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Inspiration for living a luxuriously and balanced life

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Italian Farmer's Soup

If you stopped by HHL earlier this week, you know that winter has finally arrived in our area. So what better way to welcome the snow and cold than with a pot of Italian Farmer's Soup. This soup is super easy to make.

You'll need 500g of assorted dry legumes.
 We use Bartlolini Farmer's Soup pre-packaged legumes, but you can use any combination you have on hand.
Place the legumes in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for at least 12 hours.
After 12 hours or so drain water.
Fill a large stock pot with water and add the legumes, salt water. Bring to boil and simmer for 35 minutes.

While the legumes are cooking it's time to prep the veggies.
Celery - we use 2 stixs
Fresh Garlic - 2 cloves
Small Onion - 1 small
Baby Carrots - about two hand fulls
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Tomatoes - 
Ground Pepper
Salt - we use sea salt
Dice the celery, garlic, onion and carrots. Place couple tablespoons of EVOO in a skillet and gently saute the veggies. Add salt, pepper to taste - 

Once the veggies are cooked (carrots may still be a little hard), with a perforated ladle, carefully scoop out the legumes and add to skillet - leaving the water in stock pot. Mix the legumes with the veggies and let stand to blend flavours. 

While the veggies and legumes are doing their thing, chop tomatoes - add to water in stock pot. Stir. Then add the legumes and veggie mixture to stock pot. Bring to boil and simmer an additional 20-25 minutes. 

Voila! Yummy Italian Farmer's Soup with crusty bread - perfect for a cold winter's day!

The great thing about making soup - is that there is always lots for the next day and even a little extra to take to a friend too!

What is your go to soup when the weather hits colder than cold outside?

Sharing this post with:   My Simple Country Life for The Country Homemaker Hop ;Katherine of Katherine’s Corner for Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop;  Sandy at Rose Chintze Cottage for Home Wednesdays; Kathy of A Delightsome Life for Home and Garden Thursday;Sheri at The Charm of Home for Home Sweet HomeCourtney of French Country Cottage for Feather Your Nest Friday; Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Planning a Special Tea Party

With the swirling wind, freezing rain and just plain ugly cold outside ~ 
Inside with a cup of hot tea is the perfect place to be.
Surrounded by books on tea ... and tea parties!!

Tea is extraordinary ... in how it brings people together.
I'm planning a very special tea, and can't wait to share more with you in future posts.

Some fresh fruit , Almond Roca - butter crunch toffee with chocolate and almonds...

These market tulips are perfect for a touch of spring on such a gloomy day.

No tiny teacup today, instead a solid Lenox  (a gift from my dear friend Nan)  "tea"mug is perfect to hold Original Chai by Pukka. A blend of organic black tea gently spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.
This pillow sits on our sofa and is one of my favourites. 
Looking at it's inscription and thinking of all the blessings we have in our friendships and family (as they can be friends too!) always warms my soul.

Sharing this post with : 
Tea Time Tuesday ~Tuesday Cuppa Tea  ~Friends Sharing Tea Tea Cup Tuesday A Return to Loveliness ~Tea Time Thursday 

Winter Has Arrived in the Countryside

This week-end certainly did look like winter at the HHL country home has arrived ...

The forgotten hammock now covered in a blanket a snow

Changing of the outdoor holiday and Christmas decor has been put off another week

Through the holidays and Christmas celebrations these urns were snow free ... 
Now they have a Christmas feel to them.

Looking out from the breakfast area window the green grass that has been holding on ... finally covered in a winter blanket of snow.

No stopping for a hot chocolate break after doggie walks, this week-end.

This is what the last week-end of January is looking like around here ... 

What is it looking like where you live?

Sharing this post with:  Little red House for Mosaic Mondays ~  A Return to Loveliness Tuesday  My Simple Country Life for The Country Homemaker Hop ~ Sheri at The Charm of Home for Home Sweet HomeCourtney of French Country Cottage for Feather Your Nest Friday; Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Week~End Stroll No. 1

There is nothing better after a long week ~ of work, taking care of little ones, attending medical appointments, attending classes or any other responsibilities and activities which seem to sip up your time during the week~ than taking a few minutes for yourself . Week-end Stroll will bring you not only recaps of posts on HHL you may have missed during the week, but will also provide some links to other blogs or places on the web which may be of interest to readers of HHL. 
So get the kettle on, steep a cup of tea or pour yourself a glass of vino or bubbly or whatever beverage helps you to whined down and let some "ME" time begin (You deserve it!).

image via Glamour.com
January is the perfect month to tackle your wardrobe closet. If you have been holding off because you haven't quite figured out your style or are in-between-sizes take a click over to these post and get inspired to open that closet door. What's Your Style?Editing (decluterring) Your Wardrobe ,High Heeled Life Wardrobe Essentials,  High heeled Life Wardrobe Organization . Came across this fabulous article on the Glamour website which you may find very helpful~ Wardrobe Essentials: Inside Michelle Goad, CEO & Founder of PS DEPT's Closet

The cold, gloomy dark days of winter have many of us buried under our blankets,wishing we could stay there till April. Looking for suggestions on beating the winter blues ~ tune in to Huff Post Live for a segment on beating the winter blues, where yours truly was honoured to take part in Click Here.

