Waterloo

The Friday Five: Waterloo Region’s ION

Every since I moved to Waterloo, people have been talking about The ION. They were probably talking about it before I arrived, too. At first, I had no idea what people were going on about because nothing was visibly happening in my neighbourhood. Then last summer, King St. was ripped up completely while the ION crew was working away, This is when I really noticed that things were a-changin’ in the region.

The ION, for those of you outside the Waterloo region, is our new light rail system. It will connect one end of the region to the other. The first ION train came to the area just a couple of weeks ago from Bombardier’s Thunder Bay plant, and they hype has been growing.

Last weekend, the city hosted an open house so that the public could take a tour of the first ION train. I opted to take mosey on over, and I was surprised by the crowd of people! There was an incredible turnout on a sunny Saturday afternoon! This was history in the making, and it was interesting to see the public’s enthusiasm as well as all the different people and organizations who have been part of the ION journey.

Today, I’d like to spread the news and share with you some photos along with five things that I learned about the ION during the open house.

1. The ION’s light rail transit (LRT) is made up of 19 kilometers of rail which goes from the Conestoga Mall transit terminal in Waterloo to the Fairway Mall transit terminal in Kitchener.

2. There are about 60 seats in each LRT vehicle. Each vehicle can carry about 200 people.

3. The LRT vehicles are build by Bombardier. The Waterloo Region has purchased 14 vehicles. The first has arrived at ION’s Dutton Dr. headquarters (aka The site of the open house.).

4. ION riders and Grand River Transit riders (bus system) will pay one fair to use both services.

5. Stage 2 of the ION development will include a link to Cambridge. In all, there will be a 37km route connecting Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo.

I think developing in public transit is a smart option for our region. Yes, it is costing a ton of money (and I’m sure my taxes are paying for it), but in the long run, I think it makes sense for a region as developed – and developing – as this one!

Learn more at RideION.

Photos by Jordana.

Save

Save

Beauty: Indulge in a Vichy Scrub at the Langdon Hall Spa

Please tell me you’re not sick of me talking about Langdon Hall! If you are, then skip this post. If not, keep reading.

As I had last Friday off from work, I opted to book a last-minute treatment at the Langdon Hall Spa. I am not much of a beauty fanatic, and while I do like a good manicure and pedicure, I have only ever had one facial in my life, and I have never had a massage.

Considering my lack of spa experience, I basically asked Julie for any treatment any time during the day. And I didn’t even want to think about it or make a decision (can you tell I’m tired!?). So Julie took the reins and suggested the Vichy scrub. Say what? After she told me it was her favourite treatment, I said “book me in” without knowing anything about it besides that it’s done in the crazy looking shower treatment room that I saw on my spa tour. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Yeah. What the what? But Julie is the Spa Director and she knows a heck of a lot about spa treatments, so I put my trust in her.

Now let me tell you what this treatment is all about.

After I got over the fact that I was in this crazy shower room, I listened to my esthetician (Hi Reem!) who told me to lie on the table/bed. She adjusted the water temperature, then swung the shower head contraption over my body which led to a full body water massage. Definitely interesting. She scrubbed, gave me a hair treatment, and cleansed and tone my skin. The post-water massage part included a full cream application (which was massage-like), which almost had me sleeping. Amazing!

In short, if you like any of the following, you should book yourself in for a Vichy scrub:

  • long, hot showers
  • soft skin
  • scalp massage
  • perfectly scented products
  • massage
  • toned skin
  • not having to do anything while your body is scrubbed and cleansed

I thought the relaxed feeling would wear off as soon as I drove home, but it didn’t. Neither did the delicious smells of the Valmont products, and neither did my soft skin. My skin continues to feel fresh and soft days after my Vichy scrub.

Would I do this again? Most definitely. I learned that people tend to have this scrub twice per year, and people who really love it have it four times per year. Regular visits to the Langdon Hall spa is something I could get used to. I think I need to start a spa fund.

I realize this post is getting rather long, but one more thing before I let you carry on with your day. If you do plan a visit to the Langdon Hall Spa, then I highly recommend that you arrive a little early so you can enjoy the whirlpool, sauna, and steam room.

The Vichy Aroma Rain Scrub is a 50-minute session and costs $135. To book this or any other treatment, check out the Langdon Hall Spa.

Thanks to Julie for making my visit a special one!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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!

langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-7

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…

langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-8 langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-9langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-13langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-10 langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-12 langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-14 langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-15langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-17 langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-21langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-18langdon-hall_shoushin_simon-boucher-harris-20

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.

Save

Save

Save

The Friday Five: What’s On at the Stratford Festival

Last year marked only the second time I had ever been to the Stratford Festival. When I lived outside of the Waterloo region, Stratford was rarely on my mind. Now that I live in Waterloo, I go to Stratford several times a year.* I feel so lucky that such a unique, quaint, pretty city is only about  a 40-minute drive from my home. I don’t even need to get on the 401**.

