The one about religion

Today is Theatrical Thursday. But I don't really want to write about Frugal finds on Good Friday (Torontonians, anyone remember the "Good News for Good Friday" semi-illegal sales in the 1980s? I hardly want to channel that.) So this week is a bit off, blog-wise.

Yesterday was a bit off too. Oh how I hate tax time: every document that should be easily attainable was not, for whatever reason. And then an appointment got switched. And then a jacket I'd bought online was a disaster, which necessitated a trip to the post office. First world problems, to be sure, but when these little inconveniences happen, it's so easy to, like Lot's wife, get a bit stuck. To turn back and wallow in past pain for a little while. I'm blaming it on the full moon.

But, thankfully, it's Holy Week and we have Easter to look forward to. I've ordered my fish and chips for Good Friday. I've booked brunch for Sunday. The Easter Bunny has it all under control.

I've found a place for the family altar (Don't worry, the candles never get burned. I'm not about to pull a what-looks-like-is-about-to-happen on Coronation Street)

I'm going over the materials for Sunday school as I've been promised a crowd. A couple of moms have approached me about Easter services, which I think is so very cool. Perhaps people think that if I can survive what I've been through and still be standing in 4-inch heels talking about where to source designer pillows, then there must be a benevolent God. Or perhaps they are simply making polite conversation. Either way, it's nice.

My kids are filled with Easter questions. I want my kids to be able to choose what they believe, but I can't help but trying to bias the vote just a little, not unlike Shakira on The Voice (pick me, pick me!) My seven year old is all in and has declared, with authority, that the french bulldog is a Christian. My nine year old, on the other hand,  was surprised to discover that we attend a Christian church: "I thought we were Anglican," was her response.

CTS has an amazing-looking documentary called The Bible and You airing this Saturday, March 30 (it's livestreaming at 9pm EST on for those who do not get the channel.) 100 Huntley Street was showing a clip from the doc today and I was thrilled to see a discussion about the Bible and the treatment of women (because heaven knows, misogynists love to use it as a weapon.) The always sensible Tony Campolo was featured and I thought he made the most marvellous statement:
I think that anybody who studies the Bible with any degree of conscientious commitment will come away with the sense that the Bible, perhaps, is the major force for establishing the equality of women in the world today.

Oh, how that makes my heart happy.

And of course, the conclusion of The Bible airs on Sunday, which will be must see TV around here. Cause, you know, I have to support my besties, Mark and Roma.

I hope you have a safe and happy long weekend, whatever it is you celebrate or don't.

School pick up

School pick up

Smythe stripe blazer, $585 / Citizens of Humanity mid-rise jeans, $315 / BCBGMAXAZRIA glitter booties / Coach bag / Bernini Print Scarf - Red: Indigo: Home |

Wish List Wednesday: Glam Mommy, the Valentino Fairy and Angels Galore

OK, so how good was The Voice last night? The last song, One of Us? Amazing! It brought tears to my eyes. They should just declare her the winner right now and the rest of the season can be spent with Usher taking his shirt off.

And yesterday's weather? Awesome. I wore this basic get up for after-school pick up (only the blazer and scarf are new - oh, how you tempt me, eLuxe and Indigo.)

School pick up

Smythe stripe blazer,  / Citizens of Humanity mid-rise jeans, $315 / Taryn Rose booties like BCBGMAXAZRIA glitter booties / Coach bag / Bernini Print Scarf:

After a winter of being swathed in my Canada Goose sleeping bag coat, it's nice to be all Glam Mommy on the Go, as Stacy and Clinton would put it.

So today is Wish List Wednesday. I'm so happy that Serena is on the mend and spring is here and the sun is out that I can hardly think of what more I could want.

But, of course, if the Anthropologie fairy (so much more awesome than the tooth fairy) were to pay me a visit, she could put a pink lace dress and an Avian Curiosities lamp shade under my pillow (actually, that might be creepy - Fedex works just fine.)

And, since I need something for a formal shindig in May with a black and white theme, perhaps the Valentino fairy could Fedex me a little something something too.

My lust item of the week is this wallpaper by Jill Malek. It is called Aphrodite, but it looks like angels to me. My life has been so filled with angels this year that it would be greedy of me to insist on this wallpaper too. But still, LOVE!

