Tuesday, July 16, 2019

the perfect picnic (and picnic basket)

We spent last Sunday up in Muskoka, cottage country just a couple hours just North of Toronto.

To make the trip worth while, we thought we'd spend part of the afternoon at the lake. And what could better suit an afternoon at the lake than a picnic lunch?

I bought this picnic basket a few years ago from Homesense. I liked that it had a simple linen-coloured inside and plain white dishes. I have it out on display, but I've only used it a few times. Wanting something kind of special, I cleaned it out and packed a really easy going lunch. Something that I could make ahead of time, that could transport easily and was perfect for nibbling on through out the afternoon.

The basket comes with four little mugs and plates, I just threw in some cutlery and a couple napkins (these from Everyday Occasions).

Also a square table cloth that I don't mind putting out on the grass, and pillow or two (outdoor so they can be cleaned if need be).

And while I love the romantic idea of eating out of pretty paper take out containers, these clear glass Pyrex ones are much more functional (not to mention less waste).

I found these earlier this year at Target - glass and plain white lids, I didn't realize how excited I could get over storage dishes.

On the menu:
Turkey Club Sanwiches
A simple Arugula Salad
(vinaigrette on bottom so as to not wilt greens)
Watermelon and Cherries
Cookies, Chocolate and Italian Nougat

For the sandwiches I just take a baguette, hollow it out a tad, put generous amounts of mayo and Dijon mustard on either side, and then layer Arugula, thick-sliced Turkey breast, bacon rashers, and cheese.

The baguette is a sturdy enough bread that it doesn't go soggy overnight (not adding tomato helps), and yet with a good amount of mayo, it doesn't dry out either.

Simply wrap the sandwiches in paper and tie with a bit of twine.

Now, for the sake of the photo, I have the sandwiches in here, but I actually put them in a lunch bag with some cold packs to keep them cool. Nothing else needed to be kept cool so the rest could stay in the basket.

We ate in the shade of the pine trees, watching everyone lounge on the beach and cool off in the water. Jude chatted happily away to us before running off, trying with great effort to catch a seagull who would let him get close enough to believe it might just be possible. Then we did a little shopping before returning on our way home, with all the boys, to take a quick dip in the lake.

Friday, July 12, 2019

summer in niagara on the lake

This week, while the two older boys are enjoying an extended time at the cottage with their grandparents, I feel like I'm on a bit of a "staycation" at home.

I decided to spend the afternoon in Niagara on the Lake.

First I popped into a favourite antique barn - Queen's Antiques.

Right beside the shop there is a Lavender farm. The fields were in bloom and with the old car parked beside it was like something out of Provence. I half expected Monty Don to be wandering about the field in his straw hat!

Inside were beautiful hammered copper pots where they processed the Lavender oil.

Then I made my way into town and we walked up and down the main street, window shopping and enjoying the elaborate gardens. Niagara on the Lake boasts the most beautiful town gardens - overflowing baskets hanging from street lamps, colouful boulevards generously planted. and urns standing at each shop entrance in a variety of different combinations.

Surrounding town are the historic homes, and while the streets are lined with so many attractive houses, I have a few favourites in town that I always like to walk past.

There's something so beautifully simple about this white one. It's a combination of it's not having shutters on the twelve pane windows, the matte black door and matching lantern, and the two simple planters.

There's also this more spacious white house a few houses down, with it's additions extending out back. It also appeals to me but with more intricate simplicity. I like the black shutters with the shutter dogs and the curved chimney tops and the white picket fence. It perfectly suits being a corner house.


When the boys tired of walking up and down the streets, we made our way to the park. Simcoe Park is set at the top of town, a modest playground and an inviting water fountain (nearly irresistible on a warm summers day as this was). There are a few hills to run about, and large trees here and there for shade. There are people picnicking and there's a band shell. It's probably one of my favourite parks. It's well thought out and perfectly cared for.

By the time we finished playing, Jude's eyes got heavier and heavier, nearly lulled to sleep by swinging motion, but having too much fun to fully give in and fall asleep.

And finally, I added this small cottage, currently undergoing extensive renovations, to my list of favourite homes.

It's a quaint little cottage of perfect proportions. Just enough of a front porch, just the right balance of windows and a perfectly aged chimney. Oh and let's not forget to mention that tree, with it's well-groomed canopy. Thank goodness some builder had the foresight to leave it be and not remove it mid-improvement. It would have been a terrible loss.

We left happy and wet. It seemed wrong to allow him to play around in the fountain, but honestly, how could I resist. He was having the time of his life and it was so warm. (And he wasn't the only one! There were even lifeguards so it couldn't be that much of a faux pas.)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

cottage tour

I recently shared a peek into this charming little cottage that belongs to my aunt.

At the end of the path that follows the curve of the lake, a few doors down from our cottage, sits a little red cottage, formerly belonging to a fishing lodge.

It's red logs and stacked stones make for an inviting entrance, made only more charming by it's interior just beyond the screen door.

Inside is a classic log cabin, simple and open, with pops of red and the perfect balance of Waverly prints and a few carefully collected antique pieces.

Cottage life is simple living at it's best. A slow morning with a coffee, a long afternoon on the dock and an evening spent fireside. And this space is perfectly suited for such days.

(This pair of tartan lunch pails were from a tag sale I had years ago.)

 She has such an eye for balanced patterns - a bit of toile, a bit of tartan, a few florals and classic stripes and checks.

She repurposed an old duvet cover into curtains.

(This antique monogrammed dish towel was a find on a trip we took together to Hudson, NY)

The cottage has two small bedrooms. One with a double bed with hints of pink, and another in blues with two twin beds. Each has a small closet and while open above to the rest of the cottage, still feels private and separate.


Some antique china in a mix of patterns adds character to the tops of the kitchen cabinet.


The living room has the best views of the lake.

And while the cottage may be small and cozy, it's high ceiling with it's exposed beams makes the space feel much larger. 

Just the right amount of decor - a few favourite pieces to add character but not clutter.

(I found this pillow made from antique quilt scraps, by a local artist, and couldn't resist getting it. It was like it was made just for her!)

A removable hammock is strung in the screened porch which looks down at the lake.

It's everything a cottage should be - a calm escape, inviting and personal.
And I'm so glad that I get to pop in for a cup of tea and chat.