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spring is near?

February 26

Despite these continuing cold, cold temperatures in Toronto and this month going down as the coldest February ever, it felt like warmer weather is nearby at two spring previews I went to yesterday.

The Home Depot​ Canada revealed a few creative outdoor vignettes that utilized only items found at The Home Depot. #SpringStartsHere

home depot spring preview - Home Depot Canada

Loblaws​ home brands profiled some of their gorgeous, colourful, warm weather lines. #PCHomeSpring

pc spring preview - saf affect

Stay tuned for more details and stay positive that this cold weather will pass!

feeding a cold with ‘you gotta eat here’ comfort food

January 28

After a week that has had me battling some sniffles and coughs, I’m happy to be on the upswing. And I am looking forward to feeding this finally fleeing cold with some comfort food at the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here! season four premiere launch party Friday evening.

You Gota Eat Here - food network

You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci travels Canada (and this season, south of the border) for the country’s most delicious, mouthwatering, over-the-top comfort food. The drool-worthy dishes featured allow for culinary viewing indulgences without the calories.

But as this week of sickness proved, sometimes you just need to actually eat a favourite comfort food rich in carbs, fat and flavour. Over the years I’ve collected a few of my favourite recipes here on my blog, including (below, clockwise from top left) slow cooker turkey pot pie, potato pancakes, Chinese chicken wings, and cheese grits. Time again for some comfort food home cooking!

Catch the You Gotta Eat Here! season four premiere Friday January 30th at 9:00pm ET on Food Network Canada.

comfort food recipes - saf affect

the week that will be: design & wine

January 20

After a much needed rejuvenating vacation south, I’m back in the swing of things with a week filled with design and wine.

Wednesday evening I’m returning to my design alma mater, Ryerson University School of Interior Design, to participate in a round-table format career evening for current interior design students. I’m excited to be on a panel with others, like myself, who will be chatting about alternative career paths for those with a degree in interior design. At the time I graduated I didn’t think or really know of possibilities beyond being an interior designer, but I am thrilled that my dynamic career now includes design marketing, communications and social media consulting.

ryerson career night 2015 - saf affect

Kicking off with the opening party Thursday evening, the Interior Design Show returns in Toronto for the 2015 edition. On until Sunday, IDS15, as in every year, helps to shape the residential design industry for the year to come. The 17th edition of Canada’s design fair celebrates leading brands, innovative speakers and rising local talents, including  spotlights on Canadian-made products and small-batch designers.

Click here to read up on my posts from previous years’ show…

Toronto IDS15 Interior Design Show - saf affect

Saturday I’m heading down to Niagara Falls, ON to take in this world wonder and to sample a bit of ice wine at the last weekend of this year’s Niagara Icewine Festival.

Niagara Falls Icewine Festival 2015

I’ll also be sure to stop by a few of my favourite wineries en route, in the Beamsville Bench area and Niagara-on-the-Lake, including saying hello at Rancourt Winery, a lovely little place (managed by a good friend) that turns out some fantastic and affordable wines crafted by a young and talented wine maker.

Rancour Winery Niagara on the Lake ON

then & now: high park gates from Christmas day past

December 23

One of my favourite pastimes (and on some days, a procrastinating mechanism – case in point, I should be wrapping Christmas presents!) is to gaze at old photos of Toronto and other cities. This morning I found myself lost for bit in the City of Toronto photo archives and came across this timely oldie (taken on December 25, 1925) of High Park Blvd. at Parkside Dr. looking east through the grand High Park Alexandra Gates. While many of the stately homes that line this street are now carved into apartments, these beautiful gates retain their original prominence at the entrance to the park.

While it was a white Christmas that year (which isn’t to be the case for here this year, with temperatures forecast to push 10ºC!), I wish wish everyone a safe and happy green Christmas and a prosperous 2015!

then & now: high park blvd looking west on Christmas Day 1925

 

before & after: a lumpy sofa to a plumpy sofa

November 25

While at first I quite liked that my now 12-year-old sofa had feather-topped seat cushions, over time this became less of a luxury and more of a pain in the behind – literally. The soft little feathers became thorns in my side when they consistently worked their way through the fabric, poking aggravatingly as they did so. The seat backs became all slouchy as well, creating a lumpy, bumpy mess.

bumpy sofa - saf affect

plumpy sofa - saf affect

So, reaching my limit, I decided to do some DIY to improve the situation.