Stratford has much to offer year-round, but summer is definitely its busiest season because of the Stratford Festival. I offered up some Stratford travel advice last year in this post. Since that post, I’ve returned to Pazzo (for pizza) and Balzac’s (for coffee) several times, and bought my crepe pan from Bradshaw’s after being inspired by this event. It’s really a special little place, and I’d encourage you all to go for a visit if you can!

I’m heading to Stratford this weekend to see A Little Night Music, which looks like a fun musical featuring romance, sparkles, and humour. It stars Cynthia Dale – one of Canada’s favourite actresses.

Cynthia Dale (left) as Countess Charlotte Malcolm and Alexis Gordon as Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music. Photography by David Hou.

Look at all the detailing on these costumes. Wow!
Cynthia Dale as Countess Charlotte Malcolm (left) and Alexis Gordon as Anne Egerman (photo)

Rosemary Dunsmore as Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music. Photography by David Hou.

champagne + a white fancy dress = a perfect show for me!
Rosemary Dunsmore as Madame Armfeldt

In addition to A Little Night Music, here are four other Stratford Festival shows that I think I would enjoy.

The Hypochondriac was one of my favourite Molière novels when I was completing my French undergraduate degree. I actually laughed out loud – yes, as I read in French – when I was reading the book and then again when I saw a film version. It’s sure to be a great show!

Members of the company in The Hypochondriac. Photography by David Hou.

members of the company; photo by David Hou

I love the story of Shakespeare in Love, and I’d be interested in seeing a live version. It looks like it’s a real crowd-pleaser.

Luke Humphrey (centre) as Will Shakespeare with members of the company in Shakespeare in Love. Photography by David Hou.

Luke Humphrey as Will Shakespeare; photo by David Hou

I read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe long after my childhood ended. I loved it when I read it, and I think I would have really enjoyed it as a child, too (but I definitely wasn’t a reader when I was a kid). It’s a beautiful, imaginative story that takes the reader on an adventure. I think the show would entertain both kids and adults, and I’m sure it would spark a lot of conversation post-show, too. What a great show to introduce kids to theatre! The show has been extended until November 13th, so there’s plenty of time to go this fall.

Yanna McIntosh as White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Photography by David Hou.

Yanna McIntosh as the White Witch; photo by David Hou

Finally, A Chorus Line has been garnering quite a bit of media attention, and it looks to be a jazzy musical. Check out this trailer. Doesn’t it make you want to get up and dance?

Members of the company in A Chorus Line. Photography by David Hou.

members of the company (photo)

In addition to these five shows, there are some other productions. View the full show calendar for more info.

*Yes, yes, I love living in Waterloo. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again!
**Ugh – the 401. Who designed that highway anyway?

Thanks to the Stratford Festival for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

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:

White-Cabana-Peugeot-11

White-Cabana-Peugeot-8

White-Cabana-Peugeot-2

White-Cabana-Peugeot-1

White-Cabana-Peugeot-10White-Cabana-Peugeot-9

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 CafĂ© (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 CafĂ© 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:

White-Cabana-Peugeot-3

White-Cabana-Peugeot-5

White-Cabana-Peugeot-4

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 CafĂ© 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.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Uptown: How I Bought a New Mattress

As some of you may know, I have declared that this year is the #YearOfMyBed.

I bought a gorgeous (really gorgeous) antique French bed a month or so ago and added a set of night stands soon after that (after some DIY attention, they’re looking just perfect with the bed if I do say so myself).

But, what’s a bed without a mattress?

Until recently, I’ve been sleeping on a double mattress inside a queen frame. It’s been fine, but it was obviously not the look (or sleep) I was going for.

To complete the #YearOfMyBed, there was obviously one thing that I really needed to do – buy a new queen mattress set. This purchase has been on my mind for a long while, but I’ve been putting it off because, frankly, I found it a bit daunting. So many mattresses, so little time? Yeah, something like that.

In the end, I headed to the sleep experts at Sleep Country Canada. I figured that it was a one-stop shop that would have helpful and knowledgeable staff who could guide me through the process. Thankfully, I figured right. (This is not a sponsored post, by the way.)

So how did I find a perfect-for-me mattress? Let me tell you!

First, I sang the Sleep Country Canada jingle.

Jokes. Jokes. I didn’t. Okay. I did. I mean, what Canadian doesn’t know Christine Magee or the Sleep Country jingle?

White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-6

Moving on…

After I headed to my local Sleep Country, I met with a sleep expert (Hi, ES!) who asked me how I sleep (side, mostly) and what type of mattress I like (more firm that soft). I told her that the brand wasn’t one of my concerns, but I did want a really good mattress that would be super comfortable (who doesn’t, right?). She narrowed the beds down for me, then told me to try everything out. What? Pretend sleep on the mattresses in the store? It felt a bit weird at the beginning, but she encouraged me to just go for it. I went back and forth between the narrowed down mattresses and “slept” on them. Feet up and everything!

