This coming weekend there will be many a big feast prepared in many a kitchen in celebration of Easter or Passover. But I wonder, how many contemporary domestics still wear aprons while preparing such a meal or everyday? I do – it’s a must for protection from hot spatters and stains and to help keep loose clothing from heat sources. But an apron need not be totally utilitarian – one can be a beautiful domestic goddess while preparing beautiful meals. I wear this modern with a nod to vintage apron from Domistyle, thoughtfully given to me by my then roommate so many years ago.
If you’re looking for a snazzy, vintage-styled apron to don this coming weekend or for any time you’re making a meal, Kitchen Stuff Plus has their range of brightly patterned Betty aprons on sale with a 20% off coupon (in-store and online), but only until Sunday.
And recently I was thrilled to discover that the venerable Quebec department store Simons offers free shipping in Canada. I have long admired their beautiful lines of kitchen textile accessories, including creative, happy patterns on a range of tea towels, napkins, table cloths, oven mitts, and of course, aprons.
Back in the ’90s I snagged this old, wooden Canadian butter crate out of my dad’s basement workshop. It was serving a satisfactory purpose as a rag bin, but I decided to transform and elevate it into an ottoman by constructing a DIY damask upholstered top from a square of plywood and 2″ foam and adding some wooden feet.
Fast forward a couple of decades and this box had been relegated to my parents’ attic. Until I came across this photo from Apartment Therapy, of a desk transformed into an industrial chic change table…
…and (on the same day) this photo from Covet Garden magazine, of an old butter box in new decor.
So I asked my mother for it back, for I realized (without the ’90s top) it would fit in well with the industrial vintage touches in my decor. Now, inspired by the Covet Garden image, it sits nicely under my vintage metal typing table night stand.
Happy first day of spring! Today is a day that most Canadians have been longing for after a particularly harsh and brutally cold winter. Alas, outside isn’t looking very spring-like, so in honour of the fledgling season I’ve once again switched up my fireplace mantel decor, to force a bit of spring inside.
I realize I tend to feature my fireplace mantel decor on a more than seasonal basis, but I find living in a small space with limited display space, my thrifty and vintage treasures need to rotate to enjoy them all. And this is a spot in one’s decor where it is easy to seasonally change-up the display.
These yellow feather wreaths (looped together with some blue grosgrain ribbon and hung in place with a removable adhesive hook), graced my front door last year, but add an asymmetrical element of height to the setting. As does the vintage, church rummage sale find, rectangular mirror.
Speaking of height, I added some vintage books with covers that work with the colour scheme of the display. As does the 1930s photo of Toronto’s Old Mill Bridge over the Humber River (taken from a spot down the road from where I grew up but bought in an antique shop in Port Hope, ON) and my grandmother’s Federal Glass Co., colonial pattern, carnival depression glass vase.
And this woodland vintage sprite looks at home alongside some spring bulbs planted in a vintage earthenware footed bowl (both more church rummage sale finds).
It has been some time since I have featured misguided ‘improvements’ in my ‘addled architecture‘ series, so here’s one I spotted on a Montreal street on my last visit to this historically beautiful city. As I was wandering the city admiring some truly stunning architecture, I stopped for a few minutes on this one to linger and to ponder what on earth were they thinking?! I can’t quite determine if the ’80s applied metallic ‘frame’ ever had anything inside and if the intention was to cover completely the old details beneath or if the old facade was what it was trying to highlight rather than desecrate. Whatever the intent, on the surface it appears to be definitely misguided.
Buffalo, NY is home to some stunning historic architecture including the gorgeous and enormous city hall, considered one of the finest examples of Art Deco in America.
I highly recommend a jaunt to downtown Buffalo to visit this gem (read my post about my visit for a pictorial tantalizing teaser), then be sure to wander the city blocks around the edifice for more gorgeous examples of my favourite period in design.
Update: plans to bring the costumes of the wildly popular Downton Abbey series to Toronto’s Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens (as noted in my recent post about this beautiful home) have become a reality!
From March 11 to April 13, 2014, Spadina Museum is pleased to host the major exhibit ‘Costumes of Downton Abbey’ featuring outfits from the production, a selection of dresses and accessories from the City of Toronto collection of the same era, and Downton Abbey-themed tours of the restored house. Already proving to be popular with Downton fans in Toronto, special ‘exhibit, tour, and afternoon tea’ tickets are already sold out, with exhibit/tour-only tickets going fast as well.
My home always seems so glum after the Christmas decorations are done, so the last few winters I’ve transitioned through the season by keeping a bit up, swapping out the more festive pieces for more seasonal accoutrements. Case in point on my fireplace mantel: the vintage glass Christmas balls went in the cupboard in favour of foraged pine cones.
I don’t normally decorate for Valentine’s Day, but this year a trip to Dollarama inspired this cheery DIY heart bunting project that I added to the mix. Perhaps the descriptor project is a little inappropriate and lofty as it was truly straight-forward garland to make – simply stringing a ribbon through the lacy bits of the hearts. And inexpensive – the pack of pink, white, and red foam hearts was $2 and the spool of brown grosgrain ribbon was a dollar.
The biggest investment of time came when I realized, upon opening the package, that only the heart at the top of the stack had all the tracery punched through, leaving me to do the rest by hand one evening – made easier and rather therapeutic with a glass of red wine in hand and a chick-flick on the tube.
