Friday, January 24, 2014

A Refreshed Kitchen and Dining Area

This week I spent some time freshening up the kitchen and the dining room.

I put away my red transferware, which still felt a little Christmas-like. I also took down some potted trees that were on my dining room shelves.

It's refreshing having everything back to normal.

Though I use my brown transferware in the Fall, I quite like it back up on my shelves. It still feels neutral, though I'm sure in the next while they will change again.

I don't think I've shown you where we moved our dining area. This room in our house has been many things: an entrance, a sitting room, a playroom, an office, and now our dining room.

For practical reasons, having the table in here is nice because it's just off the kitchen. The floor is also tiled, which is more ideal for cleaning up after the boys. Aesthetically, it's also full of windows that look out into the back yard which makes for a lovely view. However, one of the greatest benefits is that it frees up some space in our living room, which used to be a living room and dining room together. Now it has the feeling of a more open, airy space.

Eventually, when we do the kitchen, I would like to install banquet seating with an old square table. It would allow for more seating, and I think it would be a more efficient use of the space.

Because of the room's windows, I don't have much in the way of decor. I do have two small shelves to display a few pieces of my ironstone collection.

The doors go out onto our back deck, and the big window looks out back over our patio area. 

Here was our beautiful view while enjoying breakfast this morning. The best part of this space.

This is the view off our back deck, out the french doors, towards our neighbors immediate back yard.

Looking out back towards our side property line. You can see the ravine all behind our homes.

And straight out back into our back yard. We have narrow yards, but they are quite long. The tree line for the ravine in the back of this photo is about halfway back. The rest is all open woods.

It's why we bought our home.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hyacinths and Crocuses

A scent that always reminds me of the freshness of Spring is the fragrant Hyacinth. 

The other week, friends of ours came for dinner, and along with them came a little bundle of Spring.

White Hyacinths and White Crocuses. 

She had planted them in little silver pots, tucked bits of moss around them and then finished them with a raffia bow. Don't the make a lovely hostess gift? 

It was a completely unnecessary gesture as they are best friends of ours, but I loved them. They make the cold winter days much more bearable, and remind me of the Spring soon to come.

Sitting in the window, soaking up all the warm sunlight.

The Hyacinth is now just opening, and it's beautiful scent fills the room.

Thanks Steph!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Living Room and Hints of Spring

I feel like the living room has finally settled into place.

After all that came with Christmas was put back into storage, the room felt somewhat empty.

It wasn't long before it was feeling cozy again.

I've even, slightly early I might add, added a few bits of Spring.

Wishful thinking.

My Hyacinth has just started blooming, filling the room with it's floral fragrance and it won't be long before the Crocuses start unfolding as well.

I also tucked a small nest under a glass cloche I received from my sister for Christmas.

Are you ready for Spring yet?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Painting and A Rose Bush

There's something so exciting about receiving mail... Especially parcels.

Yesterday one of my Christmas presents arrived.

A while ago I had found artist Shannon Bauer on Etsy. While all of her work is lovely, there were a few that I liked in particular.

This one, Dusty Country, was one of my favourite pieces. I love the colours and the movement and the beautiful scene she's depicted.

I'm still looking to find an antique frame that suits it.

I already have my eye on another piece I'd love to purchase. Maybe for Mother's Day?

I also found this little cream rose bush at the grocery store the other week. I was only planning on picking up a small bouquet, but for the same price, it's lasted me much longer. I don't know the specific variety as there wasn't a tag of any kind.

It's done well in this spot and has lots of new buds coming.

It reminds me of my Winchester Cathedral roses in the garden, though these unfortunately don't have the same beautiful scent.

I took this photo this afternoon while Hudson and Ryan were reading. Willen had gone to school and they were enjoying some quiet time together. He's become quite a daddy's boy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bremfield's - A New Store

My parents have started off the New Year with a wonderful new adventure.

Finally, after many, many years of patiently waiting for the right timing, they took the leap and bought their dream store.

For three years my dad has made probably weekly trips by, or to, this store. He got to know it's previous owners personally, and fell in love with it. I think anyone else would have given up long ago on it. Written it off, and jumped on the next best thing. But he knew this was it. Everything else was always compared to this store, and never matched it.

Finally, it's theirs.


I couldn't be more excited and proud.

And now the fun begins - making it their own.

On the right hand tool bar is a link to their blog, which will document their adventures. I hope you follow along.

Anyone who was able to make it out to my annual Vintage Tag Sale would have met them. They ran the sale for me while I laid in bed, sick.

You may have even brought home one of the fifty-something pies my mom made, or enjoyed a gooey butter tart with a coffee while browsing.

Here is their new location.

91 Main St. West in Port Colborne, Ontario.

The store is actually two that have been converted into one. They will be living in the apartment above.

The store below will be a combination of all the things they love.
A small bakery and cafe, fresh flowers, and antiques.

