Steed & Company Lavender – Sparta

Steed and Company farm shop, SpartaEver since returning from my French adventure this summer, I have been feeling a little nostalgic for quaint European charm and enveloping scents that stir up precious memories. It’s one of the reason French women fill their lives with beautiful perfumes – one reminds them of an ex-lover, another of the new one, and yet the third of one still to come (oh la la!). So on the most recent sunny September weekend, I packed up the boy and went in search of my field of dreams – lavender!

Just 20 minutes from London, outside of the tiny historical village of Sparta, sits Steed & Company Lavender farm. It’s one of a number of beautiful lavender farms that dot southwestern and central Ontario and fill the air with a wonderful calming fragrance. I stepped out of the car with big expectations of purple fantasies…and I quickly learned two things: lavender blooms in June/July, and there are many varieties of lavender, English being a much more popular cultivation than French.

Steed and Company small garden, SpartaLavender shrubs, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender flowers, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender field, Steed and Company, SpartaHence, we were greeted by tiny green shrubs laid out in geometric rows with only a sprinkle of the precious purple blooms. However, we found a few other things that fed my fragrant fantasies…beginning with some lavender ice cream!

Lavender shop, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender ice cream cart, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender sachets, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender cookbook and cookies, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender preserves, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender honey, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender soap, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender conditioner, Steed and Company, SpartaLavender gift sets, Steed and Company, SpartaAnd just at the entrance to the farm, I found another piece of magical real estate!

Enchanted forest sign, Steed and Company, SpartaEnchanted Forest clearing, Steed and Company, SpartaEnchanted Forest art, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaFairy house, Steed and Company, SpartaAlthough I was disappointed in missing the purple lavender fields, I look forward to catching them next summer (it’s already in the calendar!) and I hope I’ve inspired you guys to make the short trip to Sparta.

In the meantime, I will be enjoying my jar of lavender honey which I picked up on the way out!

Sign-off

Becoming a Little French

Books about Paris, France focused on fashion, food and styrle - Amost French, Parisian Chic, Paris Letters, French WomenSo I realize that I am a Polish girl living in Canada…but in my head, there are days, when I feel utterly and completely French!!! I know…shocking, right?! But I feel that I’m not alone in this grand delusion. Hundreds if not thousands of women around the world are keen to find the french girl within. We are riveted by tales of great french passions, secrets of effortless beauty, and simple orgasmic cuisine (a fresh baguette, good cheese and a bottle of wine have been known to illicit some interesting sounds out of this girl!). And we all want to experience it for ourselves.

Do you know what I blame for my personal addiction to this fantasy world? My love of reading! And I plan on taking any of you willing readers down the rabbit hole with me. Here are my top four books to feed your inner French Fille.

1. Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull

I got this book a number of years ago, just after my first visit to Paris. I was smitten with the most romantic city in the world and wanted desperately to live there. Of course, that wasn’t going to become reality anytime soon. So I settled for some vicarious living through Sarah’s account of navigating life in the City of Lights (the good, the bad, and the ugly). For all the amusing horror, this is a seductive book that only intensified my dreams of returning to Paris over and over!

2. Parisian Chic a Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange

The fascination with the French sense of style is not mine alone. Many books have been written on how to achieve that almost impossibly uncontrived sense of je ne sais quois that is key to a real Frenchwoman’s look. The difference with this book is that it’s author is a true icon in the fashion world, and yet she writes this book like your best girlfriend, breaking down the secrets of french allure into easy to understand and adapt rules. And if you ever find yourself in Paris, Ines shares the best places to outfit your inner french goddess.

3. French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano

Knowing my penchant for becoming french, my sister gave me this book for one of my birthdays. I was thrilled to slip further into my francophile addiction, immersing myself into the french way of life. Mireille, best known for her debut book. French Women Don’t Get Fat, delves into the french lifestyle including cooking, shopping, entertaining and even exercising. The best part are the author’s own anecdotes of living in Paris and New York. It was a hit with me right from the start, and I go back to it time and again.

4. Paris Letters by Janice Macleod

Finally, this last book is my newest addition to a must read for any wannabe French girl. It was lent to me by a friend, and I have fallen completely under the spell of Janice’s writing…and painting. For anyone who’s ever thought of throwing it all away and running off to Paris, this is the book for you! The author also has a small Etsy Shop where she sells her beautifully penned and illustrated letters via a subscription. A beautiful and thoughtful gift idea for any travel lover on your list!

I hope you get a chance to check out these great reads. I would love to hear your recommendations for some fantastic escapist reading.

Colette Grand Café and Bakery

Colette Grand Cafe and Bakery TorontoColette Toronto PastriesColette Toronto GranolaColette Grand Cafe Toronto Macarons        Colette Grand Cafe & Bakery Toronto CroissantsColette Toronto SeatingAfter hearing that a brand new French café opened its doors at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto a few weeks ago, I just knew I had stop in. Colette Grand Café and Bakery is both elegant and simple in its design, with the requisite blue, yellow, and white colours giving the space a French flare. Although Colette serves a full menu in the cafe, it’s the little things that truly bring me pleasure. My sweet tooth urged me to the maccaron display where two palm-sized confections, sweet cherry and bittersweet chocolate, made their way into a box to be devoured on the way home. Absolutely divine!

If you are looking for an authentic French cafe experience in Toronto, visit Colette.  You won’t regret it!