Monday, August 3, 2015

A Comforting Cottage Pie, Luxurious French Linen...and thoughts about happiness.

It's BC Day today and the weekend has flown by...

Mr. HB has been working hard at his office and I have been pottering about in the garden.
I took advantage of a sunny Saturday afternoon and decided I deserved a wee break .
My excuse was to do a bit of browsing and shopping.

There are several of my favourite shops located in the Oak Bay area of our city so I took off in the car and leisurely strolled along the Avenue. Poking into shops and saying hello to the merchants...
when you shop at the same stores on a regular basis you get to know the owners and they become more than just "shopkeepers."
I do not always buy things from them, I go in to see how they are doing and I ask after their families.

The French Touch carries a variety of vintage and antique pieces.
They have classes every month on painting using Anne Sloan Paints.

I adore their stock of lovely vintage linens imported from France.
A dozen of these pretty tea towels were priced separately so I purchased one.
Often the linens are sold as a set... tablecloths and matching sets of napkins or sheets.
Many are embroidered with monogrammed initials.
This one is interesting but I have no idea what it signifies or where in France it came from...

Lovely liquid soap in fragrant "Figue" from Marseilles...
which takes me back to my trip this past Spring to Paris and the South of France.

After I got home I spent some time browsing Bunny Williams' Garden Book while sipping a restorative cup of Mariage Freres Paris Tea.
Bunny's book is a wonderful guide for gardeners...and I LOVE perusing garden books.
There is so much inspiration to be found within the book.

I have her other books and am thinking that this one might need to be added to my bookshelf.

A little while later I got busy in the kitchen.
I donned my well worn soft linen apron (of course!) and made a comforting Cottage Pie.

Recipe for Cottage Pie

1 large diced onion and 1 pound mushrooms sliced
2 peeled and chopped carrots
4 stalks of celery diced
gently cook until vegetables are no longer crisp.
Brown 1 pound of ground chicken until cooked.
add 1 cup chicken stock
(I use a tablespoon of "Better than Bouillon" chicken dissolved in boiling water.)
add in 1 cup of frozen peas
Salt and pepper ~ to taste
Place in ovenproof dish.

Boil peeled potatoes until soft 
drain and mash adding a bit of butter and milk.
Cover the cottage pie with soft mashed potatoes and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.

Simple and tasty.

While the cottage pie was baking in the oven 
I picked some alliums and popped them in a vase 
and placed them on the front porch...

I love a day when some domestic work is accomplished in The Humble Bungalow 
and then some time remains for creative pursuits.

It's the truly "the little things"
not the acquisition of luxury goods
that put a smile on my face.

I drive an old Volvo
 wear the same clothes many times.
There's really nothing fancy going on here...

Since returning from France
I've rediscovered the Joy of gardening 
working quietly
next to
the buzzing bees 
the butterflies
the birdsong.

I travelled to Paris last Spring on a trip that I'd dreamed about for years.
It was so exciting and everything was fresh and new.
I felt truly alive...
like I'd been revitalized and injected with a new energy and spirit.

Upon my return ~ and after a period of contemplation 
I've come to the realization 
that what I really "need" to be content and satisfied
is all here in the city where I live with my family and friends
inside these walls 
and outside 
in the garden 
of my own home...
"The Humble Bungalow"

I look forward to future trips but have come to the realization that I am happy leading a quiet life.
It need not be anything remarkable
nothing worthy of the news.
Living a Simple Life suits me just fine.

Thank you for stopping by...


  1. I share your feelings about a quiet life. I've had interesting jobs, fabulous trips abroad, and wonderful educational experiences. Now, in retirement, I've learned the true value of contentment. I live in the garden during the months I can (I live in northern New England), I hike and explore the winter woods on snowshoes, I cook, I read and read and read. I love to read about your little jaunts, your boating life, and the family times. Thanks so much.

    1. It's interesting to me how many women love and live in their gardens once they's so rewarding and such great exercise!

  2. From Margie in Toronto - it's Simcoe Day here in Ontario so I am also enjoying the day. In fact the whole weekend has been mostly low key (with some chores completed around my apt.) and then time to visit with friends. Dinner and "Newsies" on Friday night - a lovely BBQ on Saturday afternoon with other friends and then a girlfriend coming over for lunch and a visit today. She is going to retire at the end of next May and is thinking about what she can do to keep life interesting and yet "humble". We came up with a lot of things to do here in Toronto without having to spend a ton of money and she is feeling a wee bit more confident about life after work.
    I think (or at least hope) we all reach the same conclusion as you - that a happy life doesn't always have to be about travelling to foreign places, or taking up skydiving or running a marathon sometimes, home and family and friends are enough. Thank you for articulating that so well.

    1. Retirement is a big change from working but it is a delightful opportunity to explore new things and it's surprising how much fun can be had in our everyday routines. So many thongs to do too...taking a class, going to a gallery, joining a walking group (swimming, bridge Mah Jong) visiting other areas of the city, coffee shops, restaurants, volunteering...etc the list goes on...I hope your friend has fun exploring the options.

  3. What a wonderful peaceful post. I feel much the same after years of a more wild life, filled with "outside" excitements. We're turning our front lawn into a fruit/vegetable garden and it'll be hard to get me to the studio I'm afraid, which is OK with me right now.

    1. Oh sounds like you've got the gardening bug too!
      I look forward to seeing and hearing more about your new venture.

  4. Lovely post. You come across as a woman who is truly bien dans sa peau. Mary

  5. I love this post!

  6. I loved reading this post. It's so true everything we yearn for is usualy on our own doorstep. I live in a rural place tucked away in France and pinch myself everyday when I pass fields of poppies or during the past month, fields of sunflowers. Nice to hear that your trip to France revitalised you.

