Saturday, February 28, 2015


I talk often how the importance of having flowers in my home, and the feelings they evoke in me. But there are so many other things that make a home feel lovely.

Tidiness enables one to relax, but at the same time, so does a well loved, and evidently lived-in home. In the evening, soft candlelight is soothing, and what could be more inviting than a bed clothed in freshly laundered linens? How about a luxuriously large bar of beautiful smelling soap, or a collection of lovely books to browse through?

Really, there are so many things that make a home welcoming.

I always think a bowl of fruit looks beautiful. I always tend to gravitate towards pears and green apples, just because I like the colours of them, but they're also staple fruits in our home to eat.

These Forelle pairs are small and are the perfect size for the boys.

Don't they look lovely on the counter?

Another favourite homekeeping tip is something I discovered on Pinterest a couple years ago.

It's the smell.

Now I don't know how much is true when it comes to this one, but regardless, it works. I've read that this is a smell that is associated with Williams and Sonoma, a sort of signature smell. And if anyone has done any sort of research into an appealing home smell, I would think it would be them.

It's really quite simple;
Vanilla, Rosemary and Citrus.

It's really become something I do quite often. It's called a simmer pot. Everything is put in water on the stove, and then allowed to simmer. The aroma fills your home and really does make it smell lovely. It's especially nice in the winter, when the windows have been closed, and the house can start to smell stale. Within minutes, everything smells fresh.

There's something to the combination. The rosemary is strong and refreshing, but it's sweetened and mellowed by the vanilla, and brightened by the citrus.

There really isn't a recipe, I just add a couple sprigs of fresh Rosemary, a couple slices of lemon or grapefruit, and about a teaspoon of vanilla. Once it begins to simmer, I just turn it down as low as I can to keep it slightly simmering.

There are many other versions of this - think oranges and cloves and cinnamon sticks, or fresh mint with lemon. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Common Cardinal

You'll never guess what I witnessed in the hedgerow this afternoon?

I was reading by the window in the living room, when the brilliant red feathers of a male Cardinal caught my attention. Of course he was quite obvious against a white backdrop of snow.

But it wasn't until closer inspection that I noticed why he was perched in the hedges.

Do you see her there to the left, near the bottom of the Forsythia bushes?

I'm fairly certain it's the same female Cardinal who was happily singing in the same part of the yard just yesterday. Did you know that the more vibrant the plumage on the male, the more attractive he is to the female? And that once they've selected a mate, the male stays with the female and feeds her and protects her while she sits on their eggs?

It's a beautiful sign that nature knows Spring is on it's way, nevermind that it's still snowing and the temperature is much too far below zero.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Master Bedroom

Today's task was to tidy up the master bedroom.

Not much has happened in here recently, except that we have hung curtains, and we purchased a new four poster bed from Kijiji. It was $100, and was already painted white. I actually would have preferred it to be unpainted, but I wasn't having any luck finding an antique frame in a queen size.

I'm still on the hunt for a night table. I have one that would work as a night table, but it's too large for this space. 

In need of some time out of the house, Hudson and I ventured to the grocery store today and picked up all of the Spring bulbs that they had. The Hyacinths were three bunches for $10!

We also picked up a chocolate croissant for with coffee. It was a much needed treat.

I put a few bunches on our night table. They will make the whole room smell beautiful.

The curtain panels were $29 from Ikea, and the rods were 20% off $14.99 at Target. We tried out the curtain hanging tip from Miss Mustard Seed, where you use a template and just switch it back and forth for each side of the window. It worked quite well.

I also picked up a few more pots of bulbs as my others were finished.

Daffodils are always so cheery.

And I always enjoy the look of Muscari.

And I managed to get a photo of this cheerful looking Cardinal. She's so fluffy and was chirping happily the entire time in the Lilac bushes outside of our bedroom window.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Office

Now that our dining room has been relocated back to the other end of our living room, our sun room has been left feeling kind of empty and not really useful. I had an arm chair and an end table in there to fill the space a little, but it was really just that - to fill space. And really, in a small home, well used space is so important.

A while ago I had set this room up as an office space. The view of the woods and the back yard is beautiful, and as it's nearly all windows, it's very bright. I thought it would be best to bring the desk back up from the basement and make it an office once more.

It's also a door to the back deck and back yard, so having this space set up in this way, with the desk up against the window, provides ample walking room.

I tried to keep things quite simple and clean.

The sun room is off of the kitchen, at the back of the house. To the left of these peg hooks is the staircase to the basement, and to the right are the french doors to the back deck.

We've had this desk since we were first married, and this chair was found at auction one time for $15.

Ideally, I would love to find a natural fibre rug, such a sisal, that would fill this space. But I didn't have anything on hand except this small rug. The tile floors in this room are a little cold in the winter, so it's nice to have something under foot.

My Juniper that I brought in for the winter is still doing well. In fact, it has a few inches of new growth on it.

Seeing as it's an office space, I hung my calender (the simplest one I could find) and my small inspiration board. It makes me laugh that this was my Pinterest. I find having something visual like this to look at is very inspiring to me.

On my board right now I have a lovely quote by John Howard Payne "Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.".

Each of these images are so lovely, and simple, and beautiful - the few snipped Peonies by the old brass goose neck faucet with the ornate mirror, the panelled bath with the luxurious tub, the vase of Hyacinths, the collection of antique watering cans, Trisha Foley's gorgeously simple outdoor spaces, and some decor inspiration with the natural rug, covered arm chair with the turned legs and old transferware collection.

My bouquet of flowers, though quite a bit smaller than at first, is still making me smile. I just keep removing the dead flowers and rearraging it a bit to keep it alive.

 The little bit of storage I need fits into this wicker trunk.

Oliver has found another new favourite spot, on the rug in front of the warm vent, in the sunlight.

I also hung this old portrait on the wall. I liked that dark frame and didn't have any other artwork that suited it well.

Monday, February 23, 2015


"Earth laughs in flowers."
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I am always surprised by how much joy flowers bring me. I read once, though I don't remember where, that having fresh flowers in your home reduces stress and helps fight depression.

In one way or another, there are always fresh flowers in my home. It's part of what makes my home feel like a home. It can be a large hand-tied bouquet of flowers, or some simple blooms snipped from the garden, or even something as simple as a few Lily blooms tucked in a vase beside my sink. They make everything more cheerful and life seems happier.

Of course with Liles, not only do they look beautiful - they smell just as beautiful as they look.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The David Austin Rose Catalogue

A friend of mine recently went on a trip to Germany, where she attended an international flower show. She was interviewing different rose growers for research here back home. I had asked, if it wasn't too much, if she could bring me home a copy of the David Austin rose catalogue to browse through.

I always see the ads for ordering it in British Country Living, but I never have.

I was quite excited when she handed it to me the other week, and I've since been reading up on different varieties in hopes of possibly ordering a few more for my gardens.

I was so lucky the other year - in fact, the girl working the garden centre probably thought I was nuts - to find two varieties in town. I have never seen them sold here in Canada, and last year I searched all over unsuccessfully.

Here are some that I have dogeared.

Carolyn Knight

Gentle Hermione

Queen of Sweden

Lady Emma Hamilton

And both Lichfield Angel and William and Catherine.

This is the variety I have planted - Winchester Cathedral.

Have any of you had any luck ordering roses by mail? Or even Peony roots? I've also found quite a few lovely varieties that are very reasonable on eBay, but I'm so leery.