I am generally not very into Halloween, but I now live with candy addicts who love just about everything about Halloween – pumpkins, carving, dressing up, spooky movies, and, yes, candy! I think I’m the only one though who cares about tasteful Halloween decorations, and nobody should be too surprised to see a few black and white decorations – instead of orange – pop up at my house this month.
I recently learned that November 11th is Singles’ Day. The holiday seems to have started with young people in China who use this day to celebrate the pride they have in being single (so Wikipedia tells me). The date – 11/11 – has four single ones in it, and the number one represents a single individual. Not only are singles celebrating, but they’re also shopping! Apparently singles’ day has become the largest offline and online shopping day in the world.
Today I’m sharing a collection of great things that come in ones. We have one heart and one brain, so we should be taking excellent care of both! Dressing is easy when you opt for a one-piece dress or ski suit. A chair is great for an individual. Goggles may be plural, but it’s one piece of plastic to keep your eyes clear under water. Speaking of water, a single pitcher is great for holding a lot of liquid to serve to friends. People generally where one watch to keep track of time even if they may stack it with a collection of bangles (like I usually do). Finally, a unicycle is great for a one-person show!
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Interior Design Show opening night party in Toronto. It was a fun evening full of great food, drinks, and design. I was impressed by the creativity, technology, and style that is coming up in the design marketplace.
Today I’d like to shine the spotlight on a few brands and products that caught my eye.
First up is this free-standing tub from DXV Canada. I appreciate it’s simple elegance. And since a bathroom reno will be in my future (no date set quite yet), this is a great option that I think would work well for my space.
There was a lot of buzz about Blanco’s booth. It’s concrete installation sure caught people’s attention. I have a soft spot for Blanco as you may know because of the work I did with the company when I renovated my basement bathroom/laundry combo room. Side note: I still absolutely adore my laundry sink and faucet. Beyond the entrance display, the faucets and sinks on show were as sleek as ever.
Harrison Fae Design worked with Microsoft to create an interactive booth where attendees could create a design that would then be lasered/burned onto a white macaron. The technology was definitely amusing, and I appreciated the design of this little nook.
At Objects & Ideas, many people focused on the design of this chair, but it was the coffee table that I really liked.
And you can bet I enjoyed the Roche Bobois modular sofa in the media lounge! It was a great spot for a pre-show toast and a post-show break!
An event that many in the Canadian design community look forward to every winter is the Interior Design Show (IDS) held each January in Toronto. I have a great time every year – learning about what’s new and upcoming in design; meeting talented artists, creators, and designers; and sharing ideas and commentary with friends.
IDS begins on Thursday, January 17th (first trade day) with some keynote speakers and the opening night party (open to the public). IDS is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday (with trade days on Thursday and Friday). It is sure to be inspiring! Have you seen the line-up of speakers? Canadian design favourites Lynda Reeves and Brian Gluckstein will be giving talks on Sunday, January 20th. Before then, talks by designers, writers, and architects will be shared. The schedule is jam-packed, and can certainly get overwhelming. My advice? Have a look at the schedule ahead of time to see what interests you, then take a day to stroll around the booths and interact with the exhibitors. You’ll learn so much through conversation! And the face-to-face interaction with experts will be a highlight of your experience, I’m sure!
There’s much to look forward to. Here are some of the booths that are on my must-see list.
Blanco. Well, we know I’ve been a fan of Blanco for quite some time, so I’m eager to see its exhibit and new product launches.
Swiss watch company Rado‘s installation of objects will include a variety of materials, forms, and textures. The company is also showing off the results of the design competition where students from Vancouver’s LaSalle College designed the IDS information desk. I am expecting precision with Rado’s work!
Studio North & Prototype is always a popular destination of IDS. Over 65 Canadian and international designers will be presenting their limited-editions of furniture, lighting, glass, ceramics, textiles, and surface design. It is one of my favourite features of IDS, so you can bet I’ll be talking a walk through to see the presentation of so many talented creators!
Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Shanghai-based Neri&Hu Design and Research Office will be giving a talk on Friday at 1pm. Their work is streamlined and dynamic, and I love the contrast of lines and light of their projects.
I’m also looking forward to seeing what Izen Architecture brings to IDS. They are collaborating with Ontario Wood, which is a government initiative to help us all identify and purchase locally made wood in a variety of species most suitable to our design projects.
These are just a few of the IDS exhibits and speakers that I’d like to see this weekend. And you? Have you bought your ticket? What are you looking forward to seeing or learning?
I have to say (again) that of all the celebrations, Halloween is not my favourite. I’ve appreciated some of the simpler decorations that have come up in recent years much more than the traditional black and orange decorations, but I still don’t decorate beyond (maybe) a pumpkin. But that’s just me. Maybe you do! If you do, then this post is for you. Here are five ways to decorate for a white and black Halloween.
1. Include bats everywhere.
2. Add white pumpkins.
3. Add skulls.
4. Paint branches black.
5. Bake something spooky.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
As I told you last Monday, to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, once again this October, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink. What does this mean exactly? Well, a few things. Let me share:
Donation of Ad and Affiliate Income
I will be donating all income generated from affiliate and Google ads this month to the Canadian Cancer Society. Click on all those sidebar ads and links to products (and buy stuff if you‚Äôd like). The more you click (and buy), the more that I can donate! Easy, right? I‚Äôll try to highlight the affiliate links when I include them in my posts this month, so you can get extra click happy!
CIBC‚Äôs Run for the Cure
Yesterday, I ran (more ran-walked) 5K for the CIBC Run for the Cure in Kitchener Waterloo.
I‚Äôve been doing this run on-and-off for the last decade or so, and this was my third year at the Kitchener Waterloo event. It’s a great event with that exudes support and positivity among all the emotions of sadness, gratefulness, and happiness. You can see more on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaWearsPink.
If you‚Äôd like to donate, please do so on my personal #WhiteCabanaWearsPink fundraising page. Every little bit helps, of course, so if you could forego a coffee or two this week and donate the money instead, I would be so darn thankful!
Every Monday, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink here on the blog!
Yes, this blog has an all-white aesthetic. But every so often, it’s great to explore another colour. So, just like the last two years, every Monday in October, I‚Äôll explore pinkness in the design world. It’s going to be fun!
Thanks in advance for your support, dear readers.
See the #WhiteCabanaWearsPink series from years past, if you’d like.
Last weekend, I went to the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto. It was interesting to go to that part of Toronto (Bloor/Lansdowne) as my mom grew up in the neighbourhood, and so much has changed since she left. Although I don’t remember much about her childhood home as I was very young when my grandfather moved out of it, I do remember a lot of her stories, and seeing the area – what with the addition of MOCA and Drake Commissary – just made me think about the passing of time and the evolution of Toronto. It certainly wasn’t as “hip” as it is now when my mom lived there.Beyond my mini walk down memory lane, the opening of MOCA was busy. The stylish artsy crowd mixed in beautifully with families and kids of all ages. The place was hopping! What I most enjoyed was speaking with the artists. My friends and I spoke with Nep Sidhu who is the artist behind several incredible textiles. One of his pieces – part of his When My Drums Come Knocking, They Watch series – was inspired by Kahil El’Zabar. Sir Kahil El’Zabar was also at MOCA, and he took the time to chat with us about jazz, Chicago, and, of course, art. On such a busy day, with so many people wanting to speak to the artists, I was impressed at how they shared their stories in such a relaxed and open way.
The work of Tim Whiten caught my attention not just because his pieces were in my favourite colour, but because they’re made of glass. Absolutely stunning.
The MOCA is five floors of interesting art installations. There are quite a few video exhibits on at the moment in addition to graphic art, sculpture, and mixed media installations. There’s an interactive area for kids, too.
If you like contemporary art, then I’m sure you’ll be happy to visit MOCA. It’s a great addition to Toronto’s art and museum community.
Hello Dear Readers,
Excuse the pause in posts over the next couple of weeks. I’m on a much needed vacation (but aren’t they always much needed?).
Eighty Seventh St by Monica Smiley
If you’d like to see what I’m up to, please come visit me over on Instagram.
I hope you enjoy the last few weeks of summer!
One historical meaning of the rainbow flag is peace. Nowadays, the rainbow flag is a symbol for the LGBT social movement. The rainbow flag was created in 1978 by Gilbert Baker who was an American artist and gay rights activist. Each colour of the flag represents something: red – life, orange – healing, yellow – sunlight, green – nature, turquoise – magic, violet – spirit. In Baker’s original version, two additional colours appeared: pink – sexuality and indigo – serenity.
I’m happy to bring a little #loveislove to the blog today in support of Pride Month.
From the couple to the dress to the flowers to the music, the Royal Wedding was beautiful.
Ben Stansall – Getty Images
via Harper’s Bazaar
These are just a few of my favourite photos.
I have a loaded work week, so I’m taking the rest of the week off from the blog. Enjoy a wonderful week, everyone!
I recently had the opportunity to pick frozen grapes from the vines at Georgian Hills Vineyards in Blue Mountains, Ontario. Sounds a bit random, doesn’t it? I mean, who goes grape picking? And in the winter? I was originally set to visit the Georgian Hills Vineyards to enjoy a tasting and a snowshoe tour, but because the weather was just right for picking, I was able to join a group of about 30 volunteers to pick frozen grapes. I jumped at the opportunity!
The team of volunteers gathered around 9 am, and while we sipped on coffee and treats, we learned about the process for making Frozen on the Vine. This is Georgian Hills Vineyards’s brand of Icewine (the term “Icewine” is assigned and approved only to VQA-designated viticulture areas). Since the temperature had hovered consistently around -8 to -10 degrees Celcius for several days, the grapes were perfect for picking. Robert Ketchin, one of Georgian Hills Vineyards’s partners, explained that after the grapes were picked, they would be pressed right away to release all the sugar.
volunteers are ready to begin
grapes from Georgian Hills Vineyards’s Frozen on the Vine
Robert led us through the picking process. Each person was given cutters and a basket, and once our basket was full, we emptied it into a larger bin, which would then be carried away and emptied into massive blue bins by the Georgian Hills Vineyards’s staff. We worked side by side, moving along the rows, which resulted in a very social grape picking experience! I enjoyed meeting people from the area;¬† many of us were enthusiastic first-timers. Photos were snapped as we moved through the rows, and we were encouraged to try the grapes, too. Frozen grapes are such a sweet snack.
The green nets you see protect the grapes as they grow. We moved them aside, of course, to get at the grapes. We cut the grapes from the main stem and everything got dumped into the baskets. The grape press does not let the stems and leaves pass through, so we didn’t need to worry about being so perfect.
I wore many layers for this outdoor activity. I wore four top layers, wool leggings and snowpants, two pairs of gloves, my long L.L.Bean coat, big blanket scarf, and my trusty Sorel boots with two pairs of socks. I was warm. Better to be warm and happy than cranky from the cold when you’re out picking grapes!
We worked through rows of Vidal and Riesling grapes, and without noticing, the hours flew by. When we took a group break, we warmed up with cider, hot chocolate, and more treats. The Georgian Hills Vineyards’s team were gracious hosts and very appreciative of everyone’s time and energy.
massive blue bins of frozen grapes that are ready for the press
winemaker Vanessa at work
the bladder (the black thing in the middle) pushes the grapes against the wood frame to release the sugary juice
the wood slats will come together as the bladder presses the grapes against them
This year’s sweet Frozen on the Vine will be bottled up and ready next year. I guess that means I need to make a return trip to Georgian Hills Vineyards to grab a bottle two of the sweet winter wine with the grapes that I picked this month.
