Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dreaming of Paris...

There was a marathon wash day this week in The Humble Bungalow...
You may wonder why, when there are so many other things that I would rather be doing,
baking, shopping, walking, visiting with Mother...

Pepper had a furball...
she threw up on our pure WHITE king size bed coverlet. I had to wash it twice AND resort to using bleach to get out the stains so it was a long morning of washing and it took ages for the coverlet to dry...

It looks like new...

Two hours of washing
and the drying was another hour and a half...

Pepper made good use of her time relaxing.

I am so grateful for our Heavy Duty LG machines.
They can handle jumbo loads like this coverlet and the queen size duvet...
before we owned these workhorses I was at the mercy of the dry cleaners...
their price for this service was rather expensive, not to mention that they took 4 days to get the job done.

So while the machines worked hard I decided to use the time to go onto the internet and explore Paris, France...
I found a bunch of blogs which I thought I would share with you...

David Lebovitz

Unlock Paris

Prete Moi Paris

Paris By Mouth

The Hip Paris Blog

La Cuisine Paris

Paris Perfect

Becoming Madame

If you are planning a trip do you like to research the area in advance of your trip?
or do you like to "fly by the seat of your pants?"

I like the forums at Trip Advisor and read the comments about restaurants, sightseeing tours, museums, and shops.

Mr. HB and I went to San Francisco many years ago and I had done extensive research online and read up on what we should see and do...we had wonderful accommodations and a fabulous 10 days so I feel it is worth doing a bit of advance planning....careful not "over schedule" the trip though as to allow for spontaneity and surprises.

I registered for a cooking class with the La Cuisine Market Tours, which sounds like fun,
shopping the Maubert Market and then prepping and cooking in their Paris kitchen.

Sounds like I'll be sitting in outdoor cafes "people watching" while I get my bearings and wandering the streets window shopping for the first few days...

I hope you will explore some of these Parisian sites...and if you have any that you would like to recommend I'd gladly welcome your comments.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Same Old Same Old...

My energy is a little low, partly due to some recent sleep disruptions,
which I hope is not going to become a pattern,
plus I have been busy shopping and baking.

I was so grateful that my walking partner was free to walk our 10K route this morning.
I needed to get outdoors and really "wake up" and jump start my day.
The weather was chilly but we bundled up in our Lands" End down puffer coats, gloves and scarves and struck up our usual conversation and time passed quickly. We stopped at The Breakwater Cafe for a jolt of java...before walking back home. I was hungry by the time I got home and so I heated up the dinner leftovers and brewed a pot of tea before sitting down to check my email and read up on the blogs that I follow.
It seems that everyone is busy these days,
many are writing that they are too busy to write new posts and others are too busy to keep up with their blog reading...and so it goes...

I totally understand...
there are only so many hours in a day and one must be careful not to overdo it.

Let's give ourselves a gift shall we?


We have the right to say no to things that demand or zap too much of our energy, things that we do not enjoy, and things which put us teetering precariously on the verge or the thin edge of the wedge...
sounds like good advice,
perhaps I'll take it,
will you?

Time to sit quietly at the computer and type what comes...

I like wearing a light spritz of perfume...
my winter scent is Mitsouko by Guerlain.
It is a heavier fragrance that feels like it is made for colder weather.
I am very fond of scented candles in the chilly weather...
I like the glow that they cast inside our Humble Bungalow and the scent is so sensual.

I wore a vintage beaded sweater to my French class this week.
I like to wear it with jeans and a simple tank top...
because it has so much going on I keep accessories to a minimum.
Classes are over until the New Year.
I gave Madame a jar of my homemade marmalade and some chocolate bark.
She oohed and said "Merci beaucoup j'adore confiture et chocolat!"

I found a modernist designed silver ladle at the consignment shop Good Things on Oak Bay Avenue.

It will look beautiful in our vintage punch bowl.
There is a stamp with three crowns on the is an American maker.
Three Crowns Silversmiths from Pennsylvania.

I like the simple lines of this piece...

The Amaryllis has started blooming and more flowers are on the way.

One of the cats has nibbled the flower...

I welcomed the opportunity to sit for a bit and type up a post this afternoon.

It's a luxury not having to push myself when my energy wanes...which it does on occasion.
Recognizing when I am fatigued and accepting it without fighting the urge to press on has taken some time to come to terms with...
It surprises me that I can still discover something new about myself.

