It's a frosty Thanksgiving Monday at the Country House. After a wonderful dinner with family in the city last evening, to wake up to Mother Nature's crystal-like beauty this morning gave me even more reason to be thankful!

After a bit of a sleep in (7:15am... for someone who regularly gets up at 5am), Charlie and I headed out into the crisp country air for our walk. It felt like every step we took was a photo was just stunning...especially with the sun just coming up over the trees.

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I will admit...I'm a BIG fan of this cooler weather...and so is Charlie. He kept rolling and rolling on the cool, crisp grass.... He also had his nose to the ground with all the fresh 'smells' that the Fall weather brings.

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The Muskoka chairs (thanks again Em) looked especially stunning as they were covered in sparkly brilliance....

I took some up close shots that captured the rustic beauty of the morning perfectly!


It really was the perfect way to start the day.....and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday Monday! Happy Thanksgiving!!


Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!!

It's Boxing Day and I'm sitting here at the Country House beside the Christmas tree in a partial food coma. It's been a mix of emotions the past few weeks but as I sit here, I'm feeling very lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful family and friends and am very grateful for their love and support!

I will admit, I found it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit this year and I know many others expressed the same feeling. I think it had to do with the fact that we had double digit temperatures (in the positive #s) and green grass that could have almost used a cut on Christmas Eve. There's just something about a fresh blanket of snow to realllllly get you in the Christmas mood (not that I'm complaining at all about this amazing weather we've been having!).

I wasn't going to let the lack of snow dampen my Christmas decorating and I had such a good time decorating both my City Cottage and the Country Home. You saw the decor for my City Cottage in my Winter Neutrals post and I will say, the evenings I spent wrapping at my dining table with a warm adult beverage and sweet treat (see above), the magic of Christmas was in the air...finally!

Since that post, people have been inquiring as to where they could find similar rustic and natural decor pieces. If you want to create a similar look as that above and in the Winter Neutrals post, some sources for the decor items include:

Then it was time to decorate at the Country House. One of the great things of country living is that so many of the elements from your back yard can literally be used in your decorating.

I literally walked around the `back 50`, cut some some cedar, pine, spruce and red willow branches and voila, we had urns! 

We went to a local tree farm and found the perfect tree (with Charlie`s help of course!). We got it home, let it drop, hung the lights and after adding snowflake themed decorations, we could just sit back and enjoy its beauty! I`m sitting here, with the lights all aglow and it makes me wish I could freeze time...that we could leave the decorations up all year long... 

 I hope you had a great time with your family and friends and that you had the opportunity to make many more wonderful memories this Christmas! All the best!





A Winter Wedding in the Country...

From the day my childhood neighbour got engaged, she had one dream for her wedding day...... 

.....To be married in the hay loft of the barn on their family farm.

Their farm is beautiful and as you can see from the front porch of the farm house above, every detail has been taken into consideration over the years in the ongoing development of their property.

I spent hundreds of hours in that hay loft growing up and only knew the loft to be full of hay, straw, chickens, farm equipment and a variety of other odds and sods. I will admit...knowing the loft as I did, I was having a somewhat difficult time imagining the transformation into a space for a wedding.....

The day of the wedding arrived and as we walked up the gang plank to the man door of the hayloft, the large doors monogrammed with the initials of the bride and groom and conifers & greenery lining the entry, her brother handed me a program and then, we stepped inside...

I stepped onto the barn board floor of the hay loft and as I looked around, my jaw dropped, I was utterly speechless and happy tears filled my eyes.....

It was INCREDIBLE.....absolutely PERFECT!!

The work this close knit, loving and hard working family put into making this day the day of the bride's dreams, warmed and filled my heart to no end.... 

This space, where we used to play tag over the bales of straw and built hay forts, had been transformed beyond belief to the most incredible setting for her winter wedding. 

As the sun shone in through the cracks of the barn board walls, there was a warm glow from the lanterns and fire place. The gorgeous rustic chandelier and fairy lights hung overhead. Every little detail was thought of and put in place, from the musical duet playing in the background to the hot chocolate bar to help keep the guests warm and toasty, to the cones of 'snow' that we showered the bride and groom with after they said 'I do'... nothing had been forgotten.

The bride couldn't have been more beautiful, the groom more handsome. The smiles on the face of the family, wedding party, friends and neighbours said it all.... This day, in this unbelievable setting, would never, ever be forgotten!

The ceremony was too cute and so touching. As the bride and groom walked back down the aisle as man and wife, they were absolutely showered in shimmery, glistening 'snow' ...we were going to give this couple their winter wedding whether there was snow outside or not!


After the ceremony, family and friends gathered around the fireplace and hot chocolate bar to keep warm and cozy. 

I didn't want to leave! I just wanted to stay in this space as long as possible, soaking it all in and marveling in the transformation!

No matter how much I wanted to stay....the time came to head to the reception. It was being held at the community centre where the bride and I and all of the kids in our families learned to skate, had spent countless hours volunteering at and had learned what community really meant!