White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-5

White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-8White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-4 White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-2

White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-3 White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-1 I was a bit resistant at first – Would I actually be able to tell the difference between mattresses? What’s the big deal about the pillow top? – but I got into it. I did actually notice a difference between mattresses, and some were easy to take out of the running (e.g., too soft, too hard).White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-9

White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-11

I narrowed down my options to two – a Kingsdown and a Serta. In the end, I opted for the Serta (shown in the two photos above), and I was hoping that it would be just right! (As I’m writing this, it seems that I’ve turned into Goldilocks.) I honestly think I would have been happy with either the Kingsdown or the Serta, but the Serta was slightly more firm, which I liked.

White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-10

here I am learning about the coils (coils, coils, coils) and the details of the Serta mattress set; it’s a pillow top mattress, by the way

Still a bit nervous, I was told about Sleep Country’s amazing sleep country guarantee. If I don’t like the mattress, I can actually exchange it for another one. Isn’t that amazing? It’s a win-win situation if you ask me!

White-Cabana-Sleep-Country-7 My mattress arrived this past Saturday, and I’m sleeping soundly so far. It did take a couple of nights to adjust to it, which I think is completely normal. I think I’m happy with it, but it’s also comforting to know about the comfort guarantee.

Tell me, dear readers, have you bought a mattress recently? How’d you do it? What features did you look for?

Thanks, ES, for your help!

Travel: Review of the Delta Waterloo

When I wrote my Waterloo region city guide for Design*Sponge, the Delta Waterloo hotel had only recently opened. Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to stay the night and experience the hotel first hand. It might seem a little odd to some readers that I opted to have a little vacation within my own city, but every once in a while, I feel that it’s quite the luxurious adventure to leave behind weekend chores in search of rest and relaxation in a new environment.

So, I crossed King St. in Uptown Waterloo and checked into the Delta Waterloo for a little #WhiteCabanaStaycation.

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-16

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-10

Although I had watched the Delta be built, I had never been in since I moved here three years ago. It’s the only 4-star hotel in Waterloo, so I assumed it would have quite a lot to offer.

I confirmed my reservation over the phone and requested an earlier check-in and later check-out if possible. While neither could be guaranteed, in the end, the Delta staff were able to accommodate both requests. I really appreciated that the Delta staff worked to accommodate these requests.

Parking was straightforward as was check-in. I was welcomed by Matt at the front desk, and he answered my initial questions about the hotel in a professional manner. The lobby of the Delta Waterloo is chic and sleek, and the lighting caught my attention.

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-20

The Delta Waterloo generously offered me a corner suite. From my room, I had views of two of my favourite Waterloo buildings – the Perimeter Institute and CIGI Campus.

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-7 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-6

My suite was bright, and with the sun shining in through the soft drapes, the room just felt warm and light. The suite had a king size bed – definitely a comfy hotel bed! – and a pull-out couch. It also had two TVs – yes, two! – and a desk area with a charging station (so convenient), great bedside lighting, and a bathroom outfitted with modern fixtures. The coffee station included a selection of teas and coffees, and the mini fridge was a useful addition.

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-3

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-12

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-2 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-1 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-4 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-5 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-9 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-8 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-11

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-17

The bathroom was right up my design alley. The wood vanity, the white tiling, and the glass shower doors made the space really modern. Toiletries were by Apothia.

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-15 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-14 White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-13

The bed sheets were crisp, the bath towels were plush, and the hotel robe was cozy (I do love a good hotel robe!). Honestly, I can’t say anything negative about the room – or my stay, in fact. I had everything I needed for my #WhiteCabanaStaycation, and my room was a stylish and comfortable place to relax (I finally got through reading a few magazines that have been waiting for me at home!). Oh – and I loved that there were windows that I could actually open! (Am I the only one who gets annoyed when they don’t?) Good design feature, Delta Waterloo!

As far as hotel amenities go, the Delta Waterloo has a fitness centre, pool, hot tub, and sauna on the lower level. Even though the hot tub was off-duty due to a maintenance issue, I put the pool and sauna to use. As you can imagine, a trip to both added pleasure to my stay!

Dining out – and in – was easy at the Delta Waterloo. While there are many restaurant options in Uptown Waterloo, I decided to have dinner at Proof Kitchen & Lounge, which I have heard quite a bit about, but I had never been. Proof isn’t just for hotel guests; many local residents regularly go here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-18

Proof was definitely more stylish and design friendly than I had originally thought, so my first impression was a good one. When I was inside, it did not feel like I was in “small town” Waterloo. The hexagon graphic theme works well, and there are many clever names on the menu items that made me smile (e.g., the OMG chocolate cake, the Big Pimmpin’ Pimm’s Cup). I opted for the Big Pimmpin’ Pimm’s Cup and the Proof smoked Berkshire pork chop with fingerling potatoes for dinner. Yum. Yum. It’s not cheap, but it is delicious! (See all the menu items.)

