Kitchener-Waterloo

#WhiteCabanaWearsPink: CIBC Run for The Cure

As you may remember, each October, pink invades the white pages of White Cabana with #whitecabanawearspink. Why? Because October is breast cancer awareness month. There will be an influx of pink posts beginning on October 1st (with a bit of a head start today). Not only that, but I’ll be donating all the money earned from affiliate links and ads to the Canadian Cancer Society. As a reader, you can do your part by getting really click-happy (that is, click every darn link you see, and tell your friends to do the same). The more you click, the more I can donate!

Dainty Lion Floral

This Sunday, September 30th, I’ll be running (or run-walking) the CIBC Run for the Cure in Kitchener-Waterloo. Who will join me? Who will tweet with me? Who will run in their cities?

I run for so many people. My mom, my aunt, my cousin, my friends. Too many women, in fact. I also run for all the family members who support these women as they go through their tiring treatments. I run for all the people who support my fundraising efforts.

I am grateful to doctors working hard on their research, organizations that raise money, nurses who are there to educate and attend to patients, scientists who are advancing knowledge, and technology that can detect previously undetectable abnormalities.

I’ll be dressed in pink for #whitecabanawearspink. You can learn more about why I run – and donate, too, if you like – on my fundraising page.

Thank you, dear readers.

Architecture: White in Waterloo

The fall is generally a beautiful time to be outdoors. Since it’s neither ridiculously cold nor unbearably hot, it’s the perfect season to be outside and go for long walks. I’ve been doing my best to go on early morning walks, and they’ve honestly set my days off right. Yes, of course, it’s challenging to wake up extra early, especially when it’s dark outside, and throw on workout wear, but once I’ve gotten a few steps in, I feel awake and I’m happy. I also love the post-walk feeling. I feel fresh and ready to begin my day.

Besides feeling great, I absolutely love looking at the beautiful houses around Uptown Waterloo. Honestly, they are some of the prettiest ones I’ve seen! This past weekend, I managed to take my walks during the daylight, so it was especially nice to snap a couple of photos. Look at these two beauties!

This first one has beautiful symmetry, a gorgeous entry, and a pretty pair of fall urns. I just love the style.

This second one is smaller in scale, but so darn pretty. And the white Audi Q5 in the driveway basically has me moving right on in! Love it.What do you do to stay active? And are you like me in that you love observing the architecture in your neighbourhood?

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Cars: Review of the Audi Q5

Have I caught your attention with the title? Audi. Q5. Who’s excited for a little car review? Honestly, I am most definitely thrilled to be writing this post about my recent experience with the Audi Q5 – aka #WhiteCabanaDreamCar.

I’ve been keen on the Q5 for a while now, but it hasn’t always been that way.

A long(er) while ago, you may remember that I became pretty obsessed with the Fiat 500. I loved the look of this little Italian go-getter, but eventually my want/need for this little one faded. I rented it for a weekend, and while I enjoyed driving it around Toronto, it barely fit my luggage, and it was quite a noisy highway ride.

In recent years, it was the Audi Q7 that caught my attention, and I wrote about it here. What a beautiful car. It’s sleek, stylish, and roomy. In fact, once I saw it up-close, I realized it might be a touch too roomy for my liking. With no children in tow, I don’t have a need for its third row of seats.

Enter the Q5. I kept seeing this car on the road, and I kept liking it. And liking it some more. When I drove home from Montebello, Quebec, I spotted many on the highway, and each time I saw one, I thought, “now that’s a nice looking car,” sometimes I said it to myself before I was close enough to confirm that the car I was eyeing was in fact an Audi Q5.

Given that I grew up with an Audi 5000, I have fond memories of the Audi brand. My parents bought our grey Audi 5000 at the Audi factory Ingolstadt, Germany, then shipped it over to Toronto way back in 1985! We traveled everywhere in that car as a family. When my Dad finally retired it in 2006 after 21 years and 344,996kms, it was a pretty sad day for all of us. We all knew it was at the end of its life (21 years!), but it was emotional to see it go. Is that weird? To be so emotionally attached to a car? Hope I’m not the only one!

Dad and our Audi 5000 in Ingolstadt, Germany
(my sister and I are in the backseat – camera shy, I guess)

Okay, so we weren’t too camera shy. My sister and I at a basket shop in Germany. I’m flexing my muscles by carrying the biggest basket I could find, I guess!

So this brings me to my recent, super up-close encounter with the Audi Q5. The AudiKW team generously loaned me a white Q5 for a couple of days of adventuring around the Waterloo region (see #WhiteCabanaxAudi on Instagram for a few more photos). What a treat! I was happy to explore the white, sleek AudiKW showroom while I waited for my car. While dealerships can be easily intimidating for someone like me (who knows very little about cars), I was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s welcoming attitudes. I felt comfortable.

I met with Deon and Robert who set me up with the Q5. Robert – a brand specialist – walked me through all the features of the Audi Q5 Komfort. This model is the lowest end of the Audi Q5 spectrum, so some elements I really liked, and others would come in a higher end model (like the Progressive or the Technik).

When I got in the car, the first things I noticed were the driver’s seat and the size of the front window. The driver’s seat was made for me (or so I like to think). It was comfortable from the beginning right up until I dropped off the car. The front window panel was large and free of obstructions. I know this should always be the case, but it isn’t. Sometimes the frame is too thick or the rear view mirror is bulky. I also loved that the windshield wipers tucked away beautifully – they weren’t visible when not in use. Great design detail!

I love the design of these mirrors.

I currently drive a 2004 Toyota Rav4 – which I really do love – but it doesn’t have the modern features of new cars, so it took me a little while to get used to all the tech in the Audi Q5. Okay – not that long, but you know what I mean. In the Audi Q5, I could actually plug in my phone and connect it to bluetooth. I know many new cars have this feature, but my Rav4 doesn’t, so it took a moment to get used to it. Once I did – let me tell you – I made as many hands-free phone calls as I could while I was driving! I get amused so darn easily!

I think I only managed to use about one or two of these buttons! I’m pretty tech-savvy, but not when it comes to cars!

The cargo space is decent in the Komfort (26.8 cubic feet), but I definitely noticed that it’s smaller than the space in my Rav4 (about 38 cubic feet). The seats fold down, of course, which helps for large loads, but it would be something I’d have to consider and test out before I’d purchase it as I do end up carrying large loads on random trips in and out of town. The cargo space in the Q5 is tidy with a hidden spare tire and a privacy cover, too.

 

Great design – everything has its place!

Because I live in Uptown Waterloo and normally walk or bike to the places I need to go, I forced myself to venture out a bit for a longer drive to get the full experience of this car. I took the highway-route to Cambridge so I could go fast! FUN! The pick-up in the Q5 was amazing, and my comfort level remained high! The car drove smoothly and quietly, and I definitely liked driving fast (within speed limits, of course)!

When I was going over the features with Robert at the dealership, he told me that the car can adjust to various driving modes – dynamic, comfort, auto, etc. I opted for dynamic for the majority of the time because the ride felt fast and smooth. Dynamic mode has tight steering and more aggressive gear shifting. Comfort, on the other hand, has softer, easier steering and less aggressive gear shifting.

Look at the little lights underneath the handles – love them!

Having the Audi Q5 in my possession made my birthday celebrations extra fun! In fact, since my parents came for a visit, they, too, experienced the luxurious drive! This was especially fun for my dad who recreated his Audi pose from 1985. 

Notice my approach to parking? The farther and emptier, the better!

Over the course of my Audi Q5 ownership, I drove as much as I possibly could. In addition to driving to and around Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and St. Jacobs, I drove over to the sweet town of Elora for a birthday dinner celebration. On the way, I stopped by the Montrose kissing bridge – the last covered bridge in Ontario, and the oldest of its kind in Canada.

And I also stopped by the castle-house on Middlebrook Road (between Montrose and Elora).  While in Elora, I checked out the progress of the Elora Mill. Construction is well underway, and I’m very much looking forward to a return trip here to eat, stay, and relax! It’s going to add so much more prettiness to the already-pretty town of Elora. As you can see in these photos, parking the Q5 was a breeze. Backing into grassy areas and stone-covered roads was a-okay!

For an SUV, the Audi Q5 is extremely fuel efficient. I love this aspect of the car! Apparently, it’s good to go 1000km on a tank of gas. Isn’t that amazing for an SUV?

I took on several passengers over the course of my mini-ownership. Every passenger loved the experience. All agreed that the car was definitely sleek and luxurious and beautifully designed. Back-seat passengers felt that the ride was spacious and comfortable and enjoyed the adjustable back seats as well as the back-seat air conditioning controls.

