Fox and Rook Fridays - 04 October 2013Clockwise from left:

Mmmmm… I am really enjoying this Orange Cardamom Soda Syrup from Organic Fair. I’m a bit mad about cardamom as it is, but mixed with the wonderful flavour of orange, it’s a pure delight. Just add this syrup to a glass of sparkling water, and you have your own custom made soda. Now to get my hands on some vanilla ice cream.

Fall is all about the mums, don’t you think? This week, I found two lovely flower baskets filled with chrysanthemums, and adorned with pansies, cabbage and succulents. One on each side of the front door, and I feel like the house is instantly transformed into a welcoming and cozy abode. Oh autumn, how I love thee.

I found this week to be a bit overwhelming. Sometimes there’s so much to do, and not enough time. On Wednesday I had so much driving to do, I basically put the iPod on to Charles Trénet, and let it work its way through the “C” artists. What a treat, I had forgotten about this delightful album by Chiara Mastroianni and Benjamin Biolay. Home is so laid back, so chic, so French… I felt instantly soothed and relaxed by Mastroianni’s delicate whisper, and who doesn’t love the deep tones of Monsieur Biolay? Sadly, the two split up a year after this album was released. My goodness, she’s a beautiful one. I guess having Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni as parents, it would be hard to turn out any other way.

In my continuing efforts to make things fall-like and cozy at home, I broke out the Voluspa Baltic Amber candle this week. Oh, how I love the rich, faintly sweet and luxurious scent of amber. It’s rather a bit too heavy a fragrance for summer, but come grey skies and yellow leaves, amber is just right.

I feel like the instant that the weather cools down, I get dry lips. This goes on for roughly 10 months, and then over the summer, I forget that I ever had chapped lips. Suddenly, October hits and I’m clambering for a swipe of anything remotely moisturizing. This week I picked up Fable Naturals Orange and Vanilla Lip Balm. I love that they are a local company, use Fair Trade and organic ingredients, and look at the cute little tube! It’s like a push pop for your lips. The flavour is just like a creamsicle, which is precisely what I had hoped for. Most importantly, it has kept my lips happy.

I’ve sort of appropriated an October tradition from my dear friend Gregory. He always reads scary books during this month, and I’ve been taking after him for the past few years. I always kick things off with Henry James. The Turn of the Screw is the scariest book ever. Ever!! I remember the first time I read it. I lay awake afterwards, wondering if I might die, my heart was beating so fast. I still yelp out loud when I read it. I wonder which other spooky tomes I will cuddle up with before the month is over?

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27-September-2013 Fox and Rook FridaysClockwise from left:

My mom has been giving away boxes of books, so I went over to take a peek and see what I might want. Well, lo and behold, my copy of Patrick Süskind’s Perfume was in there! I stole it back, and starting diving into it again this week. The first time I read this book, I was so overwhelmed by the pungency of it all, that I almost found it a bit much. On a second and now a third read, I find Süskind’s tale of murder to be such a delightful (albeit, horrible!) exploration of the human connection to scent. I’d love a copy of this book with the Klaus Haapaniemi’s cover art, like the one pictured above. Holy Haapaniemi, it’s beautiful!

Hooray for salt! Poor salt, it gets a bad rap. Luckily, I am here to advocate for the responsible use of salt in all its variants. I’m rather fond of Québec’s Maison Orphée. They offer wonderful oils, vinegars and other delightful edibles, and the prices are not outrageous, even for their organic lines. I’ve been a-salting nearly everything (responsibly!) with their Sel de mer aux herbes de Provence. On a soft-boiled egg in the morning, tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, my fingers… ha, just kidding. I’m not there yet. Give me time. The salt is flavourful on its own, and the herbs almost make it buttery. Try their coconut oil too, it’s outstanding.

I listened to First Aid Kit’s The Lion’s Roar all summer. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but I kept listening and coming back to it week after week. Suddenly, it became something I’d listen to all the time. The lovely duo’s songs are melodic and the lyrics thoughtful, without weighing too heavily on the soul. Country songs about winter in Stockholm? Yes please. This past week I found this album to be the perfect working companion. It’s much nicer to be listening to something you love when you accidentally sew your finger to the inside of a shirt. Yep.

