Travel: Terre Bleu, Milton, Ontario

If you’ve ever driven from Waterloo to Toronto – and if you’re anything like me – then you’ve probably uttered a few some many curse words as you’ve driven through Milton on the 401. Let me correct myself – as you’ve been stopped in traffic on the 401 in Milton. Ugh. Milton. Up until a few weeks ago, all I had really known about Milton was the traffic I experienced on the 401.

But, I’m happy to share that I’ve found something glorious about Milton (and Halton Region) – the Terre Bleu lavender farm. Hooray! It’s absolutely lovely, and I encourage you to visit! Get off that darn highway and enjoy the serene beauty of the lavender farm! (Warning – this post is infused with hints of purple and yellow.)

Tim and I drove out to Terre Bleu on the Canada Day long weekend for a tour with Terre Bleu’s owner, Ian Baird. Our tour was fun, educational, and full of beauty.

Terre Bleu’s fields grow several varieties of both English and French lavender. English lavender, in brief, is excellent for its scent, while the French lavender is used in culinary endeavors. The English lavender was just coming out when we visited the farm, and the French hadn’t yet shown its colours.

Some people like white…and others like purple. Ian and I bonded over our passion for (a single) colour.

Much of the property is – of course – filled with rows upon rows of beautiful lavender. But Ian has also done an impressive job of embracing, promoting, and fostering art on the farm. The yellow door (that you may have seen floating around social media) provides the perfect photo op, but it is even more cool in person. A random door in the middle of lavender rows. Loved it!

Inspired by the quote (written by Ian’s then-10-year-old daughter) noted above the door, Tim and I left our worries behind us as we walked through the yellow door. We found joy on the other side!

In addition to the lavender fields, Terre Bleu raises honeybees, has an herb garden (which transforms into a great spot for lavender-infused cocktails), and has a beautiful forest and trail. In the forest, along the “Yellow Bench Trail,” you’ll find a wood installation perfect for a conversation circle and – as the name suggests – a yellow bench. But, of course!

Terre Bleu’s honeybees are hard at work! In the photo below, Ian is showing us the old bee keeping house in the distillery – the room where they turn lavender into oils. Those copper vessels, which are used in the essential oil-making process, were brought in from Portugal because of their high quality and production capability.

Before you think that Terre Bleu is all-purple-all-the-time, check this out:

Great, right? This massive, white bench overlooks the equestrian area of the farm, and its design mimics that of the main store/barn structure. No detail was left to chance on this farm! Each design choice was made with much consideration.

And more white came through in the “white” Melissa lavender. In fact, although it looks white here, its true colour will be pink once it’s fully in bloom. (But let’s just pretend it’s white, okay?)

The Terre Bleu team harvests the lavender during the year and transforms it into all sorts of beautiful products – sachets, dried lavender, lavender salt, lavender essential oils, soaps, and more. The white-washed shop is definitely worth a visit. Pick up a treat before you leave, including, perhaps, a scoop of lavender ice cream! I picked up a jar of honey – it’s made with the farm’s lavender and hard-working honeybees! I couldn’t resist!

So, next time you give Milton a passing glance, I encourage you to stop and find your way to Terre Bleu for some inspiration!

See more snapshots of our day at Terre Bleu over on Tim’s blog, Design Maze.

Thanks again, Ian, for the super tour! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the development of your lovely lavender farm! Milton is lucky to have you!
Photos by Tim and me.






Architecture: Old Ontario Houses

When I was in the Niagara region recently, I took several photos of gorgeous houses, including this lovely yellow home. I always seem to notice new ones when I’m there. And each on in Niagara-on-the-Lake is especially interesting and unique. We have gorgeous properties in the Waterloo region, which I ogle, and I always paid attention to the details of these homes when I lived in London and Kingston. They ooze charm, and they catch my eye!

And that’s why I’m a sucker for the Instagram account called Old Ontario Houses. Do you know it? Caution – you may not notice the time fly by once you start scrolling and reading about the locations of each house!