As a driver, I got easily used to having the control buttons at my fingertips on the console. While some passengers assumed that the navigation screen was touch-screen, it wasn’t. This didn’t bother me at all. I really liked having the circle button on the console to control music, phone calls, settings, etc. It was very easy to operate and comfortable because I didn’t need to extend my arm for touch screen.

While I did absolutely enjoy the Audi Q5 Komfort, and my interest in purchasing one has been confirmed because of this recent driving experience, there are some features that did not come with this model that I would want. My top priority would be a sunroof. I love having a sunroof in my Rav4, and I would definitely want a Q5 that had one. The model that I drove didn’t have all the snazzy sensors and cameras that I would want in a new car. I’d definitely upgrade to include these as I think they’re especially handy for parking and highway driving.

If you can’t already tell, overall, I have become more attached to the Audi Q5 after this driving experience. It’s a beautiful vehicle from every angle, and it made me feel safe, happy, and secure. I also loved walking up to it knowing that I got to get in the driver’s seat. This car definitely suits my style and personality!

Do I still think that this is the car for me? You bet!

Unless, maybe, I should try out the Audi TT first? 🙂

Many thanks to MC and the AudiKW team for sponsoring this post. All opinions and photos are my own.

p.s. Outfit details: jeans – Joe Fresh (last year), top – Kate Spade, eyeglasses – Polette, sunglasses – Rayban, purse – Longchamp.

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Event: Relais & Chateaux Congress at Langdon Hall

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 Bergström 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 purée, 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 brulée 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!

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Food: My Experience with a Juice Cleanse

I have been thinking about trying a juice cleanse for quite a while now, but it wasn’t until after Easter weekend that I finally decided to go for it. My stomach had been making grumbling noises for a couple of weeks – probably because my eating habits haven’t been great – and a weekend of eating chocolate at Easter made me feel full and uncomfortable. As such, I thought it was a good time to spring clean my body with a cleanse.

Cleanses get mixed reviews. Some people like them because they give our body a break, give us many nutrients intensely, and give us a fresh start. Others say that cleanses aren’t necessary and as powerful as they claim. I can see both sides of the story. I generally try to take the “everything in moderation” approach so that I can eat crepes one day and not feel like I have awful nutritional habits. And I thought that a cleanse could only help my body.

So, moving on to my actual juice cleanse experience. After doing a Google search for juice cleanses in Waterloo (since I didn’t want to do all the prep work on my own!), I came across Good Vibes Juice Co. I recognized the branding from seeing the juices at Vincenzo’s, and since I’m a sucker for beautiful design, I was hooked into the Good Vibes website and read all about the cleanse options.

I mentally prepared for a 3-day cleanse, went into the Good Vibes shop early Tuesday morning, met with the owners, Lloyd and Drew, and left with 24 bottles of juice. Each day, I was to drink 8 bottles (400ml each) of juice in the suggested order: Lemonade, Eby Apple, The Cool, Heartbeet, Sunkiss, Tiger, Envy, and Cocoagood.

Day 1

I was excited to get started. The first juice was basically lemonade, so it went down easy. The same was true for the second juice  – Eby Apple – which was a really delicious apple-based juice. I reached my third juice – The Cool – just after noon, and this juice, along with juice number 4, took me hours to drink. The Cool is a green juice, and while I didn’t mind the taste, I didn’t love it. Juice 4 – Heartbeet – is a beet-based juice and I didn’t like it at all. In fact, I only drank half of it because I didn’t want my taste buds to suffer.

I drank a lot of water throughout the day – as per Good Vibes’ recommendation and as per my usual habit. It really helped me wash down the Heartbeet juice (the beet-based juice) actually!

I had juice 5 – Sunkiss – around 6pm, and it was a delight. By this time in the evening, I wasn’t actually hungry (as I thought I would be), and I was feeling energetic and awake (no coffee all day, by the way). I still had three juices to go before bedtime!

Before I grabbed juice 6 (Tiger), I had a handful of almonds. I wanted to get rid of the taste of the other juices before I went for another juice. Drew and Lloyd told me that if I was hungry, almonds or raw veggies would be good options.

I skipped juice 7 (Envy), and I was quite excited for juice 8 (Cocoagood), which is made up of almond milk, maple syrup, and cocoa. Yum! I was excited for my “reward” at the end of the day, but I ended up only drinking half of it. I wasn’t hungry. This was certainly unexpected!

Day 2

I thought I would wake up starving, but I didn’t! The first two juices (Lemonade and Eby Apple) went down easily on day 2. The third (The Cool) was easier to drink on day 2 than it was on day 1. I struggled through the rest of my beet juice from day 1, and I ended up giving away my two unused Heartbeet juices to friends who appreciated the flavour much more than me!

Again – I wasn’t so hungry during the day, which surprised me. I did have another handful of almonds around 2pm. And I drank a lot of water throughout the day.

After work, I came home for the Sunkiss, then followed it with a bit of the Tiger (a carrot-based juice). Like on Day 1, I couldn’t actually finish all of the Tiger. I guess my taste buds are not so used to these flavours!

Again, I was really looking forward to the “reward” drink at the end of the evening. I definitely liked the sweeter drinks more than the healthier ones! Good Vibes provides the nutritional information online, and I discovered that my favourite drinks were the ones that were higher in sugar. Go figure.

Day 3

Last day! Hooray! The end is in sight! The cleanse has been doable even if I’m complaining about the taste of some of the juices.

My day was similar to day 2. I had a few almonds mid-day, and I made it through about 6 of the juices again…leaving out Heartbeet and Envy. I know that by skipping juices, I missed out on some of the nutrients, but I accepted this. I wasn’t hungry, and I was feeling energetic throughout the day.

I enjoyed my last drink – Cocoagood – around 8pm on day 3, and I felt great. While I wasn’t craving any of my usual favourite foods (pasta! pizza! Nutella!), I was looking forward to a nice latte the following morning!

Would I do a cleanse again? Yes.
I would do a 1-day or 3-day cleanse easily once or twice a year. Maybe even 4 times a year to go with the change of seasons. More than that – I’m not sure. The timing of this cleanse was perfect considering my work/life schedule, and I think that this helped me stay focused.

Would I recommend Good Vibes Juice Co.? Yes.
The opening hours of the store is convenient for me. This honestly made my decision an easy one. Beyond this and the gorgeous packaging, I appreciate all the ingredient and nutritional info that is provided online about the juices.

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Waterloo Region: Doon Heritage Village

Last weekend, Rox-Anne and I took a trip to Doon Heritage Village at the Waterloo Region Museum. Just a few weeks earlier, I had gone to the Museum, but the Village was closed, so we didn’t have a chance to take a tour. On this visit though, the Village was all decked out for its Country Christmas event, so it was a festive and cheery way to spend a couple of hours.

Doon Heritage Village is a “60-acre living history village that shows visitors what life was like in Waterloo Region in the year 1914.” I was impressed by the knowledgeable staff who provided us with information about food, tradition, family living, and marketplace routines as we moved through each of the buildings in the Village.

There was a lot of natural wood in the homes and merchant shops in the village, but I spotted quite a bit of white, too (as per usual…I’m always on the lookout!).

some tools by the fire in one of the home’s kitchens

wood and wood and more wood in a home’s basement storage area

saddles in the leather shop

white and wood in the leather shop

saddle supplies in the leather shop

pretty wreath on the church door

simplicity in the church

winter white

a glimpse of the loom in the rug weavery

a home dressed for Christmas

food storage in a home’s basement

I love this image of Father Christmas waiting to greet guests, and I’m going to be on the lookout for a wall match strike like this one.

Rox-Anne will be sharing more photos on Celebrating This Life this week, so be sure to check in if you’d like to learn more.Save

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Marketplace: White Cabana x Stephen Hawes

EEEK!!!! I’m so excited to finally share a full view of my new pottery collection!

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to work with a local potter, Stephen Hawes, to create a collection of pottery. Our collection is going to be sold at Wilfrid Laurier University’s new shop at the Robert Langen Art Gallery. Pretty amazing, right?

When I was approached with the idea, I was totally on board. But then I thought – ah – could I actually design a collection that people would want, that reflects my design aesthetic, and that highlights the potter’s skills? I was nervous at first, but the process went very smoothly.

I brainstormed and sketched out a bunch of designs. I had sizes and colour options detailed, too. Then Stephen and I met to discuss the feasibility and usefulness of each of the objects I designed. We also talked about colour variation (not too much, since this was going to be a white and black collection!).

Stephen got to work in his workshop, and we met again in the summer to review the prototypes. At that meeting, it was great to see the prototypes so that I could confirm or adjust each item’s design, colour, and size.

Another couple of months went by and then the collection was done. Poof! Stephen had fired everything up and was ready for the final reveal. I know I’m biased, but it’s beautiful. I like to think that this pottery collection is modern, easy, accessible, and versatile.