White-Cabana-Delta-Waterloo-19

For breakfast, I ordered room service – which I rarely do, actually – and my meal arrived right on time. It was a basic breakfast of eggs and bacon, but I think it tasted better than usual because I didn’t have to make it myself (insert huge smile), and I could stay in my pyjamas (insert second huge smile). My #WhiteCabanaStaycation could have easily been called #WeekendofLuxury2.0.

For those of you who are new visitors to the region, you’ll be happy to know that the location of the Delta Waterloo could not be more perfect. Uptown restaurants are within walking distance as is Waterloo park, the Clay and Glass Museum, and the Waterloo Recreation Centre.

Guest rooms start at $169 per night, and deluxe rooms start at $189 per night. Read more about rooms and rates if you’re planning a trip to the Waterloo region.

Honestly, dear readers, there’s something just fabulous about traveling within your own city! I feel very fortunate that I got the opportunity to do so, and I’d encourage you to consider doing the same thing! (p.s. I’ve added a few more photos on Instagram and Twitter using #WhiteCabanaStaycation.)

Many thanks to Elaine S. and Delta Waterloo for sponsoring my accommodations. All opinions and photos are my own.

Food: Langdon Hall’s Terroir Noir

Yes, yes, I’m back with more news from Langdon Hall. I could easily start a regular Langdon Hall series on White Cabana. The place is amazing, and I’ve recently been calling it My Langdon Hall. Yes, I am totally biased and also completely smitten by the place.

Anyhoo – a few months ago, the team at Langdon Hall invited me to interview Executive Chef Jason Bangerter and Pastry Chef Rachel Nicholson. An interview, I asked? About what? Chocolate! Tough gig, I know.

You see, Langdon Hall decided that they should have their own signature chocolate (as if the place wasn’t special enough), and they wanted some help to get their story out.

You may have seen this post on Instagram recently if you follow me or @LangdonHall or @LangdonHallChef:

Langdon-Hall-Terroir-Noir

via @LangdonHallChef

You see those words right there? Yeah, I wrote them (with some edits from LH)! So cool! Since that paragraph only provides a glimpse into LH’s chocolate, I was given permission to share the full story here on my blog. Read on if you’d like to learn more about how this chocolate came to be.

***

Making of Langdon Hall’s Signature Chocolate: The Beginning
Jordana Garbati

Being whisked away to France on a highly unique chocolate mission seems like an incredible experience to add to one’s bucket list. For Langdon Hall’s Executive Chef Jason Bangerter and pasty chef Rachel Nicholson, this experience turned from dream to reality in February.

Jason and Rachel were invited to Cacao Barry’s prestigious Or Noir in Paris to develop a signature chocolate recipe for Langdon Hall. Only a few Canadian chefs, and only about 200 chefs around the world, have developed a signature chocolate recipe! Armed with a few goals in mind and a clear idea of the flavours the chefs wanted to include in Langdon Hall’s future house chocolate, the duo zipped off to Paris for a three-day chocolate adventure.

At Or Noir, Jason and Rachel were confronted with cacao beans from around the world and wasted no time working with Or Noir’s highly-qualified team to begin the process of developing Langdon Hall’s distinct chocolate.

Chef Jason wanted to ensure that Langdon Hall’s philosophy was well represented in its chocolate. He wanted the chocolate to instill ideas of the land, smokiness (we all know about Langdon Hall’s divine fireplaces), warmth, and tradition. Chef Rachel was on the same page and wanted to ensure that the final chocolate recipe would not only work beautifully on its own, but also become that more memorable when transformed into a chocolate ganache or pain au chocolat.

Chefs-Or-Noir-Langdon_hall

 Chefs Jason and Rachel and the French team at Or Noir

The chefs went through Or Noir’s chocolate recipe development process whereby they explained their desired taste profile, explored cacao pastes from around the world, blended flavours, and tasted multiple production samples.

After a few gruelling days in the Parisian chocolate laboratory (as much as crafting a chocolate recipe can be gruelling), the chefs settled on the perfect recipes for dark and milk chocolate that are set to impress.

Terroir-Noir-Langdon-Hall

Langdon Hall chocolate samples – some of the first pieces Langdon Hall’s dark and milk chocolates – ready for a taste test

The dark chocolate has an ideal amount of bitterness. It’s great paired simply with an after-dinner espresso, and it is sure to increase the quality of Langdon’s popular chocolate-filled pastries and desserts. The flavour lingers on the tongue and is of beautiful texture and consistency. The milk chocolate is as creamy and shiny as you would want it to be, and it is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Both chocolate recipes are as distinguished as Langdon Hall, they embody luxurious hospitality as much as a chocolate could, and they are yet one more piece that will raise guests’ experiences to another notable level. Jason-Rachel-Langdon-Hall-TerroirNoir

Executive Chef Jason Bangerter and Pastry Chef Rachel Nicholson with the first chocolate production at Langdon Hall

For chefs Jason and Rachel, the signature chocolate brings prestige and innovation. The creation of the Langdon Hall chocolate brings outside-the-box thinking and creativity. This addition to the existing repertoire of phenomenal recipes will entice new and returning guests to visit Langdon Hall to experience its inimitable chocolate.

