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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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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09-August-2013Clockwise from top:

I’m mad about the scent of orange blossom. Simply mad! Cire Trudon’s Odalisque candle is an intoxicating blend of citrus, orange blossom, juniper and vanilla. I’ve been indulging in this luxurious candle all week. I can’t get enough of the glorious fragrance.

I’ve been trying to embrace my curly, unmanageable mane. This week, I decided to bust out the Sally Hershberger Wave Spray, and let the madness ensue. I love the way it smells, and it let’s my hair do its crazy, wavy thing, while somehow keeping it from turning into a hot mess.

This week I finally picked up the latest album from The Knife – Shaking the Habitual. It’s their first studio album since Silent Shout came out in 2006. That record blew my mind, and now they’re doing it to me again. Mercy! I love that the philosophy behind this record spawned something of a performance collective. Digging this record, big time.

I just rediscovered this tea, and thank goodness I did. Rouge Provence by Sloane Tea Merchants, is a rooibos with fragrant florals, reminiscent of the South of France. I quite enjoy floral flavours, and am something of a rooibos nut, so this tea is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up!

Every night, my daughter and I make two cups of steamed milk with honey, snuggle up on the couch, and read a book together. Right now we are reading Comet in Moominland. It’s B’s favourite of Tove Jansson‘s beloved Moomin series. She loves the little animal Sniff, and quotes him constantly. In the story, a comet is coming to Moomin Valley. The young, naive Moomintroll, and his friends, Sniff and Snufkin, embark on a journey to the Lonely Mountains to visit an observatory and learn more about the comet. The adventures that follow are truly fantastic.  If you haven’t read a Moomin book, you are missing out on some profoundly magical storytelling. These books were written for kids, but with a respect for children’s hearts and minds, and a belief that children have the capacity to understand a higher level of thinking than we give them credit for. As an adult, I find so much to connect to in these stories. Simply brilliant.

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02-August-2013 Fox and Rook FavouritesClockwise from top left:

Some people love salty foods, others have a sweet tooth. I simply cannot choose sides, which is why I’m so glad that salted sweet things have become a somewhat of a mainstay and not just a passing fad. I’m really into these Barú Fleur de Sel Caramel Marshmallows. Like, really into them. They’re small enough to make you feel like you’re treating yourself without going overboard… unless you eat several of them. Tee hee! Who me?

My summer playlist always includes MC Solaar. The wind in my hair and Solaar in the air!

I’m rather pale. Celtic ghost pale. In the summer months, it’s always a battle to keep my skin sun safe without looking like I just crawled out of an eight-month hide-out in someone’s root cellar. I love Guerlain’s Terracotta line for giving me a natural, sunny glow. The Healthy Glow Foundation in 01 Blondes, is a perfect shade for a ginger like me. It glides on smoothly, leaving a lightweight, soft finish. If only it came in enormous tubs, I could use it on my glowing white legs.

While there’s nothing like the smell of clean laundry dried in the fresh summer air, I do love to spritz everything with a bit of linen spray. I go between a few different scents, depending on my mood. This week, I’ve been mad for orange blossom. Durance Eau de Linge – Fleur d’Oranger is one of my favourites. In fact, I keep a couple of bottles of it around the house for freshening up curtains, cushions and sheets. Orange blossom is one of my all time, number one, superfan, most-loved scents, and this linen water nails it!

One can’t really read too many books about Paris, can one? This week I’ve been reading Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. I’m terribly romantic, and simply love to immerse myself in tales what it’s like to be an American in Paris. In all honesty, I haven’t finished the book yet. I’ve been doling it out in small doses, making it last. The wandering heart in me can’t get enough of well-written memoirs of new lives led abroad.

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The smell of the blooming lilac outside my daughter’s bedroom window lasts for such a short time, but for those two weeks or so, the whole world seems to change. The air is suddenly heavy with the scent of the blossoms, and it brings with it a sense of beauty and magic that was previously absent. The rich fragrance is such a delight, and yet it lasts for such a brief time. It’s these short-lived spells that I try to capture each day, even if only for a fleeting moment. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a salty sea breeze on a hot day, or a fragment of a tune that stirs the heart. Maybe it’s something like an incredible story, a connection with a stranger, or a warm and comforting drink after a long walk in the rain. It’s the little beautiful things that make each day so rich. These are things that we remember in time. Perhaps the little things aren’t so little at all.

Here are some of the things that made this week special:

26july2013Clockwise from top left:

I love Ólafur Arnalds so much, and found myself playing Variations of Static over and over this week. Beautiful, moving music that makes you stop what you’re doing and just listen.

We have a perfectly good espresso maker at home, but once in awhile, I like to treat myself to a latté at our local Italian deli. You really can’t beat sitting by the window in the warm sun, people watching as you savour a fine café latté made with Illy beans. If I could only learn to get my milk to foam just so!

I’ve had a heck of a time getting my nails back to health after getting gel nails done months ago. Tired of sticking my hands in my pockets all the time, I treated myself this week to Essie All-In-One nail treatment. My nails very noticeably stronger and hardier. I can’t believe I went so long without it!

In a grand effort to make more time for myself, I’ve been going to bed early and reading to my heart’s content. This week I read, When The Snow Fell by Henning Mankell. I had never read one of Mankell’s books for young people, and now that I have read this one, I can’t wait to get my hands on the companion novels to this tale. A beautiful and authentic tale of an adolescent boy in a small northern town in 1950’s Sweden.

I rediscovered one of my favourite fragrances this week, Un Jardin en Méditeranée by Hermès. I’m quite enamoured of figgy scents, especially in the summertime. This fragrance sends me to a magical place where I can imagine that I’m on the Amalfi Coast, and not sitting here listening to the bus go by every 15 minutes. Sigh…

I hope you all have a happy weekend!

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