Why I May Need to Buy a Diaper Bag

Good Morning!

First off, to ensure my mother doesn’t have a heart attack after reading the title, no I’m not having a baby. And the reason why I may need to buy a diaper bag is not nearly that exciting. To help explain why, let me tell you a little story….

To set the scene, it’s rush hour on a weeknight and I have just left my office at Yonge and Dundas to catch the streetcar home. As I walk toward my stop I see the streetcar coming so I rush over and immediately look inside my tote bag to quickly find my metro pass so I can get on. It’s fallen from the small pocket I normally slide it in after I use it in the morning likely now at the bottom of my tote. It’s one of those -25 degree days so I take off my large extra warm mittens and stuff them under my arm while holding my bag in my hand and try to use my other hand to search. I’m digging through a virtual black hole of crap from my day….a book, wallet, extra scarf, my lunch bag full of all my Tupperware containers…and a slew of other things.  The streetcar is loading up and I’m letting people go by me in line while I search…until I’m the last person left get on. So, in my haste to find it and get on, I yanked my lunch bag out so I can see better and it accidentally tips over and everything inside goes flying out. A fork lands at my feet, an orange I didn’t eat at lunch rolls under the streetcar, there are Tupperware containers rolling down Dundas Street, and I’ve dropped my mittens in the slush. Meanwhile there are a hoard of angry commuters waiting for me to get my sh*t together and get on so they can go home…..

Via

The driver would have left without me, but first she needed to ensure that none of lunch containers had rolled onto the tracks.   Awesome.

So needless to say by the time I got home I was determined to find a tote bag with built-in organizing features. Not a couple of crappy small pockets on the sides and a big vast crater of space in the middle. That doesn’t cut it.  I want a bag with lots of different sized pockets, compartments and separated spaces but that actually looks like a nice handbag. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS TO FIND? Then I had a brain wave…new mom’s need bags to hold a variety of things. So I started look at diaper bags, and Eureka! They are much more organized than almost any standard tote out there. And these days there are tons of designer styles that actually look like a typical handbag…..but functional.  Honestly, I take issue with the fact that much of the handbag market appears to think that only new moms have a use for an uber-functional yet attractive bag.  Why are there not more companies capitalizing on this?

So now I challenge you to look at the bags below and guess which ones are diaper bags and which are not…..WITHOUT looking at the links below the photo. (Here’s a hint: there are a lot more diaper than non-diaper bags in this round-up).

Can you tell which is teh diaper bag copy
Clockwise from top left. Lo & Sons O.G,  Storksac Olivia Diaper Bag, Timi & Leslie Dawn diaper Bag, Timi & Leslie Charlie diaper bag,  Kate Spade Grove Court Diaper bag, Dagne Dover Tote bag, Twelve Little Allure Tote Diaper Bag, Timi & Leslie Rachel Diaper Bag.

All but the top left and bottom left are diaper bags!  The non-diaper bags are by two companies that are doing the organized tote thing really, really well:  Dagne Dover and Lo & Sons.  They both make very attractive practical bags with awesome organizational features. But, in terms of choice the diaper bags win out.  You just may have to swallow your pride when someone asks you who made your bag and you have to respond with, “Oh, it’s the latest from StorkSac”!

But let me tell you, the Cole Haans, Marc Jacobs and Coaches of the world just aren’t making bags that look like this inside.

 Photos via, Timi & Leslie and Dagne Dover

Lots of compartments, lots of pockets, soooo much awesome. Pretty sure I’ll be putting my order for one of these super organized lovelies any day now.

 XO,

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A Bright Office with Chairish

Good Morning!

After an extra long family day weekend, I’m excited to be back today showing you a design board I put together for an office space. I was recently asked by the folks at Chairish (one of my favourite online vintage home stores) to post what I would do to take a room from white to bright using one of a selection of Chairish rugs they provided as my starting point. I choose a bright octagonal rug from Missoni Home, and this is the chic, bright office space I came up with.