After the recipe was created in February, the chocolate went into production in France. Since the arrival of the first shipment of chocolate, the chefs have been busy in their kitchen creating new decadent recipes.

On April 25th, Executive Chef Jason Bangerter will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario to launch Langdon Hall’s chocolate and its top-secret name at the Terroir Symposium, which is an event that brings together top chefs, sommeliers, and artists with the goal to promote innovation, collaboration, and creativity in the field of hospitality. Industry leaders will no doubt be enthralled by the story of how Langdon Hall’s chocolate came to be and I challenge them to stop at just one bite.

***

I should say that Chef Jason did make sure I had my fair share of chocolate during the interview (Thanks, Jason.) I preferred the dark, but the milk was so darn smooth. I know, such a tough gig. Hanging out at Langdon Hall eating chocolate – life. is. good.

p.s. In recent news, did you see that Drake went to Langdon, too? Cool.

Drake-Langdon-Hall-ChampagnePapi

via @ChampagnePapi, photo by @CaitCronenberg

 

Marketplace: Chair Table Lamp in Cambridge, Ontario

You likely already know that I have really enjoyed my move to the Waterloo region. For a relatively small region, it has so much to offer, and the people I have met and the places that I’ve been to continue to impress me. A couple of months ago, I visited Chair Table Lamp in Cambridge after seeing a cool photo of the store from Rox-Anne, and I was in furniture heaven.

I was in awe as I stepped in the massive space. Owner Terry was ridiculously knowledgeable about everything antique, and we had a delightful conversation about furniture, design, and travel. On a subsequent visit, I met co-owner Katie who was equally enthusiastic about all things furniture! I really enjoy meeting people who are so passionate about what they do.

The inventory at Chair Table Lamp is incredible. There’s honestly something for every design lover – from art deco chairs to gorgeous Chinoiserie pieces to mid-century modern dining sets to gorgeous French armoires. Honestly. This place is a treasure! (I adore this piece and this one, too). You’re not going to find garage sale prices here, but you will find fair prices for the uniqueness and quality of the pieces.

Amongst the black credenzas and the wood dining sets, I spotted quite a bit of white (mostly newly painted), so here’s a tour of Chair Table Lamp through this white-lover’s lens…

White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-3 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-10 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-1 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-2 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-8 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-7 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-6 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-9 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-5 White-Cabana-Chair-Table-Lamp-4 You can see more inventory on the Chair Table Lamp Instagram account and on the Chair Table Lamp website.

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!

Hourglass-Iman-Lyzabeth

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!

Hourglass-White-Cabana

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!

White-Cabana-workout

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!

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.

hourglass-workout-int-logo

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 cafĂ©, and had a really great initial chat about Hourglass and its expansion to Waterloo. Random, I tell you! If this wasn’t a sign, what is?

3. It’s convenient: I am a fan of convenience, and once I did a bit of research on the classes, their times, and the location, I determined that the options were convenient for my lifestyle.

4. Hourglass supports bloggers: In addition to some common interests like growing up in Toronto and what we like about Waterloo, Iman and I connected over our interest in blogs. I love it when people appreciate bloggers’ work*.

5. It’s a new addition to Waterloo: I’m always keen on supporting local businesses in the Waterloo region. This region has hooked me in, and I’m pleased to share news of all that it has to offer. Heck, I even wrote a Design*Sponge city guide about Waterloo, remember? As such, I’m happy to share news of Hourglass’s launch in our region. (By the way, Hourglass’s grand opening in Waterloo is on Sunday, February 7th in case you’re local and you’d like to attend the event.)

Hourglass-Workout-1

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.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-17

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!

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-15

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-1 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-6 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-7 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-8 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-5

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.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-2 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-4 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-3 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-14

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.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-12 GE appliances will be working hard in hereWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-10

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

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-13

a brand new kitchen (still covered in packaging!)

Chef and his team were serving up several delicious nibbles, including mini croque madame, beet-dipped quail eggs, and cucumber soaked in rose water and topped with powdered raspberry.

Chef-Jason-Bangerter-Langdon Hall

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.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-18

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

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-25

by Inspire Event Rental and Design

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-26 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-28 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-27

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.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-29

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

Elaine and Chef JasonWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-32

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.

Travel: A Day in Stratford, Ontario

A couple of weeks ago, I took a day trip to Stratford, Ontario. The drive is about 45 minutes from Waterloo, and it’s an extremely easy and pleasant ride along one road (basically). As has become the norm, my TomTom came along for the ride and proved to be very useful especially for navigating the streets of Stratford. I’ve only been to the city a couple of times, so I’m still not familiar with the roads.