Well, must dash. My financial guy is making a house call to advise me where to invest a little bit of money that came my way (please let this be the year that he embraces Chanel bags as an asset class.) And I have to tidy the house so he does not put my name forward for an episode of hoarders.

Play safe, kittens,

Magazine Monday: Frenchies, French Style, and a Revelation

So, I worked out early at the gym today. So early that there was only one other woman there and the rest were guys doing their pre-work workout. The television was set to the sports channel. Ugh. Nothing but people going on about some guy with an angry face being fired. And the constant stream of ticker tape stats across the bottom of the screen. I did not figure out right away that they run the stats for three sports at a time - in this case, NASCAR, PGA and curling scores - so I spend a good 2-3 seconds to clarify that Arnold Palmer was not, in fact, competing against Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a bonspiel. How can people watch that all day? I had to go home and put on my strawberry heels for a while simply to rebalance my estrogen levels.

We had a very low key weekend. Serena, my assistant, had some surgery on Friday. Not only did I pay her medical expenses and drive her to and from the hospital, but I hung out with her on the sofa for most of the weekend so she would not break a stitch. Normally, she spends a good portion of her day sleeping. If I ever had to write her an honest reference letter for a future employer, I'd have to go with something along the lines of "Consider yourself lucky to get Serena to work for you." But because she was told not to be active, suddenly she's standing at the door all the time wanting to go for a walk. Sometimes I'm not sure why I employ her.

Anyhow, I managed to keep her calm by watching PVRed episodes of Will and Grace reruns. I'm convinced that Serena is Karen Walker, minus the drinking problem.

We also had some visitors in and we held court like a couple of ailing duchesses.

I spent some quality time with my magazines. How Pretty is April's Romantic Homes?

Jacqueline deMontraval, you hit this one out of the park! It's filled with french style. More and more this is becoming my favourite aesthetic, especially for bedrooms and baths. I bought a trumeau mirror for my bedroom that makes me very very happy. Perhaps this is the style I should employ for my little garden house rather than Chinoiserie / Palm Beach Chic. Decisions, decisions...

If I have to source some french goodness, I'll be sure to turn to the lovely Lidy at French Garden House. These chairs are sold but, wow, are they ever pretty.

The other awesome read was March's House & Garden.

There was a great article on one of my favourite topics: downsizing with style. In this case, a newly-empty-nested family with lots of pretty things (we're talking Kees Van Dongen paintings, French bergères, Chippendale mirrors, an Elizabeth Beaton still life, and a Christian Liaigre bench. Sigh.) moved from a large family house in Chelsea Square to a flat in Knightsbridge (as one does...) I love it when small is beautiful.

The other article I loved was the one giving us a peek into Andrew Soloman's gorgeous Notting Hill house (designed by pal, Robert Couturier - now why can't we all have pals like that?) I love seeing where writers live and, as I'd read Soloman's The Noonday Demon years ago, I was thrilled to find this article. Soloman's place is amazing:

Better than the photos, though, is the article itself, which Soloman penned. You see, I've been wrestling a little with the content of this blog. On the one hand, I want to write about the beauty in the world - hence the title, Dwell on This Things - but I've always seen blogging as a platform for good. It's a way to help make this world a little less lonely and for others to say, hey, I'm going through that too. It's the closest I'll ever get to ministry. But can you have a design blog that talks about domestic abuse or feeling broken at times or one's faith struggles? Does talking about heavy stuff one minute and throw pillows the next work? It works for me, of course, but writing in a public forum must take others into consideration, no?

Soloman helped me answer that question with his words.
I tend to write about difficult topics in my books, and I used to think that I had to reconcile two diverse impulses: to chronicle life's challenges and to collect objects and houses that I found beautiful. Over time, I've come to think that one can look squarely at struggle and yet find joy in splendour.
Amen to that.

Frugal Friday: Korhani Rugs

My assistant is having some surgery today. Send up a prayer if you would. Plus, I'm walking around with a sample of her poop in my handbag to give to the vet. So you might want to send up a prayer for me too.

