Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Happy



 At work today, one of my bosses told me that a few crazy hard weeks are coming up and that it's going to be trying and exhausting.  That this, this, this and that have to be done before this time and that I should be ready, etc., etc.

I answered in a courteous, professional manner and took note of the long To Do list. Then, I went back to my cutebicle cubicle and sat myself down to work on the task at hand.  I told myself, I said:  "Self, don't worry about what is coming.  Deal with what you must right now, make a list, check it twice daily and move along."

I love inner dialogue, don't you?

On another note... Last night I hosted my French reading circle for supper.  It was a soup supper because:

  1. soup is the ultimate comfort food.
  2. soup is easier to prepare than a regular meal with protein, veggies cooked and raw and potato or rice.
  3. after a day's work on a MONDAY, I need major comforting too.
On the menu were the Barefoot Contessa's Lentil and Sausage Soup and her Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.  For sides, I went to Cob's and bought a bevy of breads with savory filling.  For afters, strawberries dipped in Toblerone.

How fabuloso is that?

Bonsoir, beaux rêves!

Stella

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bathroom reno update

Before


We had saved some tiles in case!
After
Before
Our friend Vic has finished repairing and painting the walls.  Love the antique linen color by Dulux.  It is creating a neutral background for the new vanity, Cloudburst and Fresh Pistashio towels from Land's End.

Still have to buy: towel bar, toilet paper holder and taps.  A quick look at Home Depot and I have found what I need.

Problem:  what will I do with the nearly new shower doors we put in barely a year ago?  They are silver and the rest of the metal in the bathroom are going to be antique bronze.  I have suggested spray painting the frames of the doors, Vic says it won't last... Maybe we'll just live with them as is for a while.

T's old bedroom is starting to look like a very comfy place indeed.  A lick of slate gray paint on the closet doors and shelves, new roman shades, a glass carafe and two glasses are all that are left to do.  Then we are ready to welcome friends to stay.  We know we have four groups coming in the next couple of years: my friend Mary from White Rock, V.'s cousin Eddie and his wife Monique, Corey and Yann and our dear friends Christian and Stéphane from our little town in France.

On another note...

Went to see my colleague and friend Lizette sing with her band Friday night.  Friday nights are usually crash and burn night but I was able to get up and go for a few hours.  Their music was up beat and invigorating, the musicians and singers were lovable and engaging.  I danced a few and I ask myself why I don't do this on a regular basis just to get my cardio!

Have a great Sunday!

Bisous,

Stella

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sometimes

Sometimes I just wish that I could stop spinning long enough to know what I really want.  To feel fully present in the moment, to savour life and it's simple abundance and enjoy it like you do a wonderful ice cream cone, slowly and deliciously.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Polyvore Playing

Sunday Breakfast by the Pool

St-Tropez Sands
A couple of years back, I played on Polyvore.  These two outfits make me wish I could be a California girl right now.

Bonne journée,

Stella

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

I finished reading this delightful book in four days.  It is a gentle romance (set in the English countryside) but with a modern twist.  Major Pettigrew, a 68 year old widower, loses his brother suddenly and this makes him think about his life and how, having lost his much loved wife and only brother,  is now left with only a son with whom he doesn't see eye to eye, a sister-in-law and niece for whom he doesn't hold much affection.

Mrs Ali, a Pakistani lady from the market is a lady he admires and comes to know through their common love of literature.  Although challenged by societal dictates, Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali discover that with each other there is hope that life still has much to offer. Through a series of challenges that each of them faces, we find out if they are able to maintain and develop their friendship.

This novel is a well-written, humorous story that will keep you turning the pages to find out what Major Pettigrew's last stand will be.  This novel is a hoot and if you want to be entertained instead of confronted, this is a read for you.

I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Happy Reading!

Stella

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bucket List

I thought while I was making lists, I should revisit my Bucket List.  Here is a partial list, NOT in order of importance:

1. See Egypt and Morocco
2. Play the piano again
D. and T. in St. Tropez in 2009
3. Sail on the Mediterranean
4. Be slim
5. Have a beautiful garden
6. Sleep well
7. Have my boys back in France with us
8. Travel to Asia
9. Become a good knitter
10. Publish my Mom's recipes

Vietnam
Bonsoir,

Stella

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To Do Lists

Amy Butler checklist pad

Work stuff
I don't know if it's my age, the fact that I live in the Northwestern hemisphere or if it is both but if I want to get things done, I make a list.  Lists and list crossing are very satisfying and somehow move me from first to third gear.  All of a sudden, I'm focused, I am grouping tasks according to time or geography and I am so much more efficient than without them.

For example, I know that I have to order roll-up blinds for our new guestroom, have known for two weeks but haven't done it.  This morning, it was first on my list and I'm already trawling the Internet to find the best product/deal.

Of course, my To Do lists include more edifying or noble ways to pass my time such as:  read Le cahier rouge for Monday night or, make a date with V. in the next two weeks.  Whatever the task, writing it on a long piece of paper with little circles to check off helps me do what needs doing.  On weekends when I have a list of things to get accomplished before Monday morning usually see me be far more productive.