Besides catching the “picking frozen grapes” day at Georgian Hills Vineyards, the winery is open year-round for visitors. Check out the range of winter experiences (e.g., snowshoe tour) and summer packages. (e.g., helicopter tour). In addition to the sweet winter Frozen on the Vine wine, Georgian Hills Vineyards offers white, red, and ros√© wines as well as a variety of ciders.
another Georgian Hills Vineyards sweet dessert wine – Ida Red – made from frozen apples (available at the LCBO)
I have many words of thanks today. Thanks to the Georgian Hills Vineyards team for welcoming me to this grape picking party! Thanks to Allison Davies for taking my photos! Thanks to Amanda P. and Grey County Tourism for arranging my trip.
See more of my trip to Grey County at #WhiteCabanaGoestoGreyCounty.
If you’re in love with the world of interior design, then the Interior Design Show (IDS) is the place for you! IDS is coming to Toronto this weekend, and there is a long list of impressive speakers and exhibitors that will be in attendance.
IDS speakers include Shauna Levy (President of Canada’s Design Exchange), Brian Gluckstein (interior designer), Lynda Reeves (of House & Home magazine), Tommy Smythe (designer and tv personality), Karim Rashid (designer), and Arren Williams (creative director, designer, writer).
IDS exhibitors will include many of my favourite brands, and I’m keen on seeing what’s new and upcoming in the world of design. This will be an especially fun visit for me as I have my own renos to plan, and I’m looking for what I can include in my designs. Here are just some of the exhibitors you’ll get to meet at IDS this year.
If the weather cooperates, I’ll be in attendance, so stay tuned for future posts right here on White Cabana as well as on my Instagram and Twitter accounts.
If you’re interested to learn more, check out IDS. The show runs from January 18-21 at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre.
To raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, once again this October, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink. What does this mean exactly? Well, a few things. Let me share:
Donation of Ad and Affiliate Income
I will be donating all income generated from affiliate and Google ads this month to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Click on all those sidebar ads (and buy stuff if you‚Äôd like). The more you click (and buy), the more that I can donate! Easy, right? I‚Äôll try to highlight the affiliate links when I include them in my posts this month, so you can get extra click happy!
CIBC‚Äôs Run for the Cure
I will be running (or, more likely, walking) 5K ‚Äď in pink ‚Äď this Sunday, October 1st in Kitchener Waterloo as part of CIBC‚Äôs Run for the Cure.
I‚Äôve been doing this run on-and-off for the last decade or so, and this will be my second year walk/running the Kitchener Waterloo event. I loved it last year – located at the Conestoga Doon campus. Stay tuned for #WhiteCabanaWearsPink style posts.
If you‚Äôd like to donate, please do so at #WhiteCabanaWearsPink. Every little bit helps, of course, so if you could forego a coffee or two this week and donate the money instead, I would be so darn thankful!
Every Monday, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink.
Yes, this blog has an all-white aesthetic. But every so often, it’s great to explore another colour. So, just like last year, every Monday in October, I‚Äôll explore pinkness in the design world. It’s going to be fun!
Thanks in advance for your support, dear readers.
See the 2016 #WhiteCabanaWearsPink series, if you’d like.
Food makes any event pretty darn great, doesn’t it? Well, what about an event that showcases the best-of-the-best in culinary gems? Count me in! Today, I’m sharing news from the Terroir Symposium. Founded by Arlene Stein, the symposium brings together chefs, pastry chefs, food enthusiasts, publishers, bloggers, and more to showcase and share the achievements of Canada’s culinary industry. This year, Terroir was held at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). In short – the event was memorable!
I arrived around lunch, and easily made my way around the food booths. Lunch was presented by Ocean Wise, and each chef prepared a dish to highlight Canada’s sustainable seafood offerings. I was in fish food heaven!
Hor mok, steamed white fish from Georgian Bay, and rice in a banana leaf, from Chef Noureen Feerasta of Rickshaw Bar
crispy fried pickerel wings and cheeks with thai larb, from Chef Kristin Donovan of Hooked ¬†¬†
Acadian Shortnose Sturgeon Toasts, from Chef Katie Venables Lloyd of lbs
albacore tuna donburi, from Chef Michael Hunter of Antler
Water and wine flowed.
S. Pellegrino – an event sponsor (and one of my faves!)
I met up with my friends from Langdon Hall for some bonding over food.
me, Anna, Chef Jason Bangerter, and Franco Stalteri (of Charlies Burgers)
Mingling and desserts pair very nicely together, so that’s where we headed post-fish! The desserts were so beautifully presented in the centre court of the AGO. Were they delicious? Of course they were! I had multiples just to be sure! (I had to do the research to report back to you, right?) The flavours were rich, and everything was of the highest quality. The pastry chefs and their teams sure did spoil all the attendees!
eclairs from Atul Palghadmal of Nugateau¬†
white perfection (white chocolate, vanilla cream, maple mousse, biscuit) from Lior Aronovich of Amadeus Patisserie
from Chris Kwok of Cluny Bistro
With a full belly, we happily attended sessions to learn about Canada’s culinary industry from the experts. We started with a session on cookbook publishing. It seemed right up my alley considering my background in writing. The panel consisted of Michelle Meade (senior editor, Figure 1 Publishing), Lisa Jager (art director, Penguin Random House), and Trish Bunnett (publicity manager, Penguin Random House). It was moderated by Alison Maclean. These four women spoke about the cookbook publishing industry for chefs, bloggers, and enthusiasts. I was pleased that bloggers were included in several presentations throughout the day. The women spoke of the publishing process – for pitch to proposal to editors meetings to writing to food styling – there are so many parts that go into book making, and I soaked it all up!
We then turned from cookbook publishing to Quebec’s culinary traditions in a session titled “French Flavour.” Since my trip to Montebello, Quebec has been on my mind quite a bit, so when I saw this session in the program, I was curious. We heard from Alex Cruz and Cyril Gonzales (co-owners: Soci√©t√©-Original and L’√Čcole Buissonni√®re), Anne Desjardins, Genevi√®ve V√©zina-Montplaisir (Caribou magazine), and Simon Thibault.
The third session we went to before the break was titled “The Science of Flavour.” In this session, moderated by Brian Gilvesy (YU Ranch), Joshua Evans (PhD student), Mark Schatzker (author and hst on Flavour TV), and John Szabo (master sommelier) addressed questions and concerns about flavour. Why do people taste things differently, what are we doing when we grow our food to enhance or change flavour, etc. “Tomatoes” was a hot topic…flavourful or flavourless? It depends on the time of year and where they’re grown, of course!
At this point in the day, attendees were invited to a reception. While I could not eat more caviar (I know, I know, but I couldn’t!), I did manage to sip on a delicious bourbon cocktail! And just like the food and desserts that were served earlier in the day, the cocktails were made with much attention to detail. Loved it!
The late-afternoon sessions first consisted of a panel moderated by Matty Matheson, Viceland TV host and chef, Parts & Labour. We saw clips from Kevin Kossowan’s dramatic film about food and agriculture, learned about pulses (which are dried goods like chickpeas and lentils) from Courtney Hirota from Pulse Canada, and Michael Ableman, author and organic farmer. It was a session that urged us to think about where our food is grown, where we buy it, and how we can maximize our local efforts.
Following this, we heard about the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition. Jacob Richeler of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants moderated the session with Alison Ramage (Design to Dine) and Normand LaPrise (Toqu√©). Could you imagine judging a food competition? That would be amazing! They should get the public (aka people like me) right on in there alongside the top chefs! Right?
To end Terroir Symposium, we attended an “Iconically Canadian” panel with Lynn Crawford, Dufflet Rosenberg, Susur Lee, and Matty Matheson. The four chefs have different personalities and culinary backgrounds, so it was interesting to hear about their perspectives on the Canadian culinary industry. While the session focused on Toronto, I know that there are many gems across Canada that add to our culinary excellence!
So would I attend the Terroir Symposium again? You bet I would! Food, mingling, art, and learning…these are some of my favourite things, and Terroir served them all!
All photos by Jordana.
Please tell me you’re still enjoying all of my #WhiteCabanaGoestoLangdonHall news. I thoroughly enjoy my visits there. It’s a unique gem, and I’m happy to share stories about my experiences. The staff is so kind and welcoming, and I’m thrilled that I get to keep visiting. Some friends have asked me about my recent dinner there, so I thought I’d write a little something about it in case others were interested in learning, too.
Last week, Langdon Hall hosted the Congress of the North American Relais & Chateaux partners. Owners, general managers, and others from Relais & Chateaux properties came to Langdon Hall for a few days of learning and mingling. On the Sunday before the learning began, Langdon Hall hosted a reception for its guests – congress attendees and a few other friends, too. I was thrilled to have been invited to join in on the fun.
I arrived at Langdon Hall on a rainy evening, but the weather didn’t dampen anyone’s mood. As soon as I stepped inside the main house, I was handed a glass of champagne (rain? what rain?). While sipping on the bubbly, I chatted with a few of the guests. Everyone was in a happy mood, and everyone seemed to be amazed by the beauty of Langdon Hall. I know! I get it!
Wine tasting was happening in several of the rooms, and in addition to the Bergstr√∂m and the Guado al Tasso wines, I was fascinated by the Coravin wine opener. A needle punctures through the cork, and the wine is poured. Through the power of magic (and engineering), after you take the opener off the bottle, the cork remains in place. The wine is protected, and it won’t spoil, since the cork remains as the seal.
While we were sipping on champagne and wine, plenty of hors d’oeuvres were passed around. Presentation was beautiful and we were treated with plenty of delicious treats!
A little while later, all guests were invited to make their way to the Firshade Room which is Langdon Hall’s newest event space (I wrote about it when it was set up for a wedding open house.). Here, Langdon Hall’s owner, Mr. Bill Bennett, welcomed all of his guests and introduced three performers from the Stratford Festival – Sean Arbuckle, Blyth Wilson, and Laura Burton on piano. They performed a few songs, and the songs from Guys and Dolls were especially entertaining. It seems like it’s a really fun show!
costumes from A Little Night Music
And then…we feasted.
Chef Jason Bangerter and his team worked wonders once again. Charcuterie, truffle risotto, beef and pork with turnip pur√©e, oysters, and apple slices topped with cheese and marcona almonds? Oh, jeez, I was in food heaven! The meal was served buffet-style, and everything was plated in style. As is the Langdon Hall way!
And to end our meal? Pastry Chef Rachel Nicholson and her team created so many artistic treats. There was something for everyone. I opted for a creme brul√©e and a peanut butter and strawberry mousse. It was hard to resist at just two – let me tell you!
The evening was memorable, fun, interesting, and delicious. I had great conversations throughout the evening, and I learned more about several Relais & Chateaux properties.
Thanks again, Langdon Hall, for welcoming me in so warmly!
Yesterday, BlogPodium – the Canadian conference for design and lifestyle influencers – announced its keynote speaker – Ms. Shea McGee of the Studio McGee. If you’ve been online searching for design inspiration, I’m sure you’ve come across some of Studio McGee’s work. It’s just one beautiful design project after another. Studio McGee brings so many gorgeous rooms to my laptop screen, and I love all the design candy! Here are just five of the spaces that may have you drooling…
Tickets for BlogPodium go on sale on Friday, May 12th. To see what’s happened in the past, check out my recaps of previous BlogPodium events.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Are you looking for something to do this weekend? If yes, I’d like to suggest you take a trip to Niagara to tour the wineries, sip on icewine, and eat delicious food – all part of the Niagara Icewine Festival. I know it shouldn’t take much more than that to convince you, but if you need some more info before you plan your weekend, this is the post for you.