On a happier note, that whole January ban on jeans has paid off. I'm being so much more creative in what I wear. Yesterday I wore floral jeans, a motocross jacket and four inch heels to school pickup and the club and received all kinds of compliments. I figure if it can't be warm outside, at least my outfit can be cheerful.

Not sure where the week went but it's already frugal Friday. This week is Toronto Fashion Week and one of the coolest shows was put on by Korhani Home - yes the purveyors of affordable, mass-market rugs. It channeled Great Gatsby meets Metropolis. with all sorts of goodness like this:
I have a Korhani rug at my side door, which makes a great (and fully washable) mat. It wears well, is pretty, and is cheap - like under $20 (the cashier at Walmart was amazed that they were selling such a good-looking piece so reasonably.)

Right now, they have these gorgeous rugs online that come with a really cute GWP carpet bag. They are so cute and I'm thinking I might need this one for the summer house:

A steal at $90!

Well, that's all for today folks. Have yourself a merry little weekend.

Theatrical Thursday: Green with Envy

So yesterday I opened up my bank account for my decorating and home decor business. This is all starting to feel quite real. It's early days since I plan to get through school before really going full tilt on this one but it's still exciting.

So, today is theatrical Thursday. One of my favourite books in the world is Great Expectations. I love Miss Havisham and Estella. So complicated and proof positive that forgiveness, rather than collapsing into bitterness, is the only way. My favourite movie version is the 1998 one with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Bancroft. Yes, it pulls away from the original text in many ways. But it keeps the essence, I think, and it's such a feast for the eyes and ears (I cannot think about that film without seeing Bancroft dancing to Bésame Mucho in my mind.)

The imagery is slightly (ok, totally) heavy handed, but given that emerald green is the Pantone colour of the year, it still looks quite fresh. I remember being obsessed with this Donna Karen outfit of Gwynnie/Estella.

I even attempted to have one tailored in Thailand, although it did not turn out out quite the way I'd hoped.

And the set! The gorgeous, Gilded Age Ca' d'Zan dressed up in its decaying banqueted, vine-covered, jilted at the altared glory!

So beautiful. Where the acting failed, the set carried things through. I love the idea of taking one's disappointments and making them into something of beauty (not that Miss Havisham intended this, but in the film it was the end result). One of my favourite passages of scripture is Isaiah 61:3.
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.

And He does, which inspired my own bit of Miss Havishamnery:

I do not think that I was intended to find a Jenny Packham gown at a sample sale and half-price Emma Hope shoes to match, only to have me hide them away until I open my little summer house with a Great Gatsby-inspired soiree. Do you?

Olioboard, Anthropologie, The Bible and Diva Dogs

Busy week. Friday, we had friends over for dinner. An awesome, artistic teen was in the house and talking about her dream room. So I got busy on Olioboard to bring her ideas to life:

She wanted one of the Urban Outfitters French Bulldog pillows to be incorporated into the design. Fabulous!

Saturday, we took in our last ski of the season, complete with poutine for lunch. This was the year where our abilities were such that we were finally all able to ski together. What a blessing. Saturday night, one of my favourite new pals came over and we plotted how to save the world and change the face of retail. We read magazines and the bulldog tried to eat my cheesecake. Of course, there was wine. Why do you ask?

Sunday was church. I now teach Sunday school, which is an adventure. You know how some people are magical with groups of children? That's not me. But I had fun and bribed the kids with erasers from Good Books. After church and brunch we hit Dollarama for some Easter Decor, relaxed, watched HGTV, and made green pancakes for dinner in honour of St Paddy's Day.

I wore my green lace top from Anthropologie with skinnies and 3-inch heel booties and received mucho compliments.

I'm not normally a "wear green on St Patrick's Day" kind of gal but I'm just feeling super festive this year. I think if you feel blessed, you live that feeling by adding some cheerfulness into the world.

My favourite magazine this week is the March issue of Homes and Gardens. Love H&G. It's the UK's oldest design magazine and will give you a little peek into 19th Baron Herbert's London terraced house. Envy!

And because we are not all heirs to french mirror collections, they tell us how to get a similar look at a lower price. My kind of publication! Baron Herbert has a fab french carved oak mirror over his fireplace and HG helpfully shows where you can get a similar look for under 500 pounds. (BTW LOVE everything at Sweetpea and Willow. They ship internationally too!)