So…are you ready to have a look at some of the collection? Here we go…

White Cabana X Stephen Hawes

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use it for: hair ties, cotton balls, salt, mini cactuswhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_2

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_3 white_cabana_stephen_hawes_4

use it for: drinking cup, pencils, straws, cheese sticks, Qtips white_cabana_stephen_hawes_5

use it for: fruit, salad, remote controls

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white_cabana_stephen_hawes_8

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_6

use it for: (L) pasta, salad, bread, rock garden; (R) candy bowl, popcorn    white_cabana_stephen_hawes_9

use it for: utensils, toothbrushes, strawswhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_10

use it for: popcorn, plant, mailwhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_11

use it for: milk, syrup, salad dressingwhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_12

use it for: (L) green tea, iced tea, water, wooden spoons; (R) spoons, sugar, soy saucewhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_13

use it for: Lego, chips, scarves

There are a variety of shapes and sizes in this collection, and the black lines of each object also vary. Each piece is unique and made with care.

The complete collection will be for sale at the Robert Langen Art Gallery in the library at Wilfrid Laurier University beginning on Monday, December 5th at 11am. More details here.

Thanks to Stephen Hawes for working on this project with me.
Thanks to Nick, Suzanne, and the Laurier Library for encouraging this initiative.

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Food: Langdon Hall + Shoushin

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!

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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…

langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-1langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-3 langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-6langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-5 langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-4langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-19

(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!)

The dinner…

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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.

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Marketplace: The ABUS Bordo Bike Lock

Oh, readers, I love my Peugeot. I have been riding my new-to-me, restored, vintage, white Peugeot bike for a few weeks now, and things are going very well. The bike rides smoothly, the cork grips are soft, and the Brooks seat is very comfortable. I look back at the before photos, and the new silver brake handles and white cables also improve the bike’s sleek design. I’m still impressed by how a bike can be made over (see the Peugeot makeover post). The restoration wasn’t cheap, but over the long-term, it’ll even out, and my bike is pretty darn unique (and how can you really put a price on unique, right?)

After I got my bike back from the Berlin Bicycle Café bike repair shop, I knew I needed to protect my investment. Locking up a bike is really a necessity when doing errands around town. Friends-in-the-know – as well as some online reviews – recommended the ABUS Bordo 6000. ABUS locks are an investment, but they appear to be well worth the cost as they’re tough, tough, tough! ABUS bike locks come in a variety of designs with varied security levels.

The five types of bike locks and their features are:

I read up on each of the lock types on the ABUS website (which was very informative, I must say), and settled on the ABUS Bordo 6000 as per (mostly) the word-of-mouth recommendations. This bike lock configurator quiz was also helpful.

Thanks to the fine folks at ABUS, I’ve been able to securely lock up my bike (and seat for that matter) with the Bordo 6000. Here’s what my ABUS Bordo 6000 looks like in action: White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-2 White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-1

Here’s the Bordo 6000 up-close. It reminds me of these rulers which I loved playing with as a kid.White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-9 White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-8 White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-5White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-7White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-6 White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-10 White-Cabana-Abus-bike-lock-11

I attached the lock to the top bar for the photo, but I’ve generally carried it in my backpack, put it in my bike basket (which I have now installed), or attached it to the back rack. The velcro strap is convenient for easy installation and removal.

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In the photo above, you can see that I used the Bordo to lock up my seat, helmet, and bike when I was doing errands around the city. I was so pleased when I discovered that this was possible!

A couple of weeks with my lock, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It does the trick, and it does it using advanced technology and super strength materials. I guess it’s good to trust a German security company for these types of things, eh?

Many thanks to ABUS for sponsoring this post. I’d also like to thank Greg H. All opinions are my own.

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Before & After: My White Peugeot Gets a Makeover

As you  may recall, I’ve been on the lookout for a new bike. Waterloo (the city and region) is quite bike friendly, and it’s so easy to get from Uptown Waterloo to Downtown Kitchener on one of the paths. Biking around these parts is convenient, doable, and safe. My pinkie is a good bike, but it’s a mountain bike and heavy. It’s also not as cute as some of the retro bikes currently on the market.

I looked at quite a number of hip bike companies online as I was doing research (e.g., Public, Linus, Tokyobike) as well as some of the traditional go-to stores (e.g., Canadian Tire). I didn’t pull the trigger on a bike purchase until I learned about a vintage Peugeot on the ol’ Kijiji. Oh, Kijiji.

I was even slow to decide about the Peugeot as I knew it needed some work, and although I’m really good at envisioning before and afters in home renovations, I really couldn’t wrap my head around a bike makeover.

In the end, I couldn’t pass up on a bike that was made in France in the 1970s that was white, gold, black, and, did I already say French? Oui, oui! So I bought the darn thing. And it was dirty. And I wasn’t even certain it could be “renovated.”

Here are the before photos:

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I started the cleaning process on my own just to see what I was dealing with. (Side note: do not mix cleaning materials such as stove cleaner and CLR as you might end up with slight chemical burns. Oops. #DIYfail #thankgoodnessIwaswearinggloves) White-Cabana-Peugeot-6

Anyhoo – fast forward a few weeks, and I’ve learned quite a bit about bikes. What I’ve learned (correct me if I’m wrong), is that just about everything on a bike can be replaced. If the frame is good, then you’re off to a perfect start. Some people buy vintage bikes just for the frame, in fact.. Does that make sense? With encouragement from others, and a bunch of online searching, I was convinced that my white Peugeot had major potential.

As I knew I needed some replacement parts (um, did you see the rusty chain?), I threw (gently but not gracefully) my made-in-France vintage Peugeot into the back of my Rav4, and I took it on over to the Berlin Bicycle Café (it’s a cafe and repair shop, by the way) for some TLC.

I had Joan’s vintage Peugeot in my mind as my ideal end-result bike, and I even started a Peugeot Pinterest board to store my bike makeover ideas. Graham and his team at the Berlin Bicycle Café took good care of my bike and found parts that suited the style, made the bike functional, and were well-made (hello German tires, I’m looking at you!).

When I picked up my bike last week, I was pleased with how it all came together. Have a look:

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My Peugeot now has made-in-Germany Schwalbe tires, new tire rims, silver brake levers, white cable cords (so so nice!), a Brooks England B67 saddle, cork grips, and a fantastic totally-reminds-me-of-Euro-bikes kickstand. Oh, and a gold bell. Can’t forget the bell!

The Berlin Bicycle Café team also shined up the fenders and handlebars, so the bike (for a 1970s bike) looks just about brand new. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things to Do in Kitchener-Waterloo This Long Weekend

Happy Canada Day! What goodness are you planning this weekend?

I’ve said it so many times here and in real life – I really enjoy living in Waterloo. This city – and region – has so much to offer, and I live such a happy, rich, and pleasant life here. Summer, of course, makes everything that much better, and this area has a lot of offer its residents and guests.

As we have just begun a long weekend here, I’m offering up five suggestions of things to do this weekend.

1. Go for a bike ride.

The Spur Line has recently opened up, and it’s a great way to take a ride to/from Kitchener/Waterloo. The trail is smooth, wide, flat, and lit, so it’s ideal for daytime or nighttime rides.

Alternatively, take a cruise down the classic Iron Horse trail to/from Kitchener/Waterloo. This was the first path I went on when I moved to Waterloo, and it’s still one of my faves. It’s great that it takes riders from uptown Waterloo (e.g., take a gelato break at Vincenzo’s) to downtown Kitchener’s Victoria Park in no time at all. The trail is smooth, flat, and surrounded by greenery.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventures, and are looking for more nature, then head over to Cambridge and ride to/from Cambridge to Paris along the Grand River. The ride is easy, but long (maybe 40+km). I suggest wearing padded shorts. 🙂

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Here I am riding my oldie-but-goodie bike down the Iron Horse trail in Waterloo. It’s such easy living!

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Here I am last summer on the Cambridge to Paris trail with the same oldie-but-goodie bike. I earned my lunch calories in Paris that day!

2. Stay cool at a public pool.

I grew up at public pools…first, as a youngster taking lessons, then, as a teen hanging out with friends, finally as a teenager/adult teaching swimming. I love having access to a pool, and luckily, there are few great ones in the region.

Moses Springer outdoor pool is large, clean, and definitely worth a visit.

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The lifeguard tower at Moses Springer.

3. Celebrate Canada Day with fireworks at Columbia Lake.

Although this will be my third summer in Waterloo, I have yet to enjoy Canada Day fireworks. Tonight, however, I’m hoping to head over to Columbia Lake to check out the action and colourful sky show.