My beloved Aunty Val has had this amazing Sukin lotion and hand soap in her guest bathroom for a while now. She’s totally on the pulse of what’s natural, beneficial and beautiful, and it shows in her radiance. I have wanted to get my hands on a bottle of Sukin’s body lotion for what feels like ages, and now my grocery delivery place stocks it. Hooray! It’s the warm orange scent that originally had me fiending for the stuff, but the texture of my skin after using it has made me fall in love with it even more. My hands feel like baby’s cheeks! Well, not as chubby thank goodness, but very soft. If I could buy this in industrial sized tubs, I would.

I started going to ballet class this week. For the first time in a very long time, I stood at the barre and fumbled my way through my pliés, tendus, relevés… and even some jumps! It was a little trickier than I had thought it might be. I looked like a pale, globular sea creature, flailing about in the mirror. Despite feeling like an abject failure, I woke up the next morning feeling proud, and dare I say it, more graceful. It might take me a while to feel comfortable, but I’ll get there!

Baies was the first Diptyque candle I ever bought. Now I have enough of the empty jars to start my own candle making business. The rich scent of roses and blackcurrant leaves is a Diptyque classic, and one that I love so much at this time of year. It’s so cold and quiet in the house. The dogs are fast asleep. The kitty is fast asleep. The Baies fragrance has sent everybody into an intoxicating slumber filled with dreams of mystical blossoms and aromatic berries. I think I will join them.

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20-September-2013Clockwise from top left:

I did a lot of driving this week… driving time that could have been reduced by half were it not for terrible congestion, road work at every turn, and general everyday too-many-people-ness. Thank goodness for the iPod. This week I pretty much only listened to The Radio Dept. You know how you get in a mood, and only one thing will do? I needed something poppy, shoe-gazey and laid back… without putting me to sleep at the wheel. Especially that.

The days have been quite warm this week, but it’s definitely cooling down at night. I have what could be described as an out-of-hand blanket and throw collection. I never had a blankie when I was a baby, ok? The softer the throw, the happier I am. Thus, as soon as the temperatures start to dip, I spend as much time as possible wrapped up in a luxurious blanket like this Rani Arabella cashmere throw. Snug as a bug in a rug!

I have been running ragged this week, and I tried to pick up a new book, but I just ended up getting to the end of the page without knowing what I had just read. When you have to read the same page four times, either the book is kind of meh, or you should just give in and go to sleep. I had heard good things about Welcome to Night Vale, and thought I’d put on a podcast and rest my eyes. Their website describes it best: “Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.” It reminds me of the late 90’s when I would lay awake at night listening to Art Bell, except it’s not real, and I can actually sleep afterwards.

Another weapon in my arsenal. When waging the war on haggardness, one must be prepared to engage the enemy on all fronts. A few carefully blended attacks with Benefit’s Watt’s Up highlighter, and my tired face retreats, leaving a healthy glowing face in its wake. A strike down the middle of my face from hairline to chin, a blitz along the upper cheeks from under the eye to the temple, and a light barrage along the jawline, and you’ll be looking fresh-faced and vibrant before you can even say, “Enough with the war analogies!”

You know what’s a super yummy treat? Liberté Méditerranée yogourt. Let me tell you, all the flavours are good. I’ve tried them all. It’s the perfect, creamy blend of milk and cream, and the delicious fruity accompaniments are outstanding. We need our calcium, so we may as well enjoy it. Just don’t think you’re going to be able to enjoy any of that fat-free rubbish after you’ve had this. Pah!

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13-September-2013Clockwise from top left:

While I definitely owe this week’s props to the makers of Gravol, and the bland diet of brown rice, that doesn’t make for very interesting reading, does it? I had the displeasure of being quite ill this week. Fortunately, I’m back on my feet, and enjoying a delightful lunch at the beach.  Nothing like a seaside nosh and a glass of wine while I work. If I could just figure out how to log in to the allegedly free wi-fi, I would definitely make a habit of this.  Seriously, why do I need a userID to log in to free wi-fi? Grrr. Another glass of wine, please.

My makeup routine is pretty low-key in the summer. I mean, I’m just going to have to re-apply sunscreen every 10 minutes, so what’s the point?  Now that fall is around the corner, I’m quite happy to surprise myself with how much lovelier I look when I fix myself up a bit. I’m quite fond of Stila’s In the Know palette. It’s got a perfect range of colours for redheads, and it comes with a really great grey eye pencil (which I lost somehow… groan!) and an instruction booklet to show you the myriad of looks you can create with the palette.

