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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Elephant Vase

Flowers from Sweet Violets
 I really like a flower vase that is made of ceramic rather than glass, but they can be a bit difficult to find.  Something about viewing the knobby stems through murky water somehow seems to detract from the flower arrangement above.
Of course, flowers should be given constant fresh water so that it doesn't go murky!  Somehow, though, it reminds me of swimming through reeds.
There's my odd thought I'll put out there for today!

Last night's Fun Book Club sadly had greatly reduced numbers: we were only four.
It was lovely to see the ladies though.  H is just back from walking a marathon in Florida, C is busy as usual, working hard and looking after her aging mother, while T is recovering nicely from hip surgery all while keeping her business going.

The others were very much missed.  I do think though, if there's going to be a book club with low numbers it will be in January.  Some members are travelling (to warmer places, lucky ducks) and it's also a time of year when illness can rear its ugly head a bit more frequently.
My snacks were not amazing: I bought a small brie for those ladies who eat dairy, and I set out some nuts, chocolates and some coconut crisp cookies that I purchased.

We all had a glass of wine, which was lovely.  Accompanying that was a discussion that women often seem to have: is it acceptable/healthy to have a glass of wine every day?  The consensus seemed to be yes, as long as it's one glass, but we all know it can be a slippery slope.

We also discussed earthquakes, and disaster preparedness.  This was in part due to H mentioning the very frightening false alarm that occurred in Hawaii last weekend (you can read some personal accounts in the form of letters to the editor here).  I then recommended a really excellent podcast I've been listening to: Faultines on cbc radio.  If you've ever wondered about the likelihood of an earthquake on Canada's west coast, and how one should prepare oneself for it, this is the podcast for you.  I've learned so much listening to it.
I think I'll finish listening to it today as I do some cooking.

I hope you have a happy and healthy Wednesday, disaster-free.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


 I tend to have very little patience for sorting through my ironing basket, and it is the one household task that I will put off doing for as long as possible.
This might be why it's so satisfying when I actually clear the task off of my list.
I spent yesterday morning paying bills and doing some mid-month tax filing, and once that was finished I attacked the housework.  By mid-afternoon I was ready to sort through the laundry room.  The machines had been whirring all day with bed linens, towels and clothes but it was time to clear the decks.
The lower level of our house was a dirt-floored cellar when we bought it.  The laundry was stuck in a sad, scary corner full of cobwebs and damp.
It was the first area we renovated, and in the winter months it becomes incredibly cozy.  The kitchen is just up the staircase, the laundry room smells of lavender and the fire roars away in the family room area.

 I have a civilized method to get through the boring task of ironing: setting up the board in front of the fire so that I can iron away while watching the afternoon news.

 It was just a year ago this week that we put this gas fireplace in the basement family room.  It is the perfect size but it is not to be underestimated: "feel the heat coming off of that thing!" as my Dad would say.
Once we had this fireplace installed we were able to shut off the electric baseboard heating on the entire lower level permanently.  This has saved us hundreds of dollars in electricity costs just in the first year.  It also added the final touch to this series of cozy basement rooms: laundry room, large bathroom and family room:  the whole place just finally feels sorted.

Today I have something special on the agenda: my Fun Book Club this evening, here at my house.  I cannot wait to get caught up with those interesting women.  I'll let you know how it goes.
Have a great day today, hopefully you'll have someone fun in it!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Mop Philosophy Monday

 It seems like my entire house is covered with dust and filth, so today I have a long appointment with my Miele vacuum cleaner.
What I really wish I could do is open the windows and air out the entire place, scrubbing as I go.  It will likely be -20 or so outside today, however, so that's not going to happen.

I'm not buying new things for an extended period of time (as we discussed in Friday's post) and that goes for things for my home as well.  I feel like we've been renovating (which then results in more decorating) for many, many years.  It's nice to sit back and just enjoy, without seeking a change.

I have home goods fairly stockpiled, inherited sets of dishes come to mind, but also fabrics: stacks of fabrics for decorating that I have purchased and haven't yet sewn into anything.  I need to work through that pile before I buy anything else for the home... that could easily take two years.
 I have some rules in mind when I think about "no new things", and what I'm really thinking of are permanent items.  Clothes, decorative objects, kitchen items, linens and books.  I never thought I'd say that I'm not going to buy books, but we have so many I have run out of places to put them.  I also live literally right next door to the biggest library in town, so there's really no reason to purchase books at all.
Flowers and candles?  I will continue to purchase those things for the house, they add so much life and interest and they are not permanent items (much like food and booze).