The main purpose of my visit was to watch Stratford Festival‘s production of The Sound of Music (How do you solve a problem like Maria?), so that’s where my afternoon began. I found free parking along the lake (such a bonus!), and walked over to the beautiful Festival Theatre. The architecture of this place always interests me. The pointed rooftop, the pretty front rose garden, and the round stage (it’s open on three sides which makes viewing from all angles a pleasure) make this place stand out.

White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-4 White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-11White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-10White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontarioi_12

The Sound of Music was a highly entertaining show, and since I was lucky enough to get centre seats about 10 rows from the stage, I felt completely spoiled!. I watch the Sound of Music once a year (it’s always on around Christmas, isn’t it), so I was quite excited about seeing a live performance (I am 16, going on 17…). I was itching to sing along to every song, but I resisted.

White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-7White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-8White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontarioi_17

Stephanie Rothenberg was stellar as Maria, and the cast of von Trapp children were absolutely unbelievable. Beyond the impressive acting and singing, the choreography was fun, and the stage and set design were cleverly put to use. It amazed me to see so much variety and action on a relatively small stage (These are a few of my favourite things…). Pre-performance, I was curious about the whole curtains-into-clothing transformation, and the play got it spot on (Do-Re-Me)! I loved watching the set transform (simply and seemingly effortlessly) with each scene. That’s part of the fun of live theatre, isn’t it?

2015playbill_SOM_089_recsm 2015playbill_SOM_182_recsmphotos via Stratford Festival

There’s plenty to see at the Stratford Festival, so there really is something for everyone (festival shows and schedule here). I’ve heard good things about The Alchemist and the Taming of the Shrew. Shows run into the fall, so there’s really no excuse to not plan a visit!

A matinee worked beautifully for my Saturday schedule. Post-theatre, I was able to walk around town, pop into some shops, and stroll lazily about before dinner. I’ll show you a bit about how I spent the rest of my day, if you’d like to see…

Balzac’s is a beautiful coffee shop in a charming building with detailed ceilings and lovely lighting. It also serves up some delicious coffee! Imagine that! I love it when places get decor and food right. The Stratford location was Balzac’s first, but it is also has opened up locations in Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Collectable posters represent each location.

White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-5White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-6Bradshaws has just about every kitchen item you’d ever want. After touching just about every cool kitchen gadget, I got stuck staring into the case of Alessi items. Oh, and I also found a lot of pretty white things…

White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-12The Artful Badger is a well-designed men’s barbershop-beauty store shop devoted to “classic shaving goods and other affordable luxuries for the modern gentleman” (I’m obviously not as eloquent in my description as The Artful Badger website!). The store carries face care and beard care items from the UK and United States along with stylish scarves and umbrellas. This is the perfect store to visit pre- and post-Movember. This gentleman’s store is unlike anything I have seen in Kitchener-Waterloo, and I absolutely loved how all the products were neatly displayed. White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontarioi_16 White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontarioi_14 White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontarioi_13RhĂ©o Thompson makes an extremely delicious chocolate mint smoothie chocolate. If you’re in Stratford, you must go pick up a box of these gems! They’re unlike any chocolate I’ve had, and on my next visit to the city, I’d really like to go on one of their tours. Chocolate…who can resist?

White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-3After a tour of shopping, it was time for dinner. I feel very loyal to Pazzo (Taverna and Pizzeria) as I’ve always had great service and excellent meals (at both restaurants; Pazzo Taverna is upstairs, the Pizzeria is downstairs). If you go during the theatre season, I’d recommend that you make a reservation in advance. On this visit, I dined at the Pizzeria, and I was once again impressed. Service was spot-on, and my meal was delicious (mushroom toasts, margherita pizza, Pimm’s Cup, wine, espresso…all very tasty with fresh ingredients). (side note: Pazzo means crazy in Italian).

White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontarioi_15And there you have it…a bit of a tour of Stratford, Ontario! I just have one more photo to share with you before I let you go enjoy your day…

White-Cabana-Stratford-Ontario-1I spotted this white brick wall and knew it would make a good backdrop for a jump (dress and jump last seen here).

Do let me know if you go for a visit! I’d love some more recommendations for my next trip, too!

Thanks to Ann and Amy from the Stratford Festival for helping to arrange my visit.

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.

Travel: Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario – Part II

Yesterday, I took you on a tour of Langdon Hall’s interiors, showcasing the delicious breakfast I enjoyed and the details in the guest rooms. Today, I’m taking your outdoors. Let’s go!