~ ~ ~

Clara, a reader, asked for the recipe for the fruit loaves that I made so she that she could make some for Christmas.
This is a super simple loaf to make.

It is lovely to have on hand as it keeps well if you wrap it in cling film and then a tight layer of foil.
I like to cut a few slices to serve with a cup of tea...
you might even like to spread a wee bit of salted butter on it!

~ Humble Bungalow Hostess Tea Loaf ~

All ingredients need to be at room temperature.
Sift into a large bowl:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Melt and cool 2 tablespoons butter

Beat until light 1 egg then add in 1 cup milk and beat again.
Add the melted butter to the mixture.

Beat liquid ingredients into the dry mixture.
Add in 1 cup dried fruit.
 (raisins, currants or crystallized ginger)

I used a combination of dried cranberries, dried cherries and dried blueberries.

Place in a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
Test with toothpick to make sure it is cooked before removing from oven. 
Cool on a rack before removing from pan.

I doubled the recipe and made two loaves.

Hope you like it Clara.

Mr. HB and I recently watched a delightful film.
"The 100 Foot Journey" starring Helen Mirren and it was filmed in France.
I highly recommend it.

I'm feeling sleepy so I am going to close for now...
I am going to read my book and climb under the duvet.

Be Happy and Stay Cozy!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Out with the old and in with the new...OOTD

I culled a few garments last week from our teeny tiny closet...
they were Tees that had pilled and were looking faded.
I hang most of my clothes to dry so pilling is not usually a problem but those Tees were quite cheap and I think they were worn so often and were layered with vests and sweaters perhaps that is why they were badly abraded.

I did not replace them as I have two long sleeved Tees still in the closet.
Instead I opted for one new top...and a scarf.

Lands' End tunic top in a black and white stripe.
I wore this to the Winter Harp Concert with black leggings and Mee Too ballet flats.

Lands' End did a great job matching the stripes when sewing this top.

I snapped this picture from the car when driving home from the concert...
(I was in the passenger seat)
the legislative buildings in Victoria are lit up for Christmas.

This patterned scarf folded in half ~ black, grey and creamy beige shades.
The fabric has a felted texture and was purchased from the Oak Bay Avenue Pharmasave.
It has no tag to say what the fabric content is or who or where it was made...

As it mixes and matches with almost everything in my closet it is going to get a LOT of wear...
it may even come with me to Paris.

I spy with my little eye something that is silver...

I found a carry on that meets the strict requirements of Air France...
an early Xmas gift to myself 
purchased at 60% off regular price AND I used my senior's discount!

It's good that it expands,
just in case I buy some things in Paris and need to check it on the flight home!

Mimi Thorisson author of the blog Manger has a cookbook out and it is full of fabulous French Country recipes.
This would make a great gift for the foodie on your Christmas list.
I have been drooling over her seasonal menus and cannot stop staring at the beautiful, sensual and sumptuous photographs in this book...
 artfully captured by her talented husband Oddur.

I whipped up a couple of loaves of fruit bread
read most of  "The House I Loved"...

I caught up on some much needed sleep...

Darling grand daughter Isla has been ill and my mind has not been able to completely turn off worrying about her.
She is on the mend thanks to antibiotics and I am looking forward to my "Grammy Day" this coming week.
I hope that Henry doesn't come down with the bug.

I was surprised when I recently got a thank you from Hermes in the mail.

I must admit that I am very impressed...
"Good Manners are Always in Fashion."

Must close for now 
as I need to get dinner organized.

Thank you for your comments and book suggestions...

until next time...
Be Well.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Storms, rum balls, an OOTD...nothing special.

We have had stormy weather for several days and there has been a deluge of rain which has resulted in flooding in some areas up island. People have been evacuated from their homes and businesses.
It must be horrible to have to leave one's home and belongings and seek refuge in a shelter.

There have been a few patches of sunshine and a brief respite from the rain,
but as I type there is a gale force wind blowing outside and the cats are nervous and huddled together.

I managed to sneak in a 5K walk.

Kelp and driftwood and debris blown ashore...

Ribbons of kelp that look like skeins of wool litter the beach.

Quite pretty actually...when you get up close and really study the mix of colours and textures.

Almost sunset...

