"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

I know I said "blog like no one is reading" but it's nice to know these people are

Monday, October 29, 2012

Read, Purge, Post, Repeat

This weekend I attacked the kitchen after being inspired by The Nester and Pancakes & French Fries. The former posted about not waiting for "the next house" to do things and she is so right. I am guilty of this big time. When we moved out of the city we doubled the size of our house and have the most gorgeous piece of property. Of course, I hate the pool, but we have a pool! And I hate our eighties grotty bathrooms with the fibreglass built-ins but we have four and I don't have to share mine with the boys so at least there is one seat that I never have to check before I sit down. I hate the fact that when we have a party our kitchen really isn't big enough to hold everyone and they'll never move into the rest of the house but it's bigger than the last one. I joke that all I need is 4 more feet off the back of the house but really, why?

Jules at Pancakes & French Fries has been doing The 31 Days of William Morris Project, you know the one inspired from the quotation, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." I find that living up to that may be a little difficult living in a house of boys (although I think she has two boys herself) and I am definitely not up to 31 days of it but I did do some rearranging in the kitchen which will drive my OH nuts when he gets home next week, but it now makes so much more sense, to me. And then I tackled the pantry closet and purged a few things so that I can see what all is in there and I don't buy any more chicken broth. It was very satisfying and this morning when I made my toast and there was the bread, right next to the toaster. Wow, what a concept. Next up, I will bake something and not spill all the dry ingredients across the flour as I move from the flour container on one side of the room to the mixer on the other side. Only took me five and a half years to figure that one out. I know for those purists out there, my best friend included, I have way too much stuff on my counters but I do use it all, all the time and if we are having people over I just put it in grocery bins and stick it out in the garage. Et voilà, clean countertops. Of course, this is key as everyone is crammed in the kitchen and need places to put their drinks. 

Of course the purging had me scattering things all over the house in my typical method of operation. Rearranging the kitchen counters lead me to the pantry to move the most opened tins closer to the can opener (hello tuna and tomatoes), then to the laundry room where my cookbooks are and debating the merits of print in the age of iPads and Epicurious (sorry eighties Entertaining Martha) and then to the  dining room sideboard where I took out some serving pieces to put on the now-freed-up shelf space. I even went down to the basement to retrieve the crock pot (where I did avert my eyes in the Boy Cave as that is an area that requires my undivided attention some day in the future) so I now have no less of an excuse to not meal-plan.

As for the rest of the house, I also read Fieldstone Hill Design's post on Words of Reason where she talked about finding words to describe your home. Here's what I came up with:


Then I asked myself these questions:
  1. How do I want my home to feel? Calm and natural. 
  2. How do I want my home to look? Interesting, cozy but uncluttered. I don't want it to look overdone.
  3. What purpose do I want my home to serve? To welcome everyone from my boys hanging out with their buddies to grown up dinner party guests or a big group of kids and adults together.

I'm drawn to texture like cable knit woolen throws, linen slipcovers and rough wooden surfaces. I love patina whether on wood or metal. I like clean lines, white kitchens but with the warmth of wood accents. I want things to be classic and timeless not trendy. I hate matchy-matchy (although my teenage-self dreamed of coordinated bedroom suits). You can see my Pinterest choices which are surprisingly consistent even though I keep thinking that I need some funky and eclectic Anthropologie-like pieces with lots of crazy colours, although I did let two of my sons choose the colours to paint their rooms. So finally, after five years of the boring beige I chose when we moved in, they now have wild and crazy colours on their walls.

Number Three chose bright yellow and flame, the colours of the Canadian Ski Team Downhill suits, of course and as horrified as I was initially I love how it looks. He has covered the walls in posters of his ski racing heroes (and a few of himself), an old Swiss flag that belonged to his Dad hangs over his bed. The whole thing works, it's happy and energetic, the things I hope my youngest son will always be.

Number Two chose lime green and bright blue, not for any particular reason and he says only after did he realize that the colours match the ancient IKEA duvet cover that is on his bed (duh?) But again, I have to admit, it looks great. He isn't as into decorating so he still has a few posters and frames waiting to be hung. But it is also energetic and vibrant like him.