The week-end (especially - when it's cold and not so inviting to be outdoors) is the perfect time to get in the kitchen with hubby, the children, friends or just on your own and do that thing that our mothers and grandmothers so lovingly did ~ Cook and Bake. Here are some fabulous inspirations from friends in BlogLand:

Fabulously French ~ Croque Madame Muffins
Paris Pastry ~ Chocolate Lava cake with Salted Caramel
Pink Martinis and Pearls ~ Be Still My Meringue Heart
Champagne & Macarons ~ Thick and Creamy Crockpot Coconut Hot Chocolate

How will you be enjoying this week-end?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Be a Little Different ...

Be a Little Different

Be a Little Different by High Heeled Life 
(click  above links for item details)

Most people would play it safe choosing black footwear, and a soft fabric such as cashmere for a sweater garment. Not Me! Give me a little colour with black &white and add a little edge to a delicate outfit with a hard material like leather.

What little twists do you add to your outfits, to make them YOU?

Sharing this post with: My Friday's Fancies

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Closet Slim Down

By Closet Slim Down I am not suggesting a diet to fit into the inappropriate sizes of clothing taking up space in your closet. The clothes we hold onto - with hopes of "one day fitting into/back into" or the various orphan wardrobe pieces that seemed like a good "deal" or "choice" at the time and now guilt over money spent is preventing you from setting the garment free, to go live another life. These items may actually be holding us back and causing undo stress when we need to get dressed for the day or a special occasion.

My journey to simplifying my wardrobe with garments which I am actually able to wear has been quite the roller coaster ride, lots of ups and downs. I'm happy to say I'm almost there ... the latest Closet Slim Down, was perhaps the most difficult ~ the rolling rack of clothes (and even some shoes) holds the last of the size 2 and 4 garments that I have not been able to let go (fit into or if they fit - I did not feel comfortable in) , for the past 5 years. These items will be going to start a new life, either in the closet of friends who are the size of the clothes or onto to a women's shelter.

This has been a fabulous check list helping me simplify my wardrobe and keeping only clothes that fit both my life and size ... NOW!!!
 More tips on Editing (decluttering) Your Wardrobe can be found in this Post Here.

What tips and tricks can you share for keeping only clothes that fit your current size and lifestyle?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tea With Kate Spade

One of the goals for me this year is too spend more time with close friends and what better way than with sharing tea. The other evening Ms. L came by with her new black dresses and an evening of girl chat. The weather has been so unpredictable this season - one day it's sunshine filled with  double digits - the next a brrrr freezing one with temperatures plummeting into minus double digits. So what better way to warm up than with a fabulous garden inspired tea set by Kate Spade ( a wonderful gift from my sister and her hubby).

We sipped on some tea from Laduree...

The teacups bring back warm memories of afternoons spent in the gardens. And the saucers offer up an image of the warm sun ... with the yellow stripes.

How gorgeous is this silver tea strainer adorned with raised Angels. This was a priceless find at our dear friend Mariette's boutique last year. This photo really does not do this piece justice.

If you have not yet discovered  Mariette's Back to Basics Boutique I suggest you stop by for a bountiful selection of unique and wonderful items from a time when simplicity was truly appreciated. Mariette also has a wonderful blog by the same name Mariette's Back to Basics where she shares wonderful memories of her and her husband Pieter's adventures living in various places throughout the world; their breathe taking gardens and their feline furbabies.

With our tea we enjoyed some Amaretti cookies...

and we may or may not have enjoyed a  tiny sip of Anisette Liqueur - a product from the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. We had a great time chatting away ... there was just one missing piece....

Our friend Ms. J.  ... 
with a quick call and speaker function on the phone , Ms. J. joined us.

No matter how busy you get in life - remember to make time for your besties and it's always a good time to enjoy a cup of tea.

Sharing this post with:  Little red House for Mosaic Mondays ~Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea ~ Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea time Tuesday ~ Artful Affirmations and Martha's favorites for Teacup Tuesday  Table Top Tuesday ~  A Return to Loveliness Tuesday ~  between naps on the front porch Thursday My Simple Country Life for The Country Homemaker Hop ;Katherine of Katherine’s Corner for Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop; Kathy of A Delightsome Life for Home and Garden Thursday;Sheri at The Charm of Home for Home Sweet HomeCourtney of French Country Cottage for Feather Your Nest Friday;Alison of Stuff and Nonsense for Fridays UnfoldAt the Picket Fence for Inspiration Friday; Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday. ~  What Inspires Me Friday

Mid-Winter Blues ...

