Thursday, January 31, 2013

~ French Style ~ a book and thoughts after reading...

Are you a fan of all things French?
There is something about France and Paris that speaks to me...
it's a mystery as to why I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

Perhaps it is all the books that I have read over the years that paint a lovely picture of French country life.
It could be the movies... the romantic images of Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
the chauffeur's daughter who runs off to Paris and is transformed by cooking school and a new hairstyle.
Or perhaps it's French Vogue, or the iconic and enduring styles created by Coco Chanel.

In any case I am as far from a French femme as possible and have no illusions of being one.
But having said that it does not stop me from exploring all things French and reading books on French life and style.

One of my favourite books is a classic by Veronique Vienne.

she has a quality about her

 very comfortable in her own skin
"bien dans sa peau"
her skin glows and her hairstyle is casual 
she looks like she has not fussed too much
she is not wearing too much make up
my impression is that she looks natural and healthy
and quintessentially chic.

What about Canadian Chic?
Is there such a thing and if there is what would it look like?
Our country is such a melting pot of ethnic groups that it would be difficult to define!

Style is personal and the clothes you wear are a reflection of who you are.
They should be honest, comfortable, a little bit creative, and above all be fun.

So if like myself you dress for comfort...
it might be flats instead of high heels

for honesty
not wearing designer duds head to toe 
 (a no no in my books even for the rich)
and especially if you are on a beer budget

can be found in accessories and they do not need to cost the earth
they can be inherited, thrift shop finds or vintage

might be wearing a bright pair of ballet flats with your jeans and a white shirt

"Dressing your age" is a phrase that bothers me
dressing appropriately for your figure and lifestyle might be more to my liking.
I cannot imagine "giving up" on fashionable clothes just because one reaches a certain age.
We see many older women here in baggy polyester 2 piece outfits and they are not very exciting.
I am referring to the pastel shades of pants and wildly flowered patterned tops that can be found in many shops.
Please don't!

I'll give you an example of a well dressed woman 
(who must have been 80 if she were a day) 
at the Market and she looked lovely.
Navy dress pants, a short tan car coat, a bright silk square scarf with red accents on a navy background
navy kitten heels, an understated leather bag and small gold hoops in her ears and a smile!
I think her clothes were many years old but the cuts were good as were the fabrics and she looked fabulous.

whatever you choose to wear it should say something about who you are...
you clothes should be clean
and appropriate for whatever it is that you are doing
whether you are at work or at play
meeting the gals for coffee or lunch
or out on a date night with your sweetheart

Plan ahead so that you are relaxed and comfortable.
Buy sizes that fit your body
not the body that you want when you lose that extra 20 pounds.

Have a few key pieces for a variety of occasions
my go to bare basics are :
well fitting black pants
white shirt
silky tank style top for layering
a dress that fits and flatters that is simple and can be dressed up or down
cashmere cardigan
tweedy style (Chanel) jacket
a few fabulous brooches and several strands of pearls
a pair of kitten heel shoes
some flats
an evening bag
and a pashmina wrap
a great coat

Make sure that buttons are not dangling and threads are not hanging loosely.
Iron out creases and pay attention to details
are your shoes polished or worn down at the heels?

Look in the mirror before you leave the house so you are confident.

Don't do what I did that day I ran out to the bakery just before it closed only to see my reflection in the glass that showed a messy wind swept hair do and a pale face with no lipstick on!
( invariably you meet someone you'll know and the moment to make an impression is upon you!)

If you can get your hands on this book it is well worth a read.
Classics are never out of style
nor are manners.

Have fun getting dressed and exploring some new shops in your city.
Buying accessories can give a new lease on life to a wardrobe and you can dress creatively while you are saving for some new clothes or dieting and working out to shed those extra unwanted pounds.

Above all Have Fun!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Frugality ~ How do you keep your wardrobe looking new and fresh?

I've been very frugal lately...
you may have noticed that I have not been posting lots of "look at what I bought" shots!
It's all the high tech laundry work horses and the renovations that have kept me out of the shops.