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Canada Day Celebration – UofWaterloo Field Map

4. Try a new café.

My two current favourite cafés are the Berlin Bicycle Café in Belmont Village the Smile Tiger Coffee beside the Via Train Station. Both are accessible via bicycle, and both offer good coffee and atmosphere. The food at Berlin Bicycle Café is fresh and delicious, and I always find something good to eat. The egg salad is delicious, and the croissant sandwiches are good, too. Both cafés have outdoor patio space, so they’re great options for sunny days.

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The Berlin Bicycle Café

5. Take a drive into the countryside.

There are so many options for short road trips in the region.

  • Stay close and head to St. Jacob’s for a visit to the market.
  • Take a ride to Elora, pop into the sweet shops, and walk along the water.
  • Drive to Cambridge and pop into Monigram Roasters for a treat.
  • Drive over to Stratford and check out the first Balzac’s or grab a chocolate treat at Rhéo Thompson, then stroll around the lake.
  • Eat ice cream in any of the above towns!

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If you’re looking to learn more about what to do in the Waterloo region, please check out my Waterloo City Guide over on Design*Sponge.

Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone!

Happy Canada Day!

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Celebration: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Oh, St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve never been into the ol’ St. Patrick’s Day parties, and around these parts, the university kids pretty much go wild, it’s all very chaotic, and I think it’s bizarre (yeah, yeah, bah humbug).

But…

At the St. Jacobs market last weekend, I couldn’t resist buying  a sweet shamrock plant for only $2 (!). It’s just so delicate. I can totally get behind St. Patrick’s Day green when it’s as pretty as this!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! May the day be a lucky one for you!

Friday Five: Flowers From the Potting Shed

I first met Elaine of Cambridge, Ontario’s From the Potting Shed a couple of months ago at Langdon Hall. I was in love with so many of the arrangements she and her team made for Langdon’s wedding open house, and I wanted to see more. So…I recently headed over to her studio space, and after driving up the long country drive, I found myself in another world. From the Potting Shed took me back to France, in fact! The lavender, the terracotta, the casualness of linen coverings, and beautiful copper pots all reminded me of being in France.

I was warmly welcomed by Elaine and her team (hi team!), and I went exploring around the studio. Considering the recent snowfall and freezing rain we’ve had this week in Waterloo, I thought it was perfectly appropriate to share some floral gorgeousness this Friday. Shall I fill you in on five things that I learned about From the Potting Studio?

1. I loved all the flowering trees that Elaine had scattered throughout the studio.

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2. The dining space in the studio included one of Elaine’s signature flower garlands (or trains!) across the fireplace mantle. So beautiful! White-Cabana-From-The-Potting-Shed-5

3. Elaine does quite a bit of work with lavender. From sachets to wreaths to bouquets, if you’re looking for lavender, this is the place to come!White-Cabana-From-The-Potting-Shed-3

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4. From the Potting Shed offers many floral design workshops through its School of Flowers certificate program (I’m attending one in May, so I’ll be sure to report back!). These workshops are ideal for anyone who wants to learn more about floral design, but it would also be a fun activity for mother’s day  or a celebration with bridesmaids.

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5. In addition to the School of Flowers, Elaine and her team host a set of cool events throughout the year. I’ve got my eye on the Champagne Garden Party in June!White-Cabana-From-The-Potting-Shed-4 White-Cabana-From-The-Potting-Shed-6

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If you’re planning your upcoming wedding and you’re still looking for a florist, I would encourage you to meet with Elaine at her next Wedding Open House (March 19-20) and learn more about her wedding services.

For everyone else who is not getting married, but who wants to be surrounded by beauty, visit From the Potting Shed.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thanks again, Elaine, for being such a gracious host! Thanks also to Simon, Greg, and the floral team for adding to the fun of the afternoon!

Exercise: Hourglass Workout Update

As you may recall, I joined Hourglass here in Waterloo a few weeks ago. I’ve been working out regularly (twice per week) for the last three weeks, and things are going well. While the workouts challenge me (and I grumble through some most all of the moves), I feel great after the workouts, and I do think my energy levels have increased. Considering that it’s cold, miserable, and grey, this is amazing news!

Now, even though I’m not a regular gym-goer, I do try to stay somewhat active. I walk a lot, and I love it. This is how I get in most of my exercise. I also take on DIY projects around my home which means that I’m usually lifting or moving or hammering. Surely each of these tasks adds up to a whole bunch of muscles! Right?

But the Hourglass workouts are different from just my regular daily activity. These workouts make me lift weights and increase my cardio and focus on my core strength. It’s been a good couple of weeks, and I’ve tracked some of my thoughts about the workouts below:

Week 1:

Day 1: It’s Monday. And I worked out. It’s a miracle. To my surprise, I wasn’t dreading today’s workout. I was actually curious about what my Hourglass Workout instructor, Iman, was going to make us do. I’m happy to say that I survived. And I didn’t hate it. We did a bunch of different exercises and the time went by fairly quickly.

The workout started with a quick run around the gym and a bunch of burpees (ew…I hate burpees. But I did them). From there, we did a gazillion lunges, pulse lunches, squats, pulse squats, ski lunges, more lunges, more squats, a bunch of bicycle sit-ups, some planks, and a few other moves that I can’t remember. It was tough. My legs are feeling the workout. I’m worried about how my body will feel tomorrow. I’m satisfied with how I did during this first session. I sweated it out and I stuck it out for the full hour. Day 1 is done!

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my instructor – Iman – and the Hourglass Workout founder – Lyzabeth – at the Hourglass Waterloo Grand Opening

Week 2:

Day 3: I have worked out on the days that I said I was going to work out, and I’m very proud of myself. The workouts are tough (no surprise there since I never exercise!), but Iman is very encouraging. She has watched my form, she encourages yells at me to push myself, and we do end up laughing quite a bit during the workouts. The atmosphere is certainly positive. On days 2 and 3, I used the bosu ball and kettle bell for the very first time. I’m waking up a whole heck of a lot of muscles in my core, and I don’t think my obliques have ever worked so hard!

Day 4: I got my butt out of bed at 5:30am today to make it to Iman’s 6am class. Yes, you read that right. 6am. Amazing. The workout was a good one; I followed a circuit of exercises that included the bosu ball, a kettle bell, weights, the weighted ball (don’t remember what those are called), a box step-up jump-up thing, and a crazy heavy rope set-up. I did a gazillion lunges, sit-ups, step-ups, jump-ups, jumping jacks, planks, TRX lunges, push-ups, and more (yes, more!). My legs were definitely going at a slower pace at the end of the hour, but I made it through. I felt amazing for the rest of the day!

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these look like giant pillows, but don’t be fooled – they definitely test my balance and build by strength

Week 3:

Day 5: It’s Family Day (holiday here in Ontario) and ridiculously cold, but I slapped on my workout gear and headed out to meet my Hourglass team. We did a bunch of different moves, including the dreaded burpees and variations of the darn burpee that included pushups. Ugh! Burpee + pushups!? Iman had created a circuit for us, and it included a gazillion lunges, a bajillion ab crunches, and a bunch of things with the weighted ball. The time just flew tonight, and before I knew it, the hour class ended, and my abs and arms were feeling mighty fine.

Day 6: I was feeling a tad tired pre-workout, but I threw on my gear and went for it. I got a private training session today – bonus! I do not know why my workout mates decided to take the evening off, but it worked out for me. I did a circuit of a bunch of activities – 2 minute intervals, 40 second intervals, etc. It was varied and hard! Notice a pattern in my reflections? Working out is hard – but it’s doable! Today’s workout included: bicep curls (I used 8lbs weights today), tricep lifts, lunges with weights, step-ups, a gazillion ab crunches of various kinds, dead lifts, skipping rope, mountain climber, more lunges, push-ups, burpees (!), kettle bell swings, high knee running, and more (yes, more!). I’ve learned a bunch of new exercise vocabulary in the last three weeks. I think my favourite moves are dead lifts and (easy) crunches. The tough ab work drives me nuts during the workout, but I don’t actually mind them. Push-ups are my weakest move. Burpees might even be better than push-ups. Maybe. Anyway, it was a good evening workout, and I feel great!

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there’s my booty on the left mid-push-up-burpee-rope-pulling; post-workout selfie on the right

I’ve been working out twice per week, and I have found that this works for me and my schedule. There’s a possibility to add a third workout to my routine, but it would take more effort on my part to squeeze it in.

Oh – and I’m not working out because I’m concerned about weight loss. I just want to feel stronger and more toned. I think my weight has actually stayed the same over the last few weeks, but I do feel that I’m getting stronger. I should really take note of my weight/inches/and all that, so that I can share a more detailed progress report in the weeks ahead. Yes? Okay. I’ll see what I can do!