I even love the ads in the British shelter publications. When I buy a design magazine, I like the ads if - and only if - they are for design goods. I do not want to read a design magazine and see an ad for cholesterol medication. It kills my buzz. But the ads in this magazine were fab. Look at this ad for Linwood Fabrics and Wallpaper.

I seriously want that lavender coat!

Ok, so how good was The Bible! Jesus was so well cast. Ditto for John the Baptist. It looks like the crucifixion scene will be hard to watch. I'm glad we know that the story has a happy ending.

So my design assistant, Serena, has insisted on being added to the About page on the blog. So high maintenance! But she works cheap and is a fun companion, even if she does try to steal my cheesecake and has been known to eat the occasional iPhone.

But hey, a happy employee is a productive employee.

Wish List Wednesday: Oscar, Florals, Pink Counters, and Tables Galore.

Oooh. It's the most fun day of the week. "Shopping" without a budget. I wish!

This is perhaps the most insanely pretty skirt and top I've ever seen. Does Oscar de la Renta ever make a mistake? Now where' is that spare $2500 when I need it!

And look at this pretty bag from Loeffler Randall. Love the floral with the black graphic fabric. So designy. eLuxe has been featuring some gorgeous pieces lately.

Feast your eyes on this Pink Love countertop from Silestone. Wow! I'd love it in a traditional white farmhouse kitchen.

Do you think it's too much to ask for a Bradley Helena Table to be sitting curbside on bulk garbage day?

Or maybe one of these beauties from Marjorie Skouras Design?

I promise to give them a good home!

Type Tuesday: Mended Part 4

We are having a delayed spring. Yesterday it snowed. Of course it did, because I'd just washed and put away the ski pants. It's hard to sustain the cheerfulness. I find myself looking forward to planning next year's March break (thinking Costa Rica as I've known a number of people who recently have had fabulous trips there.) I bought some of the new Joe Fresh $19 colour jeans in pink and emerald green.

I draped Miss Thing in some springy bling.

I also did some major spring cleaning. The kids and I went through clothes and toys and everything that I had shoved into the storage room when we moved in at the end of November, resulting in two trips to Goodwill. The nice thing about a small house is that you cannot accumulate clutter. Yesterday, I tackled the garage, which still had boxes and renovation debris up in the rafters from the previous owner. I drove two carloads of cardboard, wood and more cardboard to the dump. Someone seemed eager to help at first.

But of course, when it came time to load up the car and head to the dump, that same someone was taking a pretend nap. Typical.

So I am ready for spring. So ready. It's been a long winter both literally and spiritually. In my Mended reading group though (in)courage, one of the facilitators, Denise J. Hughes writes about the seasons in our spiritual life.
I tend to think of our spiritual live in seasons. Spiritually speaking, I'm sometimes in a summer season, where things are bright and optimistic. At other times, I'm in a wintry season, where the tree limbs are barren, and life seems cold and harsh.

I am so in spring. I crave colour and brightness and fun. I feel like getting out with people instead of hibernating. I crave new ways to get close to God.

So last week, when I had a chance to see Stormie Omartian at Crossroads, I said Yes to that opportunity. She was there with her daughter-in-law Paige.

Stormie was taping a series of 4 teachings that will air on 100 Huntley Street on Thursdays in May.

There I am in the front row wearing the spring Smythe equestrian. I'm totally overwearing it, but I always get mega-compliments when I do. When you are sitting a few feet away from one of these puppies, you wear what makes you feel good and a lot of bronzer.

I did not know if I'd find a connection with what Stormie and Paige were saying. They write a lot about the power of praying for your family and I worried they might be happy clappy Christians who feel that their perfect lives prove that they have been blessed by God. I had not known that Paige was a childhood cancer survivor or that Stormie had survived years of abuse as a child. As it turns out, they are my favourite kind of Christians. They do not have joyful circumstances because of their faith. Rather, they find joy in their circumstances - hard as they can be - because of God's grace. It's like the quote by Albert Camus:
In the midst of winter I found, there was, within me, an invincible summer

Even if it's snowing in March.

