Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I enjoy the idea of the New Year, a time when I can consider and embrace change and rid and purge the unessessary and cumbersome.
I no longer make resolutions as I am faint of heart when it comes to "improving myself !"
It usually involves diet and more exercise. I practice Yoga and my studio is just around the corner so why do I not go more often? Life and elderly mothers factor into that equation.
I also have an exercise bike in my hobby room and it has not had a good workout for weeks.
My hobby room has weights and an exercise ball as well as my easel for painting.
I dabble in paint, I have fun, when people ask I say "It's like making mud pies!"
Truth be told, the paintings are naive.

Take time to stop and smell the flowers....I love that message and yet sometimes I find myself rushing through the day trying to get things accomplished so I can carve out a few minutes to sit with a good book and a cup of tea.
I am going to work on my pace and see if I can, in fact, be more present in my daily round.

My New Year's wish is that you embrace something beautiful in your life.
Take the time to honor your spirit.
Be present in the moment.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lazy Monday and Luxury, or what it means for me as opposed to what the dictionary defines it as...

This morning I slept late after our 12 hour road trip to pick up the Pedigree Pram. I must admit that I have been excited and am now a wee bit tired.
I made myself an egg nog latte and sat in front of my laptop and read all my favorite blog posts before showering! Pure luxury to stay in my robe and relax, something I normally do when waking in a hotel and ordering room service. Another luxury!
 I made a big brunch of bacon, eggs and toast and then Mr. L and I went for a brisk walk. We are fortunate to live in an established older area of the city close to the ocean and yet near town.  It is remarkably quiet in our neighborhood, birds being the cacaphonous symphony of sound we most often hear. There is a large and historic cemetery nearby where we enjoy walking under the canopy of trees and noticing the variety and details of the headstones and family plots.
This afternoon we have spent sitting in the bungalow living room warmed by the fire reading our books and nibbling on wine sausage, pickles, cheese and crackers. More luxury, bliss in fact.
The simple tick tock of the hall clock and the Westminster chime every quarter and the hours marked feel luxurious to can be material things, goods, items, service.

Luxury, for me is the gift of time, spent doing things that I love with someone I love.

Luxury defined:
A good or service that is not considered a necessity but is considered as something that brings pleasure or happiness. For example, an individual might purchase an expensive automobile because of the status and comfort that it will bring, though a used car would suffice for traveling purposes.

Mr. L,  someone I LOVE gave me a very romantic gift this year, something luxurious that I would not do for myself... it involves travel, a hotel and dining out! Destination: Tiffany's! I will be choosing a silver bangle to add to my collection. I have an assortment of them, which I wear as a group. Mr. L could have easily purchased a bangle but he knows me well and knows that the packaging and ambiance of Tiffany's is all part of the gift!

Simple luxury, or decandence? What defines luxury to you?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

The table is set and ready for the family and the Christmas turkey feast.

I spent most of today prepping for tomorrow evenings Turkey Dinner.

 English trifle.
  Make fruit flavored Jello according to package instructions and set in the fridge.  I make several cups of custard using Birds custard mix and let cool. Sponge jelly rolls are cut into 1 inch rounds and then doused in Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry. Line a crystal bowl bottom and sides so the spirals show through add a variety of fruit, (I use raspberries, mandarin oranges and a can of peaches)  jello and custard in layers with more sponge spirals, drizzle with more Sherry and top with fresh whipped cream. Chill in fridge overnight to allow the flavors to meld.

Whipped Potato Bake
Boil peeled potatoes until fork tender, drain. Whip in some sour cream, salt, pepper, butter and cottage cheese until desired consistency. Place in ovenproof dish top with melted butter and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and place in fridge overnight. Heat at 400 degrees 20 minutes.

The hostess is ready to relax for awhile and recharge for a busy day awaits in the Humble Bungalow!

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bungalow Dinner and Decorum

I am hosting the Annual Christmas Dinner at the Humble Bungalow. I now need to polish the silverware and get the groceries!
My organic free range turkey will be ready on Wednesday morning at the butcher and I have just realized that I need new dinner napkins. So tomorrow I go shopping!

The table will be set with the gilt edged Royal Albert china in Lavender Rose, the crystal will be the Flamenco pattern, the flatware, Rogers and Co. Silvery Lace circa 1974...the year of our marriage!

I am happy to host, I love my family. It will be loud, there will be laughter, and so much chatter that one cannot catch it all.

We have Christmas crackers, wear the paper hats, read the jokes and trade the wee prizes.

On the menu:
English Cheddar, Gone Crackers, Italian Olives, Candied Smoked Salmon Candy

White and Red BC VQA wines
Turkey Stuffed with Bread crumbs and Giblets with Sage
Whipped Potato Bake
Sweetlet Peas
Maple Baked Sweet Potato Dish
Roasted Brussell Sprouts
Baby Roasted Carrots
Scissor Buns
English Trifle
Coffee, Tea, Drambuie, Bailey's
Rum Balls, Scottish Shortbread
followed by
a reading of the individual "fortunes" in the Christmas Crackers

And possibly games!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Scents and (S)cents-ability


I love fragrance and have a few favorite scents.

Lavender, maybe my #1 in my repertoire of scents. I grow it in the garden and have sachets in my bedroom and bureau. Soaps are a great way to enjoy Lavender. Harrods makes one that lasts a long time and scents the bathroom. (or your lingerie, if you keep it in the drawer with your lacy knickers!)

Rose, not from a bottle, but from a bloom, Abraham Darby, Jude the Obscure, Constance Spry, Gertrude Jekyll, among others. Citrus, heady, old fashioned, and sweet.

Beeswax candles as they warm and illuminate. I have enjoyed scented candles but I always come back to beeswax. I buy them locally, they are a Humble Bungalow staple.

Coffee, especially in the morning! French or Italian.

Fresh boughs, balsam, cedar, pine and fir. Crisp simple and earthy.

Potted paperwhites, strong, heady and sweet.

Scents are evocative, they bring back memories, mother wore Shalimar, my father Old Spice,  and my grandmother Noxema!
One Christmas I received a gift set of Evening In Paris, cobalt blue bottles of eau de toilette and parfum and that was the beginning of my journey into the world of scent.
I have worn quite a few, some that come to mind are Ma Griffe, My Sin, Paris, Rive Gauche, Tresor, L'air de Temps, and 24 Faubourg.

My mother wears Chanel #5 exclusively now.

What scents speak to you? Have you travelled the heady world of parfum?

 Mulled wine scents and intoxicates the bungalow as it steeps on the stove.

Recipe for Humble Bungalow Mulled Wine
1 large orange studded with 12 whole cloves
2 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. demerera rum
24 ozs. dry red table wine
Roast orange studded with cloves for 30 minutes in 350 degree oven.
In a large pot heat the wine until almost boiling, add the sugar, rum and the clove studded orange. Simmer on stove top to keep warm.
Ladle into heavy glass mugs.

I have doubled this recipe when hosting an Open House. Popular and inexpensive...scents and (S)cents -ability!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Humble bungalow at Christmas

Welcome to the Humble Bungalow!
Dard Hunter doormat...we wore out the WELCOME on the last one!

Our front door at the Humble Bungalow.

Dining Room

Family wreath made from vintage glass balls and vintage rhinestone brooches.

Vintage silver glass balls in a trophy in the family room.

Fresh holly and greenery beside my orchids in vintage matte white pots.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Acts of Shopping!

Monte Carlo conjures up images of the fashionable and the chic jet set.
 James Bond is OO7
Click Clack
The sound that the heavy lucite makes as the chips drop.

 I purchased this stack of Plaques in a local shop.
I believe they were used for Baccarat.

I have been unable to find out much about the Casino or if they are genuine or a reproduction.
I do not mind either way.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I have little time to blog at present as we have a houseguest for a few days. She is snug below stairs in the small but cozy space that was our daughters bedroom. I redecorated as soon as our daughter moved out. Mr. L says I was pushing her out the door with one hand while painting with the other! Not quite true!

I try to be a good hostess and supply comfortable accommodation, food, conversations and spirits! Outings about town are planned and  tonight we are taking in a film, as yet to be decided. Dinner out, restaurant as yet to be chosen! Last evening we dined in and had a simple supper of ham, scalloped potatoes, salad and broccoli.

 I have a very busy week at school before the annual Christmas vacation, today is the pancake breakfast for the students and families. The 3rd annual Nog N' Nosh is on Thursday and this event happens at Nutrition Break in the Library. My co worker and I set up festive tables, bring in home made appies and baking, we serve egg nog and teas.  Friday early morning we have the staff breakfast at school and we all sign up to bring something, I am doing organic, artisan sausages with a variety of relishes. One will most certainly be Branston Pickle, a Humble Bungalow staple.

Must get breakfast organized, fresh fruit salad, coffee, Liberte yogurt, and bagels. Then I am off to work...guest has house keys and she is off for a hair appointment and then a pedicure today.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I find myself going into lots of different boutiques and shops at this time of year. It is when I am usually on a mission to find that "perfect gift" for someone, that invariably, I find that "perfect gift" for me!
I LOVE shoes, not killer tall heels, I prefer flats or kitten heels. I have been searching for a pair of red flats to replace my BCBG patent leather ones that I found at Nordstroms' in Seattle and completely wore out. Now you are probably wondering HOW can that happen to a shoe collector. Well, those little red gems put a bounce in my step and if I was feeling tired or had a challenging day ahead or if I felt like raising my happy meter well, I'd choose those little red numbers and VOILA Happy Times!
I am sad to say that I am still on the hunt for the new reds...why are they so elusive? In the meantime, I found some really cute brown leather Nine West flats that I didn't really know that I needed until I put them on!

Yesterday I was shopping on The Avenue, and found a soft mocha "Ca va de soi" tank made from Italian yarn. It feels like a cashmere jersey, so comfy! I love the fabrics that Ca va de soi use in their garments!

I purchased a black jersey pocket cardigan from Gilmour to layer over top of the tank. I will be layering multiple strands of pearls on top and I already have black pants and a black skirt so I am set for the holiday gatherings where I do not want to wear one of my LBD's.

I do not know much about the Gilmour company and can't find them on the internet. The small boutique had various pieces and all were just under the $100 price point. The designs are simple, the fabrics are soft and the color range was blacks, greys and taupes. The company must be small and quite possibly a local one.

I prefer to shop in small boutiques where there are helpful, friendly, and  knowledgeable staff. It was a pleasant experience trying on the garments.  The sales clerk knew her stock and what would work with my curvy figure and between the two of us we quickly had gathered up about a dozen "possibles" which I tried on, narrowing down the choices. I am pleased with my purchases and have signed up on their email list so that I will get advance notice of new stock and sales.

This is the same shop where I buy my lacy knickers! I have discovered what I consider to be THE BEST panty ever!  Hanky Panky  are a thong, and so comfortable and come in a wide variety of colors

Have you purchased a "gift" for yourself this season?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vintage in the Humble Bungalow

I found this miniature bureau in an antique shop and fell in love with it. I was told that it might have been a traveling sales mans' sample piece.  I knew that it would be invaluable for storage of small things in my 1913 home.

Tiffany necklace which I wrap twice around my wrist and use as a bracelet.

West Coast First Nations Baskets

I love baskets and find they can be beautiful as well as functional.
This wee carving is a mouse, it is unusual. More commonly depicted in carvings are Frogs, Ravens, Eagles, Salmon, Whales and Seals.

Vintage West Coast First Nations Baskets in the Humble Bungalow

 Contemporary Sterling silver salad servers
in an early First Nations basket.

The Humble Bungalow lends itself to items from nature. The arts and crafts philosophy evolved from the Victorian era almost as a protest to the clutter and excesses that were common in Victorian times. Honest, simple understated designs using organic natural materials often found on site or locally gave the architect and builder their inspiration.

People were breaking away from the need to amass and accumulate.
Furniture styles were simplified and many pieces were made by the home craftsman. Patterns for furnishing projects were commonplace and featured simple unadorned designs.  Companies that did produce furniture printed and distributed catalogues from which the homeowner could order from.

Our furniture is mostly from that early arts and crafts period. The pieces that we own are in what is commonly referred to as "museum condition" meaning that they have not been refinished and the blemishes that have been acquired over the years are retained.

One chair in particular has a flat and heavy armrest into which someone, likely a child, has carved R.I.P. with a cemetery cross!

As the current resident of the Humble Bungalow I have chosen to decorate within these parameters of simplicity, form and function.

Collecting vintage and using items from nature are most appropriate.

Berried branches from the boulevard in a vintage Weller vase.

Mrs. Plant, a former long time resident of the Humble Bungalow.
She raised 3 children in this small home, tended her cottage garden and worked as a dressmaker to support the family.

The Humble Bungalow is on the Heritage Registry to save it from demolition in the future. Our job is to maintain and preserve it for the next generation.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Horsing around (my neck!)

Hermes does equestrian better than the rest.

I have ridden a horse although it seems long ago. My sister rides, and jumps and has had a passion for ponies as long as I can remember.  She trains young riders and has a home with a barn and paddocks on the property. Owning a horse, or horses, is a lot of work, not to mention the cost!
 I have not ridden since, at 6 months pregnant, I was thrown off. I was shaken up but not hurt. (Baby was fine)
My idea of riding a horse now would involve a horse drawn carriage!

 I found this Hermes scarf in a local consignment shop. I have no idea why it was there when I happened to pop in and browse.
It was a fortuitous find indeed!

Designed by Hubert de Watrigant, entitled "Real Escula Andaluza Del Arte Equestre."

The colors are vibrant, the classic hand rolled edging is superb. It truly is a work of art by an amazing artist, produced by experienced Hermes craftsmen and women with their dedication and high standards of quality.

I like to wrap this around my neck to add a splash of color to my simple white T and jeans.

        It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must also know how to fall. -- Mexican proverb

What have you "fallen" for ?

Was it  an expensive or frugal purchase and how do you feel about it?

I love a bargain or a fabulous find, luxe for less fits in the Humble Bungalow best!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In the Family Way

I am so happy! There is a buzz in the family, Mr. L and I are going to be grandparents. I cannot even begin to describe the excitement and joy that is in the air.
I was somewhat maniacal when we were planning the was a year (3 years ago)  of all consuming details, and I must admit, that it was so worth it to plan ahead.  That day was a testament to good planning, a great venue, fabulous friends, family, florists, talented musicians, expert caterers, and the weather gods smiled down upon us.

I want to be called grammy and Mr.L wants to be gramps. All I really want is to have a healthy grand baby. I have researched prams, (new ones) for the parents and vintage for us. There is nothing like that feeling of perambulating on the waterfront in a high pram in the fresh air.
I have rediscovered local baby shops and am acquiring gifts at warp speed. Christmas this year will have an extra special focus and I am ever so grateful and suitably humbled. I feel blessed.


I am relatively new to blogs and even newer to blogging. I enjoy many diverse blogs and one of my favorites is called privilege  and LPC the host, has several hundred followers. She recently posted a list of 5 Minimalist Luxury Credos which are extremely interesting. The topic has caused quite a stir and the comments left by readers are passionate and numerous. I encourage anyone reading my Humble Bungalow blog to go over and visit.
What are you wearing today?

Harumi Ota bowl

I found this wonderful example of Harumi Ota's work in a gallery. It was summertime and I was hosting a dinner party the following evening.
 I knew this bowl would elevate the simple salad that I planned to serve.

Humble Bungalow Tomato Salad
yellow and red fresh organic cherry tomatoes
fresh basil leaves
crumbled feta cheese
Greek olives
several tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar
small sprinkling of sea salt

Harumi Ota porcelain artist

Local artist Harumi Ota is well known for his work in  porcelain. I found this bowl in a local gallery and use it for salads.
I buy organic greens at our local farmer's market and add a simple homemade French vinaigrette.

Humble Bungalow Vinaigrette
In a small deep bowl whisk 1 teaspoon French mustard, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon wine vinegar (I use 12 year aged balsamic vinegar) add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ojibwa duck decoys

I discovered my first Ojibwa duck decoy in the mid 80's and the collection has grown. I arrange and group these loons on the humble bungalow mantle according to my mood. They are made from Tamarack and if you'd like to make your own, there is a how to site on google!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Basic black

What to buy and wear for the holidays? So many choices!
I have been perusing magazines, looking for inspiration and at 50 something with a rather curvy shape I have been working overtime!
I am a minimalist and fundamentally a frugalist, and I have discovered that I gravitate to basic black. I have several LBD's, and feel I can accessorize them to suit my mood. An Hermes scarf, a velvet jacket, pashmina shawl, shoes, boots, pearls, or a stunning artsy necklace that will elevate and transport the simple and unadorned.
I recently purchased a pair of black jeans, a little bit longer to wear with heels or boots...and I have found a fun sequined top which I plan to wear under a black jacket for a more dressy event or under denim for a relaxed hipper event.
I'll add some scent, some red lippy, and modicum of attitude. At 50 plus I am not overly concerned about opinions from others, I am who I am, take it or leave it.
Enter and sign in please!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Orange and blue boxes

What is it about packaging?
It is quite possible that I am impressed by packaging. Last year I purchased a gift for my lovely daughter in law from Tiffany's. It took me at least 30 minutes to choose the gift and nearly as long for the clerk to wrap and package said item! I was very impressed by the deft hand that the clerk exhibited when she so elegantly and precisely folded and tucked the tissue and slipped it into that blue envelope before placing it into the blue box and then tying, with out help, the ribbon into a bow! (I did offer to place my thumb on the ribbon to assist her in bow tying but she did not need it!)
One holds their breath opening a gift from Tiffany's. The multi wrapped and beribboned blue box cannot be rushed. Hermes orange, Cartier red, Tiffany blue they hold us captive for a few seconds or minutes, like the icing on the cake.
It reminds me of pass the present at a children's birthday party. The game where there are many layers of wrap and various boxes within boxes that are passed child to child and each one opens a layer until at last there is one layer left and whomever unwraps the last layer gets what is inside.
In the movie Love Actually, there is a shopping scene where Alan Rickman is purchasing a necklace and it is lavishly packaged, flowers, (they look like dried roses) are added with a flourish, lavender is sprinkled on top and before the process is complete, Alan mentions something to the clerk, played by Rowan Atkinson, "and I suppose you want to sprinkle it with chocolate buttons"!
Are we mad about the process of packaging?
I bought a gift at a local shop which specializes in Burberry items and quality garments. The price tags were removed, it was double wrapped in fine tissue, a gold seal bearing the name of the shop was affixed to the tissue, and was then gently placed inside a glossy black box and more seals were affixed to the bottom of the box, which was then tied up in gross grain ribbon and placed into a thick shiny, crest emblazoned carrier bag!
Is it all about the packaging?

Monday, November 30, 2009

San Francisco and my first Hermes scarf!

My husband Mr.HB and I spent 10 days in San Francisco a few years ago. We walked for hours each day, shopped, toured and hopped on moving cable cars. The restaurants were plentiful and we dined at as many as we could in those fabulous 10 days. I was surprised that with all that wonderful food that we did not gain any weight. I attribute that to the many hours of walking and exploring.
We stayed in a modest hotel (which had great reviews on Trip Advisor) on Bush Street in the Nob Hill neighborhood which was uphill from downtown! Several times we stopped at Scala's Bistro in the Frances Drake Hotel and dined before climbing the rest of the way up. We also went to a San Francisco institution, "The Mark Hopkins Hotel", for cocktails at the "Top of the Mark". We stumbled upon a rather old eatery called Sam's Grill which was very plain and understated in decor, the food was tasty and the portions were enormous! I had my doubts about the service when I saw the elderly waiters in tuxes! The service was without a doubt quite magnificent, my martini with 3 olives arrived filled to the brim and served from a tray and not one drop spilled! It proved extremely difficult for me to pick it up and sip and alas I did let a drop or two land on my napkin!

We befriended a lovely, albeit eccentric, former SF resident, a keen gardener, who was back in town from Washington State for the SF Flower and Garden Horticultural Show. She was staying near us at the Metropolitan Club, which is the former SF Women's Athletic club, and she invited us to a lecture on arts and crafts by docents from the de Young museum. It was a very interesting afternoon and we rubbed elbows with some very well heeled women who were impeccably dressed and groomed. I was appropriately attired but felt rather lacking. I suppose it was at that moment that I was moved to "improve" my status and how better than to do it via retail therapy!
I had seen the many shops and boutiques near Union Square and suggested that we venture down the hill yet again and do some serious shopping! We wandered around Gumps for awhile and I must say it is a delicious store! There are many many flagship stores and SF is a great mecca for shopping. I love Hermes so when we entered the store I felt excited! We asked to see some scarves and the clerk showed us at least a dozen of a variety of color and pattern. How to choose? (Would this be my one and only Hermes scarf?) I decided on the bright and cheerful "les jardins d'andalousie" I do so adore the packaging process! Details like the ribbon, the tissue, the orange box, the bag and the wee book on scarf tying!

On our last day the weather changed and torrential rain fell. We cocooned for several hours in Cafe de la Presse which was very French. The hostess was tres chic, she was French and had the chicest hair I have ever seen, simple, not perfect, a little tousled bobbed and brunette. She was beautiful. We sipped red wine and savored smoked salmon galette, French Onion soup, and enjoyed the profiteroles in chocolate hazelnut sauce and French press coffee.

I delighted in wearing that scarf on holiday and every time I tie it on I remember how amazing our trip to San Francisco was and how I plan to return someday soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hey Jude

Introductory Greetings from a humble bungalow

I live a rather pedestrian life within the walls of a humble bungalow.

It is a small comfortable space with dark wood and arts and crafts furnishings. Green pottery and eclectic collectibles. I love thrift shops and rummage sales and antique malls. Space being what it is , when something new comes in, something old must go out.
I grew up in a middle class family living in a monied neighbourhood. I had many wonderful adventures when children could play in freedom safely outside without worrying about stranger danger. In my teens I attended a charm school where I learned how to walk, how to sit, and how to get in and out of a car in a ladylike fashion! I learned skin care and makeup application and the art of conversation.
I am married and have 2 grown adult children, whom I will share you with as time goes by!
I am comfortable in cashmere and denim, white T-shirts and pearls and have a weakness for Hermes scarves and diamonds! In fact, I have been known to garden in pearls. I love to garden, David Austin Roses being high on my list, Jude the Obscure is the most beautiful in my garden.
I am expecting house guests from a small island north of where we live so I must go shopping for groceries. I will be making fresh fruit salad and bagels for breakfast with coffee and I will be hosting a birthday dinner while they are here. I have not decided on the menu for dinner but will decide when I see the local fresh offerings at the grocery store.