    1. Oh those fields of flowers are breath are the many quaint little villages in France.
      The south of France lifestyle suited me to a T.
      Slower pace, fresh food, beautiful scenery, gardens, and such friendly people!

  7. I would love to visit your part of the world someday. The Pacific Northwest looks so beautiful to me. I have also found that traveling revitalizes me and when I return, I incorporate some of the ideas and images from my trip. But I am always glad to come home. My little city has a world class art museum, Broadway Theater League, some of the best Italian restaurants I have ever visited and my little bungalow (not as authentic as yours, but comfy).

    1. Your city sounds like it has many wonderful amenities...a comfy bungalow has such a cozy sound...I imagine you have put a lot of yourself in it to make it a special home.
      Mr. HB and I love dining out at Italian restaurants! We went to one in James Bay called Il Covo and it was superb...we sat outside in the patio on a hot summer evening and felt like we could have been dining in Italy!

  8. This post really spoke to me. Thank you! Love reading about your cozy life!!!

  9. Your cottage pie looks yummy and just right for a simple quiet life!

  10. What a lovely post, very relaxing, I found myself smiling. I made a cottage pie last week, although I usually call it shepherds pie, I can't remember what the difference between them is!

    1. I make a shepherd's pie with beef and this one I found in an English magazine that called it a cottage can be made with lamb too!

  11. You have exactly the kind of life I aspire to have!

  12. What a lovely post hostess ... You sound so happy and content. Like you I've recently come to the conclusion that as much as I love to travel being at home either alone or with family and friends is something to really treasure. Your cottage pie looks delicious ... One of my family's favourite meals! Take care ....I hope you have a relaxing week

  13. Lovely relaxing to read your thoughts on a good life!! wish more people would take heed of your thoughts..I adore reading your blog and it makes so much sense.....enjoy what we have and be satisfied and happy with it...was wondering where you bought your liquid soap as I love that brand and would love to purchase some....hope you can help!! no baby yet?

    1. Pharmasave carries it here in Victoria. I have seen some at Winners HomeSense too...hope you are able to find some. The company makes a variety of scented soaps...the Verbena is lovely. I opted for the Figue just for a change....if you cannot find it up where you live please send me an email and I'll see what i can do to help.

  14. Truly, there is no place like home . . . lovely thoughts here. You describe a happy, peaceful, contented existence. I love your casserole dish, such a pretty blue. And I love kitchen linens. I recently got a linen apron from Rough Linen. I love it!

    1. I love Tricia's website and her linens are apron is made by Now Designs and has been my faithful companion "uniform" for several has softened up nicely. I hope you enjoy wearing your apron too!

  15. Funny, I felt exactly the same way after my visit to France. Quite happy here in my own home. Following the French philosophy of "taking pleasure in the simple things in life".
    Linda C.

  16. I use Better Than Bouillon too, and bought up every flavour in Publix last season to bring home to Canada. Is it available now in Canadian stores?
    I've always been a homebody, and I'm happy to lead a quiet, uneventful life. I have little interest in going out at night (except for dinner, opera, theatre), and have had my fill of big parties, fund raisers and events.
    I really have to be talked into travelling abroad. I'm fine once I'm there; but part of me can't wait to get home.
    I'm happiest at the end of the day with my husband, enjoying some wine and Balderson 5 year old cheddar; watching the sun set, and watching The Real Housewives. lol.

    1. The Better Than...products are available here in Victoria...chicken, beef, lobster are the ones I have seen in the local grocery shops.
      We like watching The Last Tango in Halifax...and Anthony Bourdain.

  17. What a wonderful post! I love going into the small shops in Oak Bay when I'm there. They are within walking distance of where my son's family lives, so we often put Lucy in the stroller and head there.

    I especially liked what you said at the end of your post about being happy leading a quiet life. That's the realization I'm coming to as well. I have a trip to Ireland planned for September, but due to financial restraints and a sinking Canadian dollar, I'm realizing it might be quite some time before I'm able to travel overseas again. And I'm starting to be okay with that.

    1. Ireland would be a lovely spot to visit...
      my ancestors come from there...Wexford and Cork.
      The dollar was down for my France trip...I just avoided thinking about it too much and enjoyed the experience. I travel very little...we mostly holiday on our boat.
      It seems that many people are rethinking travel plans...there's a lot to see and do locally and fun can be had for very little cost.
      Would enjoy meeting you in Oak Bay should you have time next time you are over on the island.

    2. I would very much like to meet next time I'm there. I'm hoping to pop over for a visit before I head to Ireland.

  18. Beautiful post! It's feeling very like autumn here in NY, so your Cottage Pie will be happening in my kitchen soon (will be making my linen apron, too, just to make it feel "real"). We recently moved from a rural lakefront farm house to a craftsman home in the city. So much to do and see, great places for walking, and still the best thing is often just sitting on the front porch with a coffee. So nice to relax and enjoy the contentment.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Craftsman porches are perfect for sitting and watching the world (neighbours) go by...sipping tea, coffee or wine!
      I hope you'll share your linen apron with us when you have it finished...

  19. I love reading your blog. I too love being at home and enjoying life's simple things. We do travel and it's fun......but i love coming home.. Thank you for sharing your life,

  20. I couldn't agree more with your sentiment my dear … as I too … have come to realize how happy and content I can be in my own … simple everyday life. It's always so refreshing to visit here! Thank you for sharing your "Humble Bungalow"!


  21. I love going on overnight trips but have no desire to travel for long periods. I am very content as you are to be right in my own home. Love your posts..keep them coming!