2008.
 Have you been to Italy?  What would you pack up? Have you visited the Cinque Terre? Any ideas for birthday presents for Laura?
Cinque Terre

 Do tell,

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sharing Brora Stories

Brora cashmere stole with some MaiTai lavender sachets.
Brora Blog
I'm so excited about the competition that Brora is holding right now, it's fun and easy.  Here's what you can do: share a picture of a favourite piece of Brora cashmere along with a story of why this particular piece has been a treasured item in your wardrobe.  Perhaps it is a cozy cardigan that has been worn dozens of times with your favourite frocks, or a warm scarf that is a constant cold-weather friend, or a polo neck jumper that you rely on to wear under jackets in autumn.

I have many cozy items I could write about (and I share the story behind my treasured Fair Isle accessories on the Brora Blog today, please read that here), but I have to highlight this cashmere stole as well. It is one of the very first items I ever bought from Brora, oh gosh more than seven years ago now!
I remember bringing it to Paris with me in 2010, my very first visit to the city.  In fact it was the centre of my travel wardrobe, I paired it with a mauve handbag, lots of black separates and a white tuxedo shirt.
I've worn the stole at Christmas time with my velvet Brora dress in shades of green and blue, and with navy basics during the cold spring months.  The stole compliments a navy and ivory Breton stripe top beautifully!
This cashmere stole is truly a Brora item "For Life", one that doesn't wear out or become tired looking, just a steadfast wardrobe companion.

I continue to be fascinated by the colour, it is a frosty plum, or a dark aubergine, that somehow seems both neutral and jewel-like at the same time. It almost changes colour depending on what it is paired with.
Brora cashmere stole with a Hermes Maxi Twilly.
JCrew aqua barrette. 
 I love it with shades of blue and purple, as above.  I often wear it with this Hermes Maxi Twilly and an aqua hair barrette from JCrew.

When paired with lavender it almost becomes charcoal rather than a dark plum:
With a Brora cropped cardigan in lavender.
 When paired with a brilliant cobalt blue it looks nearly brown:
With a long Brora jumper in cobalt blue.
How is the colour such a chameleon?  Well, Brora is certainly famous for their cashmere colours, they are layered, complex, reflect the Scottish countryside and stand the test of time.

If you have a piece of Brora that you just adore please enter the #aBroraForLife competition.  You could win a generous gift card or a treat as a runner-up gift.  The best part is that Brora fans the world over will be able to read the stories of other fans of the brand.  I for one can't wait to see the pictures and read the stories that people submit.

Enter HERE.

Have a beautiful day,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Think Pink

Pink pineapple dress on a picnic.
  Feeling like wearing loads of pink to celebrate Valentine's Day? Me too.
JCrew pink toile skirt with a pinky pink Brora jumper.

Brora dress in chinoiserie print with a hot pink Mai tai fur collar.
  That cozy pinktastic fur collar is perfect for a wintry Valentine's Day.
Old JCrew Collection dress in pink brocade silk.

JCrew pink silk taffeta ball gown 2007.
  How about a ball gown?
JCrew Cherry Blossom Dress 2008
  Or a printed silk dress?
 Or better yet, let's keep it simple: pink toes on a beach!

Are you doing anything special for Valentine's Day? I'm going to rustle up some Vodka Penne (it's Nigella's recipe, which you can see HERE).  I gave MrBP a book of poems by Christian Wiman.
Have a lovely Valentine's Day with good things in it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


One of the first items I bought from Brora many years ago,
a thick cashmere stole in a delicious frosty plum shade.
 It's been so cold and grey here this last month that I've been very happy to tuck in at home whenever possible, with good comfort foods, nice glasses of wine and chamomile tea, and lots of Brora to keep me warm.
So what better time to celebrate the #aBroraForLife campaign?  It doesn't take me long to come up with a long list of Brora treasures that fit perfectly into my wardrobe year after year, as reliable and comforting as old friends.
Love this Brora tweed coat with these Brora cashmere gloves in a fair isle.
Paired with a Drake's scarf.

Brora stoles are so gorgeous, in wool and cashmere and the most beautiful patterns.
Love the tassels on this one too.
That's a JCrew bracelet that matches it so well.

This green crewneck sweater! Or jumper I should say.
It's one of my favourites, year after year, with skirts or just jeans and boots for hiking.

Brora blues are legendary.
This turquoise scarf has had plenty of wear.
I like it with olive green.
 Some of the workhorses of my wardrobe are the Brora cropped cashmere cardigans.  I have several I have collected over the years, it's amazing how they last and last.  I wear them and my daughters wear them too.  I swear they get softer with washing and age:
A medium dusty blue with a Brora silk dress.
I bought this dress at the lovely Brora shop in Edinburgh.

A navy cardigan is a must.  I wear mine with so many things.
This cotton Liberty of London print dress is just one of them.

This shade of pink!
It makes me think of sunshine and prosecco on a terrace somewhere.
 I have a soft spot for Brora fair isle patterns, I just adore them.  When I visited the Brora mill in 2014 I took particular interest in the machines that did the fair isle knitting, I found them fascinating.
 Fair isle is a classic that never goes out of style.
My most favourite fall cardigan in a fair isle pattern with a Brora cashmere plaid stole.
 The outfit that I wear pretty much every day all winter long:
Brora cashmere beret, jacket and wrist warmers all in lovely fair isle.
I layer these cashmere pieces over basic black and under my winter coats to brighten the dull grey weight of winter. They cheer me up with their colours and they get me outside with their warmth.

How about you?  Do you have any #aBroraForLife pieces you'd like to share?  Any special favourites?  Any items that cheer you up and get you out into winter?  Keep an eye on the Brora Blog for special events and a competition that will reward a lucky Brora fan.