The excitement of the holidays are becoming a distant memory and for many people, as we transition  through January,the effects of winter's cold and short on daylight days has been quietly chipping away at them. I have noticed that winter's lack of sunshine, short daylight days and cold temperatures certainly seem to claw away at me too. Often leaving me wishing I could just sleep through winter and wake-up to April. It was not always like this for me. 

Though I admit winter was never my favourite season, I still always managed to discover things to do to make it fun a season . Not a fan of skiing, but winter to me meant joining my friends (whom for most had been skiing since childhood) and after a quick run or two on the bunny hill - so I could say with honesty that I did go down "a" hill - I would find my way to the lodge ... where hot chocolate and a warm fireplace were always found. Skating at Nathan Phillips Square was also a fun outing with friends. There were other things like tobogganing, snowmobiling or taking a quick trip to the Bahamas that made getting through winter a breeze.  

Though the dark hole that was swallowing me up the winter after my accident was attributed to my injuries and being in the hospital. It would become evident the second winter and through subsequent winters (6 in total so far) that something was happening and affecting me as soon as the cold, dark days of winter began to approach. Eventually SAD (seasonal affective disorder) could not be denied was taking hold of me and due to my brain injury and the various fractures I had sustained in the accident SAD would send me deeper into the black hole of winter blues.

Having fought a great fight to live, I am not about to have a few months each year continue to be taken away from me, any more than they already have. I have noticed, as soon as the time changes my downward spiral starts, gaining momentum and reaching a dangerous peak by mid-winter. Some of the signals for me that I'm treading into SAD, have included:
~Withdrawing from being around people. An overwhelming feeling to hibernate
~ My anxiety increases and my thoughts start to have a negative undertone
~ My energy levels deplete with just thinking about doing something
Being uninterested in most activities that were fun and I  enjoyed 
~ Everything starts to bother me 

Some ways I have found to help or at the very least lessen the intensity of SAD, for me are:

~ A spa outing (alone or with friends) - a massage, body treatment can be most beneficial to the body
~ Taking Dolce and Gabbana for morning and mid-day walk
~ When I feel signals popping up, I refrain from a glass of wine with dinner or any alcoholic beverages for that matter
~ Take a technical break - from the internet, blogging or other social media
~ Make plans to meet friend(s) for dinner, a stroll in the city (especially with good temps) face to face interaction with others is priceless medicine
~ Planning an escape to a warm climate location - even if for only a 3/4 day week-end

I'm certain the winter months would have turned me into a hermit, if it were not for the love and support I get from family and friends who keep an extra-eye on me during the winter. If they don't hear from me, or I'm not responding to calls or emails ~ they know I'm in need of a life-saver ... and an unexpected visit from them.
Are you or someone you know affected by 
the Winter-Blues?

What have you found helpful to ease through winter?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Little Black Dress ~ A Lesson Learned

Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment and help Ms. L with her selection of a black dress - not any just any black dress - but the holy grail of black dresses "The Little Black Dress" the investment piece of a one's basic wardrobe pieces. You can read the original post and see the choices here - The Little Black Dress ~ which would you pick?

Now for those who have been patiently waiting ~ Number #4 was the winner ... But wait there is more to this story and a lesson learned.

There are many reasons for why we throw the doors of our (often over stuffed) closet and declare "Darling , I have nothing to wear!!" Often, our closet is filled with orphans or pieces that we purchased because - We needed something to wear that an upcoming function - in desperation we bought something that we weren't crazy about, but at least we would have something to wear for "that" function. I use the term "that" function singular - as chances are you will not wear it again. Adding to your collection of "desperate purchases and orphans"taking over your closet.

Despite the fact that dress #4 fit as if it were made for her (no alterations required) and was a steal at 75% off, Ms. L could not justify the cost (in her mind) at the time. After waiting thinking too long - by the time this friend realized Ms. L had not called to have the dress set-aside, even when her husband had encouraged her and supported the investment - the dress was long gone and now hanging in someone's closet.

Since our trip to the city 2 additional events have popped up for Ms. L ~ so of course the "desperate" shopping outing took place. In which Ms. L returned triumphantly with 2 black dresses - both with an ok fit, but by her own admission not perfect and she probably will not wear them after each function. Oh in case you were wondering the 2 dresses are about 1/2 way to the value of #4. And when you apply the cost per wear - as she would be wearing #4 often as it made her look and feel like a million dollars. The #4 dress actually ends up costing much less than one dress - that she is "OK" with .. not over the moon with.

Ms. L has learned that when shopping for wardrobe basics you may need to spend a little more and that one never passes up the perfect fitting LBD, especially when it's on 75% off and all the black dresses you already own - you Don't want to wear - because you just don't feel great in them.

A look back at dress #4 ~
Have you regretted not buying the perfect basic wardrobe piece 
(LBD, white shirt, pencil skirt, dark denim etc.)?
Next time my closet decluttered  rolling rack items.

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