Read the 5 reasons why I signed up for Hourglass. Follow my exercise adventures on Instagram with #WhiteCabanaGetsFit.
If you’re interested in the workout, learn more at Hourglass. Thanks again, Iman, for pushing me!

Uptown: Working with Pink in my Basement

I didn’t intend to inject my basement with shades of pink, but some things were just meant to be. I couldn’t fight it. I didn’t want to fight it.

After I wrote about Minted’s collection of large-scale art, I was just about certain I was going to get a black and white piece for over my day bed. Instead, I was mesmerized by this piece, and I couldn’t say no. Minted generously sent over the gorgeous abstract art, and it hung vertically above my day bed for many months as I made progress on my fireplace redo.

*** Warning: Pink is about to make a brief appearance on White Cabana. ***

Holly-Katie-Craig-MintedHolly by Katie Craig

Once my fireplace makeover was complete, I turned my attention back to the daybed area of my space. I opted to rehang Katie Craig’s print horizontally, and I think it works much better in my space.

White-Cabana-Katie-Craig-Minted-artI adore the large-scale version of Katie Craig’s print. It’s bright and dramatic and bring a whole lot of interest to my space. As you can see, the room is still very much dominated by black and white even though there’s colourful art on the main wall. The addition of  fuchsia brings me joy, so I think I’ll keep it.

Here’s what (most) of the room looks like now:

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I painted the Fjellse bed frame (made from two twins that came with my house) high gloss blackWhite-Cabana-home-1

(I’m still on the lookout for two side tables of the same height)

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(featuring my most recent Alessi addition – Karim Rashid’s Hellraiser tray for Alessi)

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see how I transformed my old 80s fireplace into this beauty

I have recently published this makeover on Domino. If you click here, you’ll see a couple of before photos.

Many thanks to Minted for sponsoring this post.

Sources: art – c/o Minted; day bed (two Fjellse singles joined and painted high gloss black) – Ikea; wall paint – c/o CIL; white tray – Style at Home; black side cart – Market Road Antiques in St. Jacobs; chevron pillow cases – Target; bicycle pillow case – Urban Barn; coffee and side tables – Kijiji; shag rug, lamps – vintage; silver tray – Alessi; fireplace mantle – vintage; bamboo ladder painted high gloss black – garage sale; ceiling light – Ikea; art on fireplace – Janet Hill Studio, Chapters Indigo (tea towel); hex fireplace tiles – Twin City Tile

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons Why I Signed Up for the Hourglass Workout

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.

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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 café, 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.)

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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!

*Thanks to Iman and Hourglass Workout for offering a discount on my membership. All opinions are my own.
**I’m aiming for general toning and tightening, rather than the Kardashian booty.

Celebration: Make it a Langdon Hall Wedding

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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I lost count of how many burners and ovens were in this kitchen

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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.

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Chef Bangerter serving up his creations

Beyond the new Firshade event space, other areas of Langdon were decked out for the day. The Orchard Room was bright and inviting with florals created by Tina of Living Fresh.

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guests can be spoiled by gorgeous views and fresh florals in The Orchard RoomWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-19

a special table set-up for the happy coupleWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-20

Tina and Katrina of Living FreshWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-21

me and Tina (loving our black and white)White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-22

delicate calligraphy on the prettiest paper by All Things Lovely Paper Co.White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-23

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!White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-24

by The Event Firm

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by Inspire Event Rental and Design

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by The White Book

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.

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ranunculus place settings and a garland (or flower train!) filled with hydrangea and rosesWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-31

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picture perfect floralsWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-33

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.

If you are planning a wedding – or a party – Langdon Hall might be one to consider (and book!). Its weddings have been featured on Style Me Pretty here and here and here.

Thanks to the Langdon Hall team for extending a warm welcome to me!

Photos by me.

Beauty: Manicure Time in Waterloo

Soon after making a connection on Twitter with Waterloo’s All My Nails‘ owner,  Peter, I stopped in the salon for a gel manicure and pedicure. Gel manicure, I learned, is similar to the Shellac manicure. (Gosh – this reminds me that I know very little about the beauty department.) Since I’m generally up for trying new things, I accepted Peter’s invite for a gel mani-pedi.

My nails were in desperate need of attention, that much I knew! Here’s what All My Nails had to work with:

White-Cabana-All My Nails-1-before White-Cabana-All My Nails-2-beforebefore: chipped polish, uneven shaping, dry cuticles

The staff at All My Nails are very friendly, and during my visit, a lot of repeat customers came in. The staff called them by name, and I appreciated the personal attention that was given to each customer. The staff who worked with me were friendly and did a good job getting my nails back in a decent condition.

Here are the dramatic after photos:

White-Cabana-All My Nails-after-1white-cabana-nails-3 white-cabana-nails-2after: shiny and tidy nails

As you can see, I opted for a very light shade of pink for this manicure because I don’t like having colour on my nails when they’re in short, rough shape. Once they get a bit stronger and longer (which I’m hoping will happen after the gel polish experience), I can opt back into a red or another (slightly darker) neutral. My toes, on the other hand, got a hot red coat of pomegranate, and it’s a perfect winter shade.

Before I left the salon, I was also given this little bottle of cuticle oil which should help with my dry cuticles this winter.

white-cabana-nails-1CND SolarOil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner

A gel manicure and pedicure will cost you about $75 at All My Nails, which is generally more than I’d spend regularly, but maybe that’s the going rate? I’m not so sure. That said, I loved the quick drying time of the gel polish (impatient me!), and my nails are still shiny days after my polish was applied. I’m a touch worried about the removal process, but I’ll deal with that in 2-3 weeks, once my nails have grown, and the polish looks worn. Any advice, dear readers?

For those of you in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, did you know that All My Nails has been in existence for 18 years (wow!)? It is located at 22 King St. South in Uptown Waterloo (in the same building as Café22).

Note: I received a discount on my services. All opinions are my own.

Update (Feb. 11, 2016): My fingernail polish held up well for 2.5 weeks, which I was very pleased about. Then, I did something that I wasn’t supposed to do – I peeled off the polish. Terrible. I shouldn’t have. But I did. Against all the recommendations. It’s true. My nails were obviously in somewhat poor shape, but I took care of them, they grew quickly, and they were back to normal in about 2 weeks. My toe nail polish is still going strong. No chips. No peeling. Nothing. I’m way too lazy to go to the salon to remove or change the polish. I’m realizing some beauty routines are just hard for me to upkeep!

Travel: Dining at Langdon Hall

Yesterday, I took you on a tour of my Cloister room and the main house at Langdon Hall. Today, I’m highlighting all the delicious food I consumed during my stay. Warning – you’ll likely want to make a dining reservation as soon as you see these photos.

Langdon Hall has received numerous awards and accolades for its cuisine (and accommodations, too). For example, it has held the CAA/AAA Five Diamond Restaurant award for ten consecutive years. Under the direction of head chef, Chef Jason Bangerter, Langdon Hall’s team of chefs create dishes that are made from local ingredients, including treats right from Langdon Hall’s own gardens. From its pastries to its country breakfast to its fine dining options, everything that is served at Langdon Hall is top-of-the-top.

A White Welcome

Waiting for me in my room was a bottle of wine and a beautiful tray of white goodies. White! For me! Just perfect! A white plate was covered with white mushroom meringues and white macarons.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-41 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-42 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-43Afternoon Tea

Soon after I checked in to my suite, I met my host, Kate, for afternoon tea in the bright white Orchard Room. Oh, this room was made for me! The walls are made of windows,  the tables were dressed all in white, and the beamed ceiling had me staring. The view is amazing, too. You can see some of these things in the photos below.

Afternoon tea began with a generous glass of champagne, and Kate and I toasted to my return visit to Langdon Hall as well as the new year! I then opted for the Cassis tea (yum!), and our individual treats were brought over soon after tea was poured. The three-tiers contained a selection of mini-sandwiches (my favourite was the egg salad in the croissant), two scones, and a selection of bite-sized desserts (I really liked the quince macarons, but the cheese cake was my favourite) prepared under the direction of Head Pastry Chef Rachel Nicholson.

Even if you do not stay overnight at Langdon Hall, you can still make the drive for Afternoon Tea. It would be such a special way to celebrate or just be spoiled on any random weekend.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-47 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-52 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-53 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-56 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-57Country Breakfast

If you book a stay at Langdon Hall, I highly recommend adding the breakfast to your reservation package. The food is high in quality, beautifully presented, and abundant. Service is friendly and attentive, and the dining room is gorgeous. Nothing is rushed, and care is taken to ensure a memorable dining experience.

The coffee is from local brewers Monigram, and the serving platters and flower pots are from Cambridge potters Hillborn. I commend Langdon Hall for its commitment to working with community partners. These details do not go unnoticed!