I have always loved having houseplants for the greenery and life they add to a space. And for someone who appreciates plants, houseplants make a lovely hostess gift that keeps on giving year after year.
Take these specimens, for instance, that I received about nine years ago, which still bring me joy and remind me of the friends who gave them to me. The green leafy number is an easy care plant, so easy that I don’t even know the name of it. I basically water it each week and repot it when it starts to grow too large.
The orchid is what I consider another easy-care plant – I’m surprised to hear from others that they think otherwise and are equally surprised that I’ve kept it growing and flowering so long. Flowering only once a year (but for months at time), many I know simply discard the plant once the flowers are gone after the first year, losing patience to wait out the 365 days until it blooms again.
All I’ve done to care for it is to water it weekly, adding only a standard liquid house plant fertilizer once a month (but never when it is flowering), making sure to pour the water between the plastic inner pot and the decorative outer pot so it waters slowly from the bottom up. I’ve repotted it once in the nine years using orchid potting mix, and popping it into a white IKEA KARDEMUMMA plant pot. Each year I let the blooms die off naturally and only cut the stem down if it dies off on its own. If the stem stays green, I leave it alone.
Truly I find this plant is worth the yearly wait for the stupendous show of blooms it presents each winter (this year I got two full stems of blooms for the first time ever!), offering a little bit of the tropics in the dead of winter. Which reminds me, I’m overdue for a bigger hit of the tropics – without leaving Toronto, with a visit to the greenhouse at Allan Gardens, to breath in the humid air to help get through this coldest winter in years.
This cold weather has many of us holed up in our homes, spending much time staring at those four walls and perhaps taking stock of our decor. Has mid-winter cabin fever caused you to have a hate-on for your home decor? If so, it’s worth venturing outside into the cold to head down to the 2014 instalment of the Interior Design Show (on at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre until Sunday January 26), for some refreshing ideas for your spaces.
Wandering the show floor, I spotted furniture, finishes, fixtures, and booth designs that feature a lot of colour, along with unique use of materials and quite a few nods to vintage with a contemporary touch.
A colourful display of paint ‘swatches’ at Farrow & Ball.
A mix of new and vintage by MHouse Inc. with furniture from Avenue Road.
Colourful Feltro shapes become building blocks with the help of imbedded magnets.
This drop in place prefab home by Altius RSA with a vintage roof line starts at under $200 per square foot. Inside, check out the small appliances by Panasonic that are uniquely modern in shape with an interesting added splash of colour.
The Avani kitchen (a new brand by Aya Kitchens), is bold on colour and practical on design. The white island slides in and out – helpful for maximizing small spaces.
Beauti-Tone paints topped their booth with a creative display created from colourfully dipped paint sticks.
Ikea shows how blending classic favourites with their modern products helps to create a harmonious, welcoming space.
Korhani has the most intriguing and entertaining booth at the show, with mannequins dressed in clothing made from colourful rugs and brought to life with somewhat spooky, animated, video faces.
Para Paints booth is a colourful cocoon created with oversized, arching paint chips.
Urban Barn gets witty with music and colour.
Torlys presents a bright pink new booth design along with a new hardwood, wide-plank, flooring line.
On first glance these colourful Mettro tiles look authentically vintage – a closer look reveals that the patterns are photos of old tiles applied to new.
As we muddle through the thick of this cold Canadian winter, it’s hard to believe that this photo of a handy bunch was taken only a few months ago on a sunny September afternoon when I, along with a handful of other bloggers, were invited on set to chat with the judges and host of Canada’s Handyman Challenge.
Being a somewhat handy gal, it’s surprising that I’ve only previously caught a few episodes of Canada’s Handyman Challenge in past seasons. And being a handy-woman, I have to admit I am a bit hung-up on the gender-specific title. But after a visit to the set to see the impressive handy-work of the show’s contestants, I am looking forward to an immersion this season, with the first episode airing tomorrow,Tuesday January 21, 2014 on HGTV Canada at 10pm ET/PT.
Although I took many more photos of the outdoor set at an interesting abandoned industrial factory on the outskirts of downtown Toronto, none can be revealed until after the end of this season, as we visited during the final competition and were sworn to secrecy.
However, the entertaining conversation with the personable judges Bryan Baeumler, Scott McGillivray, and Paul Lafrance (they are truly as much fun in person as they are on the tube), along with show host Jenn Robertson and guest judge Mike Holmes, provided revealing insights on contestants who have or don’t have what it takes, translating into insights for those of us who are (or think we are) handy around our own homes. Bryan expressed that 80% of home building is an art and he feels that the skill lacking the most for DIYers is common sense along with a planning, encouraging us to stop and think before acting. For our projects’ and safety’s sake. Scott said that those lacking a real passion are generally eliminated from the show’s competition first, while Paul noted that the show highlights that some trying-to-be-handy-persons lack an essential skill - a basic education in and knowledge of math.
They all agree however, that even though they are seasoned professionals even they discover new ways of doing things through the show and are re-inspired in their own work by the contestants and their ideas and approaches. While there is currently a real lack of skilled trades in Canada, the hosts are encouraged that the artisan is slowly making a comeback, with shows like Canada’s Handyman Challenge showcasing, supporting, and encouraging the true talent that is out there, coast-to-coast.