I couldn't wait to see how they had the hall decorated!

We arrived and I was immediately drawn to this....

The head table!

Could there have been a more wintery  rustic-glam setting? The shimmer of the table skirts, those re-claimed doors (all from the farm house), the chandeliers, the greenery....

Again....just perfect! 

Cheers to B& was an amazing day/evening and I wish you a lifetime of happiness and joy! Thank you for including us in your day!


Winter Neutrals

Not only have I been neglecting my blogging this year, but I've also been neglecting my home decor. That being said, Friday night was the night for Christmas to arrive at the city cottage!

I make a point of decorating more so for Winter versus a scheme that is 100% Christmas as I enjoy leaving the decor up as long as possible, seeing as I'm not home all that much to truly enjoy it!

This year was no different....I decided to go with a neutral, rustic theme this year, with a bit of metallics added in for some sparkle (it is Christmas after all). I put on the Love Actually soundtrack, cleared off the sideboard and raided the many rubbermaids downstairs that are overflowing with Christmas/Winter decor. The sideboard was soon transformed into a neutral, rustic centerpiece for my home.

The photo above was taken at about 9pm, shortly after I finished (my apologies for the not so great photo quality) and I just love the glow of the lights, the variety of textures, the rustic charm and natural elements.

I was so happy to wake up Saturday morning and love the sideboard as much in the daylight as I did at night. 

As you know, I have an affinity for trees and I try to use them in my decor as often as possible in some way shape or form. What better time of year to incorporate them then during the winter months? 

Fur, feathers, wood, glass, metal, burlap....all the elements that speak to me in their rustic ways and when they all come together, a little magic happens!

I've done a few little tweaks here and there since Friday and just love how it all came together!

As I'm writing this I've just come in from decorating the outside of my cottage (more to come on that soon) and I'm sitting down to enjoy a latte, an amazing cinnamon bun and just take it all in.


I hope you had a wonderful weekend and have been able to find some festive cheer to incorporate into your home!




Meat, Cheese, Meat, Cheese...and Olives!

I was out with friends for dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in Guelph, OX, and we ordered some wine, their Fried Olives and a Charcuterie Board to begin our meal.  The hard and soft cheeses along with the spicey and smokey meats, mixed with the salty olives, crusty baguette and sweet mustard allows for a perfect taste sensation with every combo you put together. The chef at OX regularly changes up the combinations of the meats and cheeses on their boards and you can always be sure that what they serve is of the utmost quality and flavour as they're able to source their product from Ouderkirk & Taylor (a specialty food store in Guelph, who shares owners with OX).

There are days that I would be happy to only eat meats and cheeses for every meal...throw in a bit of crusty bread & olives and I'd be in heaven. Growing up, we were a family of grazers and most weekends, we'd watch sports or movies with a spread of meats from the butcher (Greens Meat Market in Wingham) and cheeses from local cheese shops (Pine River Cheese outside of Kincardine). 

We were planning a gals brainstorming get together and as I was inspired by my meal at OX, I decided I was going to bring some meats and cheeses. I headed out to my favourite local gourmet market.... Market Fresh to stock up on yummy goodness. 

I filled my basket with hard and soft cheeses. I chose a Jalapeno Chedder, a Herb and Garlic hard cheese and a soft and creamy goat's milk cheese. I then headed to the deli counter and selected a Spicy Salami, a Sopresatta (another spicy option) and a sentimental favourite, Noah Martin Summer Sausage. I asked that they be sliced quite thinly (almost the thickness of shaved, but not quite that thin) and they came out perfectly! I then wandered over to their olive bar and chose some green and black olives with feta cheese in oil. Then it was time to decide on crackers....I chose Table Water Crackers and some scrumptious sweet/savoury Raincoast Crisps in Fig & Olive. 

I grabbed a few more items (freshly baked Chive & Feta Scones and fresh flowers) and headed home to prepare my 'board'. Instead of a rustic board, I decided to use a crystal platter.... I cut, arranged, taste tested and ended up with this as the final result....

I was so glad to be able to taste test a wee bit as I put this together as my mouth was absolutely watering in anticipation of fully diving in!

The spicy meat, combined with the sweet/savoury crackes and soft cheese.....or the summer sausage with the jalapeno cheddar and an olive.....the flavour combinations were endless!

I wandered next door and our afternoon of brainstorming and snacking began! Of course, we had to snap some photos of the 'spread' before we dove in! 

I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon then with gal pals, having great conversations while snacking on scrumptious food (complete with Caesars)!