Here are a few white ones that caught my attention as I was scrolling through the feed recently:

Yates Street Heritage District, St. Catharines



St. David’s

Jordan Village

St. Mary’s

St. Thomas

Since it’s #Canada150 this year, maybe it’s about time I – or we – should start paying extra attention to white architecture in our beautiful country!




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 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:


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.

Real Estate: Beautiful Property in Puslinch, Ontario

Puslinch? Heard of it? If you’ve driven on the 401 from Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo, then you’ve probably seen the road sign for Puslinch. But have you ever gotten off the highway at the exit? Me neither. But…maybe I should. There’s at least one stunning house that I’d love to see.

This gorgeous waterfront home is currently on the market. The 100+ acres that surround the home ensure that there are beautiful views from every room.

Care to guess about the listing price?

Puslinch-real estate-3 Puslinch-real estate-4 Puslinch-real estate-2 Puslinch-real estate-1 Puslinch-real estate-5 Puslinch-real estate-66620 Concession Road 1, Puslinch, Ontario

The property is listed at just about $5.3 million.

Images via Realtor.

The Friday Five: 5 Points about Scandinave Spa

Last weekend, Rox-Anne and I headed to Scandinave Spa at Blue Mountain (Ontario) for a day of rest and relaxation. I’ve never been a spa girl, but several friends convinced me that I should give Scandinave a chance.

White-Cabana-ScandinaveWhite-Cabana-Scandinave-1photos by Rox-Anne

Here are five things to share about my first Scandinave experience:

1. It’s not as cold as you might think even when the outdoor weather thermometer says it’s 2 degrees Celcius. I thought we’d have a relatively warm day at the end of April, but we didn’t. It was cold! Even though the heat was on in the car during our drive up, and I wore a coat and scarf, I was not actually cold during the spa bath rotation. It was magical, really! Things that kept me warm during the day experience at the baths: the heated stone patios inside and out, the gorgeous solariums with incredible views, the hot baths (obviously), the fireplace lounge area outside, and the sunshine!

forest baths winterphoto via Scandinave Spa

2. Go early to avoid a lengthy line-up. The baths hold a maximum number of people, and so when when they’re full, they’re full. I have heard wait times can be as long as 4 hours (!!!), so it’s best to arrive during a non-peak time (e.g., the morning) or day of the week (e.g., mid-week). That said, the spa has thought of everything and has several suggestions of things to do while you wait for entry into the baths (e.g., the Caves at Blue Mountain, a cheese shop).

steam room 2photo via Scandinave Spa

3. What to bring: Bring your bathing suit (or two if you do not want to wear a wet bathing suit while you lounge inside or eat a meal), a robe, flip flops, and a water bottle. You might also want to bring your sunglasses on a sunny day and sunscreen to protect yourself against the rays (I forgot both of these things). You can bring your camera for photos of the indoor spaces and the property, but you are advised to leave your camera and iPhone in your locker rather than take these gadgets to the baths. When you check in, you’ll be given two towels (save one in your locker, bring one with you) and a locker key. The showers are equipped with soap, shampoo, and conditioner, so you don’t need to bring these items with you.

spring 3photo via Scandinave Spa

4. Shhh…relax… Scandinave strongly encourages silence or a spa voice. A spa voice. I love it. Although this was a bit hard for me to get used to at the beginning of my visit, I respected the recommendation, and it really worked out. Honestly. The silence (or near-silence) helped clear my mind of distractions and noise. It was so peaceful. Rox-Anne and I did talk (we weren’t in a completely silent zone), but we kept our voices down so as to not disturb the other guests.

spring 1photo via Scandinave Spa

5. Hammocks are awesome. I discovered this last year after I won my very own hammock. I rediscovered this at Scandinave. The rotation at the baths goes something like this: 15 min in a hot bath, quick plunge in the cold bath, steam room or sauna, and then rest. There are several options for the rest portion including relaxing on an adirondack chair on the patio, sitting around a fire pit, lounging in a solarium, or lying on a hammock. Rox-Anne and I tried all of the above, but lounging around in the outdoor hammock looking up at the trees and sky might have been my favourite rest option. It was too cold to stay out there for too long, but on a slightly warmer day, it would have been just perfect.