Once they got the keys, it seemed like the entire family showed up to help them get settled and paint.

It was a painting party!

You would not believe how quickly a place can transform with a new coat of paint. And how quickly when so many people are painting!

In one day, they got most of the apartment painted and started moving furniture up that night.

Because the store downstairs will require quite a bit of work, their main goal was to simply spruce the apartment up, make it their own and only fix what's was absolutely necessary.

I have the most amazing family ever.

Here are a few sneak peaks of the transformation so far.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Birthday Dinner

This weekend was my mother-in-law's birthday.
Each year, as a gift, I make us all a dinner - a four course dinner.
I love to cook. I love reading cookbooks and planning menus and the shopping and prepping and the setting the table. I love making the meal and enjoying it with them.
And so, it's become a tradition.
This is what was served this year:
Seared Diver Scallops with Parsnip Apple Puree and Crispy Bacon 
Beef Tenderloin with King Crab Claws, Mash, Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Toasted Walnuts and Corn Pudding
Trio of Cheeses:
3 Year Cheddar with Apple, Gorgonzola with Pear and Pecans, and a Honey Pistachio Goat's Cheese Truffle
Molten Chocolate Cake with Macerated Blackberries and Vanilla Whipped Cream
French Macarons:
Chocolate, Coffee, Vanilla and Raspberry
Each course was paired with a wine.
It was a lovely evening. When dinner is served in courses, it just makes for a long, relaxing night. It gives lots of time to savour each course, and enjoy the company.
Of course it's a little harder to do all that while cooking... But it's still lots of fun.

I had spent the morning helping my parents move in to their new place (lots more of that to come!), and was busy painting. So, by the time I got home, I needed to get started cooking and didn't have much time to take many photos of our table. But, I did manage to get a few.
I didn't do anything too crazy, but I did make her an arrangement. Yellows, greens and whites are her favourite so I used some beautiful yellow Roses, with green Hydrangeas, white Tulips and even some young white Hyacinth's.

We all had a wonderful night.
Happy Birthday Mom!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A New Planner and Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

As promised, I wanted to share with you the beautiful planner that a friend recommended. Previously I had mentioned that my New Year's resolution was going to be to use a planner. A proper place to sit and think through my day.
To organize what I want to accomplish.
To keep track of the endless projects I want to work on.
To begin a budget.
To see all of the events and important dates in one place.
Something to bring order in the midst of what is often pretty chaotic.
I recently read, and sadly I can't remember where, that "a cluttered environment is the product of a cluttered mind. And a cluttered mind is the product of a cluttered heart". And that can be so true in my life. I am so often fluttering around from task to task, keeping myself so busy, but at the end of the day, when I finally stop and look back on the hours that have passed, I can't really say that I've accomplished much.
And so, not with the intent of being perfect, or getting it right immediately, because we all know how resolutions go... I just want to start making an conscious effort to find some order. And a rhythm.
But first, I wanted to share a recipe I tried yesterday with great success.
Now, in a moment of honesty, I could tell you that the muffins in these photos were actually Vegan and you would never notice the difference, however they were not. I didn't have any almond milk on hand so I had to substitute milk. I also used vegetable oil instead of the recommended coconut oil for the same reason. But, I am planning on trying them again soon with both coconut oil and almond milk. As they were made though, they were delicious and definitely worth sharing.
I'm predicting they won't last through the weekend.
Also, the little wicker tray was also a recent find. It was $4 at our antique market! It was another find with Willen last weekend.

Sometimes, when it comes to something with Pumpkin, I find that recipes tend to use a little less spice than I would prefer. This one however delivers a beautiful spiced pumpkin flavor that pairs well with the dark chocolate.

It was perfect with my cup of coffee this morning.
It hasn't stopped snowing for the past couple days. This morning it was - 19 degrees Celsius (but - 28 with the wind chill!). It's freezing. But we don't mind. After all, it is January.
And so, onto my planner.
This planner from Simply Plan was recommended to me by a friend who had noticed that I was looking to purchase a planner online. You can read more about the two women behind the planner on their website (linked above).
It was exactly what I was looking for: Clean, simple, easy to use, and consisting of all the parts I thought made up a good planner.
I love the simple design with lots of space to make notes. I also love how I can fold it over when writing on the reverse sides of pages.
But most importantly for me, it was supporting a local business.

It's only been a few days, but there is something wonderful about taking time to write out a plan. To see it on paper and not just as thoughts floating around my mind. I've been making a coffee, sitting in a sunny spot, and taking some time each morning to work on it.

I've also enjoyed some company in my sunny little spot.
This is Ellie. We are kitten sitting for my sister while her and her husband are away in New York. The boys are ecstatic as a few months ago we came home to find our beloved Hermione had been hit by a car. After that, we said no more kittens for us.
So a few days with an adorable (and very well behaved) little kitten has been lots of fun. We'll be sad to see her go. Everyone but Ollie that is... He's been a bit jealous.