When I reached out to the Niagara Icewine Festival organization, the kind folks there kindly sent over a pair of Discovery Passes. I was eager to go to the festival because I had never been, and I thought it would be a nice day away from my weekend routine of chores, errands, and work. It turned out to be much more than that!
The Discovery Pass ($40) allows you to visit 8 wineries of your choosing over the period of the festival (January weekends). Planning can be done before you arrive in Niagara via the Discovery Pass Listings and Wine Route Planner. I didn’t actually plan too much before we set off, so I did some of the route planning during the car ride over. Although the plan did change a bit as the trip progressed because of chats with other guests and winery staff, it was nice to have some sense of wineries that I might enjoy. Because the participating wineries extended from Grimsby to Niagara-on-the-Lake, it was nice to visit wineries along the full route. Thank goodness for reliable GPS systems!
We began our tour at Kacaba (pronounced Ka-sa-ba) where we met David, a friendly and informative Kacaba employee. Here, we learned about Kacaba’s history and soon-to-be-completed expansion, sipped on Jennifer’s Pinot Gris, and enjoyed jumbo prawns with our icewine cocktail. It was a great start to the day!
From Kacaba, we headed to Stoney Ridge winery. Here, we sipped on some chardonnay and¬† munched on some apple smoked bacon mac n cheese. The winery has a specialty cheese counter, too. I wanted to try everything! And for dessert – icewine-infused marshmellows roasted on the outdoor fire pit.
After Stoney Ridge, we drove to Megalomaniac. We drove up a windy road through the vineyards, and were greeted by an impressive, modern¬† building that had been hidden by the fog. It was pretty remarkable. Megalomaniac’s branding is awesome with wine names like The Narcissist and Big Kahuna paired with labels designed to match perfectly. The staff were friendly and generous. Here, we tasted four icewine cocktails and marveled at the grandness of the building’s design and decor. And the fog – oh the fog was pretty dreamy!
We made another stop at Tawse with good intentions to enjoy the Discovery Pass, but we needed a break from wine sipping (imagine that). Instead, we took a tour of the facilities and had a very informative conversation with Julie, one of the friendly Tawse staff. I’d like to go back to Tawse in the spring/summer to explore a bit more. The cave-like setting was charming, and it certainly reminded me of French wineries. Tawse is also interesting because it’s an organic and biodynamic winery – apparently it’s a place where chickens roam. I must learn more!
So after these stops in the area of Vineland, we headed to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a hearty lunch before our next tour.
Our first stop in Niagara-on-the-Lake – and last of the day – was at Strewn Winery. The event was organized so that while guests stood at large tables in the cooking school area, they were served icewine paired with a chocolate ganache tart.
I honestly thought that visiting 8 wineries in one day would be doable. In fact, it isn’t. We spent almost an hour at each winery – sipping, eating, chatting, touring – and if you add in travel time, the day just flies! Plus, who can actually keep track of time when you’re in wine country surrounded by beautiful vineyards? If you’re planning a trip and would like to maximize your Discovery Pass, I highly recommend you stay overnight in the region.
On Day 2, we began in Niagara-on-the-lake at Reif Estate Winery (Reif is pronounced Rye-f). This easily became one of my favourite spots on the tour. The Discovery Pass had us enjoying icewine paired with porchetta. The pig wasn’t happy, but I sure was! The setting was old-world, and I learned that Reif is one of the oldest winery in Niagara. After visiting some of the younger (less than 10 years old) wineries, it was nice to see a place with a longer history.
From Reif, we drove down the road to Konzelmann. This is another winery with a longer history and German heritage. The staff was, once again, informative and welcoming. We learned about the family traditions, the building’s construction, and some of the plans for the future. The retail shop has bottles at various price points.
Stop number 7 (were you counting?) was Sue-Ann Staff Winery in Jordan. This smaller winery is run by a passionate owner and team. Here, our icewine was paired with a sweet potato cr√®me brul√©e. Yes, I said sweet potato!
To wrap up the Niagara Icewine Festival adventure, we visited Redstone Winery (by mistake, actually) to enjoy a chocolate-infused chili with our icewine. Redstone is owned by the Tawse family, but the feel of the winery is quite different. While Tawse is old-world and cave-like, Redstone is industrial and bright. The building is absolutely stunning, and we learned that it has won awards in the architectural world (I didn’t take any photos of it, unfortunately!). While we couldn’t see the views from the restaurant on account of the fog, I imagine that this would be a spectacular place in the spring/summer.¬† I’d love to make a return trip here, too. (Are you sensing a pattern?)
As someone who had never been to the icewine festival, or Niagara wineries in general, the Discovery Pass was an ideal option for casual exploration. The winery listings is large, so there’s something for everyone. The pass is also a nice way to spread out your visits during the month of January if you live in – or close to – the region, since the 8 visits are not confined to one weekend of the festival. What I enjoyed about the tour is the variety of wineries that I got to visit as well as the stories and buildings to go with the incredible scenery. The people I met are certainly passionate about what they do!
The Niagara region is approximately a 1.5-hour drive from Waterloo. The drive is easy and pleasant, and it doesn’t include a 401 traffic jam in Milton (great news, right?). There’s one more weekend to go for this year’s Niagara Icewine Festival. Let me know if you have any questions if you’re planning a trip.
Thanks to K.H. at the Niagara Icewine Festival for arranging my Discovery Passes. All opinions, thoughts, and photos are my own.
I absolutely do not know how to begin this post. Do I start by telling you about the 10-course menu? Or maybe about the first time I sipped on sake? Perhaps I could tell you about how I shared an evening with a group of strangers. A good place to start might be to tell you about how two celebrity chefs came together to plan a unique dining experience. Okay, you want me to just get to it, don’t you?
You already know that I’m a big fan of Langdon Hall. Ever since I drove up the winding driveway and saw Langdon Hall for the first time in June 2015, I’ve been hooked. It’s not just something in the water. There’s something in the air, the food, the surroundings, the garden, the architecture, and the people. The place is special.
A couple of weekends ago, I was invited to be a guest at an exclusive dinner prepared by Chef Jason Bangerter of Langdon Hall and Chef Jackie Lin of Shoushin. This dinner was a celebration – and collaboration – of two cultures. It was a dinner that brought together tradition from the Japanese and French. It was a unique feast that showcased the culinary art of two incredibly talented chefs as well as incredible sake and wine pairings from Kado and Halpern, respectively. It was certainly a night to remember!
A 10+ course meal? I trained for it! I only ate breakfast that day in preparation for the event! (Although I did have some Terroir upon arrival…do you blame me?). I’m pretty sure my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the extensive menu. Chef Jackie Lin prepared fish that was flown in from Japan for the occasion. Chef Jason Bangerter worked with Jackie to prepare and pair the fish with French flavour and flair, and, as per usual, he sourced many ingredients from Langdon Hall’s gardens. It was inspiring, educational, and delicious! It was chemistry. It was art.
British photographer Simon Boucher-Harris snapped a collection of beautiful photos that I’m thrilled to be able to share here.
Behind the scenes…
(Simon took this photo of Chef Jackie during the cooking demonstration the following day, but it’s such a great photo that I had to include it!)
Each course – as you’ve seen in the photos above – was paired with sake or wine. I had never had sake, so I was a bit hesitant, but since I was sitting beside Kiyoko Miyashita – sake expert and owner of Kado – I was given excellent explanations of what I was drinking. Sake has a higher alcohol percentage than wine, and it has a unique flavour. I thought I had tasted anise, but Kiyoko assured me that there was no anise in the drink. Althought I was told that the flavour is even better after the drink sits for a while, I could never seem to let mine sit for too long since it was so delicious!
As the evening was a celebration of two cultures, we were also lucky to sip on French red wine for some of the fish courses and the venison course.
It’s hard to put into words how special this evening was. Although many of the 30 people in attendance started the evening as strangers, after clinking glasses to toast, sharing travel stories and laughs, we ended the evening as new social media friends and conversations continued after the evening ended. To have two remarkable chefs collaborate to create a menu just for us, share their recipes, and mingle as they put finishing touches on our meals at our tables was extraordinary. Shoushin at Langdon Hall was a very good idea!
This event was a partnership between two well-recognized establishments – Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario and Shoushin in Toronto.
Photos by Simon Boucher-Harris.
Thanks to Langdon Hall for inviting me to be your guest.
After a very eventful weekend (attending fun Halloween event for the Red Shoe Society, antiquing at Aberfoyle and Southworks with Rox-Anne, getting pampered at the Langdon Hall spa, and feasting on an incredible 10+ course meal with Chef Jason Bangerter of Langdon Hall and Chef Jackie Lin of Shoushin), I have a bit of catching up to do work-wise, blog-wise, and life-wise. Don’t be surprised if posts are light this week.
For now, here’s a cute (not spoooooooky) easy Halloween DIY:
To raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, this October, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink. What does this mean exactly? Well, a few things. Let me share:
Donation of Ad and Affiliate Income
I will be donating all income generated from affiliate and Google ads this month to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Click on all those sidebar ads (and buy stuff if you’d like). The more you click (and buy), the more that I can donate! Easy, right? I’ll try to highlight the affiliate links when I include them in my posts this month, so you can get extra click happy!
CIBC’s Run for the Cure
I will be running 5K – in pink – this Sunday, October 2nd in Kitchener Waterloo as part of CIBC’s Run for the Cure.
I’ve been doing this run on-and-off for the last decade or so, but this will be the first time I’m taking part in my still-new-to-me city. Stay tuned for #WhiteCabanaWearsPink style posts.
If you’d like to donate, please do so at WhiteCabanaWearsPink. Every little bit helps, of course, so if you could forego a coffee or two this week and donate the money instead, I would be so darn thankful!
Every Monday, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink.
Yes, this blog has an all-white aesthetic. But you know what? Sometimes it’s good to explore other colours. So every Monday in October, I’ll explore pinkness in the design world. White Cabana through rose coloured glasses, I guess. Yes?
Thanks in advance for your support, dear readers.
Last year marked only the second time I had ever been to the Stratford Festival. When I lived outside of the Waterloo region, Stratford was rarely on my mind. Now that I live in Waterloo, I go to Stratford several times a year.* I feel so lucky that such a unique, quaint, pretty city is only about¬† a 40-minute drive from my home. I don’t even need to get on the 401**.
Stratford has much to offer year-round, but summer is definitely its busiest season because of the Stratford Festival. I offered up some Stratford travel advice last year in this post. Since that post, I’ve returned to Pazzo (for pizza) and Balzac’s (for coffee) several times, and bought my crepe pan from Bradshaw’s after being inspired by this event. It’s really a special little place, and I’d encourage you all to go for a visit if you can!
I’m heading to Stratford this weekend to see A Little Night Music, which looks like a fun musical featuring romance, sparkles, and humour. It stars Cynthia Dale – one of Canada’s favourite actresses.
Look at all the detailing on these costumes. Wow!
Cynthia Dale as Countess Charlotte Malcolm (left) and Alexis Gordon as Anne Egerman (photo)
champagne + a white fancy dress = a perfect show for me!