Speaking of food, today I'll be cooking up the remains of last week's vegetable box before a new one arrives tomorrow: butternut squash, some rather large onions and red potatoes of varying sizes are still hanging around.

I could do a dish of sliced, layered vegetables, roasted at low temperature in the oven?

It's also mid-month, so there are taxes to file and accounts to reckon.  A varied day of chores today!
I hope your Monday proves productive for you,

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Spelt Bread from Polestar Hearth
 My absolute favourite time of day to watch a movie is in the afternoon.  For one, it has the feeling of a festival or a holiday: it must be a full day off of responsibilities if we have time to watch a film during the day.  It also means that I'm alert enough to stay awake for the duration!
Yesterday we went out for lunch and then decided to find a movie to rent and watch at home.
It didn't take us long to agree on renting Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.

I highly recommend, it was excellent.  Liam Neeson was amazing in the lead role and it was such an interesting time in history... it was well-acted and well-told.

MrBP made his way to the Polestar Hearth bakery yesterday morning where he picked up our friend Laura's favourite bread, that pretty loaf of Spelt bread above.

We brought it to Laura's dinner party last evening along with a really delicious beet and red cabbage dish.
I say it was delicious, and this was a complete surprise to me, these are my least favourite vegetables.

I found the recipe here.

I wish we had time to lounge around and watch a matinee today, but alas as is often the case Sunday is a work day for MrBP and for me to a lesser degree.

How is your Sunday shaping up?  Are you ever able to watch movies in the afternoon, either at home or at the cinema?  Have you seen the Mark Felt movie?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Slow Kitchen

 I've spent the last two days walking around my kitchen at the pace of a giant turtle.  Not only have I been weighed down with multiple sweaters and fingerless gloves due to the cold, damp weather, I've been trying to recover from my migraine attacks and the neck injury that caused them.
Stirring up a risotto was the perfect slow activity for this giant turtle!

Speaking of turtles, did you read about the effect climate change is having on turtle populations in northern Australia?  There's an interesting article on the subject here, and as one of the scientists pointed out, we should all care about the health of sea turtle populations, they are bellwethers for the entire health of the ocean.
I've always been fascinated by turtles, they are such ancient, beautiful creatures.

Spending time shuffling around the kitchen is a good time to do small bits of organizing.  I like to have the drawers and cupboards in top shape, otherwise I can't think well enough to cook!
 One detail I've been very happy I chose for our renovated kitchen are these giant deep drawers to hold our everyday dishes.  They are the perfect size and I really like that I can pull them out and do a quick scan to find what I need.
Finally, it's Saturday.  We might go out for lunch today, though I really should take advantage of MrBP's healthy neck and shoulder muscles to help me procure some groceries.  Then we've been invited to a dinner party at Laura's house this evening, always a lovely time, she's a great cook.  They'll also have their wood fire roaring in their living room, so cozy!
I hope you have a wonderful day.

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?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Best Laid Plans

 I'm a bit late off the mark, but this week I finally organized my planner for 2018.
As you can see I have a planner from Louis Vuitton, and it is extra special not just for the classic look of it and the perfect size, but because it was a gift from my dear friend Tabs!
I've been using it for about three or four years, and even though I have an iPhone with apps etc I just don't feel organized unless I plan things out on paper.
It's not just me who feels this way, you can read a NYT article about the case for a paper planner right here.

It is possible to acquire the new year inserts from the Louis Vuitton store, which I have done once.  They are quite special with a yearly theme and attractive stickers, but the inserts from Filofax also fit in this planner just perfectly.  I order the "personal" size from their website.

This is next week starting to take shape.
 I prefer to open my planner and see one week at a time.  I fill it in with appointments and social events, but I also note down any illness in the family as it happens, just so that I have a record of it.

I also make note of things like my migraine attacks, one of which I had yesterday.
It's interesting (if frustrating) to look back on a year and take in the frequency and severity of something like migraine attacks: all other plans for that day and likely the next will be scrawled out.

The best laid plans!
I also buy the inserts to make lists and notes.
I'm a great one for list-making.

Ironically enough the novel I'm reading right now (for my Fun Book Club) is indeed titled The Best Laid Plans.  By about 7:30 last night my migraine had calmed to the point of exhaustion and I was able to lie down and read for a bit before I fell asleep ridiculously early.
I'm so enjoying this book, it is hilarious and the characters are not only well-drawn, they ring true.  You can read about Terry Fallis and his books here.

I hope your plans for today go off just as you hope!