There may be a new stove in our future too as ours is misbehaving...
and that is another large purchase.
Better get this all done before my income is reduced when I retire!
We have a new roof scheduled for this spring and the sun deck needs to be rebuilt.
Heritage homes must be maintained or they fall into disrepair so quickly...I suppose that is true of any home.

I bought this Betty Barclay sweater coat on sale
it was $140 off the original price!
In grey and it elongates my stature and skims my wobbly bits in my mid section
what's not to love?

To make my clothing seem newer and fresher I have been changing the way that I wear my pearls...
I've added the JCrew necklace that I got for Christmas to add a modern touch.

Ancient Liz Claiborne shirt
still crisp and serviceable

What about you?
How do you mix up your wardrobe when you crave something new and fresh 
but don't want to spend the money?

Do you sneak off to the thrift or consignment shops with your grocery money?
Do you buy anyways and put it on a credit card?
Have you stashed some money aside  for a rainy day splurge?
How does it make you feel when you know that you shouldn't spend and that you should save?
Are you a compulsive shopper, a recreational shopper or a reluctant shopper?

I've found staying out of the shops has been easier than I thought it would be...
browsing online has been an outlet which satisfies my urge to shop
and with only a minor slip up at the Gap Online Sale I am having a lot of success!

The fact that I want to lose a few more pounds before I buy anything else is a great motivator.

Tell me dear reader how do you do it?

~ ~ ~

Monday, January 28, 2013

~ Victoria Sponge ~ The Humble Bungalow Tea Cake..

Don't you love having a few tried and true recipes that you can make when the occasion arises?
Teas are a lovely way to entertain when the weather gets warm and sunny and a great excuse to get some of your friends together for an afternoon in the garden.

This Victoria Sponge is a classic tea confection.
All you need to add is a fresh fruit platter and some good quality tea
and you've got the makings of a pleasant, yet easy gathering.
Use your prettiest china and silver tea service...
if you do not own any of these try haunting the local charity shops and thrift stores as they are plentiful where I live and can be bought for very little coin.

Mother's Day might be just the occasion to serve this cake, our Mother's do love a tea party!

simple ingredients
this recipe goes together quite quickly

I cook mine for 25 minutes and use the confection setting in my oven

 a spring form pan make this easy work

when cool cut in half
I use a serrated bread knife

spread the bottom layer with jam
any flavour that you desire
I used raspberry

sieve some confectioner's sugar on top and the cake is ready to serve

Tested and approved by Mr. HB and The Hostess!

Now all you need to do is choose a date and make up a list of friends to invite and you've got a lovely event to look forward to...

Hope that your week is off to a great start!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pottering with paint...

It was a glorious day yesterday!
Looking out the windows from The Humble Bungalow
I felt energized.

The sun was out and the shadows danced across the garden throughout the day.
Warmer than it has been and just that hint that Spring might not be too far off.
Days like this beckon me to go out and potter about in the garden...
there are so many bulbs up that they look as if they will bloom early this year.

Keeping cozy and cocooning indoors I felt antsy...
it's a difficult task for me not being able to go out and about as I am so accustomed.

I started a knitting project and read a few chapters in my book, drank several cups of tea and yet I felt the need to do something more.

I wandered downstairs and found myself in my hobby room browsing through my favourite decor magazines.
It was lovely sitting with the cats playing at my feet...

My easel beckoned
it's been awhile since I have picked up a brush and one cannot force artistic expression.
It needs to flow from deep within, and when the time is right things seem to come together.


Thank you all for your lovely and encouraging comments.
I feel snug and spoiled by your get well wishes.

Wishing you a weekend full of delight.
Treat yourself and indulge in something nice...

Be well

Friday, January 25, 2013

Taking it's orders!

A few posts back I was lamenting about having the flu and feeling rather sorry for myself.
Fever, chills, aches and a wracking cough.
Dearest reader I went to the clinic last Sunday evening
only to discover that what I actually had was bacterial pneumonia.