Chairish- White to Bright Office - Web copy

From Top Right (all items via Chairish):

Whenever I’m asked to put together any kind of design board I always manage get some brass and pink in there….usually with some purple or blue for good measure. It seems this board is no exception. In my own defense, there are so many amazing brass pieces available at Chairish, it’s hard not to include at least a few. Let’s start with the desk, which is divine. Clean lines of shiny brassy goodness. However, you will notice it doesn’t have any storage, so I added the campaign style credenza with the brass handles and some colourful woven boxes to help with that. All I will say about that perfect pale purple brass chair is that it needs to be mine. I love a good vintage globe but when I saw those globe bookends….well, be still my heart. Brass AND the globes in the prettiest pink shade…..check AND check. To complete the desktop, I added the unique industrial style brass lamp and a retro pink phone. I mean, let’s be honest, hardly anyone actually uses their land line anymore but this phone is pretty enough to stay put even if it never rings. I can never have a room without art, so I picked this awesome moody painting to add some colour to the wall. Oh, and I also like to have some real greenery in my office space so I included this fiddle leaf fig tree (um, not vintage and not available at Chairish!).

In my humble opinion, this space totally fits the bill of being bright and also being pretty awesome.  That being said, I am a super-biased pink and brass-loving fool. Either way, there are always some very cool things to find at Chairish.

Have a great day!

XO,

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(Note: This is not a sponsored post. Also, for my Canadian readers, Chairish only provide their white glove delivery service to the continental US but some of their sellers will ship items internationally.  Also, for smaller items you can use a service like Box Hop).

Convert It: Washington School House Hotel

Good Morning!

Boy oh boy do I ever get excited about a good conversion project. Especially ones that I could actually visit if I was so inclined. Today in my Convert It series, I’m featuring a lovely hotel in Park City Utah, the Washington School House.  The hotel was originally one the first three schools built in Park City in the late 1800’s. While the school survived the great fire of Park City in 1898, after declining enrollment in the depression era the school was sold to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and then used for social events and dances into the 1950’s.  It wasn’t until 1984 that it was purchased and renovated into a bed & breakfast which operated as the Washington School Inn. In 2011 the current owners completed a massive renovation and the it became the gorgeous Washington School House that you see in the photos below. Very few places can be described as both luxurious and quaint, but I think you’ll agree when you scroll through the photos below that this really is both.

All photos via, Washington School House website

The hotel was Paul and Shannon Wehsener and they did a beautiful job creating an elegant cozy space and preserving the exterior charm.  I love the furniture, the bright white walls, and gorgeous lighting choices. I spent a couple of days in Park City to do some skiing after I went to Alt Summit  in Salt Lake City a few years ago.  I happened to be there during the Sundance Film Festival so accommodations were scarce and very expensive for even the sketchiest of the rooms (mine).  I expect these beautiful rooms were booked but some elite movie producers at that time.  But at a less busy time of year, it would certainly be a cozy place to spend a few days.  Perfect for either a ski getaway or a few days in the Midwestern sun.

XO,

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Childhood Recipe: Carol-Ann’s Cardamom Bread

Good Morning!

When I was a kid, my parent’s friends from Alberta, Ted and Carol-Ann, bought a really old farmhouse down the road from our cottage at Oak Point, New Brunswick.  They called it the Oak Point Inn. It looked like a haunted house. It had no electricity, no indoor plumbing, an awesome back staircase and what seemed like 1000 rooms when I was young. We had so much fun in that house. Playing hide and seek, pretending it was haunted and exploring every nook and cranny. We shared many meals there and after dinner when it got dark, we lit lots of candles and glass oils lanterns and huddled in to play boardgames or cards.  Needless to say, I have many memories of the Oak Point Inn but one of my fondest ones was making cardamom bread with Carol-Ann from scratch. I was pretty young at the time but she was patient and let me help at every step. I remember feeling very proud of myself when it was finished. And it was delicious. Over Christmas this year, my Mom suggested we make Carol-Ann’s cardamom bread recipe.  So we did. And I’m sharing it today.

I know you are probably thinking that cardamom bread sounds like it would be a savory bread.  But it’s not, it’s actually a very sweet bread.  Now, I cheated a little and made the dough using the dough setting of my mother’s bread maker, but I’ll share the manual instructions below in brackets for those of you who do not have a breadmaker.

