Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Forgive me for a slightly vapid post today, buuuut...I can't stop thinking about this perfume!

Quite a few months ago it was highlighted on a blog I frequent, and I was planning to check out a sample but I never actually ended up going to Sephora. (Admittedly, I have a bit of a hang-up about going into stores like Sephora. Always makes me feel so self-conscious, way more than I usually do!!) Then today it popped up on my radar again and I can't get it out of my head.

It's described thusly on the website: "This fresh, smooth floral fragrance evokes sublime powdery rose. The effect is chic, comfortable, and entirely addictive. Top notes of pink peony, freesia, and lychee embody subtle freshness. At the heart, midnotes of magnolia flower, lily of the valley, and rose rise to sublimated femininity. A base of velvety elegance comes to fruition through cedarwood, amber, and honey."

Alright, so the description is a little over the top. (Sumbilmated femininity, really?!?!) But don't those delicate, flowery scents sound perfect for summer? Or fall? Or winter...

One compliment I find secretly thrilling is when someone says, "Mmm, you smell great!" Haha, juvenile perhaps, but true! Who doesn't like smelling fresh and lovely, though? So maybe I'll do a Sephora-run tomorrow after all. (Bonus, I can pick up a refill of my favourite lip balm of all time. Yay, two birds with one stone!) I wonder if the ChloĆ© Eau de Parfum will displace my usual scented shampoo/conditioner as my "signature" fragrance of choice?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Afternoon Tea at the Windsor Arms

Ages ago, Wilson bought a voucher for us to have High Tea together, as it's something I've always wanted to do. I have hosted tea parties before (formal and informal), which is tons of fun, and have gone to a Victorian Tea Room (also a great experience), but this was my first time having High Tea with Wilson. Definitely something I'd love to do again! :) Here are some photo highlights of our lovely afternoon... Enjoy! xx

The gorgeous entrance to the Windsor Arms Hotel

This was the doorway into our section of the tea room. The curtains made it feel
really private and exclusive (although it was hardly exclusive if we were there!)

Afternoon Tea menu

The tables were set with crisp white linen, beautiful butterfly-patterned china edged in gold,
and individual strainers to keep the tea leaves from getting into the cups.
We each got to choose a loose leaf tea from their extensive menu for our own individual
 pots of tea - we tried passionfruit green tea and rose-scented earl grey. 

The spread: two kinds of scones (lemon and currant)
with devon cream and preserves, tiny sandwiches (which were
 yummy, if a little soggy), and an assortment of petit fours
Lemon scone with devon cream (YESSS!!!) and
house-made strawberry preserves (delish!)
My favourite bite: tiny grilled chicken
sandwich with citrus mayonnaise, granny
smith apple, Greek yogurt, and chives
My other favourite: goat cheese and caramelized shallot tart

Here, Wilson demonstrates the proper tea-sipping technique

Stuffed! (Our tea was surprisingly filling - in my case, I was already feeling full
before we finished the sandwiches. Must be all that liquid!!)

My Early Grey Tea with Roses was served in a rose-covered teapot, so sweet

Outside the hotel, after our luxurious High Tea experience

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer BBQ How-To

Want to know my secret for BBQ-ing success? Prepare as much as possible in advance. (In other words, think Boy Scouts!)

I suppose that is really my not very original tip for hosting any kind of dinner/gathering involving food. When I get my prep out of the way in the afternoon, I am much more calm before people come over, I'm much more considerate to my husband, and I have time to do last minute cleaning jobs (ex. vacuuming the kitchen floor after what seems like several pounds of dill fragments, chopped celery, bell pepper seeds, spices, and the like have fallen onto it over the course of cooking), clear the sink, change into something nice, and run a cool washcloth over my face.

So for a BBQ such as the one we hosted last night, get that meat marinating the night before (or morning of, if like me you only remembered about the meat after climbing into bed). Chop veggies and soak wooden skewers (if using) in the afternoon, start your water simmering early so when you need it to boil you'll only wait a minute or two, throw utensils and other little items (paper towels, tin foil, etc.) into a canvas bag*, put your drinks, glasses and plates on a large tray**, and then relax while your husband gets an early start on grilling the veggies. When your guests arrive, grab your tray and escort them to the terrace, where you can chat and drink refreshing Luscious Watermelon iced tea while the meat starts sizzling behind you.

East Meets West Summer BBQ Menu
1 pitcher homemade watermelon iced tea, lightly sweetened with agave
Creamy dill pasta salad
Corn on the cob (with butter, salt, and pepper)
Veggie kebabs (green and yellow zucchini, grape tomatoes, rainbow bell peppers, red onion)
Marinated kalbi (beef short ribs)
Soya garlic chicken wings
Italian sausage
Homemade apple crumble (deliciously supplied by our guests!)

We usually opt for veggie skewers these days, as they're fun (and look impressive nice too :p) and are easier to maneuver on the grill than individual slices of peppers, zucchini, etc. We also tend to BBQ a lot of food at one time, especially if we're having friends over. To make sure we have enough time to cook everything and not end up eating at 9 pm or later (!!!), Wilson goes out to the BBQ about 20-30 minutes before our guests arrive to start cooking the veggies (which taste just fine if they're not piping hot). Once we're all together, it doesn't take too long for some meat to make an appearance and we can all get started with a well-rounded meal while any remaining meat (in Wilson's case, completely unnecessary yet crowd-pleasing Italian sausages) get their turn on the grill.
Then all that's left is to sit back, savour your meal (It does help if you don't get so carried away with the conversation that you forget to eat! Ahem, yes. No comment.), and enjoy the sun highlighting the clouds in princessy-pink as it sets behind you. Nothing beats a BBQ with great friends on a cool summer evening!

*Our condo life does not include a balcony or personal BBQ, but we're fortunate to have a lovely fourth-floor terrace that overlooks our neighbourhood (yes, massive construction site and all) and has plenty of shared BBQs and patio tables for our summer enjoyment.
**If, like us, you get a bonus rain shower towards the end of your dinner, the tray will make it so much easier to stack and pack everything quickly and make a beeline back to your apartment! :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Getting Stuff Done

Lately, it feels like I've been making my home in a rut. A deep rut, one that has been hard to get out of. People keep asking me how my vacation/summer is going and I keep saying, "Good. Quiet! Which is great!" and that's true and all, but I feel like it's somehow sub-par. Shouldn't I be doing things? Going places? Excited about life?

Maybe it's our braggy Facebook culture, maybe it's just a mash-up of others' and my own expectations being idealistic and/or unrealistic. Bah, I don't know! Maybe I'm just temporarily mired in melancholy... Is there such a thing as summer SAD?

In any case, I've been trying to shake off these summer blues by spending more time outside the house and less time in front of a screen (blog posts not withstanding!). Homebody that I am, I do make it a point to fight my hermit-like tendencies by venturing outside at least once a day most of the time, but lately a brief 10-minute foray into the world beyond our own 700 square feet just hasn't been cutting it. So! More time outside, walking as much as possible, drinking more tea (because it makes me feel more connected to my English roots, and thus, happy), and crossing as much stuff as possible off my to-do list.

Today was a triumphant Getting Stuff Done day, with multiple loads of laundry tumbled dry, a menu planned for tomorrow's BBQ dinner, a fridge full of fresh produce, a package mailed, new library books sitting in a pleasing stack on our coffee table, and an email sent to follow up on a tutoring lead.

Here's to high-tailing it out of that rut!


WSJ article found via Tim Challies' always entertaining A La Carte.