Friday, January 31, 2014

Miller Time Friday: Dear Diary

I was a faithful diarist as a child and as a teenager, and then only sporadically in my 20s, 30s and 40s. 

If truth be told, I have used you all as my Dear Diary since June of 2012.

But late last year I began to miss the practise of writing it all down just for me.  It seemed so cathartic; soul-spilling in some ways, mundane-capturing in others.

I have, from time to time, kept a small journal in my nightstand for noting all of the things I am grateful for.  That has been a wonderful practise and it is has evolved from the typical rote "I am grateful for my friends and family" (which of course I am forever grateful for) to much more esoteric fare, such as being grateful for the way that the sunlight hit a certain tree that morning.

So in late December, off I trotted to the local bookshop and purchased myself a lovely diary:


I have been quite faithful to writing in it all month and it is nice to take the time to have a small remembrance of the day or to talk out something that is troubling me.

While I was at the bookshop, I spied this little gem:

Cook's One Line A Day is a variation of the company's One Line A Day, which assumes everyone can find the time to make note of one thing every single day.

I bought it as I thought it would be fun to track what I cooked when, and for whom.

You can see that earlier in the week I made homemade gnocchi, which was amazing by the way and enjoyed by Barry and I, our children, and our son's girlfriend, who is an honorary family member now.

I am thinking this will be very helpful for dinner party planning, as I am often wont to wonder if I've made the same thing before for a particular group of guests.  Since one of my happiest ways of showing my friends and family how much I love them is by cooking for them, it is fun (for me) to track this kind of thing.  Oh and it was $5 in the bargain bin!

Returning to writing in my diary daily is another step in reclaiming the full writer and person that I am.  Some days I write 2 or 3 pages, some days I write a paragraph.  But I always write.

I would love to hear whether or not you keep a diary and do you write in it daily or sporadically?

Since it is Miller Time, let's have a cocktail in honour of diaries, shall we?

F. Scott Fitzgerald liked a good cocktail AND he liked to keep a good diary. 

His preferred cocktail was a Gin Rickey which, while undoubtedly more of a summer drink, might make us all feel a little more summer-like as we finally wave goodbye to January and prepare for Valentine month, or as my friend Brian has so-named it: FOREVUARY.

Gin Rickey

2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. lime juice
Top with club soda
Lime wheel

Pour gin and lime juice into a chilled highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top with club soda, and stir gently. Garnish with lime wheel. Serve with two straws.

So long January - you've been a cold task master!

Have a fabulous Friday and stay safe out there!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Believe in Pink

I believe in pink.  Audrey Hepburn

 Oh Polar Vortex, you scamp, you are making me cold and miserable, but I will not give in, for I have discovered the remedy to these mid-winter doldrums and it is pink.

or should I say PINK.

I can't get enough of it and sadly, when I look around, I see that there is more that could begotten!

I've got a whole Pinterest thing going these days about my love of pink, including the following delectable images:

I pretty much need to find a jacket like this...

Last night I had trouble sleeping and woke up in the middle of the night and thought about wearing pink and burgundy today so I did!
I know, back in the bathroom, sigh...

I thought of flowers and other pink delights...





And that made me look around my house and snap some sweet pink things in my own place...

The raspberry pink of my hallway...


The pink hues of the first tulips I've bought this year.

Pink nail polish, lip gloss, shimmer power, Urban Decay's Naked 3 palette is all of its rosy goodness...

 A sweet little drawstring purse:

 Dried hydrangea:

Pink cashmere gloves:

Rose quartz crystals in my office:

And then I got to thinking of doors.  My yellow house has a white door, but imagine the pop of pink...


Seriously, right?

And then I started thinking of some more pink in the house and I knew exactly what room needed, nay DEMANDED a rosy hue - my dining room, stuck in its golden hue for ten long years:

But some lovely pinkish hue and voila!  New life!


So here's the thing: who's going to break this to Barry?????

Yup, I am under the power of pink these days.  How 'bout you?

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

True Detective

We have a new obsession in our Family - the HBO Anthology Series True Detective starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

IMDB describes it thusly:
The lives of two detectives, Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, become entangled during a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana.