As I was sipping my latte, and before my meal arrived, a server came to my table with a surprise from the kitchen.  (A surprise? For moi? I love surprises!) Head Chef Jason and one of his sous-chefs, Chef Andrew, had prepared an egg and truffle amuse-bouche for me. (For me!) Chef Jason did not want me to leave Langdon Hall without trying some truffle (his fave), and seeing as I had no room in my belly for anything the previous night (after eating three tiers of goodness at afternoon tea), it was decided that I should indulge during breakfast. Good idea, Chefs! #trustthechef

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-aOh, geez, was this ever good! It smelled delicious, looked delicious, and tasted delicious! A feast for the senses!

While I was very tempted to order the pain perdu for my main meal (dang it – I have such a sweet tooth), I opted for one of Langdon Hall’s popular breakfast items – the lobster omelette.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-bYes, this was as good as it looks! And, yes, I finished it all (and even had a croissant “for dessert”).

Service

The staff’s attention to detail surpassed any expectations that I had before my arrival. My table, for example, was the only one (or one of very few) that had a white rose plant on it (the other tables had colourful rose plants). A white rose plant for White Cabana? Whether this was a coincidence, I’m not so sure. It would be just like Langdon Hall’s team to pay attention to something like this.

Version 2I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Jason Bangerter, and I think it’s pretty common to see him mingling with guests in the dining room. He has achieved much success in Ontario and abroad and was recently awarded Relais & Chateaux’s Rising Chef Trophy.

Langdon-Hall-Chef-Jason-BangerterWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-62Here I am with Head Chef Jason Bangerter in the main dining room.

As I hope you can see, the cuisine at Langdon Hall is top-notch and the staff make the dining experience is of the highest quality. There’s something for everyone, and even if you don’t stay over night, you can still enjoy a meal at this gorgeous hotel.

I’d like to end this two-part Langdon Hall review by extending a warm thanks to my host, Kate, for ensuring my stay was one to remember!

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-dSee you again soon, Langdon Hall! I won’t be able to stay away for too long!

Note: Part 1: A luxurious stay at Langdon Hall.
Photos by me. I received a discount on my stay. All opinions are my own.

Travel: A Luxurious Stay at Langdon Hall

Before 2015 ended, I wanted to take one last vacation. (I’m always up for a vacation!) By the end of December, I had honestly had it with the stresses of life, and I felt like an all-about-Jordana escape was in order. That said, considering my limited budget and free time over the Christmas break, there was no real way for me to travel very far for very long. So, I did what any logical luxury-seeking gal would do, and I spontaneously booked a night for myself at the grand Langdon Hall.

Brilliant idea, right?

You may remember that I took a tour of this gorgeous Relais & Chateaux property in the summer (here and here), and I loved absolutely everything about the place. Langdon Hall is located in Cambridge, which makes it easily accessible and convenient for people like me who want a change of scenery, but don’t necessarily need (or aren’t able) to take a flight to do so. Honestly, dear readers, I made the decision to book a stay quite quickly (I’m usually a thoughtful travel researcher!), and I was so excited about my “vacation” as soon as I finalized the reservation.

I took so many photos, so I’ve decided to share my experience with you in two parts. Today, I’ll focus on the design, and tomorrow, I’ll be sharing news about dining at Langdon Hall.

 My Cloister Room Tour

Entryway and dressing area:

Yes, I did just write entryway and dressing area. My room – it had both! I stayed in a Cloister room, and my large entryway had hooks for my coat, a carpet for my boots, and a large mirror to check myself before leaving my room.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-1Beyond the entryway, there was a foyer with a small console table where I could drop my keys and purse much like I do in my own home. Convenient! White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-2White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-7The large dressing room, located beside the foyer, had plenty of storage. It was a convenient place to house my luggage and spread out my clothes. The room has a drop-down ironing board as well as ready-to-wear robes (I love having a robe to wear when I’m on vacation!).

From a design perspective, I was impressed by how substantial the quality of the doors and knobs. They’re so substantial.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-3 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-4 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-5 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-6 Bedroom area:

Past the foyer and dressing room is the bedroom and living area. The decor is traditional and neutral, but updated. The bed’s high-quality St. Geneve (amazing feather top!) and Au Lit Fine white linens are complimented by some traditional plaid accents…

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-31I couldn’t help but do a little White Cabana makeover when I arrived. I wanted the bright white embroidered linens to really shine, and I just had to see what the bed looked like without the plaid! And, yes, I did karate-chop the large square Euro pillows, too. White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-36 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-37 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-39White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-a White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-c White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-dLike some other hotels, Langdon Hall’s linens are available for purchase so that guests can recreate the same experience in their homes (I have my heart set on the feather top – heavenly, I tell ya!)

Living area:

The bed faces the windows that overlook the croquet lawn. Yes, I said croquet. Amazing. I already know I’d like to return in the summer to have a go at croquet! The living area has a couch, chair, desk, wood-burning fireplace, TV, and a beautiful view. The built-in cabinet neatly houses a convenient Nespresso machine and fridge.

Oh, one more thing about the wood-burning fireplace. It was fantastic! After I came in from my winter wagon ride (see below), I requested that my fireplace be lit. Within a minute or so, a young gentleman came to start it. I kept it going all night thanks to the stack of firewood that was in my room. Listening to and watching the fireplace in action made my night that much more relaxed and enjoyable. It was absolutely special.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-21White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-28White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-30 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-23 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-35White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-26White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-25      White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-32 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-33   White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-40

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-22

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-69 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-44One feature that I absolutely adored was the windows and the window closures. As you may already know, I lived in France twice, and whenever I see these windows, I think of my time there. I absolutely love these window fixtures, and they brought back many happy memories of my stays in France.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-24Bathroom:

Actually, I had 1.5 bathrooms. Yes. 1.5. How’s that for thoughtful design? Again, the tile work and overall bathroom design is traditional but updated. The walk-in shower is spacious, the bathtub is a deep soaker, and the bath items are from UK’s The White Company (how perfect for me, right? amazing!). The towels were plush and plentiful, and I was so happy to discover that the water pressure was strong (this is always a worry of mine when I stay in hotels…I hate low water pressure).

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-8 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-9 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-10 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-11 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-12 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-13 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-14 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-15Here I am standing in the shower (hey, why not?) peeking out to the main part of the bathroom:White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-16 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-17 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-18 You can see the 1.5 baths in the photo below. On the left is a room with the toilet and pedestal sink; on the right is a room with a sink, counter, bathtub, and walk-in shower).White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-20

Langdon Hall

Beyond the cloister room where I stayed, I did pop in and out of the rooms in the main house. The holiday decorations were still up, and just about every fireplace was going. It was all very charming.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-eWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-59 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-60 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-61Winter Wagon Ride

As if what I’ve already shown you wasn’t beautiful enough, right? Well, I have more to share!

During my stay, I had the opportunity to take a winter wagon ride through the forest trails on the property. Langdon Hall offers this free experience to guests who stay between Christmas and New Year’s, so I feel like I lucked out. It was especially nice to feel the crisp winter air after the afternoon tea (I’ll share an update about this tomorrow).

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-63 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-64 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-65 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-66 Isn’t this just so picturesque? It felt really quite magical. Turning the corner, coming out of the forest, and seeing Langdon Hall (in the photo above) really made me gasp in awe.  Absolutely gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s a magnificent building.

Before I leave you for today, I’m curious – Have you ever taken a vacation within your own city or region? Why did you do it? Will you do it again?

Come back tomorrow if you’re interested to learn about what I ate during my stay at Langdon Hall. Here’s a preview…

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-42

A collection of white mushroom meringues and macarons were waiting for me in my room when I arrived. This was just one of the many things that staff did to warmly welcome me. Everything, of course, was so delicious!

All photos by me.
I did receive a
discount on my stay at Langdon Hall. All opinions are my own.

Guest Post: Celebrating This Life’s Christmas Home Tour

I’m so happy to welcome fellow Waterloo-region-based blogger, Rox-Anne from Celebrating This Life, to White Cabana this Monday morning! Rox-Anne and I met via Twitter, then in person, and we’ve been having fun every since. We were fortunate to explore Scandinave Spa and Langdon Hall together, and we always seem to have loads to talk and laugh about when we’re together. I also absolutely love that Rox-Anne and her family do so much traveling both near and far. They always have fun stories to share!