I have been taking life easy and following doctor's orders.
As one might expect I am on antibiotics as this is something the medical profession don't mess around with.
I can report that I am improving each day.
Work has taken a back burner and I am going to be off until I get the all clear from my GP.

This is my 3rd bout with this illness although it has been over 10 years since my last episode.
We all seem to have an area of weakness and it would appear that mine are my lungs.

this fragrant bouquet was delivered by my lovely DIL and our bonny red headed grand daughter 
Little Miss Isla
who while bouncing up and down with excitement said
 "Flowers ~ Happy ~ Flowers ~ Happy!"
A more welcome delivery I cannot imagine.

I have discovered something that many of you may or may not not know
 You Tube has movies 
 all one needs to do is click on them to open them and they are there in their entirety!
Some films that I would have liked to view were only available in the US.
Object of Beauty is one such film and I remember enjoying it so much when it first came out that I saw it twice.

I have watched some of my favourites;
Sense and Sensibility
Enchanted April
A Room with a View

I do adore a period drama.
I suppose that is why Downton Abbey has such appeal.

Mr. HB has been making the rounds to the market to keep us stocked in food.
Homemade soups have been such a comfort and so very easy to heat up and serve.
My appetite has been minimal
which has resulted in some immediate weight loss
which I must confess has given me a jump start ~ encouragement on my goal to shed a few pounds.

Reading in between movies I got into Tatler and devoured it cover to cover.
Thanks again to Natalie!

Mother popped over ever so briefly and dropped off this novel
It's Maeve's last book as it was finished just weeks prior to her death in July 2012.

I have done some shopping and online browsing.
Nordstroms have an amazing selection of SHOES....
so tempting
~ ~ ~
New fresh cotton towels from Lands End
should be on their way.
White towels are The Humble Bungalow standard issue.
White towels never stay snow white for me as I refuse to use chlorine bleach.
The fish and environment may thank me and so might the towel makers!

I am getting a bit antsy and would dearly love to bundle up and go for a walk around the block.
Instead I have opened my bedroom windows to let some fresh air inside and closed to door to usher out the germs.

I hope that you are keeping well and in good spirits.
Do me a favour and go for a walk for me!

 ~ Thanks so much for popping by ~
Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

All in a days work...

It's a home day today.
The weather is grey and gloomy and there is a chill in the air.
The kettle has been whistling merrily several times and tea is plentiful and soothing.

I gave my boots a lick and a polish to keep them looking good.
These have served me well for the past few years and I hope they will continue to do so.
I am a firm believer of maintaining things.
Even if you have but one pair of boots they should always look their best.

Is it just me or do your oven mitts get grubby?
I cannot abide a gooey glove.

Cashmere needs to be kept clean or the moths will go to town and feast on the yarn.
The new LG machine has a delicate wool setting and I tried it out.
The sweater was placed in a mesh bag and laundered.
It came out wonderfully!

It's not a dark and dingy space anymore.
I have a view out to the garden and the heated floors make it a cozy place.

Things are looking rather mossy and damp
typical for our January weather.

Chester is eager to get in on the action.
He is more of an onlooker than a doer.
He very nearly ended up at the vets this morning when he climbed into the dryer when my back was turned and I started the dryer only to hear some large banging sounds...
in a load of towels I thought that's weird and immediately investigated
 am I ever glad I stopped it to check.

He seemed totally un-phased by the experience 
I do hope that this has taught him a lesson.
9 lives
1 down
8 to go.

How is the weather where you live?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thinking of roses

It's that time of year when we rose growers (rosarians) put on our rose warrior gloves and have a gay old time with our ancient but trusty Felco secateurs.
(Don't neglect to sharpen them for clean healthy cuts.)
Pruning roses does require some expertise...
cutting wildly and willy nilly just does not cut it, pardon the pun.
Slim Paley recently posted an image on facebook of one of her roses after it was pruned...she is a hard pruner.
Many of my gardener friends prune hard, I am timid.