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-6White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-5Rox-Anne and I enjoyed a tour of the garden with Mario, Langdon Hall’s head gardener. It was an impressive tour because Mario knows everything about everything in the garden, and his passion for his work really shines. Mario showed us how plants are thoughtfully arranged in order to maximize sight lines, use, and growth.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-3here, Mario is telling us about how he and his team purposefully left space between the plants so that air could circulate around themWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-9here, Mario is teaching us about sight lines and layering techniques; he thins out the grassy water plants so that the view beyond is not hiddenWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-2the climbing hydrangea in this section of the garden is so pretty

The garden tour happens every Saturday at 10:30am for Langdon Hall guests. I know it’s easy to sleep in and linger over breakfast, but the tour is really fascinating, and I’d definitely encourage guests to take it. I honestly felt like I was in a Martha Stewart magazine as we walked through the various gardens.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-7   White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-4Now, I know Langdon Hall guests are meant to be professional and poised…

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-1 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-8 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-13 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-11but I couldn’t resist going back to my jumping roots in the presence of such incredible backdrops. It only took two tries to get the photo below (thanks, Rox-Anne!).

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-10I hope you enjoyed the two-day tour of Langdon Hall. Do let me know if you plan to visit (or if you already have visited).

See Rox-Anne’s photos and review here.

Thanks to Kate M. for showing us around Langdon Hall. Photos by Jordana unless otherwise indicated.

Travel: Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario – Part I

I learned about Langdon Hall last summer when I Googled something like “fancy hotel Waterloo,” and it came up in the search results. I thought I had just discovered an unknown treasure, but when I began asking others about this “fancy hotel” so close to where I live, everyone already knew about it. Where had I been living that it was unknown to me? (Kingston, London, Toronto, Europe…that’s where).

DSC_0028DSC_0034Fast forward a year, and I finally took the 20 minute or so drive to Langdon Hall, and I’m so glad I did! What a beautiful place to spend a morning (or longer). Rox-Anne (from Celebrating this Life) and I drove over early Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago to meet our host, Kate, for breakfast and a tour.

DSC_0041DSC_0045 DSC_0044 DSC_0047Everything at the country breakfast buffet was beautifully presented, and looked to be absolutely fresh and delicious. Rox-Anne opted for the lobster omelette, and, because I have such a sweet tooth, I couldn’t resist the pain perdu (French toast). The smaller slices of bread were not soggy or too sweet. The topping included slivered almonds. Yum! Chef Jason Bangerter – you’ve got my thumbs up for this meal!

DSC_0048DSC_0058 DSC_0061I followed the pain perdu with a croissant (why not!?). I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to try the croissant because I’ve been spoiled by Golden Hearth’s croissants, but I did. And it was delicious. It was more buttery than Golden Hearth’s, but it had a beautiful texture, lots of layers, and was the perfect mix of soft and crusty.

After breakfast, Kate led us on a tour (had to walk off those calories, of course), and I was absolutely blown away by the architecture, decor, and details in each and every room. The main floor rooms include beautiful millwork, coffered and paneled ceilings, rich deep colours, and warm textiles in a mix of cohesive patterns. Brass, gold, and blue & white also make their appearances in almost every room.

DSC_0067 DSC_0065 DSC_0064above: one of the dining rooms (with walk-out to the conservatory) set up for a wedding celebration

White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-9White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-10above: a bright lounge with walls of windowsWhite-Cabana-Langdon Hall-8White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-7above: Wilks’ Bar

The fireplaces in the rooms in the main house really caught my attention. They would be so pretty (and warm) in the winter. They’re giving me inspiration for my own fireplace re-do that I’m planning on tackling this summer. The smaller tile set in a brick pattern are classic.

White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-1fireplace in the pool room

White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-2fireplace in one of the guest suites

Let us take a closer look at a a couple of guest rooms, shall we?  White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-5White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-6creams, blues, and rich woods make this suite very inviting

DSC_0091such a charming space

Look at the well-planned closets (and the fluffy robes!). A fridge and coffee station are not pictured.

White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-3The bathrooms have a spa-like feel; they’re white, bright, and have lush towels.

White-Cabana-Langdon Hall-4DSC_0089Before I leave you for the day, here are few more photos from around the mansion:

A row of paneled doors in the basement bathroom:

DSC_0097

A gorgeous stairwell in the main house:DSC_0149 DSC_0151

Commemorative plates neatly lined on the paneled walls:DSC_0152

A pretty place to perch:DSC_0154

Langdon Hall thinks of everything, so guests can really relax:DSC_0155I have a bit more to share, so come back tomorrow for Langdon Hall – Part 2.

Many thanks to Kate at Langdon Hall for arranging our visit. All photos by Jordana.

The Friday Five: Tulips

Ah – spring flowers are the best, aren’t they? I haven’t regularly bought flowers over the winter, but now that spring is here, I won’t be able to stop! The Kitchener and St. Jacobs markets always have a great selection, and it’s not unusual to see my market bag filled more with flowers than food. Last week, I bought yellow tulips and they’re still looking lovely. Here are five white tulip flower arrangements that I think would be easy to replicate.

tulip-flower-arrangements-ideas-for-spring-living-room-apartment-4

via Bored Fast Food

tulips-white

white tulip arrangement, Style Me Pretty

white-tulips-flowers-Sylvias-Simple-Life

via Sylvia’s Simple Life

4806_06a2e2701fd511904

via Brooke Allison Photography

fredag) 060

via Vintage Interior

Have a happy weekend, everyone.