Rosemary Dunsmore as Madame Armfeldt
In addition to A Little Night Music, here are four other Stratford Festival shows that I think I would enjoy.
The Hypochondriac was one of my favourite Moli√®re novels when I was completing my French undergraduate degree. I actually laughed out loud – yes, as I read in French – when I was reading the book and then again when I saw a film version. It’s sure to be a great show!
members of the company; photo by David Hou
I love the story of Shakespeare in Love, and I’d be interested in seeing a live version. It looks like it’s a real crowd-pleaser.
Luke Humphrey as Will Shakespeare; photo by David Hou
I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe long after my childhood ended. I loved it when I read it, and I think I would have really enjoyed it as a child, too (but I definitely wasn’t a reader when I was a kid). It’s a beautiful, imaginative story that takes the reader on an adventure. I think the show would entertain both kids and adults, and I’m sure it would spark a lot of conversation post-show, too. What a great show to introduce kids to theatre! The show has been extended until November 13th, so there’s plenty of time to go this fall.
Yanna McIntosh as the White Witch; photo by David Hou
members of the company (photo)
In addition to these five shows, there are some other productions. View the full show calendar for more info.
*Yes, yes, I love living in Waterloo. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again!
**Ugh – the 401. Who designed that highway anyway?
Thanks to the Stratford Festival for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
I’m of the mind that champagne (whether from Champagne or not) should be consumed during celebrations both big and small: closing on new house, having a great day at work, meeting with a friend you haven’t seen in ages, a new baby, or a school graduation*.
I guess with Valentine’s Day around the corner, bringing out the bubbly is very √† propos. Heck, whether you’re in a relationship and you celebrate this day of love, or you’re single and avoid the commercialization of it all, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t toast you and your loved ones with a glass of champers**.
It’s not too often that I actually get spoiled with some of the popular champagnes like Mo√ęt or Veuve Clicquot***, but maybe 2016 is the year that I bring this luxury to the forefront of my life (maybe to go with my future luxurious but affordable bed makeover?).
Just look at this work of champagne art:
And the Mo√ęt & Chandon bottle is so beautifully classic.
If you’re looking to pair this with food, the Mo√ęt & Chandon team tells me that the Imp√©rial Brut (feature in the photo above) pairs particularly well with sushi, scallops, oysters, white fish, and white fruit (e.g., white peach tart), but I’m pretty sure my tastes buds are also happy when I pair champagne with the goodness of homemade pizza. Who’s with me?
Or, if you’re looking for a way to switch things up with your champagne, you might opt to try the following recipe for the Mo√ęt Ruby Red (festive for Valentine’s, the Oscars, etc.):
Mo√ęt Ruby Red
3/4 oz. Lemon
3/4 oz. Tarragon, Raspberry, Citrus Shrub (see below)
1 oz. Vodka
2 1/2 oz. Mo√ęt & Chandon Brut
Serve over ice in a white wine glass. Garnish with fresh tarragon and citrus.
Tarragon, Raspberry, Citrus Shrub
2 cups Raspberry Pur√©e
2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
4 cups Cane Sugar
1 Lemon Peel
4 sprigs of Tarragon
Bring ingredients to a simmer on a stovetop, then remove from heat and let cool.
This drink seems to be right up my alley – even though I generally prefer to drink champagne in its original state. I tend to take my champagne in a coupe, maybe with a raspberry thrown in for good measure.
What about you? How do you take your champagne?
* Maybe this is one of the reasons why I have pursued more than one university degree (I’m on lucky #5!)
** Is this a word people use, or is this just a word I use with my friends. Blurred lines.
*** Toasting my PhD achievement was probably my most memorable Veuve occasion (see this and this and this).
Images via Mo√ęt & Chandon.
I’m not a gym-aholic. Heck, ever since I moved to Waterloo, and I walk everywhere, my official exercise time is non-existent. I’ve never been a lover of the gym or workouts, but I do like activities and routine. I used to run quite a bit (slowly, I assure you), and even finished a few half-marathons. I felt really fit and strong when I was running regularly, and I felt healthy. So why did I decide to sign up for the Hourglass Workout? Why? Why? Why?
Let me share 5 of the reasons that led me to this decision.
1. It was recommended by friends: Over Christmas, two of my Toronto friends (Hi KS and SM!) raved about Lyzabeth Lopez’s Hourglass Workout program that they had been doing for the last few months. “The workouts are fun, challenging, and different,” they said. I applauded their efforts and commitment, of course, but didn’t think too much of it at the time.
2. It was meant to be: Last week, I got a text from one of said friends (Thanks, KS. Look what you’ve started.) with news that Hourglass was opening a Waterloo location. A day or so later, I randomly ran into the Waterloo instructor, Iman, at the caf√©, and had a really great initial chat about Hourglass and its expansion to Waterloo. Random, I tell you! If this wasn’t a sign, what is?
3. It’s convenient: I am a fan of convenience, and once I did a bit of research on the classes, their times, and the location, I determined that the options were convenient for my lifestyle.
4. Hourglass supports bloggers: In addition to some common interests like growing up in Toronto and what we like about Waterloo, Iman and I connected over our interest in blogs. I love it when people appreciate bloggers’ work*.
5. It’s a new addition to Waterloo: I’m always keen on supporting local businesses in the Waterloo region. This region has hooked me in, and I’m pleased to share news of all that it has to offer. Heck, I even wrote a Design*Sponge city guide about Waterloo, remember? As such, I’m happy to share news of Hourglass’s launch in our region. (By the way, Hourglass’s grand opening in Waterloo is on Sunday, February 7th in case you’re local and you’d like to attend the event.)
Hourglass Waterloo classes begin on February 1st, so sign up here if you’re interested. Hourglass is currently offering 25% off, so it’s a great time to register.
The workouts look interesting – and tough – but I have no doubt that Waterloo’s instructor, Iman, will motivate me to put in my best effort. She’s recommended that I attend 3 classes per week, but given my hectic life, I’m going to definitely commit to 2 classes, but I’ll try really hard to attend class 3. I’ll be sharing a few updates about my Hourglass Workout journey over the next few weeks, so I hope you’ll come back and check on my progress**! Wish me luck – I start next week!
So I’m not getting married. And I don’t work for Langdon Hall. But…seeing as I love pretty things, delicious food, flowers, gorgeous interiors, and parties, it seems very fitting that I bring you news of weddings at Langdon Hall. Right? Yes!
Last weekend, I was invited to attend Langdon Hall’s wedding preview day – a day where Langdon Hall dresses up in its best wedding attire, hosts vendors (makeup, music, florals, planners), and brides, grooms, and their families can tour the grounds and book (or confirm) a Langdon Hall wedding.
Or, if you’re like me, you’re a local blogger who can’t seem to stay away from Langdon Hall, so you attend the event and snap a gazillion photos of all the beauty.
This visit was extra special because Langdon Hall’s new event space, the Firshade Room, was finally revealed! This new addition can host parties up to 120 people. I was impressed that the space has the traditional coffered ceilings, traditional furnishings, and walls of windows that make the space bright, modern, and inviting. Well done, LH crew!
Any good party has a dessert table, am I right? Kitchener’s Cake Box – and owner Yvonne – were showing off some beautiful creations. The sugar flowers really caught my attention, and the cake “dripping” with icing was my favourite. I learned that there are many couples who are very much interested in the chalkboard effect on their cakes. I thought it was interesting how the chalkboard trend is popular in home and cake design.
creations from Cake Box
Chef Jason Bangerter took me on a quick behind-the-scenes tour of the state-of-the-art kitchen in this building (still a bit of a construction zone – I wore a hard hat). The kitchen is done in stainless and white Corian, and the industrial stoves, fridges, and ovens are mighty fine! Chef has big plans for this kitchen, and I’m definitely looking forward to following along.
GE appliances will be working hard in here
I lost count of how many burners and ovens were in this kitchen
a brand new kitchen (still covered in packaging!)
Chef and his team were serving up several delicious nibbles, including mini croque madame, beet-dipped quail eggs, and cucumber soaked in rose water and topped with powdered raspberry.
Chef Bangerter serving up his creations
guests can be spoiled by gorgeous views and fresh florals in The Orchard Room
a special table set-up for the happy couple
Tina and Katrina of Living Fresh
me and Tina (loving our black and white)
delicate calligraphy on the prettiest paper by All Things Lovely Paper Co.
the makeup artist’s tools – makeup application can be arranged for bridal parties via¬† Langdon Hall’s Spa Services
Vendors were set up in other rooms around the property, and I was drawn into so many of the florals! I appreciate floral design so much!
Inside the main house, two rooms were done up beautifully by Elaine of From the Potting Shed in Cambridge. Elaine is the house florist for Langdon Hall, and I very much enjoyed chatting with her about flowers, Paris, food, and the parts we love most about Langdon Hall! I hope to visit her studio soon, so stay tuned.
In Colonel Langdon’s dining room and conservatory, Elaine set up a lush floral garland down the centre of the dining table and had blooms in old-world vessels throughout the room. The conservatory was set up as it might be for a ceremony with chairs and a rose petal-lined aisle.
ranunculus place settings and a garland (or flower train!) filled with hydrangea and roses
Elaine and Chef Jason
picture perfect florals
The Conservatory – all florals by From The Potting Shed
Elaine also worked on the decor in the Red Room and conservatory, and while the space is much too colourful for White Cabana, it was stunning and made quite the impression. You can see Elaine’s creations in this Instagram photo and this one, too.
So much gorgeousness, right? It was so nice to wander through the rooms, see the decor, and enjoy the new event space. On top of all this goodness, it was a pleasure to meet Langdon Hall’s elegant owner, Mary Beaton. One of the things that I really enjoy about Langdon Hall is that it’s absolutely normal for the owner and the head chef to be mingling with their guests. On top of this, the staff I have met on my various visits are friendly. I am impressed when I am greeted by name, and I enjoy learning about each staff person’s role at Langdon Hall.
Thanks to the Langdon Hall team for extending a warm welcome to me!
Photos by me.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking hearts, hearts, and more hearts are the way to go. I’ve never been a major Valentine’s Day fan as I think love – and hearts – should be spread around generously throughout the year, so considering this, I think it’s as good a time as any to share some lovely items here (yes, even though we haven’t even yet entered February).
Sister Clara vase special edition golden heart, designed by Pepa Reverter, $410, 1st Dibs
faux suede slippers, $40
bkr water bottle, $49.95
heart coffee table, $2300, 1st Dibs
family time line by Aubrey Bonneau, from $24, Minted
heart pillow cover, $43, Etsy
pjs, $185, Charmajesty (oh, how I love this set!)
fractured heart marble, $795, Kelly Wearstler
Okay, okay, for all you diamond lovers out there, here’s one exceptional piece to end this post:
10.14 carat heart shaped diamond pendant, $785,000, 1st Dibs
The year started off so incredibly well with regards to sponsorship and brand collaborations for me and my blog. I’m so grateful for all the goodness that has come my way in 2015, and I am very much looking forward to a fruitful 2016.
Over the past 12 months, I was able to connect with many well-respected brands that have impressive histories and are forward-thinking. Would you care to walk with me down sponsor memory lane? Please, let’s!
Happy New Year, dear sponsors!
With only a couple of days left before 2016, I have decided to give White Cabana a little makeover. Please bear with me as I complete this online reno.
Anytime is a good time to visit (or move to!) the Waterloo region (see my Design*Sponge Waterloo city guide here), but Christmas time is especially charming. The streets and stores are decorated, and it seems to me that the people around town are happier than their usually happy selves.