You need:

  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 4- 4 1/2 cups of white flour
  • 1/4 cup of margarine, melted

For the wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp of milk
  • sliced almonds
  • sugar

ingredients

Check you breadmaker instructions for dough recipes and add all your ingredients in the order they are required. Set you breadmaker to the dough setting and turn on.

ALTERNATE (no breadmaker): Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, eggs, sugar, salt cardamon, and 2 cups of the flour.  Beat in melted margarine until smooth and then add remaining flour. Cover and rest 15 mins. Turn on floured surface and knead bread.  Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down.

flour copy

bread maker

Split dough in half then split into 3 equal pieces.

dough1

Create 3 long tubes of dough that are roughly the same size.

dough3-1

Braid three pieces.  Do the same for the other half of the dough and let rise again until doubled in size.

dough2

Whisk together the egg yolk and milk, and coat the loaves with it.

glazing

Sprinkle with sugar and sliced almonds.  Bake for 20-25 mins.

bread3

And voila!  Tasty sweet cardamom bread.

break

final product

bread

The bread tasted just as I remembered it from all those summers ago.  I think that the best recipes have a dash of nostalgia. They eventually sold the farmhouse and Carol-Ann is no longer with us but many memories are wrapped up in this recipe. I should also mention that I recently discovered that Carol-Ann’s daughter, Jody, who also spent some summers at the Oak Point Inn, is also a blogger in Calgary at Travels with Baggage!  I’m telling you the power of social media for re-connecting people is pretty amazing sometimes.

Have a great day!

XO,

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The Gratitude Photo Project 2015

Good Morning!

Well, here it is, January 29th, and I have no idea where has the first month of 2015 has gone. You may have noticed I’ve been absent for quite a while. I had every intention of starting fresh on the blog that first Monday in January, but between my day job and upholstery work, all my energy was gobbled up.  And I definitely have had less than normal energy to start this month off. Perhaps it has something to do with the new diet I started in early December? Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s called the Carb-Sugar-Salt diet. Here’s how it works…you eat white rolls, gumdrop cookies, crackers & dip every day and then barely exercise. After some time, your body will reject even the insinuation that you might try to accomplish anything.

But the good news is I’m back to eating healthier and working out, and my energy levels are much better. So, I am getting back to the blog and brainstorming fun new post ideas for 2015! And with a new year comes new goals and plans. And, sure, I have some, but what I think is most important for me to do this year is to be more grateful.

Via City Farmhouse designed by Kristen from Ella  Claire 

With that thought, I’m launching a little series that I’m calling the Gratitude Photo Project. I’m going to take photos each week of things, places, people I am grateful for.

Gratitude Photo Project - LOGO

I’ll be posting them once a week on the blog and I will also share periodically on social media so I hope you will share the photos of what you are grateful for too! We all benefit from reflecting on the good things in our lives. And as an added bonus I’ll get to practice using I my new fancy-pants DSLR camera. And I’m very grateful to finally have a real camera again.

I’m also grateful to be asked to participate in the Designer Insights series over at the Terry’s Blinds Blog which was posted last week. So many great designers, bloggers, creative minds have participated so you should definitely check it out.

Courtesy of: Terrys Blinds UK

Have a great day!

XO,

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DIY Holiday Shoe Embellishments

Good Morning!

It’s been oh soooo long since I’ve posted.  When you have a ton going on and only 24 hours in a day, something’s gotta to give.  Lately it’s been the blog.  However, I managed to squeeze in some time to share a great low cost DIY holiday gift idea. I know that for me as the holiday parties and gatherings approach and I see all the festive, sparkly clothes and shoes, I just want to buy new clothes and shoes for every event.  Not realistic budget wise, and let’s be honest, there are very few occasions to wear the green sequined dress or  super blinged out shoes so it’s not all that practical either.  Today I’m sharing a quick and easy way to add some inexpensive drama to your outfit with DIY holiday shoe embellishments.

DIY Holiday Shoe Embellishments - 2_edited-1

We all have 1 or 2 (or 20) pairs of plain heels. And yes, any heel adds something to an outfit. But for party season why not add something and make them stand out?  And it’s SO easy.