My friend Debbie gave me a check list pad as a gift and I use it for work and for home or personal tasks and I love it.  I am a collector of hand creams and I may add checklist pads to my collecting pleasures.  These are inexpensive and fun and just having them around reminds me it's time to make a list.

Bonne fin de journée,

Stella

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Morning Ritual

Every Saturday and Sunday morning, my V. brings me a latte in bed.  He also makes my breakfast which consists of two rice cakes with peanut butter and sliced bananas with a sprinkling of cinnamon.  I am like a child who likes the same book read to him over and over.  I never tire of it.
It's V.'s way of spoiling me, then he jumps back in bed and we read, do emails, talk about what our plans are for the day till about 11:00, then the day's activities begin.

I am a very fortunate woman.

Bonne journée!

Stella

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bathroom Reno Update

On the left where the vanity was, we have to add tile.

This is where the medicine cabinet was.  It was glued and screwed on.
Thank goodness that Vic is doing the walls, we have enough to contend with with the tiles... Below is the mirror that I found for the space.  No, I couldn't find a round one...
It's going to be installed sideways.  I have also found a fixture:

It is going to be in an aged bronze finish.  Can I tell you that I'm not 100% sure of what I am doing?  We shall see won't we?  Wish me luck!

Bonsoir,

Stella

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

-30 and Thriving

The weather till now, which has been positively balmy for an Albertan winter, has turned.  Indeed, Sunday, temperatures dropped from about -13 centigrade to -27.  With the wind chill factor, it feels like -40 today.

But no matter, have down-filled parka, have good car, will travel. 

And travel I did.  Before my reading circle yesterday, I made it to Restoration Hardware after work to look up some vanity sets that were on sale.  Lo and behold!

Vanity set for the guest bathroom, the one we are renovating.

And, while I was at it... a vanity set for the Master bathroom.
This is a store that dazzles the eye.  Everywhere you look is a vignette positively bulging with luxury items.  These unfortunately have a matching luxury price but when there's a sale, they just become expensive instead of unaffordable.

Oh! the Belgian linen sheets, the cashmere throws and slippers, the furniture, the objets as they call them, enough to make a girl want to load up her Visa.  Go on, have a look here, you know you want to.
Inspiration:  my sister D and I can make these.

I can put these on my Xmas wish list.

Inspiration image for my dining room in Provence.

And this, well this can remain a dream. I am happy with that.
Ah!  My visit to Restoration Hardware was an Artist Date.  I am overflowing with ideas for projects to make based on what I saw.  I must bring my sister D. because dreams are more pleasurable and instensified when shared...

Bonne journée!

Stella

Monday, January 16, 2012

Infidel


A Kindle read
 I just finished reading Infidel for my reading circle that takes place tonight. 

What can I say about this evocative, shocking and heart-wrenching book written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian woman who escaped the clutches of an arranged marriage and lived to tell her story.

I was wary of reading this book because I did not want to read another non-fiction selection after reading The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  I had had enough for a while of poverty, despair and a life of bad luck.  Henrietta died young of a horrible cancer and neither her or her family ever made a cent on the billions of her cells that are still being used in research today.

This book is different because Ayaan Hirsi rises up out of her misery and like a phoenix is born again into a life of enlightenment, education and service.  Life has handed her a lemon and she makes lemonade not only for herself but for Muslim women all over the world who live under the dictates of the Koran. Hirsi Ali calls a spade a spade and she explains brilliantly why it is so.  In a simple but deceptively intelligent voice, she recounts with a child's naivete, the events that lead up to her trip to Canada to marry a man she neither knows nor cares for.

For anyone who wants to understand the Muslim faith and get an unbiased analysis of the Koran and the Hadith, this book is for you. 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is to be commended not only for sharing her story but for risking her life to let the world understand the life of women living under the strict laws of the Koran.

Watch the video below that she created with Theo Van Gogh (great-grandson of Vincent's brother) called Suppression. Van Gogh would be murdered for the part he played in making this film.

It is like a trailer for this powerful book which deserves 4.5/5 stars.



Bonne journée,

Stella

Theo van Gogh/Ayaan Hirsi Ali: "Submission" pt 1

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Project

Boy's bathroom

Towel color choice 1
As our eldest boy has gone, we now have a guest room and now, we will be having guests.  The bedroom has been cleaned and prepared for the upcoming visit of my friend Mary and her friend. So V. and I have decided that it is as good a time as any to freshen up the downstairs bathroom.  No, no lengthy and expensive renovation, just a primping up of sorts, to make guests comfortable.

Silly me, I did not take pictures of the bathroom as it was in order to show you before and afters, but above are pictures of the bathroom minus the claret vinyl words that were on the wall.  They were words like: brush, bath, hot, cold, scattered here and there.  In my enthusiasm to get the project started, I peeled them off last week and didn't think to take a picture before beginning.

Towel color choice 2
Tomorrow, we are removing the vanity, mirror, fixture and cabinet above the toilet.  Later next week, our friend and neighbor Vic will come to repair the water damage to the ceiling and repair the holes in the walls and follow up with a good coat of cream paint. 