I like things in my home to have a story, not one told by a decorator but a story that's our own like that both our pine corner cabinet and sideboard came from my Dad's advertising agency's boardroom, he collected early Canadian pine both at home and for his office and we have arranged each house around where that corner cabinet fits. The paintings on our walls were not chosen to go with a colour scheme but rather my OH and I have chosen each piece to represent a part of our lives from the sublime - a water colour of Maine and the collection of landscapes by his grandmother to the ridiculous - the "Doors of Hayhurst" poster my mother made by taking photos of all the doors our family has walked in and out of over the years (outhouse included). 

Not sure how to really finish up this post, it's one of the longest I've written in a while and I did try to document all my hard work but you wouldn't really see any difference in the Before and After pics, still just a lot of shelves with a lot of stuff placed on them with no rhyme or reason. So I am hoping that that my OH makes it home safely from Florida (he is planning to leave tomorrow afternoon and has to drive straight through all Hurricane Sandy affected in-land areas and they are forecasting two feet of snow in the mountains) and unlike his sons he better will notice, admire and appreciate all my hard work.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Fragments

Since most of my posts seems to either consist of photos (the lazy blogger's way of posting) or random round ups of bits and pieces or flotsam and jetsam, so to speak, I will endeavour to continue in this vein. Mostly the latter with a few of the former thrown in for those who don't like to read with a bit of music and trashy TV to keep everyone entertained.

  • The round up metaphor is apt as I seem to have a real country and western theme happening, or is it called just country now? Which ever, it is a bit of a fetish. Not sure the exact date that it started but it may have coincided with CBC Radio Two playing a lot of Mumford and Sons whom, I know, are English but their banjo-playing music is my fav right now. So if you haven't heard them, here is their latest single.

  • After listening to that song over and over (it replaced Of Monsters & Men's Little Talks in my rotation) my newly-countrified outlook on life seemed to expand like cornbread in a skillet (sorry, I really shouldn't try to talk the talk) Other examples of this rather strange direction for a Northern girl includes receiving regular emails from Country Outfitters after I signed up to win a pair of cowboy boots. Now I already own two pairs but they don't look like these gorgeous ones. Of course I'd want all of them so I could have my own rainbow of boots in the closet.

  • I already mentioned my wee blog crush on Edie at Life in Grace and now I am addicted to watching Nashville which is a wonderfully countrified show about a fading country singer, played by Connie Britton who is trying to keep her home, family and career together against a young, Taylor Swift-like singer played by Hayden Pannetierre. I love how they wear boots with everything and that even when they are saying something nasty, it comes out all sweet in that southern drawl.

  • On a personal level, we've got a lot going on right now, but so what else is new?  Number Three has settled in at school and things seem to be working well with his teacher although he still isn't doing enough reading. Number Two has started working with someone on his anxiety issues and he seems to be calmer at home which makes the whole house happier. Number One isn't happy at his school, he is bored and not having any extra-curriculars due to a Teacher Work-to-Rule isn't helping anyone. But he leaves in two weeks for Colorado to train and they are calling for snow here on Tuesday which will make everyone in our house happy. It will be thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Sandy which is making things difficult for my OH who is in Fort Lauderdale at a boat show. Last night he got back to his hotel only to be turned away as the power was out, he was able to get back in later but the question is whether the hurricane which is forecast to head north up the coast and wallop the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Maritime provinces will keep people away from the show this weekend. It's a long drive and a lot of money invested for us to have no one come.

Have a happy weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Healthy Eating & Dining don't have to be Mutually Exculsive

Last Saturday we had some friends over for dinner, I had been hemming and hawing about having a dinner party as I so often seem to but I have been reading Edie's posts about hospitality over at Life in Grace and was moved to do something. I know I can never hope to emulate her preparedness for guests or any other part of her unique approach to hospitality and I'm really not sure why I am so fascinated by her blog other than she is the antithesis of me - a home-schooling-former-doctor-religious Southern Belle. Anyways, I was inspired to invite a few people over for dinner. Originally it was to be a bigger crowd with my BFF, our friends AM (who is doing remarkably well almost six months after her stroke), her four kids & hubby and another family of three but AM had something come up but we were able to have drinks together at her place on Friday night. So we were down to a much more manageable party of nine. The only issue was that one of the invitees was on a serious cleanse - no dairy, wheat or red meat which ruled out most of my dinner repertoire but I did get out my cookbooks (which doesn't happen all that often anymore) and knew one component would have to be Quinoa, after that came roasted veggies, fresh Georgian Bay White Fish and my new go-to recipe, if you can believe it 