White-Cabana-Scandinave-Spa-Blue MountainRox-Anne and I enjoying lunch in the indoor space, colour version right here

Many thanks to Mallory at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain for arranging our visit.

Marketplace: Elora Antique Show

It’s not very often that I hop in my car and drive somewhere other than Toronto. This past Saturday, however, I took a 25 minute drive over to Elora. I have only been to Elora once last summer, so I was happy to make a return visit. The drive through the countryside from Waterloo is easy and enjoyable, especially when the springtime sun is shining. The reason for my trip this weekend was the Elora Antique Show. I wasn’t on the hunt for anything (besides a gorgeous French bed, which are impossible to find!), but I was interested to see what the dealers had in store.

There must have been about 50 or 60 dealers carrying things like: sparkly jewels, vintage dolls, woolen blankets, wood dressers, Pyrex, silver serving pieces, blue and white, cloisonné, quilts, books, and paper goods. There were a couple of mid-century dealers that caught my attention, and there was a gorgeous booth full of glassware. If I had an endless supply of money and space, I would have scooped up a few cake stands, pieces of milk glass, and silver bowls. There were a lot of pretty pieces!

Here are a few photos from the show:

Elora-Antiques-2 Elora-Antiques-1 Elora-Antiques-3 Elora-Antiques-4I also spotted some gorgeous cloisonn√© (I’m seeing more of it recently), classic teacups, and this pretty green dinnerware collection (someone help me out – what is this style called?).

The next Antique Shows Canada event will be in Orillia on Sunday, July 26th. Are you planning on going?

Travel: Some Things to Do and See in Kingston, Ontario

Yesterday, I reviewed the Four Points by Sheraton in Kingston, Ontario. Today, I’m sharing some of the photos I took of places and spaces around the city.



lakeside sculpture


brrr…just a tad chilly!


the beautiful half-frozen lake


impressive entrance at City Hall


limestone walls at City Hall


a gorgeous vintage set of drawers


the Grand Theatre


pretty architectural details


stone laneway


a meal at Pan Chancho is a must


drinks at the Red House


chalkboard art at Tango Nuevo


classic Italian food at Olivea

White-Cabana-Kingston-16the market square skating rink and City Hall

Marketplace: Hamel Broom Co. in St. Jacobs, Ontario

In a couple of days, I’ll be celebrating my one year anniversary of home ownership. Yay! The past year has been rewarding, happy, and full of hard DIY work. I’ve loved it! Sure,¬†it’s been a year, and¬†I still have artwork to hang, and walls to paint, but¬†my home has been transformed and I’m so pleased with the progress.

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I moved to Waterloo a year ago. I think I had only been to visit¬†twice before I started house shopping! I had zero sense of direction, and I really didn’t have a clue as to what the city or region had to offer (no, not a scary move or house purchase at all). Thankfully, I have really enjoyed discovering this region¬†of Ontario! The people here are so¬†nice, it’s easy to get around, there’s no traffic (except maybe from 5-5:30pm on some roads), and my quality of life has¬†been¬†pretty darn great.

The village of St. Jacobs is about 10km from where I live. Tia and I rode our bikes there recently¬†(along paths from Uptown Waterloo – amazing!), and I try to make regular trip to the St. Jacobs farmers’ market and antique shops.

When my parents came for a visit a few weeks, I took them to the village of St. Jacobs. I was completely amused when they picked up their walking pace and headed quickly into Hamel Brooms. Apparently my parents love corn brooms. Who knew?