Frugal Friday: Scalamandre

Yup, you read that right. My beloved Scalamandré has this wonderful little outlet store known as The Third Floor. And you don't need to be trade to shop it. They have gorgeous fabric, wallpaper, and trim galore.

How gorgeous is the O'Marra wallpaper? It was $170.50 a roll but you can now have it for the low low price of 41.95. They tell you how many rolls they have left and even include a handy calculator so you can figure out if they have enough stock for your project (and they sell from the same print run or bolt, of course, so you won't have any unpleasant surprises!)

Chinoiserie fans would love the hand printed Precious Cargo paper: marked down from $242 to $59.

Look at the Cupido Toile based on a 19th century pattern. It was $213 a years but can be yours for $51.

They also have a very few pillows for sale. They come with feather inserts. Inventory changes constantly. It pays to shop around for these since a lot of people do pillows but Third Floor prices often beat Etsy.

Hello, beautiful!

I know, I'm obsessed.

Blame Wes Anderson.

Theatrical Thursday: Black Swan Glam

It's March break and I was at a lunch thing with author Stormie Omartian today, which I'll write about tomorrow. But, I wanted to write about all things theatrical because it's Thursday and I saw two movies on the weekend - Argo and Black Swan.

Argo is fantastic. I don't know why I never saw it when it was released. So good. I did like the vintage vibe: tub chairs, grass cloth, and the east meets west vibe of Ken Taylor's home. Fab. But still, style was secondary to plot.

I also saw Black Swan since I'm getting a free preview of some movie channel on my satellite. I used to love this kind of film - all moody and dark and freaky - but since having kids, I can no longer tolerate anything too dark. But I watched it for the style, which is fantastic.

Production Designer Therese DePrez and Set Decorator Tora Peterson styled everything in black, white and grey with shots of pale pink.

Vincent Cassel is super creepy but his apartment: wow. Not exactly subtle metaphor-wise, but fantastic from a design perspective. It's filled with stunning art by Walead Beshty, Douglas Gordon, Anish Kapoor, Glenn Ligon and a whole host of others. The art was featured in a show by an LA gallery after the filming wrapped.

I'd love to do a modern great room in Black Swan Chic.

And of course, great style would not be complete without something designed by Rodarte. Gorgeous costumes!

Until tomorrow,

Wishlist Wednesday

All the spring shelter mags are out, which means the wishlist is long. It's funny, there was a time when beautiful things would have led to a laundry list of sins: coveting, envy, greed. But now I can look at the pieces as though they were in a museum. I mean, I don't go to the Musée de l'Orangerie and expect to go home with the Nymphéas (I gave it a go but those suckers are really stuck to those walls.) So in keeping with Paul's advice to dwell on what is lovely, here are the things that make me happy to live on such a beautiful and creative planet!

This month's House and Home is really pretty. I love it when there is more of a focus on decorating than design. I'm not as much of a kitchen and bath person as I am a furniture and fabric gal. I love these pieces from the April issue:

Love the bed of roses rug by Dash & Albert. Great for a bedroom or nursery or for a modern living room with all neutrals. Or you can throw it in the kind of overstuffed Reversal of Fortune Chic space I love. Yummy! I'm going to use an outdoor rug in my little summer house but I hope I can find something this pretty!

Love the Reese bench from Colleen McGill's Plum Furniture and Design Solutions. Gorgeous in the raspberry colour. All of her pieces are amazing. Such talent. And she's Toronto based!

The Ombre rug by Kelly Wearstler for The Rug Company is amazing. I'd love it to add a hit of modernity to an otherwise traditional space.

This Paris Desk from James Duncan is insanely good.

April's AD has some lustworthy goods as well:

I love collaborations. Madeline Weinrib. Manolo Blahnik. Hello!

Speaking of collaborations. Love Kathryn Ireland's Scalamandré collection based on the fabric house's archives. AD offers a sneak peak.

OK, it's an ad for The Rug Company, but every time I see the Alexander McQueen Hummingbird rug, it makes me happy.

April's Town & Country had this amazing floral commode from Côté France.


Hope that lifts your spirits on this Wednesday afternoon.

Type Tuesday: Mended, Part 2

It's Type Tuesday. if you just want something frothy to read, Schumacher has an interview with my girl crush, Mary McDonald. Turns out her vice is potato chips too, although she is so very tiny, I cannot imagine her ever eating more than one.

