This Saturday the boys and I took a field trip, as Hudson liked to call it.
It felt like it had been a little while since I had visited the antique stores in Niagara on the Lake, so we decided to make an afternoon of it.
Now, occasionally, I bump into someone who reads these pages, and is of the opinion that I have a perfectly dreamy life, with perfect children and a perfect house. And I can see how they might arrive there. I'm not interested in sharing photos of my home upside down. I love being inspired by beautifully curated homes - homes that are lovingly cared for, and yet comfortably lived in. That's what I hope to inspire in others, so long as it doesn't create this illusion that everything is always picture perfect. Let me just clarify now that while I do have a very near perfect life in my opinion. It's perfect because it's mine. But everything isn't always literally perfect. There is always a mess somewhere in my home, and my children, two very alive and very curious boys, the little angels that they are, do a great job of keeping me on my toes. I just try very hard to slow down and spend time looking for inspiration in my days, and to channel that into my home as my way of loving my family. I'm not great at a great many things! But these are things that I love, and so this is what I do.
So, in an effort to shed some honest light on my weekend, in hopes of reassuring those who may sometimes doubt it, my life is very much normal.
When we arrived in Niagara on the Lake, a quaint town about thirty minutes from our home, the first stop we made was at one of my favourite antique barns called Queen's Antiques. It's outside of town and full of beautiful items. Here I picked up some baskets and a gorgeous little brown transferware dish.
But, this was such an adventure.
Trying to corral a three year old who must exclaim "Mom! Check this out." and touch every single thing, and I do mean every single little thing, through an antique store is next to impossible. Especially when it turns into a temper tantrum for reasons still unknown to me. I love my son, but the morning went from tranquil to tears in about 10 minutes. I had to actually carry him out of the store, desperately trying to keep flailing legs from knocking anything over. We then spent 10 more minutes in the parking lot on a break, before I was finally convinced that he had calmed down enough to go back in so I could purchase my finds.
I was wrong.
Back out we went.
In the end, I managed to run my card in and have her ring up my purchase while I watched him in the car. It was this moment though that altered my morning for the better, when it very much could have altered it for the worse. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon occurrence for me. He can be an angel in the car, and the minute we enter a store, a whole different child emerges, and quickly I'm left feeling defeated an overwhelmed. But this woman at the cash register made all of the difference. In that moment, instead of the usual looks of disappointment and annoyance that I receive from onlookers, despite my best efforts to remain calm and yet firm, she was kind. She was genuinely okay with the whole situation - at least that's what it seemed. She didn't make me feel guilty for not having a perfectly well behaved child, or feel like a bad mother for being too firm or not firm enough with him. She simply said that she recently watched her grandchild and had forgotten how much work having a little child was. And instead of arriving to the car defeated and in tears, I left relatively calm.
And so we carried on with our morning.
To my surprise, the rest of the day was lovely. We walked to the lake and the boys ran around while I sat and enjoyed coffee and something sweet. Then we walked to the park where the boys splashed with the other children in the fountain, and made our way back to the car, leisurely walking up and down the old streets, admiring the houses and gardens. We even browsed another antique store where he calmly sat chatting to me in the buggy (something that never happens anymore).
So please know that while I won't be posting photos of the sand ring around my bathtub this morning that I was too tired to clean last night, after an evening trip to the beach with the boys, or my kitchen after pancakes and coffee are served, they are very much there. Our house is a home and we live in it. And we love it.
And speaking of homes that I love, here are some of my favourites that inspired me when we were walking about town.
Isn't this a quaint little cottage. I love the simple green gardens made personal by the willow woven around the bottom of the boxwood and the urn filled with grapevine.
Sitting by the water was a breath of fresh air - both physically and spiritually. It was Saturday afternoon and everyone was relaxing on the grass with a picnic, or sailing past on their boat, or biking along the waterfront. And I just sat there, taking it all in, enjoying a great coffee and Brioche while the boys ran about.
This delectable little treat was a Chocolate Cinnamon Brioche Bun that pulled apart and ended up being enjoyed by all three of us. It was from Willow Cakes and Pastry on Mary Street.
The boys chose colourful macarons.
I just love wandering around town - any old town really. I study their gardens and the paint colours they choose and how their fences are finished and their window displays and always come home with something to replicate in my home.
And in Niagara on the Lake there are so many beautiful old homes, all of which are kept pristine and personal, from grand estates to tiny cottages.
I think this is one of the tiniest of them. It's so charming.
And of course, I love browsing through their antique shops just as much.
These berry baskets are perfect for holding little hostess gifts.
And I was so taken by this little covered dish. With Fall being around the corner, it will go perfectly with my other brown tranferware which will soon be on display. The little tray doesn't accompany it. It was another recent purchase from a new shop Oliver and Rust. (If you click on the name, you can view Meg's blog where she shares some lovely finds and glimpses of her home).
I get so excited for Fall when I see it!
I'm particularly drawn to pieces more from the Aesthetic movement.
And I loved the aging and discoloring of this little tray. It has so much character.
I've also recently picked up quite a few ironstone plates, most of which are from Oliver and Rust. They will come in handy for Thanksgiving dinners and may even end up as a wall display.
And finally, this little tartan lunch box. How sweet is it? Again, can you tell that I have Fall on my mind?
I'm looking forward to another day out with my sister this week, where I hope to find more treasures. Some of the items on my list?
A wardrobe for the master bedroom.
A Night table for Ryan.
Vintage tartan throws.
A brown transferware pitcher.
A few amber glass bottles.
A coffee table for the living room.
A pair of andirons for the dining room fireplace.
A mantel clock and a small alarm clock for my nightstand.
A small cabinet or table for the upstairs bath.
And of course, artwork.
I will let you know how I make out.