We’re all in luck today because Rox-Anne is bringing us into her home and showing off her white Christmas decor. So, enough of my voice, let’s hear from Rox-Anne…

***

Hello! I’m Rox-Anne, the blogger behind Celebrating this Life, a travel and lifestyle blog. I love styling my home for the holidays and decided to take a page from Jordana’s book and try an all white décor theme for my kitchen. I recently painted my cabinets Cloud White from Benjamin Moore. They were originally a light coloured wood, and I am just so amazed at how much the white brightens the room! I also installed some shelving, bought a wine rack, and installed a backsplash and a marble window sill. I still have a few more projects lined up (is any home décor update really ever done?). Kitchen lighting is first on my list.

Jordana was kind enough to let me take over White Cabana today to show you how I have been able to incorporate more white into my holiday décor.

CTL x WC 1

I came up with this window treatment after finding some birch logs in my garage. I used two pieces of fishing wire and using gold push tacks, attached them to my window trim. I very carefully added some greenery (make sure to mist to prevent the greenery from drying), attached a few white and silver Christmas ornaments with fishing wire, and carefully arranged a few sets of 12 wire lights on top.

CTL x WC 2

These lights are great for adding a little sparkle and they run on a watch battery. Just make sure to tuck the on and off switch under some greenery. ($5.99 each at Sheridan Nurseries) I used two sets on my larger window and one set for my smaller kitchen window.

CTL x WC 3 An adult hot chocolate bar, with my white and gold monogrammed mugs from Williams Sonoma, was a great way to fend off the cold air this weekend.

CTL x WC 4I recently installed these simple kitchen shelves made with cut MDF board from Lowe’s. It’s a great place for displaying my collection of milk glass, and the remote control candles I bought from Costco two Christmases ago add a nice glow to the room. Oh, and yes that is my ever-growing collection of Colonel Sanders dolls beside the stove. It started as a joke and is now a prized collection!

CTL x WC 5

My boys (I have two teenage sons) were out for the night so that left AMH (my hubby) and I on our own for dinner. I set the kitchen island for dinner for convenience but that didn’t mean I skimped on my tablescape!

CTL x WC 6I started with a set of rattan chargers from Target and added a dinner plate, salad plate, also from Target, with an angular soup bowl and small appetizer plate I purchased at a dollar store. My favorite Ralph Lauren water glasses, purchased at HomeSense, added a touch of sparkle to the table. Some white napkins, my everyday cutlery, a few white roses with red berries (a farmer’s market find), and a candy dish of scotch mints (I always have a dish of scotch mints in the kitchen) completed the simple, elegant all white look.

Thanks so much for reading and thank you to Jordana for having me. I hope you have enjoyed this little peak into my attempt at adding more white into my décor! Feel free to visit me at Celebrating This Life.

Cheers!
Rox-Anne

 ***

Thanks, Rox-Anne! Your house is perfectly festive, and I’m impressed by how much white you have in your kitchen. I’m always on the lookout for Colonel Sanders figures for you, but they’re tough to find!

And for White Cabana readers who want to see how I decorate for Christmas, hop on over to Celebrating This Life today as I took over the blog!

Event: What’s Happening These Days in Kitchener-Waterloo

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.

Printphoto

What: Christkindl Market – At this traditionally German market in downtown Kitchener, you’ll find wooden German ornaments, delicious treats, and plenty of Glühwein.
Where: Downtown Kitchener – City Hall
When: The market is on from December 3rd to 6th.
Cost: free to attend

Christkindl-photophoto

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

MESSIAH_480x330photo

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

pops3-450x450photo

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)

D8E_5398photo

Waterloo: KW Symphony at the Centre in the Square

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!

White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-1

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.

White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-2I 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.

White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-11Version 2I 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.

White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-10the view from my seat – amazing!

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:

Fractal-Orchestra-1 Fractal-Orchestra-2images 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).

White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-5White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-6White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-8  White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-7  White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-9 White-Cabana-KW Symphony-Centre in the Square-3At 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!

Many thanks to Kari at the KW Symphony for generously arranging my visit. Learn more about the events being held at Kitchener’s Centre in the Square.

Blog Linkup: Goals for Fall

It’s been a few months since I participated in the B Bar’s blogger linkup. I know I missed a month, and then Victoria and Meg took a summer vacation, but here we are now! Ready to roll!

This month, the ladies have asked us

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR FALL?

Well, well, fall is only a couple of months long over on my side of the world, so I really only have time to achieve a random collection of short-term goals (warning: images are not as pretty as my usual posts #thisisreallife).

1. Fireplace Re-vamp: Complete my fireplace re-vamp. Since these last photos, I have painted the 80s gold a matte black, and I think I’m going to love it. I have also started re-working an old mantle that I’d like to put in place. A few more modifications are necessary before I install it (with my dad’s help, of course).

White-Cabana-fireplace-1 White-Cabana-fireplace-2 2. Chair-turned-luggage-rack DIY: I’d like to finish up the makeover on my two chair-turned-luggage rack/stools. They need a fresh coat of high gloss black paint, then strapping, then some sort of seat/cushion/fabric covering.

White-Cabana-stools-13. Bootie-licious: Booties are all the rage this fall, and I’m on the hunt for a comfortable, stylish, and affordable leather pair. A frivolous goal, yes, but it still counts, right?

4. Traveling South: I’m planning a road trip to the south, and I hope I can follow-through with all my travel goals. I’m starting off with a family visit in Chapel Hill, NC, then off to High Point for High Point Market, then Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA. I’m sort of cheating with this goal because the plan is already in the works.

5. Trail exploration: I’m looking forward to learning more about Kitchener-Waterloo this fall. I have recently discovered that the trail beside the train tracks uptown has been extended (yay!). My walks are taking me to new neighbourhoods, and this makes me happy!

6. Symphony: I’m set to attend the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony a couple of times this fall, and I’m really looking forward to experiencing something that I’ve never experienced before. The concerts are held at the Centre in The Square, and even though I’ve lived in Waterloo for more than two years, I’ve never been. This fall, I’m going!

KW Symponyphoto via KW Symphony

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about for the fall. Honestly, I still feel like I’m in summer mode…it hasn’t quite set in that fall is here.

As per the linkup tradition, I would encourage you to read about my fellow bloggers’ goals:

Annie Reeves
26 and Not Counting
Alyssa J Freitas
Carly Blogs
Feathers and Stripes
Carrie Loves
White Oak Creative
PRBlonde
Sequins & Strawberries
Pieced Together
PreppyPanache
Knowing Kelly
Something Good
Life By Bri
My Beauty Cloud
La Vie Petite
Wealthy in Health
White Cabana
Mrs. on the Move
Boys and Bombshells
Life Modifier
Everyday Cuvée
A Little Leopard
Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
L is for Lucy
Cori’s Corner
Beauty and the Pitch
Dreams and Colour Schemes
Viciloves
Lights Camera Catwalk
Pattern Me Pretty
A Few of My Favorite Things
Chic Glamorous and Splendid
She’s All Smiles
StyledbyKesha
Suzy Speaks
Luv in the Bubble
The Minimalist

Read my previous linkups here: January, February, April, May, June. Thanks to Meg and Victoria for bringing us all together again this month.

Travel: My Waterloo City Guide on Design*Sponge

Another blogging/writing/publishing dream came true for me a couple of weeks ago, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you.

I have been reading Design*Sponge since its creator, Grace Bonney, began publishing posts 10 years ago. Ten! She has been such a leader in the blogging world, and like many of her readers, I find so much inspiration on the pages of her blog (and her book, interviews, etc.).

DesignSponge-headerOne of my most favourite areas on Design*Sponge is the city guide section. These guides are written by travel enthusiasts who want to share the top-of-the-top that their cities have to offer.  In the past, I have used the Paris guide, the New Orleans guide, the Tampa guide, the Pittsburgh guide, the Dallas guide, the Halifax guide, and, most recently, the Orlando 24-hour guide. I totally put my trust into these guides, and they have yet to let me down!

DS-4Well, a few months ago, I wrote and submitted a Waterloo region guide for Design*Sponge, and it was published last Tuesday! (Insert shrieks and jumps for joy!) You can read my Waterloo guide right here. I am so proud of this article. I moved to Waterloo two years ago, and I have enjoyed living here ever since. I was very excited to share news of the region with Design*Sponge readers.

waterloo_cityguidetemplateI was beyond excited to see that Grace shared my article on Twitter and favourited related tweets, too. Eeek!

DS-2     DS-1Thanks to those of you who have read my Waterloo city guide and for those who have added their favourite spots in the comment section, too.

Marketplace: Angus and Company in Elora

If you live in Toronto or you read House & Home magazine, chances are you already know about Angus and Company – a beautifully curated shop for housewares, owned and operated by designer Michael Angus. angus-and-company-logoWhen I was putzing around Elora a couple of weekends ago, I was completely surprised to stumble upon Angus & Company in its new home in Elora. How did I miss the news of its move?