To fix the back cushions, I removed, plumped and flipped the soft fill, reforming them as I reinserted them into the seat backs.

bumpy sofa seat - saf affect

plumpy sofa seat - saf affect

Fixing the seat cushions was a little more involved. After sliding the cushions covers off, I first had to remove the sewn-in feather and fibre inserts. I was mostly careful to cut along most of the seams, however I got a little overconfident and with one tug I ripped open one of the seams. While crestfallen, a talented seamstress was able to sew it up with no issue, thank goodness.

a feathery mess - saf affect

Replacing the rigid foam of seat cushions is a great way to refresh an old sofa, however my sofa’s foam seats were in great shape, so all I did was flip them. I used spray adhesive to glue a layer of washable, non-allergenic, mildew resistant, compressed polyester cushioning in place of the feather inserts. I picked up a 30″ x 78″, 1 1/2″ thick slab of this 100% polyester Fibre Form-Ext by Doubletext at the Toronto Len’s Mill Stores for $20.99. I struggled to slide back on the first cushion cover, but then learned the ‘roll it up like you’re putting a stocking’ trick worked far easier.

soft upholstery foam - saf affect

plump sofa cushions - saf affect

While the compressed polyester gives less of a relaxed look, I can certainly relax a lot better now that I’m not having to constantly vacuum up errant feathers.

 

the week that was: pickles, wine, beer, paint

November 7

Some weeks my schedule is so packed it’s amazing I get anything done; this past week is a good example.

Sunday saw me attending a pickle tasting party at the home of fellow media socialite and foodie, Mom Who Runs. A unique evening for certain, but for those of us who love pickles it was downright tangy and tasty, with my favourite of those we tasted being Nathan’s Half Sours as they remind me of the new dills my mom used to make.

pickle party at mom who runs - saf affect

pickle party pickles - saf affect

Monday afternoon I popped by the annual ICE Wine Event in Toronto put on by the Italian Trade Commission. Featuring dozens and dozens of wineries from the different regions of Italy along with antipasti food pairings, it was difficult to choose a favourite. However, being a bit retro lately and experiencing a personal revival with chardonnay (yes, back to the ’90s with me), I did quite enjoy Poderi Dal Nespoli’s refreshing Rubicone IGT 2013 Trebbiano Chardonnay blend.

Poderi dal Nespoli Wines Italy

Tuesday I headed off to Flanders, well to a  Flanders, Belgium event hosted in Toronto by Flanders State of the Art, for those in the travel and event planning industries. The evening included some Belgian beer tasting with local Toronto beer expert Jordan St. John, along with a special exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, a small reflection of an extensive exhibition on now until April 26, 2015 at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

This event reminded me fondly of a visit I made to Brussels a few years ago, with the express purpose of eating the fabulous food, drinking the tasty beer, and taking in the stunning art nouveau architecture that abounds. Here are just a few of my many snapshots taken on that trip:

Horta House Window - saf affect

Horta House Interior - saf affect

art nouveau facade brussels - saf affect

art nouveau railing brussels - saf affect

art nouveau detail brussels - saf affect

Thursday I travelled out to the Home Depot store in Kitchener to chat with a gathering of pre-teen and teenage girls about being a designer and how to develop a colour scheme for their rooms, as part of a Skills Canada – Ontario event. As CIL paints’ resident colour and design expert, customers can email me at askanexpert@cil.ca for FREE advice in picking paint colours, developing a colour scheme for their home, whether interior or exterior, and any room. It was fun to take my colour advice on the road.

Skills Ontario Presentation - saf affect

susan forint at home depot for CIL paints - saf affect

Happy weekend! Time to put my feet up for a rest…for a bit. :)

addled architecture: streamlining?