I describe it as some of the best storytelling and acting I have seen in a long time.
Harrelson is fabulous in this movie, but it is McConaughey who is a marvel.  His acting is a dizzying display of tormented man and philosopher king, his physicality at various moments mesmerizing.
The show will last 8 episodes; Sunday night's was the 3rd.  HBO tends to rerun these things fairly often and I highly recommend you seek it out and catch up.
The dialogue on this show is Shakespearean.  You know you are watching a tragedy unfold, but you aren't sure how or why.  All you know is that you can't look away.
The series is meant to be an Anthology.  Next season will be an entirely new cast and crime story, which promises to keep things fresh, while retaining the brilliance of creator Nic Pizzolatto.
This has surely been the year of Matthew McConaughey, from Mud to Dallas Buyers Club to True Detective. 
It is widely expected that one month from now he will pick up his Oscar for his work in Dallas Buyers Club, which unfortunately, I have not yet seen. 
But you might as well tell everyone to go home right now for September's Emmy Awards.  The Best Actor nod belongs to him already.
Don't you just love it when a good old boy makes good on the early promise of his career?  I do!

So please - seek this show out.  It is amazing!
Have a great day and stay safe out there!  Especially if you are in Southern Louisiana and you run into the two guys up above.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Don't you just love that word?  It implies that one has gumption and better than gumption, a plan...

I wish I could claim that my stick-to-itiveness would result in my lighting the world like Mr. Edison, but I will say that the small changes I put in place in early January are paying huge dividends already.


Our grocery management has greatly improved things and we are $200 less than our budget (which is about $400 less than our regular expenditures!  This includes a couple of dinner parties, so well done us!  We can't claim a bill like our Janet, but for 5 people (as the girlfriend is here a lot), we are feeling very pleased!  We think we can do even better next month!


I have done yoga every day this month and I have meditated for 20 minutes each day.  I feel wonderful!

I walk regularly and have been tracking my steps on my pedometer.  I am not dieting, but I am upping my fruits and veggies and no eating between meals.

What has also made me feel wonderful is only having alcohol once a week.  No more nightly wine for me.  I sleep better and I seem to feel better.  It is also saving us money!


No shopping for me.  As I mentioned earlier this month, I want shopping to become a special occasion kind of thing, something only done when I actually need something.  I haven't visited an online shop all month.  I have avoided shops here in town, except my local bookshop.

I cannot tell you how happy this has made me.  I only know about sales because I see others' blogs, but honestly, I have no interest in them.  I feel as if I have reclaimed a normal relationship with shopping again and I couldn't be happier.

The best thing is that I am paying more attention to my own closet and enjoying my own clothes.  No more adding and subtracting for me.  For me the big question now has to be: will buying this ___ really add to my joy or am I just buying it out of boredom, wanting to be like others, or something else?  My experience with shopping frequently is that one buys the item and then is simply on to the next thing.  And there is always a next thing.  So stopping that cycle has been blessing.

There is beauty everywhere and for me, for a while, it won't come from a bag...

When I started all of this in early January, it was about putting my money and time into things that REALLY mattered to me and stopping engaging in behaviours that didn't support my happiness.  They say 3 weeks makes a habit, but I won't be sure this has completely taken hold until the end of February I guess.

And I am not being overly silly about it.  Wine, clothes, other things, happen. 

I will be going to Florida in a few weeks and anticipate that some money will be spent there, although I don't really plan to purchase clothes, but determine sizes for my springtime purchases!

I am truly putting my intention and attention on my writing, my learning, and my inner self.  Spending less and spending smarter is one way to do that. 

So four weeks in, I am feeling pretty proud of myself!  Hope this helps anyone who is thinking of doing something similar!  Have a great day out there!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

On Goldfinches

A flock of Goldfinches have been visiting us over the last few days.

I never get tired of watching birds at the feeder.  Usually this winter we have been limited to black capped chickadees, nuthatches and the odd woodpecker.  But when the goldfinches arrive...

Why it's like a party!  They are like long-lost relatives who show up in their finest clothes, they can't stop dancing and they eat you out of house and home!

A flock of about 20 of them are feasting regularly at the feeder and we love them...

Of course, that got me to thinking about another Goldfinch I am obsessed with lately, Donna Tartt's wonderful book, The Goldfinch.  I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and it is still in my head, which is the sign of a really great book.