I follow the 3 D rules for rose pruning:
Prune for DESIGN (shape)
DEAD wood must go as well as any DISEASED stalks.
that's the basics and of course one needs to cut on the correct angles which you can read about more here.

Jude The Obscure
a David Austin variety rose
my all time favourite
apricot turning to blush
repeat bloomer 
heavy fragrance
grows quite large
prolific bloomer

Growing roses rather gets under ones skin
its starts out quite innocently and then before you know it you are ordering catalogues
seeking out the finest varieties
some old, some new
and are always on the look out for more.
More is more when it comes to roses.

I have always got a space in The Humble Bungalow garden for another rose!
I asked Slim for her favourite rose and she gave me three 
Yves Piaget
Golden Mustard

I googled these roses and funny thing...Golden Mustard images were Slim's own!

I've ordered my David Austin catalogue and hope to choose a new rose.
I have specific requirements when I buy a rose...
it must be a repeat bloomer
be heavily scented
 have deep cups of multiple petals
and grow in a garden which has clay soil.

Abraham Darby
reliable and such an intoxicating fragrance

an old rose
(I forget it's name)
thorny stems compact shallow cups 
bourbon scent

Jacob's coat
a climbing variety
masses of blooms
and the rose turns many colours!

Constance Spry
a stalwart among roses
give her a structure to grow upon and she will ingratiate herself

Climbing Royal Sunset
another fabulous rose
this one is a hearty variety that is not deterred by the salty ocean breezes.

If you grow roses 
you must bring them inside to admire and enjoy.

I couldn't resist showing you another image of Jude!
Is this not a beauty?
I am smitten.

Gertrude Jekyll Rose
Did you know that roses love epsom salts?
Sprinkle a handfull around their roots once a month and water well
 from spring through summer and they will reward you with their blooms.

This rose was new last year and is getting established...
our clay soil has been mulched heavily by my garden helper Bobby
and I am hoping that this will make it easier for roses to get their roots well and truly stuck in.

what's nicer in the home than a vase of roses ?

name escapes me and there is no tag on the rose
this one is better left in the garden as it wilts so quickly after picking
the bees just love it!

If you have never grown roses please do not be intimidated
they are reliable provided you give them the basics
they are heavy feeders so give them some quality soil and compost
and water them well
avoid watering at night as black spot likes it when the foliage is damp
early morning is best.

I received my first rose back in the 1980's
The Peace rose was a gift from a Victoria Rosarian who took all the awards and trophy's at the annual show.
Vi said if you want to grow a rose plant it, feed and water it...nurture and tend it like a child.
That Peace rose flourished and I won my only trophy for best bloom in show the year I entered it.

Rose growers are always happy to share their knowledge and love to show off their plants.
Join a garden club and you'll find the most interesting people!
Their garden sales are full of garden cuttings and plants for next to nothing.
The VHS motto is share what you know and show what you grow.

I hope that I have inspired you to think about roses today.
Take care and thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dreaming in sea foam...nothing out of the ordinary.

My favourite shade is green, I love all forms of green from chartreuse to sea foam.
There's something so ethereal about sea foam, aquatic and organic.

What colours speak to you?

It may surprise you to know that I have a small collection of vintage beach floats in sea foam green.
I've always hoped that I would come across one washed up on the beach some day but I have yet to experience the joy of finding I did what many people do. I went shopping on the internet to ebay and I found a few.
Since my original purchase several years ago I have come across a few in the antique malls and the odd vintage shop.

I usually keep them in a first nations basket on the buffet.
To show them at their best I placed them in my sea foam pottery bowl.

I used up the last of my Diptyque candle this week.

so I pulled out this lovely votive
 Aveda's signature Shampure scent

this wick is just waiting to be lit this evening
simple and elegant

it's the little things
that make my ordinary life richer

I hope to have a quiet restorative weekend

maybe a sleep in and an afternoon nap
(what a luxury!)

I cannot tell a lie
I have the flu

So I am hydrating like mad and reading while resting.

What wonderful things have you got planned for your weekend?
Please do tell!