Here is some of what is going on in the next few weeks in the region. If you know of any other events, please add them in the comments!
What: Tree trimming party
Where: Langdon Hall
When: Nov. 25th (tonight!)
Cost: Bring an ornament for the tree at Langdon Hall, then enjoy a drink and music. Learn more about Langdon Hall’s tree trimming event here.
What: Christkindl Market – At this traditionally German market in downtown Kitchener, you’ll find wooden German ornaments, delicious treats, and plenty of Gl√ľhwein.
Where: Downtown Kitchener – City Hall
When: The market is on from December 3rd to 6th.
Cost: free to attend
What: The Grand Philharmonic Choir’s performance of Handel’s Messiah
When: Dec. 12th, 7:30pm
Where: Centre in the Square
Cost: regular tickets $24-$74, tickets can be purchased here
What: The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s Yuletide Spectacular
When: Dec. 18-20, various performances
Where: Centre in the Square
Cost: regular tickets $19 and up, tickets can be purchased here
What: Christmas at Castle Kilbride – Marvel at the gorgeous Victorian decor at Castle Kilbride. Go for a tour or enjoy an apple cider and entertainment at a Merry Victorian Christmas
When: now until Jan. 3
Where: Castle Kilbride – Baden, Ontario
Cost: tours – adults $6.50 (see more here)
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, two showrooms really stood out to me during my first visit to High Point: Visual Comfort & Co. and Jaipur. I already shared my experience at Visual Comfort and my meeting with Aerin Lauder. Today, I’m bringing you news from Jaipur Rugs.
One of the reasons that we put Jaipur on our must-see list was because of its newly released Kate Spade collection of rugs, throws, and pillows. What I wasn’t expecting was to be impressed by everything beyond the Kate Spade items. I was! It was an absolutely beautiful showroom, and there were so many items I wanted to lug home! Here, have a look:
Gorgeous, right? I’m sure you can now see why Jaipur really captured my attention at High Point.
Okay, okay, so today’s title doesn’t really leave you guessing about my design-star-struck moment, does it? Yes, it’s true, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Aerin Lauder at the Visual Comfort & Co. showroom at High Point Market just a couple of weeks ago.
It was a complete treat to meet Aerin and to take photos of her with her gorgeous lighting designs serving as the backdrop.
Her collection of varied pieces is really quite stunning. I love the sleekness of the Clemente line, the sparkle in the Bonnington and Lynn pieces, and the texture on the Hampton lights. I feel like there is something for everyone in this collection (and I’m not just saying that because I met Aerin and her PR team!).
The collection is full of so many pretty pieces, isn’t it? You can click Aerin Lauder lighting collection to see all the pieces currently available.
I’m back today with another update from my first High Point Market experience. I already shared my overall impression of HPMKT and my prediction of trends, but today I’m sharing a close-up look at one company in particular that really came to impress!
As soon as I stepped into the Visual Comfort & Co. showroom, I was pretty much speechless. The staff was extremely welcoming and informative, and I instantly learned so much about Visual Comfort’s place in the lighting industry and its many designer partnerships. Based in Houston, Texas, Visual Comfort manufactures lighting for the likes of Thomas O’Brien, Kelly Wearstler, Aerin Lauder, Alexa Hampton, and Suzanne Kasler (impressive list, right? See the full list of designers here.).
Here’s some of what caught my eye (warning, beautiful forms lie ahead):
Gorgeous, right? Every piece was even more beautiful in person if you can believe it. The showroom sparkled!
And…for your entertainment…here’s how I spent much of my time at Visual Comfort:
Come back tomorrow as I’ll be sharing my design-star-struck moment.
Photos by Jordana.
My apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days. I didn’t mean to step away from my blog, but life has been hectic, and I couldn’t find even a minute to write. I have loads to share, but I’m not quite sure how quickly my news will come. My week is absolutely hectic (MBA life and work life are completely overwhelming this week!), but I’ll do my best to keep on writing!
Last week I had the pleasure of attending High Point Market in North Carolina. Oh man, was it ever interesting! I was only there for one day, so there was absolutely no way to see everything. That said, I had a fully productive High Point adventure, and I’m happy to share my recap with you.
I found High Point Market to be a very well-run operation. Getting to Market was completely effortless¬†as was the parking and shuttle situation (side note: my TomTom came in handy once again and I discovered even more features that I like). After we parked our car in the free parking lot organized by the market, my sister and I hopped on the shuttle trolley which took us directly to the centre of Market. Effort-less.
I have quite a bit to share, but for this post, I’ll begin with what I discovered as I walked through the showrooms at the International Home Furnishings Center.
The furniture and accessories at Noir were cool, modern, and had a rock-n-roll vibe. Some of the accessories reminded me of Kelly Wearstler designs. I was smitten with the bookshelves and some of the side tables.
Selamat was chock-full of bamboo pieces, and the quality of the metal bamboo pieces really surprised me.
I wanted just about everything at Europe2You. As soon as I stepped in the showroom, I felt like I had traveled to France. The displays and styling were absolutely gorgeous, and the showroom staff was friendly. In this showroom, I was drawn to a lot of the art installations. I think the cameos (see photo below) are especially interesting and unique.
The acrylic pieces at B. Pila Design were unexpected, unusual, and definitely hip. They were unlike anything else I saw in my short time at the market.
Finally, Currey & Co. was full of so many beautiful items. Their selection of lighting fixtures was sort of overwhelming, but I was drawn to all the pieces that had shells on them. I think I need a beach house. As an added bonus, Currey & Co. generously offered food, so we were able to enjoy delicious bread pudding (among other things) while we were browsing the showroom goodies.
As you can observe, High Point Market includes items from across the design spectrum. Traditional, French, delicate, modern, rock and roll, refined, quirky…there was something for everyone!
To wrap-up today’s High Point post, I thought I’d share six trends that I spotted at High Point Market (regardless of the design focus). They are:
1. books without covers on them
4. shells (including oyster shells) on mirrors, furniture, lighting, etc.
Note: High Point Market takes place twice each year. The spring market is scheduled for April 16-20, 2016. Will you attend?
Photos by me.
In just a few days, I’ll be joining crowds of other design enthusiasts at High Point Market in North Carolina. I’m pumped! I’m excited to see what’s up-and-coming in the design industry, and I’m hoping to be amazed by cool pieces of furniture and textiles. For anyone writing about, talking about, or dreaming about design, this is the market to attend.
In preparation for the trip, I’ve read these handy High Point Market tips-and-insights articles (avoid being overwhelmed by the scale of the market; map out secret places to eat), and I’ve browsed the list of exhibitors. I’m also keen to follow #designbloggerstour, which is a hashtag that a group of design bloggers will use as they explore the market. I also found this Rue article to be quite useful as well. Can you tell I like to research?
image via High Point Market
images via High Point Market
image via Rue
High Point Market has just about 12 million square feet of space to shop. 12 million! This boggles my mind. (Note to self: wear comfortable shoes.)
In the meantime, if you’ve been to the Market, please do share your advice!
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend one of Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s Beethoven concert at the Centre in the Square, and I’m pretty excited to share my experience with you. This was the first time I had ever been to a symphony. I have been to the ballet, I go to random concerts, and I’m a regular theatre goer, but the symphony…I was a total newbie! Was it ever good!
The Beethoven concert that I attended was the first of a three-part Beethoven marathon. It covered his piano concerto no. 1 in C major and no. 4 in G major. The second and third shows, which occurred on the Saturday, covered additional concertos. Full disclosure – I don’t really know much about Beethoven or his concertos…even though it may have just sounded like I do!
The evening started off beautifully with an appearance by the Grand Philharmonic Choir. With them leading (and taking centre stage), we all sang O Canada. From there, the Symphony’s conductor, Edwin Outwater, welcomed everyone, and began the concert. Obviously, I couldn’t take pictures during the performance (obviously), the photos I’m sharing here are pre- and post-concert. They should give you an idea of the orchestra’s organization and presence on stage.
I am convinced that pianist Stewart Goodyear has magic fingers. Watching him play (via a close-up video streaming on a screen) was incredible. He was completely poised, played without any sheet music, and really seemed to love every moment of the concert. I really enjoy watching people who are so passionate about their art.
I have always appreciated the arts, but watching this talented team of musicians work together so seamlessly was pretty amazing. I know actors do it on stage, but this seemed like a completely different approach to team work, you know? Alone, noone could have achieved what was created as the whole.
I enjoyed the concert for more than just the music. The traditions and routines of the performance also caught my attention. The fact that the musicians wore black made their wood instruments really stand out. The pianist, wearing tails, artfully took his place at the piano on a black tufted bench. The conductor graciously thanked his orchestra for the performance and made certain that they shone throughout the evening.
Now, as Waterloo region is a major tech hub, we were treated to yet another something special. A while ago, the region hosted a 36-hour hack-a-thon in collaboration with the KW Symphony. Hackers came together and worked with the musicians and the space to create new experiences. The winners of the hack-a-thon were Adam Fancey and Justin Safa who developed Fractal Orchestra. Essentially, they recorded the performance and ran it through a too-complicated-for-me-to-figure-out program which created algorithms-or-something-equally-complicated that then led to pretty images. Pretty images – very cool. I know I’m not doing justice to their complicated work, so if you’re interested in the details, I’d encourage you to visit their new website. Here’s a look at some of their creations:
images via Fractal Orchestra
I know the images aren’t as clear here as they are in real life, so I’d encourage you to learn more here. They really are interesting pieces of modern art.
Now, on to my initial thoughts of the venue. This was my first time attending a show at the Centre in the Square, and I was pretty impressed by the architecture and decor. The stage was wonderfully lit, the wooden seats were modern and well-maintained. The reception areas outside of the concert hall surprised me, too. They were full of over-sized loung-y grey casual sofas and sleek gold side tables. The audience definitely made use of these spaces pre- and post-concert as well as during intermission. It was really good to see the large space filled with excited audience members.
The lighting was also something to note. Totally modern! Completely hip! Who knew? Kitchener-Waterloo continues to surprise me with its approach to design and architecture. I feel proud to promote this city (read this).
¬† ¬† At some points throughout the concert, I caught myself thinking about how great it is to live in Kitchener-Waterloo. Attending the symphony at the Centre in the Square was easy, convenient, and approachable. I’m curious about whether or not my Waterloo region readers have had similarly positive experiences. Do tell!
A couple of weeks ago, I took a day trip to Stratford, Ontario. The drive is about 45 minutes from Waterloo, and it’s an extremely easy and pleasant ride along one road (basically). As has become the norm, my TomTom came along for the ride and proved to be very useful especially for navigating the streets of Stratford. I’ve only been to the city a couple of times, so I’m still not familiar with the roads.
The main purpose of my visit was to watch Stratford Festival‘s production of The Sound of Music (How do you solve a problem like Maria?), so that’s where my afternoon began. I found free parking along the lake (such a bonus!), and walked over to the beautiful Festival Theatre. The architecture of this place always interests me. The pointed rooftop, the pretty front rose garden, and the round stage (it’s open on three sides which makes viewing from all angles a pleasure) make this place stand out.
The Sound of Music was a highly entertaining show, and since I was lucky enough to get centre seats about 10 rows from the stage, I felt completely spoiled!. I watch the Sound of Music once a year (it’s always on around Christmas, isn’t it), so I was quite excited about seeing a live performance (I am 16, going on 17…). I was itching to sing along to every song, but I resisted.