After that, we will have to replace two tiles that are cracked and tile where the vanity used to be.  During this time, I have to find new  fixtures and a mirror (see the inspiration photo at the bottom of this post) and lastly, we will put the new vanity (below) in place.
Our vanity was purchased from Costco online.  I want to put baskets where the shelves are.

Inspiration for mirror and lights - I know round mirrors are hard to find.
We'll see how close I get to the inspiration photo above...a girl can dream... 

Wish me luck!

Bisous,

Bonsoir,

Stella

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Well-Spent Moment

Yesterday, V. and I went out to dinner and later, for dessert.  This is NOT a common practice thank goodness, as I already have weight issues...

HOWEVER, this was time well-spent as V. and I just sat in the enchanting decor at Duchess Bake Shop in Edmonton.  We each perused the long pastry cases and came up with a mouth watering, melt-in-your mouth deliciousness accompanied with a really good cup of coffee.

 V. had a Raspberry Chocolate Crémeux Brioche and a Coconut Macaroon...
 I had a Key Lime Tart with coconut shavings in the crust...
They also make macarons to die for!
Not quite like the ones you can get in France at Ladurée (check out their cute website here)but very very good.  The salted caramel one might be my favorite.
This is definitely something to repeat and to enter into my Journal of Well-Spent Moments. More about this later.

Bonne journée,

Stella

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gratitude Journal

 Do you have a gratitude journal?  I do.  I try to write five things for which I am grateful every day.  Sarah Ban Breathnach who came up with the idea says: "If you seek, search and give thanks for five gifts every day, in two months you won’t look at your life in the same way as you do now."

Writing down these blessings every day help you become more conscious of what is really important in life.  Isn't it so easy to get distracted and caught up in frustration and feelings of dissatisfaction?  Well, with the gratitude journal, you can counter these and begin to see your glass as half full.

Today, January 10th 2012, I am grateful for:

1. The fact that winter has been MILD so far.
2. The fact that I have three winter coats to choose from depending on my needs, activities, mood.
3. My son is settled in Anguilla.  He has a great roommate and apartment.
4. Finding a text message that said I was missed when I was home sick from work yesterday.
5. V. made me a cup of tea just now, without asking.

There now, doesn't that feel better?

Bonsoir, beaux rêves,

Stella

P.S. Although the journal featured above is no longer sold, copies may be found at Abe Books or Ebay but any notebook will do just the thing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cozy, Comfy

I forgot where I got this picture, oops!,  but I love what it suggests: softness, coziness, natural materials, curves, reading, light and calm. In my second life, I would have a home decorated in this style.  Not very practical but oh! so beautiful.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Colette

Sarah Ban Breathnach just wrote an article on Simple Abundance online on Colette.  That famous French novelist and performer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (28 January 1873 – 3 August 1954). She is best known for her novel Gigi, upon which Learner and Loewe  based the stage and film musical comedies  of the same title. (this with a little help from Wikipedia)

I remember being a little girl and seeing Gigi with Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jourdan.  I positively fell in love with Jourdan and I am still know to hum: "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" occasionally.

This movie set my imagination alight.  I would always yearn to travel to Europe and particularly to France.  It may have begun with this movie, who knows.

What I do know is that Colette was a firebrand.  She was born a century before her time, she was an eccentric, one of a kind woman who would not take no for and answer.  I had long ago started her biography by Judith Thurman and never really gotten into it.  Maybe now I am ready.


This is a woman that deserves a little attention, no, a LOT of attention.  She knew how to live the life she wanted to live and did not give a whit what was said about her.  My kind of girl!

Bonne journée,

Stella

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pinterest


Go over to Pinterest and check out my boards here.  I'm just beginning but it's fun. Seeing that I'm in bed with a cold, I thought I'd take advantage of my sedentary state.  I have: made out an invoice, answered email, written a cheque, ordered online and knit.  I now have to get back to the book which we are discussing in one week.

Amitiés,

Stella

Thursday, January 5, 2012

This n' That

Tomorrow, I'm back at work after almost two weeks holiday.  I decided to do something soothing, that would allow me not to think too much about work.  Knitting, polishing silver, these are activities that sooth the soul.  The silver that we have comes from V.'s parents as I've never been an avid silver collector.  I am enjoying the few pieces that we have and am using the very old spoons, plain and  elegant, every day.  
 Note the old Dijon mustard jar above.*
Note the Pinot Grigio above.**

The silver and wine** are done.  The teaspoons on the left are very old.  I have put them into the Dijon mustard jar* on the counter.  The cake serving set is used at every birthday and most holidays.
 The carving knife and fork are from a dear friend in France.  Exquisite!
This is our most prized piece:  this tiny cup was V.'s aunt's.  Her name was Lidushka  and she died of polio at ten.  She was V.'s paternal grandparents' first child...  They went on to have a boy, V.'s dad and a girl.  They have all passed and these small treasures help keep the memories alive.
After all that silver polishing, I'm having a beef curry with black pepper pappadums and Sweet Mango Chutney.  Love a curry!
It's simple to make and oh so tasty and the silver soup spoons are great for eating it!

Bonsoir,

Stella

Wednesday, January 4, 2012