Tender is the Night is one of my most beloved F. Scott Fitzgerald books. I adore the character of Nicole Diver, and the way Fitzgerald writes her, it’s impossible not to fall for her charms, despite her flaws. She may not be the main character, but I always felt drawn to her far more than that loathsome Rosemary. (There, I said it!) I have an ancient copy of this book, and it’s one that I come back to every couple of years. Even the title gives me goosebumps.

You know what’s good for an angry tummy? Angostura Bitters in a glass of tonic water. Three cheers for quinine and gentian violet! Settles the tum without all the nasty sugar that comes in a glass of ginger ale, and one bottle of bitters will last you until the next ice age.  Oh, and it’s great to have on hand for cocktails, so you can celebrate when your tummy feels better.

I’ve had the newest Boards of Canada for a couple of months, but I hadn’t given it a listen until now. Tomorrow’s Harvest is distinctively BoC, and yet somehow richer and more textural than their previous work. This is exactly what I want to listen to when I go for long walks in the rain by the sea. I love these Scots and the way they manipulate sound.

Some ladies have multitudes of purses and bags, but I am not one of these women. I find it quite tricky, in fact, to find a day-to-day bag that works for me. I need a bag that is big enough to hold what I need for the day, without weighing me down. Something that is beautiful and well-made, without being obviously branded or emblazoned with logos. For days when I’m travelling light, I usually sling my little Isabel Marant lambskin bag over my shoulder and off I go. This week, however, I needed something a with a bit more room, so I brought out my beloved Abaco Odelia bag. It ticks all the boxes: big-but-not-too-big, loads of pockets, handles and shoulder straps, beautifully made, subtly fabulous! I tucked this baby away last spring, and I’m so happy to welcome her back.  Bienvenue, Odelia… I’ve missed you!

*my apologies – due to technical difficulties, this somehow didn’t manifest itself in the proper time frame – better late than never, I hope! – H*

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5-September-2013I’ve been pretty quiet this week. It was our little girl’s first week of kindergarten. It’s hard for everyone to get used to new schedules and routines, but we’re getting there. Here’s what kept me sane this week.

Clockwise from top left:

The Fjällräven Mini Kånken backpack was the smartest thing we could have chosen for little B. It’s sturdy, water-proof, practical and looks great. The size is perfect for her. She chose the navy backpack, which I was both surprised and delighted at. (Yay, no pink!)

Camino Drinking Chocolate is so delicious, and really warms up your tummy on a wet, cold day. You know, the kind of days that we are condemned to for the next 8 months here in the Pacific Northwest. Organic, fair-trade, and scrumptious. You can’t beat that!

I love my Ilse Jacobsen rain boots. It’s rather unpleasant to live here without proper rain attire, especially for your feet. These boots are toasty and warm, snug-as-a-bug, and I love the way they look. Unlike some of the more popular rain boots which have been dialed-down in terms of quality and craftsmanship, these boots are really well made, and to my mind, worth every penny.

In the past week of back-to-school mayhem, the sweet notes of Erik Satie have kept the house calm. Even matching odd socks becomes pleasant and relaxing with Les Gnossiennes tinkling in the background.

To help usher in that fall feeling, I’ve been scenting the house with Cranberry for my Lampe Berger. It’s a warm, comforting scent. Sweet, without being sickly. We have two Lampes in the house, and frankly I would love one in each room. They clean the air, gently fragrance the space and are really quite lovely. Now that I’ve used up all my Cranberry scent, I’m excited to go and get some of the other fall-friendly fragrances. Ahhh… I love Lampe.

Check out my new Pinterest board called Friday Favourites, where I’m pinning these and other things that have made my week special!

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30 August 2013Clockwise from top left:

This week has been a bit of a whirlwind. Aren’t they all? When things get a little crazy, it really helps to listen to some beautiful music. Somehow everything feels less chaotic. This week, I’ve been listening to a lot of Ólöf Arnalds. Her music transports me to a magical place, where hot springs and icy fjords meet… where little elves run among the tall grasses… where the air is always fresh and scented with sea salt.