It is, hands down, the tastiest mix of not-so tasty vegetables around. The dressing is just basic lemon juice, garlic and oil with a sprinkle of Parmesan and, my alternative to almonds, roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. We had this at a friend's a few weeks ago and I was amazed that my Other Half loved it, being the Brussels Sprout hater that he is, not to mentions that it is all raw. The secret seems to be to make sure both the kale and BS's are finely chopped. It is full of good stuff and tastes even better the day after. As for the kids, I chopped up more veggies (not the above) and made them fish tacos which are always a hit in our house.

We ended up with two more for dinner as so often happens once I get on an entertaining roll and the evening was lovely with wine for those who weren't cleansing and chocolate cake with "SKI" in sprinkles on top as everyone present is counting the days til the snow flies. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Catch Up

As the days grow shorter and weather cooler it seems we are trying to cram as much in as possible before the snow flies. Yesterday I was invited to go on a trail ride with a group in an area I had never ridden. I was a bit nervous about whether I would be able to keep up and if I'd be able to walk the next day but I am happy to report that I am walking like a cowboy and Jazz & I only got lost once (my fault as I held him back to see if we could have a good gallop) I followed the wrong trail and then had to double back to where luckily the rest of the group had done the same. The weather was picture perfect and the footing amazing. One of the leaders of the ride was a former Canadian national team ski racer and he rides a horse much like he used to ski a downhill course - flat out. The other riders were mostly older and many have ridden all over the world, something to dream about. It was fun and I hope we'll get invited again.

I also learned about the sport of Ride and Tie which is a crazy trail race with the team made up of one horse and two humans. They all start off at the same time and the rider goes as far as they think their partner can run to, they then tie up the horse and take off on foot. The first runner then finds the horse, hops on and takes off, passing the runner and continues on to another point where they tie up the horse again. Apparently there is not just a certain level of fitness required but some strategy so that the team makes it to the end together. A little crazy if you ask me but then I have never run a race in my life, nor have I ever wanted to but it might be fun to go watch one.

A perfect trail through the Dufferin Forest

Getting a drink

Happy trail riders

Yet another reason to love living in a small town - Number Two Son and his best buddy made a few bucks busking one day after school. They only knew one song but must have been quite entertaining. They gave half of the cash to the school music programme for the use of the instruments and tomorrow four of them are heading "downtown" to busk again. Let's hope the weather cooperates and the shop keepers are tolerant.

Ski season is still a couple of months off but the boys couldn't resist riding on the old J Bar when we went for a hike up the hill.

I think I already posted this picture but it is so perfect I couldn't resist.

The gang after we closed the cottage.

I have a hair appointment next week

Thursday, October 11, 2012

So much to be thankful for

Up here in the Great (not quite) White North we celebrated Thanksgiving this past weekend and for many people, including my family, it is the time when cottages are closed up for the winter. It is a bittersweet time of year, the days are crystal clear and cold. The fall colours are at their peak and the smell of wood smoke fills the air, along with turkey cooking and pies baking. It is my favourite time of the year, this coming Sunday my Other Half and I will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary and I will have officially spent half of my life with this man as we were married when I was a mere 23 years of age (not 12, as I like to say). The pool is closed, the sailboat in dry dock, my horse is wearing his winter blanket most days, I have on boots and a cozy sweater and the boys are gearing up for ski season. 

Yes, it is bittersweet to say goodbye to summer but I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. I love the changing seasons, each one bringing something to look forward to. Here are a few photos of fall in our neck of the woods.

One lone red maple leaf on a bed of pine needles floating in the lake

Ready for a canoe trip

The raison d'etre for having a teenage boy
(he doesn't mind swimming in frigid water to take out the raft)

Final early morning row on the lake

Putting the cabin to bed for a long winter's nap
(and hoping it's still standing in the spring)

Leaf jumping for joy

The work crew finally gets to climb up on the roof

Cam on a cold tin roof

The floor show

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin