There is no doubt in any woman’s mind – the Parisian woman is the epitome of chic.    She is a fashion maven but not a fashion slave.   Style follows her.

Oh that we could be that woman.  One pours over fashion magazines.  The answer is not there.    The Parisian woman’s style is a state of mind.  No matter who you are.  Where you live.   How much you spend on fashions.   How old you are.   You can have Parisian chic.


Four engaging, stunning and accomplished Frenchwomen – Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas collaborate  i n a witty, irreverent, funny tell-all book  HOW TO BE PARISIAN WHEREVER YOU ARE  *  Love, Style, and Bad Habits.

“Fashion rules the world and Parisians rule fashion.  Fine, it may not be true but the world still needs fairy tales.”

How can you not love a book that tells you how to be mysterious and sensual AND look natural.   It’s a very, very funny quick read.  When you finish the book you’ll feel so very, very chic and très Parisienne.  Can you ask for anything more?

P.S.  If you are single there some chapters you might just devour.   Others, depending on your age, you will ignore.  I promise you this.  You definitely will dress with more elan. Even cook differently.    It won’t cost you a fortune.  You will fill wonderful.





I keep a collection of baskets by the kitchen door.  A trip to the garden requires one carry the right basket for the occasion.  A small square basket for strawberries.  A very deep basket for kale.  Something larger and round with a sturdy handle for root crops like beets    Snip lots of dill heads, add a few carrots and a potato or two and you have the ingredients  to make a big batch of borscht.

There must be a hundred different recipes fo beet borscht.  Everyone is the right one.   This is one of my favorite recipes.  It has tons of vegetables.  It is made with a rich chicken stock. Has a tangy sweet sour flavour.  Served with a generous dollop of sour cream it is positively define.   You could add little bits of spicy sausage.  Or make the recipe with beef stock.  You can serve borscht hot or cold.    You get the picture.

Though there are potatoes in the recipe the soup freezes beautiful.   Don protective gloves and start chopping beets .  Click on BORSCHT for the recipe.  Bon Appetit




Ours is a house of many exterior doors.   The important  front door.   The door to the garage.  The boot room door (originally used by those coming into the house from the dairy barn).  The side door to the back garden.  The glass door to the covered patio. The big double garage doors.

We believe in remake, redo, remodel, rejuvenate, recycle, rediscover, reuse.  To be responsible citizens of our world.

The saga and the zen of painting doors begins with our front door.




It had been protected by a screen door but the dated glass inserts called for a major makeover.



Thirty pieces of plywood cut  individually to fit each (not quite the same size) square.  These were glued to both the exterior and interior of the door.


The front door was primed with Zinsser water based primer.



Three coats of semi-gloss Benjamin  Moore black paint and the welcoming front door is complete.  The door cries out for the perfect door knocker.  Something not too shiny.  A door knocker to provide the perfect jewelery for perfect front door.  I’ve started the search.



Initially we thought the overhead garage doors were beyond redemption.  They had been painted  with oil base paint but over the years it  had bubbled and blistered.



Two weeks of scrapping and sanding the doors are ready for priming and painting.



The ugly duckling doors turn into beautiful swans.



When we took the screen door off the garage door entrance we realized our battered, paint blistered door had wonderful potential.   Sanded, scraped, wood-filled it morphed into something rather special.


The cris-cross panel.   The small window panes.  What a beauty we uncovered.

Life is all about doors.

Doors we never open.

Doors we choose to pass by.

Doors that reveal  new opportunities and experience.



Doors to entice you to open and step into another place.

Doors that promise sanctuary.

Doors strong and bold to protect you from the elements.

Doors that speak loud and clear.

Then there is this door.  The one that says welcome – welcome all to this home.





Not that the House had ever been taken for granted.

The roof and walls that sheltered.

Windows that let in the  glorious light.

Doors that protected.

The House was   just a little paint worn and shabby.

Showing its age  around the edges.


IMG_1071 The transformation began.

First splendid new  windows.

IMG_1358 Then the reflection of colour.

A colour respecting the vernacular of  the country surrounding the house.


Cromwell Gray.

A gray found in the massive river stone front.

A gray that caught and reflected the green of country fields.

An elegant, erudite shade of gray.



When the painstaking  work  was done.

When the sheltering house shone freshly in its painted glory.

She carefully painted its address.

Then proudly hung it by the shining door.




This is the zen in the art of painting a house.



( We have been asked the name of the gray we painted our home.  This perfect shade of gray – Cromwell Gray is a Benjamin Moore paint colour)









I have a magic zucchini factory in my garden.  How can one not believe this is a magic vegetable.  Sun bright yellow flowers appear and POOF  over night a slender, elegant zucchini.    While you’re in the garden gather mint, dill and Italian flat leaf parsley to flavour your deliciously crisp fitters.  They are wonderful as hors d’oeuvres or as a start course. They don’t require sauce.  Simply sprinkle flaky sea salt and a little crumbled feta cheese on top.

I’m in the kitchen shredding zucchini.  Click on ZUCCHINI FRITTERS  and join me.














All things hip and wonderful and so completely cool one doesn’t even the utter the word cool  … This is my favorite street in Toronto.  QUEEN STREET WEST.

I didn’t need Vogue Magazine to tell me  that.   Queen West is a two minute walk from the place I call home in Toronto.  Vogue September 2014 issue listed the ten coolest streets in the world and Queen West was Number Two.


My day in Toronto frequently begins at Clafouti’s on Queen West. A little worn, a bit shabby and totally delightful Clafouti’s is so totally unassuming, so beautifully French one looks for a copy of L’Express to read with your morning croissant.



The Spice Trader and The Olive Pit – oh the wonders of this perfumed exotic shop.  When I first discovered this purveyor of organic spices and oils it was a tiny shop.   Like Topsy it grew and I filled my spice cupboard with their small square green tins and fine extra-virgin olive oil.



I never walk Queen West without popping into Châtelet .  Another tiny shop filled with irresistible objects that speak of France.  The small Eiffel tower in the outside display called my name.  Now it shares a place of honour in my French butler’s pantry.



Then there’s one of my favorite corners.  It has three shops.   The first store – Artists’ Material  – long and narrow and crammed with paints, papers, artist brushes.   Everything you need to create  your own work of art.  Mokuba is in the centre and it is the centre of my sewing universe.  Mokuba with a preposterous amount of magnificent ribbons in every colour, texture, width and pattern.  On the corner a place I call “the magpie store”  brimming over with a collection of items you didn’t know exist and absolutely must have.



The very finest oysters in Toronto.    Oyster Boy –  a two minute walk from home.  Can life get any better than to have these briny bivalves a hop, skip and a jump down the street.



My fav pizza restaurant – Terroni on Queen West.  I love the aroma of baking pizza.  The  buzz of conversations that fill the room.   You linger over a glass of wine and simply people watch the evening away.

This is just a little bit of my Queen West.  I have walked every block and investigated practically every shop, art gallery and restaurant.

Queen West ..  a street that is more than a little outrageous.  Totally cool.  Enormously hip

Queen West … a street with so much presence and absolutely no pretension.








It happened around midnight on a Saturday night – almost an hour from home.  A sickening pop noise.  Our clutch was gone.  My brother who lives close by came to the rescue.  It was the long week-end and no garage services available until Tuesday.

The mechanics reported that given the age (1985) and the uniqueness of this particular diesel model of Volvo they were having difficulties finding two  parts. If they couldn’t locate the parts they would have to be manufactured at considerable time and expense.

Two days later a young woman from the garage called to ask if we knew exactly where the car malfunctioned.  We did.   It had happened just before the on-ramp to the extremely busy Iron Worker’s Bridge.  Thousands of trucks and cars had probably driven over the parts. ” After work tonight I am going to go and look for the missing parts,” she said.

She called the next morning.  They had found the parts.  Her and her boss had waiting until 7:30 pm and searched both sides of the highway.  On one side they found one part. The second part was on the other side.  In perfect condition.

Later that day we picked up our cherished Volvo.  We took a dozen pink roses for this young woman.  We met her outstanding boss, Don –  a man who truly walked the extra mile to give us service above and beyond anyone’s expectations.

This story is not that our car broke down or that it was repaired.  It is a story about two people who did something so extraordinary, so rare it staggers one’s mind.  The name of this service garage is ROVALUTION AUTOMOTIVE  in North Vancouver.










Take the classic ingredient for Puttanesca sauce.  Deconstruct the recipe. Now it becomes  an extraordinary salsa perfect for everything from grilled sausages and fish  to grilled bread.

Using this basic recipe you can joyful indulge in your own favorite flavours and make this sauce very much your own.

Tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovy fillets and garlic are the ingredients of this briny salsa.    Add a handful of chopped fresh basil. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.  Perhaps a little extra capers or use green Castelvetrano olives intsead of Kalamatas or add  just one more anchovy fillet.  It’s all up to you.

This sauce is fabulous on grilled Italian sausages served crusty buns.  Click on              PUTTANESCA SALSA and bring a little Italian to your dinner table.




She rose early.

Waited for the sun to dry the dew on the emerald basil leaves.

Then before its rays could steal their fragrance she filled the basket.

The heavy perfume of basil filled her kitchen.

Mozetich’s music – Postcards from the Sky filled her soul.

She plucked the basil leaves.

Added olive oil.

Cloves of pungent garlic.

Crushed them into an alchemy of green.

Capturing summer for the months ahead.

A click on PISTOU  for this very practical, very French recipe from sun-drenched Provence.







There’s something magical about a working river.  It’s the romance of watching towering ocean going ships heading to exotic destinations.  The pure delight of the skill of a tug boat captain shepherding enormous log rafts down the river.  The small fishing boats  heavily laden with the days salmon catch.

It’s a short walk from our home to the longest river in British Columbia – the Fraser River.  This river is considered the world’s greatest salmon source.  Hot-smoked salmon is a Pacific North-West specialty.    It is hot-smoked salmon one should use  in hot dishes such as scrambled eggs, quiche, hash and so on.  It’s pronounced flavour holds it own beautifully with other ingredients.  Using it in a  recipe that normally calls for cold-smoked salmon  gives salmon pate  another whole level of incredible flavour.

The recipes is  easy and quick to make and presents beautifully.  Follow my alter-ego MRS. BUTTERFINGERS into the kitchen for the recipe.  Click on HOT-SMOKED SALMON PATE.  Bon Appetit dear friends.



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