I was invited to a Stella and Dot trunk show this week, and I must admit, I did a little bit of shopping. Tee hee! I’m generally not much of a jewelry person. I like simple pieces and accessories that don’t get in the way. Some people look amazing in big, statement necklaces, chunky rings, and big heavy cuffs. I’m not one of those people. So here I am at a jewelry show, and suddenly I’m having to tell myself to slow down! I ordered a couple of things, but I’m finding myself most looking forward to this stacking ring set. So me! Mixed metals, many ways to wear them, simple. My fingers are going to feel naked until this set arrives. Don’t look! Naked fingers!

Nielsen-Massey makes a bajillion different flavours, essences and other culinary delights. I bought their rose water to make marshmallows with. Rose water marshmallows! Anyway, I put a wee bit in my nightly cup of steamed milk, with a little bit of honey and saffron, ground cardamom and cinnamon sprinkled on top… boy howdy! Taking my Cozy Milk to a whole new level. Now to try making some pretty cocktails with it. Any other ideas? Have you tried cooking with rose water?

Since little B starts kindergarten next week, I’m trying to get myself organized by planning meals a week ahead. I haven’t read much in the way of fiction this week, but I have been cuddled up with cookbooks quite a bit. I just love Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen book. The recipes are easy to follow, and she has such a knack for taking these classics of French cooking, and making them fresh and exciting without doing anything drastic to them. Quite brilliant, if you ask me!

Sleep… where are you? I don’t know why I’m having a hard time sleeping this week. We had a storm one night, and I slept so profoundly and whole-heartedly, that I guess I’m done now for a while. I’m still ridiculously tired, and it shows. Thank the gods for YSL’s Touche Éclat. When time is short and I’m looking rough, I quickly dot some of this magic wand on the inner corners of my eyes, on those big ol’ puffy bags, and at the sides of my nose. Blend, blend, blend… powder, mascara, go!

Ah, blueberries. Their season is coming to an end here, and I will be so sad to see them go. I ate so many blueberries this week that I must be a powerhouse of antioxidant activity. I just picked up another 6 kilos of them this morning. I should probably get more and freeze them before they shrivel up until next year. Long live the blueberry!
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23-August-2013Clockwise from top left:

Yes, that’s a giant wedge of cheese. Darn right. Let me tell you, this Douanier might be the greatest thing that has happened to me in some time. Similar to a Morbier, this fromage is made in Quebec. I won’t go into specifics about how much of this I devoured this week, after all, a lady must keep some things to herself.

I’m getting sick of hot, muggy weather. I would love to just put on some makeup and not have it all sweaty and ruined after ten minutes of being outside. Fortunately, Nars lipstick stays put. I love Russian Doll for fall. It’s quite striking! I’ve never really worn it during the summer, but right now I love the contrast of the dark shade with an otherwise make-up free, sun-kissed face. I haven’t been able to find it online. I hope it’s not discontinued!

I find Voluspa’s fruity and foodie scents a bit cloying, but I’ll take their Lichen and Vetiver any day. This week I’ve been lighting this candle up on my bedside table, and enjoying its fragrance while I read before I fall asleep. Vetiver is one of the notes I actively seek out. This blend is an earthy yet clean scent. Come to think of it, I would really like this in a body spray. I’d spray it on everyone.

Speaking of reading, I’m busting out the Colette this week. By golly, do I love her writing. I wish I had discovered Colette as a teenager or a young(er) woman, I honestly think I’d be a different person. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was a French novelist, and quite a controversial woman in her day. She was married a number of times, had affairs with women, and wrote candid, often autobiographical tales of romance. Scandalous!

I’ve been on a bit of a lavender kick this week. Sprinkling lavender oil on our pillows, spraying us all with lavender mosquito repellent (it works!), drinking it in tea, eating it on fish, washing my hands with lavender soap…. no wonder I have been oversleeping. The scent of lavender is such a comfort to me. It reminds me of my mum, and evokes visions of purple flowering fields. So calming.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been listening to this record all year, not just this week. At the start of the year, a friend in Norway touted The Silicone Veil as one of the best of 2012, and I was intrigued. I managed to get a copy, and have yet to tire of this album. Susanne Sundfør is incredible. Her songs are brilliantly composed, and her voice has an astounding range and strength. As someone who sings (badly) and composes music (slightly less badly), this record really sets the bar as something to aspire to. Sundfør is a classically trained musician with an arsenal of amazing synth sounds and a voice that could summon the gods. Powerful.

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