This week, I am tackling chapter 5-8 of Angie Smith's book, Mended, with the group from (in)courageLast week, I mentioned that in Chapter Six, Smith discusses the story of Lot's wife, who God turns into a pillar of salt because she looks back towards Sodom and Gomorrah as she is being given another chance at a decent life.

I sort of feel like I'm in danger of turning into a pillar of salt. My vice - along with potato chips - is turning back. I used to be..., I used to live..., I used to do..., I used to work... feels so much safer as an identity than leaping forward into the great unknown. But I've felt it on my heart this year to leap. Apply to school, draw my portfolio, set up a decorating business, get writing again -- I feel myself being called forward. And yet I also want to turn back and rely on the things I'm used to relying on, even though I know in my heart that these things are not working for me anymore.

God has been so very good to me this year. Each time I feel compelled to follow a path, I'm rewarded for my faithfulness. I just have to trust the path that lies before me, and shed the things that threaten to hold me back.

At age 41, it seems daunting, at times, to start over again. To contemplate going back to school (especially into a program where my MBA really does not mean a thing!) and setting up a new business is scary. I'm am relying heavily on the quote, attributed to C.S. Lewis, going around Facebook right now:
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream

Lot's wife never really believed this. She felt that while Sodom and Gomorrah was bad, at least it was the devil she knew. As Smith writes in her book, healing is about being able to pull away from the comfortable and move forward into the place we are meant to be. That way, our suffering is not in vain. That way, our pain can be redeemed.

Sometimes I wonder if decorating is too frivolous a pursuit to involve God, but then I remind myself of the Proverbs 31 woman:
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple...
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

I mean, hello, she's basically a home furnishings and fashion designer. I derive a lot of comfort from this. I want to find a way to use my new work to minister to people without being weird. (I once hired a house painter who proselytized from dawn to dusk. He kind of shot his credibility with me when upon learning that yes, indeed, I had welcomed Jesus into my heart, he immediately asked me if I had a good long distance phone plan or was in need of vitamins. Guess he was always selling something!)

Anyhow, the book is very good. And I look forward to reading my fellow readers' reflections and diving into the next 4 chapters.

Magazine Monday

So, fun weekend. Skiing on Saturday. Sunny, warm and the snow was perfect. As I Facebooked, it would be a hard day to be an atheist. There were no lift lines, so I got in a bunch of runs first thing in the morning.

A whole gang from the badminton club have joined the ski club so I was able to hang out and chat over lunch.

I took my design assistant to West Elm in Liberty Village to check out some frugal finds.

I was busy getting paperwork to set up accounts and taking notes of prices and quality while someone spent her time trying to get as many people to fawn over her as possible (French Bulldogs are a big hit in Liberty Village.) At one point, she was sitting on a someone's lap on one of these poufs, half falling asleep. (BTW, LOVED the Leah Durner abstract silk pillow on the sofa. The cover is a steal at $39 and it adds a contemporary pop to traditional decor.)

I was like, hello! You're on the clock! I'm not paying you to sit around looking adorable.

I sent her to guard the car while I brunched with a friend at Mildred's Temple Kitchen. Yummalicious!

Last night, I watched the second instalment of The Bible. Wow, they've done a good job. I've known the stories of the Bible forever but seeing it on the small screen brings a whole new perspective. I still can't quite get over the uber-white teeth thing (young David's were positively gleaming) but that's the only flaw I can find. I can't wait until next week. If you liked Gladiator, you'll love this.

The only downside this weekend was that almost everyone I encountered on the weekend seemed to have a cold. I woke up with sniffles today and ran to Whole Food and Liquid Nutrition to load up on immunity-boosting drinks and chicken noodle soup. While my kids are perfecting their badminton game today, I've been forcing myself to rest and read magazines (twist my arm!)