Hamel-Brooms-St-Jacobs-White-Cabana-1Hamel-Brooms-St-Jacobs-White-Cabana-2I had never been into Hamel Brooms, and I was completely mesmerized by the broom making process (owner John Davenport makes them by hand!). I encourage you to watch this video of broom making.


screen shot from video

Hamel-Broom-Co-St Jacobs

screen shot from video


screen shot from video

If you’re in the area, I encourage you to visit Hamel Brooms (and buy a broom, too). It¬†is in the old blacksmith shop, and the floors in the¬†place are crazy cool. Unfortunately, I don’t have a really good photo of them, but just imagine almost¬†flattened chunky trees (knots and all).

Photos by Jordana and video from JLM.

At the cottage

This week I’m writing my White Wednesday post from our family’s beautiful cottage in the Haliburton Highlands, which is really just on the edge of Muskoka in Ontario. We’re on Livingstone Lake- a small, quiet lake near the quaint town of Dorset.

I came up here this week for a few days to relax and help out my dad who is building me a stunning canoe made from a cedar tree on our property that he cut and milled into cedar planks. The canoe has a ribbed interior that is now undergoing coats of clear varnish and its exterior is wrapped in a canvas that is coated with various fillers before being painted its final hue: a brilliant vermilion red! (My colour choice).

Today I share with you a few white things that caught my eye around here and give you a glimpse into the most special place in my life and the canoe that is nearly done.

There are all kinds of species of trees here, including birch (pictured above).

I quite like exploring clusters of trees, especially a magical spot where tall hemlock trees

create a very high canopy that prevents much underbrush from growing. Birch trees

let a lot of light through their leaves and many ferns and saplings grow underneath.

When you’re out on the Canadian Shield you’ll find lots of rocks

and since my dad is a geologist, rocks have always been in our viewfinder.

This is a¬†piece of white granite that is a decoration in my stepmom’s garden bed.

These are the tips of kayak paddles. I grew up in cottage country in Québec and Ontario

and my dad is a perpetual sportsman, having always loved and sought adventure. He taught me how

to ‘Eskimo roll’ back in my early teens and we went down a river in kayaks when I was barely

barely 13 years old. We still have the kayaks and I paddled them last month.

Ta-da! Here is my canoe wrapped in canvas and coated in a white sealant.

It’s sitting like this under the deck drying for a few weeks and then

we’ll apply another coat of sealant

This is a closeup that shows the strokes of the paintbrush from coating the canvas

with white ‘stuff’¬†that has the effect of an egg shell finish, and the¬†interior ribs sticking

out until they’re trimmed where the gunnels will be.

This is the can of filler that was brushed onto the canvas on the canoe

This is one end of the canoe and if you know your canoes, you’ll recognize the shape- it’s a Prospector.

This boat is slightly modified and built to be strong, fast and hold a good amount of camping gear.

Shifting, gears, we use a four-stroke motor to putter across the lake in an aluminum boat

during the in-between seasons when our regular ‘big’ boat is in storage for the winter.

I really like the type for this number four

This large buoy prevents us from accidentally scratching the hull of the boat

as we dock it. Not that we really *need* the bumpers but… just in case

Our cottage is off-grid and water-access, so learning how to tie knots is important.

Talk to seafaring folks and they’ll never call a rope a rope- it’s a ‘line’. A line can be used

for just about anything- I always keep one kicking around. I’ve been taught how

to tie a bowline knot but I always forget how, and this self-strengthening figure eight

is never quite right when I do it. My dad did this one when I arrived on Monday afternoon

and mine didn’t look nearly as nice.. so it’s not pictured

This is a danger warning sticker on the boat’s dashboard:

Warning! do not put your feet into the propeller. Ouch :S

I’ve been treated to beautiful sun and puffy white clouds this week.

I took this quick pic off the dock while looking for white stuff;

I’m hoping that when Jordana does make it up here for a visit she’ll

show me all the white things I’ve missed in today’s cottage tour for you all.

Happy summer, everyone!