All you need is:

1) Clip-on earring backs (I got mine at Michaels)

2) Button backs (optional)

3) Glue gun

4) Feathers, faux rhinestones, beads or whatever embellishments you to add.

DIY Holiday Shoe Embellishments - 3_edited-1

 Step 1:  Take the clip-on earring back and glue on the button back. The button back is optional, as you could just use the flat part of the earring back, but I wanted a slightly larger surface area for mine.

Step 2: cut and and glue on the feathers in a circular pattern on the base.  I used finer end part of the feather for these but you could use any part of the feather.

DIY Holiday Shoe Embellishments - 5

 Step 3:  Glue on your rhinestones/beads to the center in whatever pattern you want.

DIY Holiday Shoe Embellishments - 4

Step 4: Clip on to you shoes!

DIY Holiday Shoe Embellishments - 6 copy

This simple accessory adds so much flair to a regular shoe! And it only costs a few dollars to make dozens of the them! You also could use them on flats or sandals if you wanted.  And there are so many options for things to them embellish with that you can easily customize them to any ladies on your gift list.

DIY Holiday Shoe Embellishments

You could also make cute ones for kids shoes. And they make a great gift for a Secret Santa that has a low price limit.  So many options!  And if you want to find other great handmade gift ideas, search the hashtag #CDNHandmadeHoliday on your social media feeds.

XO,

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Rustic Masculine Desks

Good Morning!

It’s been busy few days, which will continue for the next next couple of weeks. My parents are here visiting from New Brunswick and we had a full weekend of visiting relatives and getting out on the town. They leave on Thursday morning and then I fly to NYC on Thursday night until Monday night! A whirlwind week to be sure. I always prefer being busy to bored, so I’m not complaining at all. This is my parents first visit in a year. They usually come at Easter, but this year while they were en route here they got word that our town was hit with a massive flood so they had to turn back.  The arrived home to 1.5 ft of water in our finished basement.  This was in April, and they only just recently got everything cleaned up and renovated.  My father moved his law practice to the house a few years ago (also in the basement), and the flood really forced him to re-organize and purge his space. And now that it’s re-organized, it’s much more clear that his office needs some design help.  He has a HUGE old desk that takes up 3/4 of the room, and it’s definitely not going to be winning any beauty contests.  There are 2 standard office chairs for clients, also pretty ugly, plus a bunch of cabinets and shelving units. I mean, it’s OK, but the space could  use some TLC.  First thing on the agenda would be to get a smaller more efficient desk.  My dad’s style would be best described as rustic and traditional with some nautical twists.  He likes furniture with a heavy sturdy look and decor inspired by the woods and the sea.  A rustic masculine desk is what he’ll need….but in a size that is more appropriate for his office. So today I’ve rounded up some potential options for a new desk for my dad’s office.  Half of these are definitely outside what he would spend on a desk, but I included them anyway so he can see what is available.

Rustic Masculine Desks

 

I really like the steamer trunk desk from Restoration Hardware, and also the light and dark wood one with the metal legs from Uncommom Goods.  But really, any one of these would fit the bill!  They are handsome, have some storage and have a rustic feel.  However, I’m going to guess he will automatically gravitate to the most expensive one….just like I always do.
XO,

My November Essentials

Good Morning!

Holy mother of all that is good and pure, it’s November already. How did that happen? Despite it creeping up on me, I actually really LOVE this month. There are 2 big reasons for this. Firstly, with that pesky Halloween out of the way I can officially start my crazy holiday planning. Yep, Christmas music, Christmas crafts, a regular Christmas love fest. It’s never too early for holiday cheer for this girl. Secondly, the air is crisp, which I love. But more importantly, CONSISTENTLY crisp, which means no more seasonal wardrobe issues. I can wear tights and be warm in the morning yet not sweat through them in the afternoon. I can wear wool and not feel like I’m having a hot flash on the streetcar on the way home from work.  It’s officially early winter cold, no more ambiguity. And this kind of cold, while not bitter and frigid (yet), certainly gives you permission to get cozy and nest a little more. Today I’m sharing some of my November essentials, filled with things that help me (or will soon help me) get through this lovely late fall month.