Stephanie Rothenberg was stellar as Maria, and the cast of von Trapp children were absolutely unbelievable. Beyond the impressive acting and singing, the choreography was fun, and the stage and set design were cleverly put to use. It amazed me to see so much variety and action on a relatively small stage (These are a few of my favourite things…). Pre-performance, I was curious about the whole curtains-into-clothing transformation, and the play got it spot on (Do-Re-Me)! I loved watching the set transform (simply and seemingly effortlessly) with each scene. That’s part of the fun of live theatre, isn’t it?
photos via Stratford Festival
There’s plenty to see at the Stratford Festival, so there really is something for everyone (festival shows and schedule here). I’ve heard good things about The Alchemist and the Taming of the Shrew. Shows run into the fall, so there’s really no excuse to not plan a visit!
A matinee worked beautifully for my Saturday schedule. Post-theatre, I was able to walk around town, pop into some shops, and stroll lazily about before dinner. I’ll show you a bit about how I spent the rest of my day, if you’d like to see…
Balzac’s is a beautiful coffee shop in a charming building with detailed ceilings and lovely lighting. It also serves up some delicious coffee! Imagine that! I love it when places get decor and food right. The Stratford location was Balzac’s first, but it is also has opened up locations in Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Collectable posters represent each location.
Bradshaws has just about every kitchen item you’d ever want. After touching just about every cool kitchen gadget, I got stuck staring into the case of Alessi items. Oh, and I also found a lot of pretty white things…
The Artful Badger is a well-designed men’s
barbershop-beauty store shop devoted to “classic shaving goods and other affordable luxuries for the modern gentleman” (I’m obviously not as eloquent in my description as The Artful Badger website!). The store carries face care and beard care items from the UK and United States along with stylish scarves and umbrellas. This is the perfect store to visit pre- and post-Movember. This gentleman’s store is unlike anything I have seen in Kitchener-Waterloo, and I absolutely loved how all the products were neatly displayed. Rh√©o Thompson makes an extremely delicious chocolate mint smoothie chocolate. If you’re in Stratford, you must go pick up a box of these gems! They’re unlike any chocolate I’ve had, and on my next visit to the city, I’d really like to go on one of their tours. Chocolate…who can resist?
After a tour of shopping, it was time for dinner. I feel very loyal to Pazzo (Taverna and Pizzeria) as I’ve always had great service and excellent meals (at both restaurants; Pazzo Taverna is upstairs, the Pizzeria is downstairs). If you go during the theatre season, I’d recommend that you make a reservation in advance. On this visit, I dined at the Pizzeria, and I was once again impressed. Service was spot-on, and my meal was delicious (mushroom toasts, margherita pizza, Pimm’s Cup, wine, espresso…all very tasty with fresh ingredients). (side note: Pazzo means crazy in Italian).
I spotted this white brick wall and knew it would make a good backdrop for a jump (dress and jump last seen here).
Do let me know if you go for a visit! I’d love some more recommendations for my next trip, too!
Thanks to Ann and Amy from the Stratford Festival for helping to arrange my visit.
It’s not very often that I hop in my car and drive somewhere other than Toronto. This past Saturday, however, I took a 25 minute drive over to Elora. I have only been to Elora once last summer, so I was happy to make a return visit. The drive through the countryside from Waterloo is easy and enjoyable, especially when the springtime sun is shining. The reason for my trip this weekend was the Elora Antique Show. I wasn’t on the hunt for anything (besides a gorgeous French bed, which are impossible to find!), but I was interested to see what the dealers had in store.
There must have been about 50 or 60 dealers carrying things like: sparkly jewels, vintage dolls, woolen blankets, wood dressers, Pyrex, silver serving pieces, blue and white, cloisonn√©, quilts, books, and paper goods. There were a couple of mid-century dealers that caught my attention, and there was a gorgeous booth full of glassware. If I had an endless supply of money and space, I would have scooped up a few cake stands, pieces of milk glass, and silver bowls. There were a lot of pretty pieces!
Here are a few photos from the show:
The next Antique Shows Canada event will be in Orillia on Sunday, July 26th. Are you planning on going?
My cousin and soon to be cousin-in-law are in the middle of planning their summer wedding. I love¬†hearing about their plans, and I’m certainly looking forward to celebrating with them at a fun party. Today I’m taking¬†a¬†moment to share some wedding-friendly items from around the marketplace.
Wedding Belles license plate clutch, $398, Kate Spade
Just Married window cling, $18, Kate Spade
Amore dish, $14, BHLDN
eyelet chair banners, $68, BHLDN
ring holder, Paloma’s Nest
Minimergency kit for grooms, $16, Pinch¬†Provisions
Christmas and New Year’s seem like they were ages ago, don’t they? We’ve then had Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day is in just a few days. It seems as though as soon as one major holiday is over, another one is around the corner. Whether or not you celebrate all of these holidays, I don’t think that the celebrations should be on hold for special holiday days. Enjoying cocktails, dinner parties, or brunch with¬†family and friends is an excellent way to reenergize and toast everyone’s successes!¬†A¬†beautiful table setting – for small and large gatherings – provides a¬†warm¬†welcome¬†for your¬†guests, and is a lovely preview for a delicious meal!
via Style Me Pretty
via Style Me Pretty
Following my end of January post called Things I Learned This Week, I thought¬†it would be appropriate to end this week by sharing five things I learned this month.
1. February is a month that really just whizzes by in a flash. I never really paid too much attention to this before, but this¬†month was really just a complete blur. I was sick for almost three weeks of it, but other than that, I have barely a recollection of what I did!¬†I hate feeling like this.
via Me and My DIY
2. The Waterloo Public Library¬†in uptown Waterloo is awesome. I love libraries and I think we should continue to show them our support. Right? Who’s with me?
3. I love doing the Saturday Toronto Star crossword when I’m at my parents’ house. I can actually do it (or most of it)! I don’t actually get the newspaper at my own home, but it’s one of the first pages I turn to when I see the Star sitting on my parents’ kitchen table. I liked this one especially since the clue for 67 down was “Ontario city”, and the answer was “Waterloo”. Do you see it in the photo?
4. Showering my cousin’s baby with¬†well wishes on¬†this sweet¬†display made me happy.
5. I had a great time at The Home Depot spring preview event earlier this week. I can’t wait to BBQ and start planting in a few months. The HD has quite a few new BBQs in stock, so I encourage you to check them out if you’re in the market for one. Here I am pretending to water some herbs in a space designed by Tim:
While the month¬†went by in a flash, and it was generally decent (from what I remember), I’m glad it’s coming to an end because I cannot wait¬†to ditch my winter coat and enjoy a warm¬†spring.
My life this fall has been slightly chaotic. Sometimes I¬†do wonder why I decide to take on so much work and extracurricular and blogging activities. Why, oh why, do I do this to myself? Then I realize that I have so much fun doing what it is that I do that I have no reason to complain about my sometimes-overly-packed days. A couple of weeks ago, for example, I headed to Toronto to join the very colourful Tiffany Pratt¬†and about 20 other¬†bloggers and influencers to create a #HappiMess sponsored by Delta Faucet Canada. Here’s my recap in five points…
2. Tiffany encouraged us to create and paint and sparkle up a unique clutch. I was totally frozen when I saw the palette of colourful paints. Luckily, the Tiffany and the PR crew had a spare tube of black paint, and I put it to very good use. I definitely felt more at ease once the black paint made an appearance! (Thanks, team!)
That’s my clutch! (It sparkles more in real life!)
4. We mingled and laughed and played with paint. And then washed our hands…obviously. Here I am washing up (and pretending to be a hand model):
¬†great faucet, right?
3. We nibbled on delicious eats by the Food Dudes and talked about Delta’s collection.
5. In addition to the painting, the clutches, the food, the drinks, and the Skittles,¬†we filled our Instagram and Twitter feeds with photos of lovely flowers from Blush and Bloom.
It was¬†a very¬†fun evening, and completely different from my day-to-day university life. Kudos¬†to Tiffany and Delta for bringing out our creative sides¬†(and for showing us how magical sparkles can be!).
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Do let me know if you make a #HappiMess over the next couple of days!
Photo credit: Koko Photography
Canadian designer Glenn Dixon
Today, I get to announce the winner! But before I do, let’s¬†do a bit of a review, shall we?
Glenn Dixon’s designs for Korhani Home are inspired by nature, and this white marble carpet is an example of nature at its best. Just look at how marble is harvested (via Jennifer). Here’s the marble rug (the Stonefield) in place at Art Toronto’s VIP Lounge last week:
Finally, the winner of the¬†Glenn Dixon Home by Korhani Home is:
Kristen thought that Caviar20’s¬†Hans Wegner Cigar Chair and the Harold Town “Toy Horse #54” 1978 print would pair nicely with¬†the rug. I think it’s pretty cool that the print is labelled #54 and Kristen’s entry number was 54. Wild!
Congratulations, Kristen! Look for an email in your inbox soon!
I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled “Friday Five” series today because¬†I am thrilled to be part of a “Behind the Blog” tour that Sabrina (Hands and Hustle) has organized this week. You may have seen other bloggers’ day-in-the-life contributions earlier in the week,¬†and today¬†Vanessa and I are ending the week with our behind-the-scenes look into our lives as bloggers.
Ready? Okay. Let’s go.
1. What time do you wake up and what’s a typical breakfast?
I wake up to my alarm clock at about 6:15am every¬†weekday.¬†I eat just about the same thing every day: toast with my parents’ homemade jam, berries or a fruit of some sort (I love fruit), a glass of water,¬†and a latte.
On the weekends, I often¬†have a pain au chocolat from Golden Hearth¬†Bakery after I’m done my grocery shopping at the¬†Kitchener market. I also love making¬†waffles (I use a recipe from Gourmet). Yum. I do love weekend¬†breakfasts!
2. Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do? How do you find the balance between blogging and work? What are the pros and cons? If¬†blogging is your full-time gig, explain how that came to be.
I sometimes tell people¬†that¬†blogging is my full-time job and being a professor is my part-time gig. In reality, it’s the other way around. I¬†finished my PhD in Education last year (focused on language learning and teaching), and I currently teach¬†academic writing at university. My students call me Doctor, but my blogging friends¬†know me as the gal¬†who is obsessed with white. My two worlds rarely collide, although I’m increasingly¬†trying to make small connections between them.
Balancing blogging and work can definitely be a challenge. Giulia and I actually presented a session at BlogPodium 2013 about balancing a day job and a successful job. I’m not an expert, and I usually take on more than I should, but¬†I also really love my down-time, so I make sure I have a good chunk of it in my weeks!
I treat my blog as¬†a part-time job…a really fun, interesting, engaging, and rewarding¬†part-time job. I don’t put pressure on myself, and I am content with allowing the blog to evolve organically.¬†I try to remain professional, committed, educated, and approachable in my blogging life, just as I approach¬†my academic work.
3. Where did you grow up (what city/town, do you have siblings, can you share any stories about your upbringing)? Where do you currently reside?
I was born in Toronto, but¬†I spent the first five years of my life in Saudi Arabia (I know¬†it’s¬†a bit random). When I was five, my family¬†moved back to Toronto. I have lived in Toronto, Kingston, London, and Waterloo (all in Ontario, btw), and I have spent quite a bit of time in France and Switzerland. I currently live in Waterloo, Ontario, and I really do love living here. I used to think I was a big-city girl, but I’m not really. I completely appreciate the ease of small-towns, and the people in Waterloo are¬†so¬†kind.