The store is so well-styled, and I could easily take it all, transport it to my home, and be very happy. I was able to chat with Mike for quite some time, and he seems to be very happy about the new location of his store. I mean, it backs on to the water and faces the town square, so it seems pretty ideal to me!

Angus and Company_Elora_1 Angus and Company_Elora_2this hutch is a beautiful shade of blue and it is filled with the shiniest pieces of silver
Angus and Company_Elora_3 Angus and Company_Elora_4

Angus & Company carries a mix of new and vintage home wares, furniture, and art. This bright white store has so many pretty vignettes, and it easily draws you in. And Mike’s styling is enviable.

If you end up sitting on the couch and flipping through a book while you’re there, I’ll understand. Even though the store is certainly filled with some very luxurious blankets, antique consoles, oil paintings, and scented candles, it is casual, easy, and inviting. I just love the mix.

Thanks, Mike, for taking the time out of your day to chat with me! I wish you all the best in your new home!

Real Estate: Multi-Million Dollar Canadian Homes

The latest issue of Toronto Life published another article about Toronto’s crazy real estate game. This time, the article was focused on a section of Forest Hill where home owners/developers/architects are basically one-upping neighbours/competitors and building monstrosities that may or may not fit in with the Forest Hill aesthetic (I guess it depends on who’s judging). The article honestly made me laugh out loud. Toronto real estate is ridiculous, and it blows my mind that a $3.25 million house comes with only 1 garage (for example). It also seems unbelievable that $1.5 million houses are torn down for new builds. Or, even when they’re not torn down, they require unbelievable amounts of money to bring them up-to-date.

The article – and my ongoing fascination with real estate – pushed me to browse the Toronto real estate listings. Here are some of the pricey properties that caught my attention.

500 Wellingston-Toronto 500 Wellingston-Toronto-2

500 Wellington St. PH1001, Toronto, $7.9 million

88 Davenport-Toronto-1 88 Davenport-Toronto-4 88 Davenport-Toronto-3 88 Davenport-Toronto-2 88 Davenport-Toronto-5

88 Davenport Rd. #2401, Toronto, $8.988 million

Glen Rd Toronto -4 Glen Rd Toronto -2 Glen Rd Toronto -5 Glen Rd Toronto -3 Glen Rd Toronto -1

100 Glen Rd., Toronto, $9.5 million

50 Yorkville-Toronto-3 50 Yorkville-Toronto-5 50 Yorkville-Toronto-1 50 Yorkville-Toronto-2 50 Yorkville-Toronto-4 50 Yorkville-Toronto-6

50 Yorkville Ave., Toronto SP 1, $11.9 million

50 Yorkville-2402-4 50 Yorkville-2402-3 50 Yorkville-2402-1 50 Yorkville-2402-2

50 Yorkville Ave., Toronto #2402, $12.995 million

118 Yorkville-901-5 118 Yorkville-901-3 118 Yorkville-901-2 118 Yorkville-901-1

118 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, PH901, $18.9 million

I also expanded my search to all of Canada to see what $10+ million dollar properties looked like elsewhere. Here’s a sample:

650 lowry Lane-N Vancouver-1 650 lowry Lane-N Vancouver-2

650 Lowry Ln., North Vancouver, $10,988,800

2156 marine Drive - Vancouver-1 2156 marine Drive - Vancouver-2 2156 marine Drive - Vancouver-3 2156 marine Drive - Vancouver-4

2156 SW Marine Dr., Vancouver, $11.9 million

13283 56th ave-surrey-5 13283 56th ave-surrey-6 13283 56th ave-surrey-7 13283 56th ave-surrey-3 13283 56th ave-surrey-1 13283 56th ave-surrey-2 13283 56th ave-surrey-4

13283 56th Ave., Surrey, $12.888 million

1116 Highland place West Vancouver 3 1116 Highland place West Vancouver 2 1116 Highland place West Vancouver 1

1116 Highland Place, West Vancouver, $19.7 million

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Magog, Quebec, $25 million (click the link – it’s basically a castle)

And, now, for something a little closer to home…this gem in Kitchener, Ontario is full of white, and it seems like a major deal at only $2.5 million!

12 Westgate-Kitchener-1 12 Westgate-Kitchener-2 12 Westgate-Kitchener-4 12 Westgate-Kitchener-7 12 Westgate-Kitchener-5 12 Westgate-Kitchener-8 12 Westgate-Kitchener-6

12 Westgate Walk, Kitchener, $2.5 million

What was that about “if I had a million dollars”? Seems like it can’t buy a whole heck of a lot in Toronto (besides Kraft Dinner, naturally).

Marketplace: Polishing Silver

I love collecting silver of any kind – jewelry, photo frames, serving dishes, etc. I blame my mom. She has an amazingly beautiful collection. Both of us have built our home collections after many trips to estate sales, antique stores, thrift stores, and vintage treasury shops in Canada and the US. Up until recently, we each rely on products like Twinkle and Silvo to polish up our silver. They’re both good products and have done what we needed them to do. But, I now have a new favourite silver polish.

Let’s go ahead and skip some of the small talk and get right to the before and after photos.

silver-polish-white-cabana-3silver-polish-white-cabana-4silver-polish-white-cabana-2 silver-polish-white-cabana-1

Pretty incredible, right? Trust me, if I hadn’t tried it myself, I wouldn’t have been convinced. So, what is this magic product? It’s called Universal Stone and it’s amazing. It sort of has the consistency of Twinkle (except it’s harder). It takes zero effort – a couple of rubs and that it. The magic (yes, magic) product and sponge do everything. It’s unbelievable! Universal Stone is also eco-friendly. It took me about 1 minute to clean each of the above items…without even scrubbing!

If you live in Waterloo, you can buy this at Household China & Gifts (that’s where I bought mine).

p.s. Mom, are you reading this? Did you see these transformations? Guess what you’re getting for your birthday. Secret is out!

Uptown: Window Blinds

One of the things that I liked about my house when I bought it was that there were really simple (and new) window coverings. The previous owner chose really attractive and convenient window blinds and kept the style the same throughout the whole house. I loved the consistency.

A few of the blinds needed to be replaced and, since I knew that they were from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I thought I’d go there and buy a few replacements. I have both the Chatham and Honeycomb shades (below) in a variety of my sizes and I like that they are easy to use and simple.

Chatham-cordless-shade-Bed Bath Beyond

 

Chatham cordless shade

honeycomb-shade-Bed Bath Beyond

Honeycomb cordless shade

Turns out that BBB has an amazing customer service policy. As the blinds required replacing because the cordless feature didn’t quite work as well as it should have, BBB did a direct exchange for the blinds. No questions asked (besides the basic why are you returning these?).

The sales associates I met with in both the Waterloo and Cambridge locations were friendly and efficient. This was really my first BBB experience and I am completely impressed. I’m heading back there soon to pick up some sheets and towels.

Uptown: The Countertop Decision

I still haven’t quite decided about the kitchen countertop. Annoying. I think I’m close though. Here are the issues.

1. I thought that I was going to just go for quartz but then I started hearing things about marks, chips, and stains.

2. So then I went back to thinking of laminate as I thought it could be a great affordable temporary option. But then, by the time you pay for installation, sink, etc., it’s not really cheap-cheap. It’s just the cheapest option but not actually really dirt cheap, you know?

Formica-countertop-colours

Formica

3. So then I went back to thinking that if I was going to spend money on the countertop, I might as well go for Carrara marble as I know what my sister/brother-in-law and my parents paid for theirs (both have larger kitchens than mine) and, in fact, the price seemed to be comparable to quartz. But when I got the quote from my Kitchener-Waterloo kitchen people, it was way higher than quartz…aka…not really in my budget.

Carrara-marble

Carrara marble

4. So here we are now, I’m rethinking quartz. Friends on Twitter were kind enough to pass along some positive views of quartz to help me out. Maybe quartz really is the wisest move for the moment. I’d go for the plainest of the plain – no sparkles, flecks, or any of that jazz. I’ve picked one out but I can’t remember its manufacturer. I should know this, right? If I go for quartz and my espresso maker leaves a mark on it, I’m going to be very annoyed. Just sayin’.

quartzCaesarstone

 

Architecture: The Perimeter Institute

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A couple of weeks ago I attended the BrainStem festival at The Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. The exhibits were very scientific, techy, and kid-friendly. It was an energetic and very public-friendly event. While the interactive science activities were pretty cool, I was really interested in the self-guided building tour. The Perimeter Institute event coordinators did an excellent job creating a tour that had us walking up and down the stairs and going through all the cool conference rooms.

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I am so impressed with the architectural gems in Waterloo. The Perimeter Institute and the CIGI Campus are just two of the buildings that have injected vibrancy and innovation into the city.

Photos by Jordana.