November Essentials

 

Starting from top left:

1) Candles: I’ve only recently really started to enjoy candles and having a lovely scented candle burning definitely provides a cozy atmosphere for this time of year.

2) Wooly goodness: I recently purchased a wool Reiss coat almost exactly the same as this style except in a light mauve shade and I love it.  And I got it for an absolute steal at TJMaxx at the outlets in the US.  It’s warm, yet stylish.

3) A fall hat:  It’s not quite time for my fur-lined hat to come out but it’s nice to have a hat to keep the heat in.  I really love hats but strangely I have very few.  I am liking the wide-brimmed hats, like this one, that I’ve been seeing this fall.

4) A snuggle-worthy throw:  When coming home after a walk in the cold, wrapping up in a pretty warm throw is a lovely way to warm up. I have many of these on hand.

5) Black heeled boots:  Another great thing about fall is that it’s boot season. Woohoo!  I’m searching for a pair of heeled black ones with a heel that are comfortable, yet stylish.   I’m not sure if these ones are comfy, but I do like how they look.

6) Tights:  Tights are a MAJOR essential for me.  I’m a dress person, and I own very few pairs of pants compared to dresses.  So in the winter I have to keep warm with tights. Also, pantyhose are the anti-Christ. I wear them with certain outfits when I haaaaaave to, but I don’t like it.  Tights on the other hand are awesome. And a great way to jazz up a basic dress, is with coloured tights like these fun wine-coloured ones.

7) Cashmere sweater:  I’ve always been terrified of cashmere.  The cost and the extra care required has always seemed too much for me, so I’ve never invested in it. But in the recent years it has gotten much easier to find inexpensive cashmere basics. So, let me tell you….this girl will be getting on the cashmere train because, it is the softest, coziest thing you could ever own. Perfect for November.

Click on the links above to find the items on Polyvore.  Have a great day!

XO,

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Halloween and New Projects

Good Morning!

Happy Halloween!  I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before but Halloween has never been my favourite holiday. I’ve never been into scary.  Scary movies, scary stories….nope, not my thing.  Plus, for me it gets in the way of Christmas, and if you’ve ever read my blog your know that I’m obsessed with the holidays. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do totally understand the excitement of getting dressed up in costume, but thinking up a good costume idea is always stressful for me.  I don’t always carve a pumpkin at home since my entrance is in the back of the house and and so I don’t get trick or treaters.  However, my company does a pumpkin carving contest every year which is really fun.  This was our teams’ submission this year….

Halloween and New Projects - Pumpkins - Copy Our CEO’s name just happens to be Bert, and one of our EVPs’ name is Ehren so we just did a bit of a name change to add some humour to our submission.

As for tonight, due to some other commitments I have this weekend as well a project deadline, I’ll be spending my Halloween night giving these gorgeous mid-century Danish designed dining chairs (+4 more) a new look for a client.

Dining Chairs

And starting promptly next week, I’ll be starting another new project for another client….

Chairs_edited-1

These two darlings are OLD, and will require some major work, but the frame is in great condition and the shape/curves are awesome.  Can’t wait to see them finished.

Have a lovely Halloween!

XO,

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Convert it! The Waterhouse hotel in Shanghai

Good Morning!

In a country like China where new design, manufacturing and technology are so commonplace and lauded, it’s really nice to see when a historic space is reused. The Waterhouse hotel in Shanghai was converted from a 1930’s Japanese Army headquarters built in the 1930’s. NHDRO  architects’ designed the hotel which included the restoration of the original masonry and concrete walls, and new additions built using Cor-Ten steel, creating a very cool modern industrial 19-room hotel.  They also designed the interior of the hotel, attractively melding the old and new creating stark yet interesting common spaces and comfortable, modern rooms for guests. And the rooftop patio has gorgeous views of the Huangpu River and the Pudong skyline.

Via this post by Deseen (Photos, 2 – 5 by Pedro Pegenaute, photos 1,6,7,8 by Derryck Menere)

Brilliant conversion. And I would expect staying there would be a really cool experience.

By any chance have any of you stayed there before?

XO,

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