Clover Point 

It's a beautiful sky tonight.

There has been a lot of activity in The Humble Bungalow Kitchen.
My linen apron has been my trusted companion for the past several days...
(and will be for many days to come)

Mom's rum balls are a Christmas tradition.

Easy to make and very tasty...
I've shared them before but they are worth repeating.

Rum Balls

In a food processor grind a 312 g. box of vanilla wafers (3 cups)
Place in a large bowl.
In processor grind 1 cup pecans and add to the wafer crumbs in bowl.
Add 1 cup sifted icing sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder,
 3 tablespoons Caro syrup and 1/2 cup of rum.
Mix well and roll into balls using your hands or a small scoop.
Roll in icing sugar or cocoa powder.
Place in covered containers and store in a cool spot.

These make a great Hostess gift!

Sherman vintage rhinestone pin, 
a gift from lovely daughter...
thank you darling!

dinner out in the evening.

Simple LBD 
it's my favourite by Elie Tahari
Sherman pin
fishnet hose in black
Calvin Kelin kitten heels
diamond studs

Fresh sole on a bed of mashed potatoes garnished with spinach served with a butter leek sauce...
So delicious...
I ate half and brought the rest home.

Beets, kale and goat cheese on the side.

Zambri's serves up some pretty amazing entrees...

I will close for now...
Tatiana De Rosnay's book Sarah's Key was so enjoyable that I reserved 3 of her other books at the library.
 They all came in on the same day so I have a lot of reading to do.
 I am off now to read my book.

What are you reading right now?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Prepping and fluffing for the festive season...swags, soup and cranberry relish.

We are getting ready for Christmas here in The Humble Bungalow.

I love using things found in nature...greenery, pine cones and plants.
A white amaryllis sits on the dining room table almost ready to bloom and paper whites are growing on a bed of river rocks in a clear vase on the window sill in the kitchen.

Friends met up last weekend to make door swags from greenery and pine cones.

I made a big batch of Mulligatawny Soup to serve for lunch at the swag party.

It's a hearty soup, served up in my friend's arts and crafts Roycroft china bowls.
One bowl of this soup fills you up and I had no room for dessert...
I bought the soup base at The Root Cellar and you can order the Cowichan Valley Soup base  here.

Mr. HB and I have hosted our family's Christmas dinner here in our small and cozy Humble Bungalow for the past 30 years...
When everyone is here we need to spill out into other rooms as our living room is so tiny...
our family have been very gracious and are quite tolerant coming here to celebrate considering ours is the smallest of all of the houses.
I am very grateful that they have opted to join us and make our Christmas celebration, a family affair.

We are cooking an organic turkey and will serve a whipped potato bake, green peas, Brussels sprouts, stuffing and sister brings a yam dish and mom brings some buns.
I make a cranberry dish ahead of time as we like to have it on hand for the feast and then after for turkey sandwiches. This recipe can be made a week in advance so I am sharing it with you now...

Cranberry Relish

1 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1 Granny Smith apple chopped
grated zest and juice of one orange and one lemon
3/4 cups raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cook cranberries and sugar with 1 cup of water over low heat for 5 minutes until the skin of the berries pop open.
Add the apple, zest and juices and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the raisins and nuts. Stir and let cool, then refrigerate.
I like to use a silver dish that has been in our family for years to serve this looks lovely in a crystal bowl.

It also makes a great gift for a busy hostess.

I was tempted by this sweet little snowman cookie at Starbucks.
I resisted though and enjoyed a skinny egg nog latte...
isn't that an oxymoron?
Skinny and egg nog latte together in the same sentence?

I am not very talented when it comes to "decorating" cookies...
I am in awe of Martha Stewart and others who can make cookies look like works of art.

Do you celebrate Christmas?
What are your traditions?

Our neighbourhood has a food drive and carolers go door to door.
The children pull wagons and we fill them up with food for the food bank.

Another neighbour bakes dozens and dozens of cookies and opens up their house for all to attend...
one year they had a gingerbread village set up on the dining room table and a toy train ran through the village!

I went for a refreshing 5K walk along the seafront this afternoon.
I stopped by on my way home to have tea with Mom,
 she was making shortbread so we sat down with out tea and sampled a few pieces...
they were delicious and she even sent me home with a few pieces to share with Mr. HB.
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