The Goldfinch tells the story of Theo, who survives a terrible tragedy that forevermore links him with the painting below, The Goldfinch, painted in 1634 by Carel Fabritius.  The painting was recently on display at The Frick Museum in New York City and I know some of you got in to see it, which must have been wonderful.  I guess I will have to catch it back in Europe!

The book is enthralling and a page turner, but slightly long at 784 pages.  I am no literary genius like Donna Tartt, but I thought that her editor might have had a bit more of a go with it.  Having said that, the painting, with the goldfinch chained to the wall, is a fitting metaphor and the book is wonderful.

I thought about the little bird above while looking at the birds out my window this morning.  I love all things bird:

Little pictures and paintings:

dinner plates:

Why this spring I will even wear some yellow shoes in honour of my little bird friends:

But I never wanted to have a bird in a cage.  To me the delight is watching them dart about, flitting this way and that, revelling in their freedom. 

“When I looked at the painting I felt the same convergence on a single point: a glancing sun-struck instance that existed now and forever. Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch's ankle, or think what a cruel life for a little living creature--fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place.”

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.  Meanwhile, I am going to be content, on this fine Sunday morning, to look out the window...

Have a wonderful Sunday and stay safe out there!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Miller Time Friday: EAT, DRINK, LOVE

Well we have reached another Friday!  And that is a lovely thing as it gives us an opportunity to think of the finer things in life....


I got a new cookbook from one of my favourite people for my birthday:

It is the companion to the Little Paris Cookbook that Barry bought me for Christmas and it is a delight!!!!

So Wednesday night, I decided to cook its recipe for a chicken bundle (boneless chicken thigh wrapped around shallot and apple and then covered in bacon that is placed on a Kohlrabi/Apple coleslaw.

It looked so good in the cookbook and I can attest that it tasted even better:

However, I did not realize that my vegan son and his vegetarian girlfriend would be there for supper.  Lucky me, I just happened to read Janet's post on mushroom bourguignon  right before I entered the kitchen, and though I only had shitake, not Portobello mushrooms, it mattered not a wit and was so good, I took several mouthfuls and have vowed to make it again next week for the entire family!

Thank you Janet!  It was divine!  And while I cannot match Janet's thriftiness in terms of shopping, since well, we don't have stores that are THAT cheap around here, I must say that we have managed to shave a LOT off of our grocery bill this month through careful planning.  Yay us!


I just KNEW that someone would have already created a Polar Vortex Cocktail and I was right!!!!!

The Polar Vortex Cocktail

3oz Makers Mark
2 Dashes Cinnamon
1 Dash All Spice
2-3 Drops Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Brown Sugar (possibly more based on the sweetness of the bourbon)
3 drops agave nectar (or honey)
Hot water (2 times the amount of other ingredients)
Cinnamon Stick and Lemon Peel (for garnish)
Add all ingredients besides water and agave nectar together in a mug. Stir and add hot water
Slowly add 3 drops of Agave Nectar and stir again.
Rim mug with lemon peel and add to drink as a garnish
Add cinnamon stick for garnish if available.
Note: Make sure to stir the cocktail occasionally (with the cinnamon stick) to mix the spices that have settled on the bottle of the cocktail. This reinvigorates the flavor of the spices in the drink.

Where is Dennis Quaid when you need him????


One last birthday gift to share.  For years I have been hearing about the restorative and sensual powers of a diptyque candle.

Being a luddite and all I was mixing these wonderful candles up with the line in Raising Arizona when Holly Hunter tells Nicolas Cage that the baby needs a dip-tet shot...

Now of course I was wrong...

So imagine my delight when another dear friend sent me my very first (not last!) diptyque candle!!

I called her right up and lit it while we talked.  It was all very civilized and I felt pampered and tres jolie!

Baies is described thusly:

A bouquet of roses and blackcurrent leaves, a companion to diptyque eau de toilette, L'Ombre dans l'Eau.

I see a pilgrimage to Paris coming on.  Anyone care to join me?

Don't you just love it when the people you love buy you things you love?  I do!

Now THIS is a sensory post!!!!

Have an awesome Friday and stay safe out there!!!