Which brings me to Magazine Monday. Here is the best of the best from April's Traditional Home:

Hold your breath people, but this is an outdoor sofa from George Smith. It's hand-made and amazing, so I'm guessing it costs more than my car. But how amazing would it be in a wild English-syle garden.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I discovered that one of these Morris & Co/Edward Burne-Jones Pre-Raphaelite Holy Grail tapestries is owned by Jimmy Page. Yes, that Jimmy Page. How amazingly gorgeous is this piece:

I loved the spread on Lillian August's second home in North Carolina purchased specifically so she and her guests could have a comfortable place to stay during the twice-yearly International Furniture Market at High Point. Hello! If that's not dedication to decorating, I don't know what is!

My favourite photo was of this dining room designed by Jennifer Guerrigues. It's busy and bold and fun with a big mash-up of styles. It's Royal Crown Darby, silver pheasants (favourite accent pieces of mine), formal fruit compote, Venetian glass, Moroccan market finds, ikat, capiz shell, rattan and linen in an uber-formal dining room space. So fun for a party.

Well, I'm heading back to my chicken noodle soup. I wish you a happy and sniffle-free Monday.

Theatrical Thursday: Moulin Rouge

Last weekend, my kids convinced me to give the terrain park a try. 41 year olds are not meant to do any sort of jump. Hello yard sale.

I have an ugly bruise where my ski boot hit and I hate flesh coloured hose but the genius folks at Philippe Matignon make a great nude tone fishnet that covers flaws, lasts forever and doesn't make you look like Edith Frumpster. Love!

Of course, whenever I think of stockings, I think of Moulin Rouge (how's that for a Theatrical Thursday segue!)

I love that movie. Yeah, the story was silly and the acting meh. But the music. The costumes. The sets! Oh, the sets! Baz Luhrmann is all about ambiance, which is why I love him. Counting down the days until The Great Gatsby (I have an ivory hand-beaded Jenny Packham 1920's vibe dress and re-stored vintage grey and cream fur stole that I plan to wear the entire month of May to celebrate.)

So, Moulin Rouge... As far as I'm concerned, production designer Catherine Martin, set decorator Brigitte Broch and supervising art director Ian Gracie are super-awesome. I mean, a turn of the century Paris setting mixed up involving an Arabian-nights themed burlesque club inside a 3 story paper-maché elephant. Genius!

However, I'm guessing the worthies of Oakville and Toronto do not want their homes to look like a Parisian brothel, so how does one replicate this fab look in a realistic fashion?

OK, how addictive is Olioboard? It's like Polyvore on crack. I smashed together some Victoriana with some Middle Eastern awesomeness. The prices are pretty decent on all of the pieces (mainly Urban Outfitters and One Kings Lane) as long as the shipping fairy god mother is in control of logistics. If money were no object, I'd add in a Fortuny Scheherazade light and some gold quatrefoil mirrors. And I'd do the walls in chocolate leather. Super glam.

My assistant promises to Walk Like An Egyptian, if I'll let her sleep on one of those velvet chaises.

Well, that's enough fun for today, my little cauliflowers.

Until tomorrow,

Frugal Friday and International Women's Day.

Today marks International Women's Day and that's on my heart big time this year. This week, my UK-based godparents made a donation to the local shelter to mark the IWD. What a thoughtful thing to do. In a year marked by horrific acts of violence against women all around the globe, in some ways IWD does not seems particularly celebratory this year. But change is afoot. Our neighbours to the south re-authorized the Violence Against Women Act, and women and men took to the streets in India and South Africa to protest the epidemic gender-based violence. Leslie Morgan Steiner's TED talk on her own experience with domestic violence went viral and allowed a number of women who'd been harbouring physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse to start telling their stories. By turning a spotlight on an issue that people don't like to talk about, laws will change, communities will no longer turn a blind eye, and shelters will receive more funding. I think that the church can play a huge role in this area and I can't think of a better way to espouse family values than to stop domestic abuse. Kudos to Drew Marshall and his guest hosts Melinda Estabrooks and Kimberly MacLaren for focusing last weekend's radio show on IWD and highlighting key issues facing women (and society) today.

Around these parts, it's also Frugal Friday and so this week we are showcasing a little bit of this:

What else is there to discuss on the frugal front except for the opening of Target in Canada. Canadians are crazy about the Target whenever they visit the US. I headed up to the store in Milton to check out the stuff. I was amazed that there was hardly anyone there. Granted it was a soft opening, but still, the shelves looked about 70% stocked.