October 18

While I appreciate streamlined design along with ornate detail, it is sad to see one sacrificed for the other when the result is anything but an improvement. Take the left facade of this pair of Victorian era retail buildings on Toronto’s Queen St. West. Perhaps those responsible for the renovation and removal of the beautiful brick-arched windows in favour of larger plate-glass wanted more light to filter into the upper stories, but at what cost? queen w arches be gone - saf affect While ultra modern lines can contrast historic embellishment in successful balance, this residential example falls short, especially now that mid century modern is now a style unto itself, currently experiencing a bit of a resurgence of popularity. But even at the time this ‘front porch’ addition was slapped on the front of this late 19th century home in the Elmwood neighbourhood of Buffalo, NY, it failed to offer quite enough of the new vs old contrast to pull it off. I’m sure the neighbours were thrilled at the time too. mcm victorian house mash - saf affect

diy dictionary page bunting

September 18

Printed book dictionaries are becoming relics, with every word definition in every language available online with the click of a mouse. What to do with an obsolete or out of date dictionary? I came across this sweet adaptive reuse of a tired old dictionary at the Refinery booth at the Pickering Markets Roadshow antique mall on a recent first but short visit.

dictionary bunting DIY - saf affect

I love the British tradition of using triangular bunting to help create a festive setting – this booth’s easy-to-diy signage cleverly uses pages from an old dictionary cut into triangles with slightly charred edges, with cutout letters applied, and strung up on twine to festively announce this booth’s wares of retro and vintage home and decor items. If a little fearful of burning the edges, snipping the edges with pinking sheers would create an equally interesting finish.

dictionary bunting - saf affect

dictionary bunting F - saf affect

 

Hopefully I’ll have more time upon my next visit to the market to spend looking at the actual items on sale, at the dozens and dozens of vendor booths, than simply gazing at some clever signage. :)

local harvest: pickled beans & balcony tomatoes

September 10

I got ‘em! My favourite martini garnish (would be great for a spicy caesar too) – zippy, pickled yellow and green beans with just the right amount of kick, from the Edge of the Woods Farm in Eddystone, near Grafton, ON. While they were selling their foodstuffs at the 100 Mile Diet Event this past weekend, I had to travel to the actual farm shop for the beans as the delayed growing season meant they were later to canning.

pickled beans - edge of the woods farm grafton - saf affect

Speaking of late (and less than stellar), so too was the growing season on my balcony and the less than fruitful harvest of heirloom tomatoes I so tenderly cared for, waiting for the hot, sunny summer weather to actually develop, to boost the bounty.

From hopeful seedling from Wicklow Way Farm

wicklow way tomato plant - saf affect

To green beginnings in my balcony planter…

spring vegetables planted - saf affect

To enjoying a few handfuls of tasty tomatoes.

balcony vegetables - saf affect

handful of balcony tomatoes - saf affect

balcony tomatoes - saf affect

And while the chives did well, not so was the case for the basil. Even a second planting to replace the first that died never caught on. Ah well.

Better luck next year?

weekend happenings: art in a park & food in an arena

September 5

It seems that summer is not done with us yet here in Toronto and southern Ontario, and this weekend’s mild, sunny forecast is a great reason to get out to couple of happenings that celebrate local art and produce.

The Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale – Toronto, ON

Friday, September 5: 1.00 – 7.00 p.m.
Saturday, September 6: 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Sunday, September 7: 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.

This yearly sale is held in conjunction with the Cabbagetown Festival and Riverdale Farm Fall Festival and attracts over 20,000 visitors to Riverdale Park West, in the heart of this beautiful and historic Toronto neighbourhood. The sale includes a slew of artisans featuring their talents, from clothing to jewellery to art and more. I’m particularly fond of one artist’s work who will be at the sale – my friend Dan Murphy. Having known Dan for years, it’s been a pleasure to watch him develop his unique contemporary realist painting style. Be sure to say ‘hi’ when you visit his booth.

Pears In Sunglight - Dan Murphy Paintings

Hit of Red - Dan Murphy Paintings

Quatro Nipoti - Dan Murphy Painting

(Photos © Dan Murphy)

 100-Mile Diet Event – Grafton, ON

Sunday, September 7: noon – 4.00 p.m.

Just over an hour east of Toronto, the little hamlet of Grafton in Northumberland county hosts this annual market that showcases and encourages the support of local producers of food and products, some to enjoy there and of course to take home, all at reasonable small-town prices. Last year I picked up a Mason jar of some amazing, home-canned, spicy, pickled yellow beans that make a tasty and unique garnish to my favourite gin martinis.

100 Mile Diet Event - Grafton ON

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