Some readers may already know that I have one older sister, Corie, who recently moved with her family from Manhattan to North Carolina. Many of our FaceTime conversations revolve¬†around design trends, blog news, or our upcoming¬†travel plans. I am certainly¬†looking forward to¬†spending time with the team soon.
4. Outline your average, typical day.
Typical? I’m not sure I have any really typical days, but I guess my weekdays generally go something like this:
–¬†wake up early
– shower, get dressed
– eat breakfast, make lunch
–¬†check in on¬†Twitter and Instagram
– update/check White Cabana,¬†read a blog or two, respond to¬†a few emails
–¬†walk to work, call¬†family members for updates
–¬†work all day¬†(with a quick break for lunch at noonish)
– walk home from work (I love my¬†walking commute!)
– make dinner, eat dinner
– do a blog/social media check/update, read my mail (hopefully a magazine, too)
– go to class (my MBA classes began in September) or do errands or hang out with¬†friends or do homework or blog
– check in with friends/family via texts/social media/email/phone calls
– read blogs or a book
– fall asleep
While I do respond to blog-related emails¬†and reader comments throughout the week, I spend weekend days drafting¬†upcoming posts. Because my day job can be¬†pretty hectic, I prefer to keep my blogging work¬†flexible. I don’t use an editorial calendar, for example, because I don’t want to over-schedule my life.
5. What’s your dream job/career? How are you working towards that?
When I was young, my dream job was to be an architect. That didn’t work out. I think I¬†didn’t actually know what path I needed to take to achieve this goal.
Then I¬†thought computer science was for me. Although I began my undergraduate degree with a major in¬†computer science, I realized that this wasn’t for me. Although I thought it was totally cool when I managed to make a “worm” move across the computer screen through the¬†coding I had created, my computer science program didn’t seem to promote collaboration, and I felt pretty isolated.
I sort of always knew that teaching was for me. My concurrent education program (I completed my¬†BA and BEd at the same time) was great.¬†I learned a lot and I thought that teaching elementary school would be amazing. It was…until I needed a change.
I headed to grad school…just for a bit of a break, I thought…and¬†after my Master’s degree, I went back to teaching elementary school.
I was a primary school teacher for a year after my Master’s, but I¬†became¬†quite frustrated with¬†teaching.¬†I had so many questions about education, and I didn’t have time to investigate any answers. So, I returned to my happy¬†place…university. Five more years at university and I’m now Dr. Jordana. I (mostly) loved doing my doctoral work. Those five years were hard, rewarding, interesting, engaging, and fascinating. I was happy with every project I took on.
Now, I’m doing what I love. Teaching at a university is really rewarding.¬†I learn as much from my students as they do from me, and I really do feel forever young.¬†My work is energizing, interesting, and fun.¬†Working in higher-education is fascinating and the learning never stops.
Speaking of learning, I¬†didn’t stay away from courses for too long after my PhD.¬†I am now¬†pursuing an MBA degree on a part-time basis, and I’m loving it (well, mostly loving it – who knew accounting could be¬†so tough?).¬†I’ve been asked the “How long are you going to be a professional student?” questions so many times. I think my family has finally figured out that they should stop asking.
I’m very happy where I am¬†now in life and work. That said, I probably wouldn’t say no to an academic job in, let’s say, Paris!
6. What would be your dream dinner-party guest list? Explain why you chose each person.
Oh, man, this is hard and requires much thought! I love meeting people who have diverse interests, so I would want my dinner guests to have diverse work and life experiences. For a celebrity-focused dinner party with people who are dead or¬†alive, I’d like to dine¬†with the following group, and I might¬†ask them the following questions:
Audrey Hepburn:¬†Who¬†is your favourite shopping partner?
Seth Godin: What book do you think everyone must read?
Martha Stewart (this would be risky; she would certainly judge my food):¬†What is the one collection you’d never give away?
Sophie Kinsella: What’s in your handbag?
Leonardo DiCaprio – Do you ever sing the Growing Pains theme song?
Gwyneth Paltrow: What’s coming up next? A GOOP store?
JD Salinger: Have you taken a ride on the Central Park merry-go-round?
Audrey Tatou: Would you ever really travel with a gnome?
Kristin Wiig:¬†Who makes you laugh?
Ina Garten:¬†What does¬†Jeffrey cook for you when you’re off cooking duty?
Matt Damon: Do you want to come to my next dinner party?
I’m not so¬†sure how this mix of people would get along in real life, but it would be neat to ask these celebrities some¬†questions.
7. What’s one thing you’d like to start, one thing you’d like to stop, and one thing you’d like to continue?
Start: my basement renovation
Stop: complaining about things not worth complaining about (e.g., vacuuming)
Continue: to make travel plans
8. What’s your current obsession?
Design: I have been obsessed with¬†Alessi¬†for quite a while now.
People: I love spending time with my high-energy nephews and niece (even though they wear me out).
Food:¬†Pizza. I could live on it.
Celebrity news: Prince William & Duchess Kate¬†Middleton.
9. Link to 5 websites/blogs you can’t go a week without.
This is such a hard question for someone like me who reads a lot of blogs! Six¬†of my frequent reads¬†are:
Lark & Linen – Jacquelyn’s photos are beautiful¬†and I love her “Scenes from my Weekend” series on Mondays (which is now going to shift to “Scenes from my Week” because of Jacquelyn’s new design venture).
Rambling Renovators – Jennifer is one hard-working lady, and¬†she’s been¬†a leader for many¬†bloggers. I really look forward to her Friday Love List column.
Atlantic-Pacific – Blair Eadie’s style is top-notch. I want absolutely everything that she wears.
Love Taza – I think I actually have zero things in common with Naomi, but I keep coming back to her blog. I think it’s because I started reading her when my sister and her family were living in Manhattan. They sort of lived parallel lives.
A Beautiful Mess –¬†This blog documents the work of a¬†whole team of talented and artistic people. They live a much more colourful life than me, that’s for darn sure. ¬†I’m mostly interested in the recipes. I’ve tried a few of them and they always work out.
Swiss Miss – Tina¬†always posts¬†something new-to-me and interesting.¬†I really like her aesthetic.
10. Tag and mention 1 blogger who you’d like to partake in this feature.
I would love to know how Erica Cook manages her day.¬†She’s uber-talented and seems so very nice.
Interested in learning about other bloggers involved in this Behind the Blog series? Check out the schedule:
Friday, October 3rd
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Last week, I shared¬†plenty of photos of the 2014 Princess Margaret Lottery Oakville showhome designed by Brian Gluckstein. I really did love many rooms in this home, but the grand and classic stairway was definitely part of the house that I wanted to highlight. As such, I spoke about it in this short¬†PMLotto interview:
Brian Gluckstein. Damn, he’s good.
This past weekend, Brian Gluckstein and the Princess Margaret Welcome Home¬†Sweepstakes¬†invited a group of bloggers to attend Brunch with Brian at this year’s Oakville Showhome.¬†Our private event included an¬†detailed tour led by¬†Brian, delicious food by Chef Logan,¬†drinks from Pluck Teas and¬†Rosewood Wine, and an amusing Q & A session with the man of the hour.
So,¬†let’s go on a photo tour, shall we?
The foyer and grand staircase in the Oakville showhome is beautiful.¬†It reminds me of¬†entrances I’ve seen in France. I love the iron railing¬†and¬†the massive windows. The light in this foyer – and throughout the house –¬†is¬†enviable.
front foyer with grand staircase and herringbone porcelain tiles
Just off the foyer is one of my favourite spots in the house (but too¬†dark for White Cabana). Believe it or not, the all-black powder room really caught my attention. Luckily, the dark powder room has¬†natural light coming through, which makes it more moody than dreary. The tile work also reminded me of European homes. (Sorry, I don’t have any photos to post. You’ll have to go to the showhome to see what I’m talking about!)
Just to the left of the foyer is the grand living room.¬†The see-through fireplace that connects the front foyer to the living room is a beautiful addition. It was manufactured in and shipped over from¬†Portugal. Classic shades of cream made this space bright and classy, and the floor-to-ceiling windows are impressive.
white mantle in the front living room
the see-through mantle in the front foyer
bright and white in the living room
the living room and dining room viewed from the staircase
Q & A session with Brian Gluckstein
How many pot lights around the perimeter?
Everyone and their sister is talking about the indoor tree in this showhome. Yes, an actual tree…planted in the ground! I was fascinated by Brian’s explanation about the amount of thought¬†went into this tree; flooring, ventilation, etc. were all¬†considered when Brian designed this¬†room around the tree. I’m such a sucker for offices, as you may know, and¬†this one is stunning.
a house built¬†around a¬†tree
This house is full of interesting art and gorgeous skylights.
one of the many beautiful pieces of art
¬†one of the many skylights
The kitchen’s toaster wall is completely unique. The collection of toasters from the 1930s turned into a beautiful art installation and feature wall in the reasonably-sized¬†white kitchen.
toasters – just for looks
there’s a fridge behind these doors
Of course, the La Cornue stove adds to the beauty in this space. I could make killer scrambled eggs on that gem, I’m sure!
La Cornue + Pluck Teas
There is more delight upstairs. The master bedroom is big and airy. The white bedding and layers of pillows add luxury¬†to this space, the sofa adds comfort, and the walk-in-closet is, well, pretty much perfect.
white linens in the master bedroom
creamy details in the master bedroom
Who wouldn’t love this closet?
Brian is a wizard when it comes to bathroom design. The tile work in each bathroom in this house (I lost count of how many there actually are…six maybe?) is something to¬†really note. The master bathroom is generously sized and the layout is flipped. Here, the vanity is in front of the windows and the bathtub is floating on the other end.¬†I loved it when Brian talked about the affordable route he took to install the vanity¬†mirrors. Brian and affordability – not the combo you’d¬†really predict, right?¬†Although it looks like the mirrors are framed in steel, they’re actually framed in painted wood. The bars are made of shower rod¬†holders and¬†pipes. That’s where the affordability ended, though. The cast iron Kohler bathtub costs a pretty penny! It’s the same one that Brian has in his own home.
here I am in the master bathroom
double vanity surrounded by¬†natural light
white monogrammed towels¬†in the bathroom
floating Kohler tub in the master bathroom
floor tiles in the master bathroom
my favourite light fixture in the house
the jack-and-jill bathroom vanity
here I am in the white jack-and-jill bathroom
Also upstairs is a sweet little office. Brian maximized storage¬†in here with floor-to-ceiling shelves. In fact, this space was originally a hallway, but Brian suggested that the walls be bumped out (and a foot taken from each of the rooms on the other side of the walls) to make it a useable room. The skylight provides loads of natural light. And, yes, I could see myself working in here as well. I’m a sucker for offices, remember?
a white hallway leading to the office area
a bright place to work on the second floor
Another one of my favourite¬†spaces in this house is the wine cellar. Just look at it.
I want one.
¬†Brian, the wine cellar, and the exercise room
You can work off the calories you drink in your private exercise room.
The basement family¬†room is¬†darker than I normally like, but I’m wondering if this is something I should consider for my own basement. Would I dare go dark? The white matting on the gallery wall art brightens up the room as does the sofa and the lighting.
the basement family room (it doesn’t feel like a basement, does it?)