Whether you're planning on having some friends over or are feeling like having a 'loungey' Sunday afternoon on the couch with yummy snacks, here are a few tips for putting your own charcuterie board/platter together:

  • Use only quality ingredients. Find a local shop or market that you can count on for consistent quality and a wide selection.
  • Use only fresh ingredients. If you can go to the market the morning/day of your party or lounge session, I believe having the meat and cheese as fresh as possible makes a huge difference.
  • Use products you're familiar with, but don't be afraid to try something new too! I take an 80-20 approach. I use 80% of products I am familiar with and know will never disappoint and the other 20% allows for me to experiment and try something new. I tend to ask the staff at the market for their suggestions and see what they recommend too.
  • Use a variety of textures and flavours. Spicy and smokey meats, hard and creamy cheeses, sweet and savoury crackers....This ensures that the board will appeal to a wide variety of people and allows them to try something a bit outside of their comfort zone.
  • Try some 'add ons'. Olives just naturally marry with meats and cheeses, but you could also introduce fruit (fresh or dried), spreads/mustards or even pickles/pickled veggies. These bring another dimension of flavour and other textures to the board.
  • Have fun! These board/platters are supposed to be rustic and organic...whether served on a wooden board or crystal platters. How you decide to present your selections is absolutely up to you and don't be worried about making the presentation 'too perfect'!

Cheers to getting back to basics.... Meat, cheese, meat, cheese...and olives!


Meagan Smith at The Vintage Marketplace

Be Still**

Be Still**

I am always amazed by beautiful creations that pour out of people's finger tips from an image in their mind......and I'm even more amazed when a friend reveals a hidden talent of creating these stunning pieces of art!

I had known Meagan Smith for a while before I had the opportunity to see her work and needless to say, it's an understatement to say that I was blown away when I did.

Meagan and I share a love of a rustic and natural aesthetic. Her adoration of Mother Nature's creatures and beings is evident in every aspect of her work, from what she chooses to paint to the 'canvas' she chooses to paint her pieces on.

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Free Spirit

Free Spirit

She captures every detail perfectly....the delicate tree branches, the fluid movement of a horse....and the fact that she uses wood from around the world, as well as local reclaimed barn board, just adds an extra level of depth through the wood's grain and texture.

Be sure to "Like" Meagan's Facebook Page to see pieces that are currently available and learn more about this incredible woman!

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Thumbing My Way

Thumbing My Way

Wise Old Friend

Wise Old Friend

This is Meagan's favourite piece (Wise Old Friend) as it was inspired by her horse Jess (a thoroughbred/Clydesdale cross). It evokes a very sentimental feeling for me too as I grew up beside a farm that raised Clydes and they're one of my favourite breeds of horses.

Be sure to make the trip to Hamilton the weekend of April 18th and 19th to attend The Vintage Marketplace to meet Meagan and see her stunning pieces of art. 

I'll see you there (I might even head there extra early to take advantage of their VIP shopping time between 9-10am)!!


**All images are the property of Meagan Smith**


State and Main Sunday Brunch

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As you walk into State and Main, a new restaurant in the south end of Guelph (with Western Canada ties - so I was already a fan), you can't help but be drawn to these stunning light fixtures in the bar area.

Yes, the Guelph Blog Brunch Gals were there for brunch and were we ever hungry...but.... we couldn't help but walk around, take in the atmosphere and of course, take LOTS of pictures! (we bombarded every social media platform we possibly could that morning)

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We sat in the bar area which was bright, open and airy but yet warm and rich at the same time due to the wood, stone and leather detail.

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This was the view from the back of the dining room area to the front of the restaurant. The exposed duct work, the metal fixtures and the continued use of wood and leather brought a real rustic and industrial loft feel to the space.

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This wooden insert within the glass partitions, complete with fleur de lis cutouts, was a very effective way to separate the dining area from the bar area, but still let light through, all with great attention to detail.

Then...once we had all arrived, it was time to sit down, have a look at the menu and decide on what we were having for brunch!!

But first, what to have for a beverage?! Coffee, tea, juice..??

Well...quite a few of us decided on Caesars (the 'other' Mimosa, which makes them completely acceptable for brunch purposes! *wink wink*) and all I can say was...GREAT choice! That had to have been one of the best Caesars I've had in quite some time (also, I had mine made with gin...and bonus points for our awesome server even offering that as an option!)

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I didn't know what to get....I flip flopped between sweet and savoury...french toast or the breakfast burrito.... What to choose...What to choose?? 

Our server took our orders and at the very last minute, I decided on......

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The Morning Glory.... I really felt like a true breakfast experience....eggs over easy (cooked perfectly!), bacon, sausage (that reminded me a lot of the sausage my family gets from our butcher...sooo good!), rye toast and tres yummy hashbrowns! I was extremely happy with my choice!

Some of the other gals got the Benny Bar and the Banana Bread French Toast....we even have some fellow Bloggers who are vegetarians and they were able to have dishes changed a wee bit to accommodate them.  Overall, we would have to say "two thumbs up"!!

I can't wait to go back again....the atmosphere was warm and welcoming with a great rustic/indutrial feel, the staff were fantastic...attentive, warm and super friendly, and the food/drinks were great!!

I already know what I'm going to have to start my meal...

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Cheers to Sunday Brunch!!!

Thank you again for inviting us for Brunch State and Main....The Guelph Blog Gals had a wonderful time!

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