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

Image2

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).

Uptown: A Look at My Kitchen

I have already shared photos of my main floor powder room. Today, I’m revealing the after photos of my kitchen. I took forever to finish up the last bit of grouting (there was a space that I was too lazy to fill), and I was putting off the photos until the backsplash was really fully complete. The before photos of my kitchen are pretty horrific. Honestly, I look back at them and I wonder what the heck I was thinking when I actually bought my house! They’re that bad!

So what did I do to my kitchen to get it white and bright? Here’s a list:
– primed and painted the walls and ceiling
– tore down a dividing wall beside the stove
– installed some new lighting
– installed some additional cabinetry
– installed a marble countertop
– installed a single basin sink
– installed a backsplash (I did it myself!)
– installed an over-the-range microwave
– changed the cabinet hardware

Yes, it was a lot of work! Still on the to do list? The floors are still on my wish list. I’d really love to install hardwood floors.

Okay, here are the after photos:

White-Cabana-kitchen-after-1 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-2 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-5 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-7 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-8 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-11 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-13 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-14 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-15 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-16 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-19 White-Cabana-kitchen-after-20

In case anyone is wondering – I generally do keep my kitchen this tidy. I took everything off of my fridge and the stack of papers/books/magazines off of the table for the photos, but other than that, my kitchen looks like this every day. The stove and floor could use a scrub, but c’est la vie.

Sources:
marble counter – Natural Stone City
sink – Vigo via Home Depot
microwave – KW Appliances
backsplash tiles via Kijiji (for only $10!)
toaster – Cuisinart
KitchenAid stand mixer
oil & vinegar bottles – Diane von Furstenberg
salt & paper shakers – Chapters Indigo
small tray – Crate & Barrel
large tray, milk glass, light fixture, embroidered cherries framed – vintage
tea towel, plant pot, table – IKEA
chairs – vintage, painted by me (inspired by Joan MirĂł)
black & white fridge magnet bottle openers – Alessi
watermelon art – painted by me (age 5)

Uptown: A Look at my Powder Room

I haven’t posted any photos of my home for quite some time. Most of the major work is done (yay!), although I always have something on my to do list (e.g., my basement bathroom). I am so proud of all that I have accomplished in the 1.5 years since I moved into my home. The house looks nothing like it did when I moved in. I slathered gallons and gallons of paint on every single wall, changed a bunch of light fixtures, cleaned for hours on end, tore down a wall, and so much more.

I haven’t taken after photos of every room, so this past weekend, I devoted some time to doing just this. I am just about ready to share a house tour. I really should post the before photos, too, to make things extra dramatic (maybe I will one day)!

For now, here’s a look at what my powder room. This space was completely gutted, and nothing (besides some of the walls) was salvageable (you can see some before photos here and here). It was a disgusting space, really, and that just sums up the before.

White-Cabana-Powder-Room-1 White-Cabana-Powder-Room-2 White-Cabana-Powder-Room-3 White-Cabana-Powder-Room-4 White-Cabana-Powder-Room-5I am so pleased with how this little room came together. Me and my family did the work ourselves, so the only cost was for supplies and fixtures. Little money, big impact. I especially love the floor in my powder room because I installed it myself. Who knew I would ever do such a thing!

Sources:
Tommy faucet – Delta c/o
cabinet & sink – IKEA
hex tiles – Twin City Tile
twin flush, energy efficient toilet – Costco
vintage Chanel poster – Les Puces flea market, Paris
mirror – HomeSense
towel bar – Umbra (it’s a paper towel holder)
linen towels – vintage
milk glass – vintage
light fixture – vintage
toilet roll holder – Bed Bath & Beyond
baseboards, light plates – Home Depot

Photos by me.

Architecture: CIGI Campus

I was recently given a tour of the CIGI Campus, one of my favourite buildings in Waterloo. The CIGI Campus was built on the former site of the Seagram’s Distillery and is now home to innovative academic and research programs.

IMG_6101_2

The CIGI Campus is home to the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) as well as the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI). I have been fortunate to work with some of the scholars and students at the CIGI Campus and I am impressed by their professionalism, intelligence, and the pride they have for the work that they do.

The CIGI campus is impressive for several reasons. First, the exterior’s modern design is a striking focal point in the Uptown Waterloo landscape. Second, the interior architecture is innovative, bright, and sleek. Finally, the clean lines, repetitive forms, and interior courtyard are attractive and inviting. Let’s take a tour, shall we?

P1010406

front lobby

P1010414

front lobby walls and ceiling

P1010416

stairway to patio and auditorium

P1010423_2

auditorium

P1010425

sleek auditorium walls

P1010433

chairs made from recycled materials

P1010436

overlooking the courtyard

P1010438work bar

Stylish, right?

For additional information about the CIGI campus click here.

All photos by Jordana. Many thanks to Lauren A. at CIGI for the tour!