The white and grey laundry room in the basement is spacious and has top of the line¬†machines. The cabinetry, we learned, is from a big box store that was painted and framed with additional moulding.
laundry room details
the spacious laundry room in white and grey
Brian was kind enough to take photos with all his blogger fans. Here we are…
¬†Brian Gluckstein and Jordana
Other things I learned¬†during #BrunchWithBrian¬†that might interest you:
1. Brian eats the same breakfast every day: yogurt and berries. Brian, I eat the same thing every day, too (toast,¬†berries, and a latte).
2. Brian enjoys Pinterest just like the rest of us!
3.¬†About 60-70K people come through the Oakville showhome each year.
4. Brian¬†can’t imagine a space without art.
5. Brian¬†reads the blog The Blue Remembered Hills.
6. Brian’s design influences include Billy Baldwin, Jean-Michel Frank, Edwin¬†Lutyens, and Kalef Alaton.
7. It took less than a year to buy the Oakville showhome lot, demolish the original house, build a new house, and decorate it.
8. Brian did not shy away from mixing metals in this house.
9. Brian is as classy, approachable, and intelligent¬†as you may imagine.
10. The foyer drapes are 30 feet in length and the trim is made of one continuous piece.
As if you need any more convincing! Order¬†your ticket!
Photos by Jordana. For more¬†photos (really beautiful ones) of the Oakville showhome, click here.
Did you know that¬†it’s actually possible to¬†be tired and energized at the same time? It’s true. This is exactly how I’m currently feeling. I¬†have been pretty worn down this week for all sorts of reasons (full-time job, taking on¬†an additional course, blogging, MBA, trips to Toronto, social events, back-to-school germs, etc.), but I am so full of ideas and energy (in my mind at least)¬†after last weekend’s BlogPodium conference. I have been itching to write this post, but I have spent every ounce of my free time in bed this week trying to get back to feeling normal. Concentrating on computer work has been just a bit too challenging. Anyhoo, enough about me and my bout of sickness. Let’s get to the good stuff…five thoughts about BlogPodium.
1. White Cabana + Inspirations Studio
One of the major highlights for me at this year’s conference was the fact that I had the opportunity to design a collection of pottery. Although the design¬†timeline was tight, I had fun¬†brainstorming ideas,¬†sketching up my designs, and consulting with Victoria at Inspirations Studio. Victoria and her team of women brought my designs to life. Under her guidance,¬†the Inspirations Studio women learned new skills that they can apply to their future projects. The pottery was auctioned off at the conference, and I’m beyond happy that my pieces sold. I¬†managed to squeeze in at the last minute to buy three little bowls, but I will be placing an order for additional items.
¬†chatting with Lindsey, a table full of blogger-designed handmade items
If you’re interested in purchasing any of my designs¬†for yourself (and you live in Toronto or Waterloo), please email me asap (white cabana at gmail dot com). Prices range from $30-$50, and all money goes directly to Inspirations Studio. Ordering¬†anything from my collection will put money directly in the hands of women¬†in need.
Avery Swartz bought the two vases/pitchers, and she set them up on her beautiful white mantle:
photo by Avery Swartz
2.¬†Learning about SEO and Google Analytics
I attended two fabulous sessions in the morning. The first was led by Nicki Lamont¬†and the topic was SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Even though I’ve been blogging for 4+ years, I never give SEO as much thought as I know I should. I’m usually focused on creating content and photos, and I make little (or no) time for the more technical¬†side of blogging. SEO is important and I now have more tools in my toolbox to make SEO work for me and White Cabana.
I learned about bounce rates, keyword searches, and short-term and long-term keywords, meta-tags, alt-tags, etc. If you’re a blogger, I would recommend that you read up these concepts, especially if you aim to grow your blog.
I also learned about a new search engine – DuckDuckGo – that is supposedly going to be even better than Google. Yes?
Nicki was a clear, amusing, and professional speaker, and she obviously has a very relevant skill set. Thanks, Nicki!
here I am listening attentively¬†during a presentation
The second session I attended was Avery Swartz‘s session about Google Analytics. Avery has a really personable and engaging presentation style, which I completely appreciated.¬†She brought humour into her presentation about tech and stats and analytics settings. Awesome.¬†I followed Avery’s advice when I got home from BlogPodium – I¬†transferred to Universal analytics (do this if you haven’t),¬†refined some of my settings, and I am now feeling much¬†more confident about understanding my Google stats. I know that this information will¬†help me speak with brand partners in the future.¬†I’m now eager to sign up for one of Avery’s CampTech courses¬†(offered in Waterloo, too!).
You can see by my session choices, I was really focused on learning¬†about the more technical side of blogging. One of my current goals (and ongoing goals, I guess) is to increase my technical skill set. I don’t have much time to focus on this side of the blogging world, which is why I think it’s taken me 4 years to get to the point where I can actually use terms like SEO and analytics without sounding like I’m really clueless.
3. Panel Presentation with Jennifer Flores, Scott McGillvray, Monika Hibbs, and Leigh-Ann Allaire
I am generally a fan of panel presentations. You get to hear¬†from several speakers and panels present a variety of points of view within a dedicated time period. I have been¬†attending BlogPodium since it began, and Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault has¬†often moderated the panel presentation. Half the reason why I enjoy the panels is because Leigh-Ann¬†is such a quick-witted, smart, and on-the-ball moderator. She asks intelligent questions, keeps the discussion moving, and always¬†always makes the audience laugh. She didn’t fail us this year. She¬†worked her magic and the panel presentation¬†was informative and¬†entertaining.
This year’s panel was made up of BlogPodium founder Jennifer Flores, Income Property whiz Scott McGillivray, and fashion blogger extraordinaire Monika Hibbs. They have three very different backgrounds,¬†which made for an interesting presentation. Jennifer’s spoke intelligently about¬†the importance of collaboration and networking in blog life, Scott¬†encouraged bloggers to set achievable goals, and Monika generously shared her secrets to gorgeous photography (apps to try: SnapSeed, WhiteaGram, AfterLight, PicTapGo).
Jennifer, Scott, Monika, Leigh-Ann
4. Working with Brands
Fortunately, I have had some¬†really positive experiences working with brands and PR agencies over the last 4 years. In my case, brand collaborations¬†have evolved rather organically and they continue¬†to do so. I do really enjoy learning about people, what they do, their¬†products, and their stories. I think – and I hope – my readers appreciate when I share others’ stories, and draw a personal connection to them.
Brand-Blog-Fit continued to be a theme at this year’s BlogPodium. If you’re a blogger, why should a brand work with you? If you’re a brand, what blog fits your mission? How do you go about making the partnership work for both sides?
I was pleased to see some long-time blog supporters at BlogPodium (e.g.,¬†Delta, FirstAlert, UrbanBarn, GlucksteinHome, Chapters-Indigo, Etsy, ParaPaints), and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with newcomers as well (e.g., LinenChest, Metrie). Brands and bloggers are really learning how to work together, how to speak the same language, and how to create mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationships. I have been fascinated¬†by the¬†partnership opportunities, and I’m¬†interested in seeing how these partnerships will evolve.
cookie jar from Urban Barn
home decor items from Chapters-Indigo
5.¬†The Venue – Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto.
Oh,¬†the Royal York. It’s a classic. I wanted each and every chandelier.
Having a beautiful backdrop¬†for BlogPodium is essential. We are design bloggers after all!¬†The food, decor, and service at the Fairmont Royal York was top-notch. I¬†have pretty high expectations of fancy high-end places, and the Royal York did not disappoint.
6. Bonus: Taking Friendships Offline
One of the things¬†that I value most about blogging¬†is the chances I’ve had to meet¬†new people. The Canadian design blogging community is full of people who are hard working, committed, interested,¬†friendly, and dedicated. I have reached out to other bloggers on numerous occasions asking them for advice, and¬†others have¬†reached out to me. Our community is strong and helpful, and¬†I think we should¬†be really proud of the work that we do on and offline. We are¬†a group that is committed to learning, sharing, and engaging with others.
And there you have it – my BlogPodium 2014 update in a few short paragraphs.
Thanks especially to Jennifer and her hard-working team for making BlogPodium another event to remember. You successfully¬†brought a group of 300 friends together for a day of fun and learning!¬†Thanks also to the many sponsors and exhibitors who filled our day with contests, giveaways, and¬†beautiful products.
Photos by Flow Photo and Jordana.
via 9/11 Memorial
Every year at around this time, design and lifestyle bloggers gather in Toronto for BlogPodium. Led by Jennifer Flores, and organized by a crew of talented people, BlogPodium gives bloggers and brands the opportunity to take their conversations offline. Yes, of course there will be lots of Twittering and Instagraming going on during¬†this Saturday’s BlogPodium, but I know I’m not alone in saying that one of the best things about the event will be the face-to-face¬†conversations.
There is so much to look forward to this year.¬†I have no doubt that¬†these speakers, these sponsors, and these exhibitors¬†will make for a rich and informative day at the historic Fairmont Royal York.
I’m especially looking forward to this year’s BlogPodium because¬†my first ever ceramics collaboration with Toronto’s Inspirations Studio will be up for¬†auction. Here’s a teeny peek:
¬†White Cabana + Inspirations Studio
In addition, I will be presenting for the second time at BlogPodium. My roundtable discussion, titled Blog Writing 101: Crafting a cohesive, concise, and conversational post,¬†will be centred on how to write¬†effective and credible¬†blog posts.
I have spent more time in school than out of school, so please believe me when I tell you that these are some of the¬†most essential back-to-school items. Pretty much any age group would make good use of these items, I’d say.
1. Water bottle. I have a¬†few reusable water bottles that I bring to school/work¬†every day. A lot of¬†university campuses now have good drinking fountains and water-filling stations, so there’s no excuse not to drink water all day long to stay hydrated.
2. Reusable lunch box/bag. I always pack a lunch because¬†I get bored of university cafeterias and the quick grab-and-go meals at Starbucks or elsewhere are too expensive and high in calories.
3. A pencil case.¬†I carry my pens and pencils in¬†a small case so that they’re easy to find and won’t make a mess in my purse/tote/backpack.
4. Backpack. Speaking of backpacks, I don’t actually have one yet. I’m still looking for one that is lightweight and comfortable. I’m going to start this school year with my lightweight and washable¬†HBC¬†striped tote.
5. Pens and pencils. Although I¬†love my computer, I take a lot of my notes by hand. Pens and pencils are a must.¬†I¬†always have a Sharpie or two nearby as well. Highlighters, on the other hand, I rarely use. Last year, I was given some Palomino pencils and I still make good use of them, They look so darn good!
6. Notebooks. Did you notice the plural? Yes, I¬†stay organized by using a variety of notebooks. Each¬†notebook has a job – work, home renos, school, etc. Most of my notebooks are Jordi Labanda¬†or¬†Moleskine, but I’m open to using basically anything that is cute and has nice paper (they are often black or white, but not always). I prefer lined notebooks, but¬†I¬†think unlined notebooks are great for¬†people who want to really spread out over the pages. My writing is nowhere near neat, so¬†I need the lines to help keep me steady.
7. An apple. Okay, the CB2 apple above is just for decor. But, still. It’s traditional. Eat one. Draw one. Take an Instagram picture of one. Bring one to a teacher.
These are the basic back-to-school necessities. A computer, phone, coffee mug, earplugs, library card, file folders, binders, etc. are additional items that come in handy and help me stay organized and¬†focused.
Who is ready to learn something new this school¬†year?
Details of items available at Polyvore.