I'm not a big Target clothing person unless there is one of those designer collaborations going on - which there isn't. If it were my store, I'd want to collaborate with some cool canucks like DSquared or Joeffer or Smythe or Pink Tartan (although I'm guessing that collaboration would go to Joe Fresh...) The only thing that stood out in the current collection was a black Mossimo jumpsuit that sort of channels one L'Agence and La Gwyneth are selling on Goop. It's poly but you'd swear it was washed silk.

You, know, I'm not sure where I stand on the whole jumpsuit thing but at $29.99, I thought it was worth the risk. I think it will look super adorable with a blazer this spring.

Onto home decor. The usual suspects are there: Simply Shabby Chic, Nate Berkus, Circo. The Threshold line is cute. Lots of cute trendy pieces like Homesense or Pier 1 might have. I thought that the x-bench, the chinoiserie lacquer table and the mirrored side table were cute. They were $59.99 to $79.99, so totally reasonable.

I wasn't really in the market for anything, but I'm always keeping an eye out for quatrefoil mirrors. I've been lusting after Horchow's at $345.

So Target's $24.99 version was a no-brainer. Into the cart it went.

Obviously the Horchow mirror is way nicer but the target one is pretty too. And less than 1/10th the price. I never know how to feel about lower-priced copies. In a way it's good: design Reaganomics, allowing great design to trickle down to the broader population over time. I have had ghost chairs for over 10 years, purchased at Horsefeathers and made by Philippe Starck for Kartell. Now you can find copies at kitchen and bath stores for $100 per chair. Is this a good thing? I like to pay the people who created the idea (since I liked to get paid for ideas I create!) But who is the creator? Phillipe Stark? Or is it some guy from the time of Louis XVI who created the original chair shape? Ditto for the Quatrefoil mirror? Who is the creator? The first to market the quatrefoil mirror or the guy in 1260 who put a barbed quatrefoil on the buttresses at Notre Dame? In Cosmos, Carl Sagan writes, "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." I think that design is a bit like that and it's something with which decorators struggle. Then again, a limited budget should not force one to live with ugly stuff. Sigh. These are the things with which I wrestle. Clearly, I need to get more of a life.

I picked up two ceramic birds.

I've seen lots of these pieces in antiques shops as all the mid-century tchotchkes are in vogue. These bad boys set me back $16 for the pair. I want to use them in the little summer house I have in my garden. I'm building the look around these awesome rattan bar stools I scored curb-side.

(Yep, true reversal-of-fortune chic is loading curb finds into your Mercedes... You actually see this a lot in Oakville.) I plan to re-upholster these babies and spray them white. I'm still deciding what fabric to use but I see some Lyford Cay Club-inspired awesomeness happening and Pimm's all round.

Anyhow, I ended up getting some groceries and drug store stuff, as well as a replacement lampshade for my lamp. The vehicle was pretty full coming home.

Enjoy your weekend, kids.

Wish List Wednesday

OK, so I figure a little wishful thinking is always a good thing on hump day. Today, I decided to have a wander through the always terrific One Kings Lane.

First off is a lovely snow leopard throw. I'm almost always cold in the winter despite wearing two sweaters around the house and the largest coat Canada Goose makes when I'm outside. So anything that contributes to warmth is aces. This 60" X 90" US-made throw seems like a great deal at $119, but I have a couple of throws so practically, this one remains a wish.
Next up, we have a bronze sculpture. This year I'm really interested in sculpture for some reason. I love classical looking bronzes and this one is really fabulous. But at $2,355, this is purely a wishful thinking item too.

OK, so if I had an extra $10,000, I'd love to add this Ralph Peacock painting to my cart. It's called Lovestruck, which strikes me as terribly funny, but I think that the painting is just gorgeous. If you click on the link, you can see it in exquisite detail. The dress looks just stunning. I used to like only abstract art but the older I get, the more realistic I want things to look. Maybe I just don't want to have to work so hard to appreciate things anymore.

Love the Jaeger LCoultre Atmos Mantle Clock. I love clocks with the mechanism exposed and this one from one of my favourite watchmakers is a beauty. Mind you, I'm not in the market for an $800 clock.

I think all rooms should have one piece of chinoiserie in them. Usually I fall back on some blue and white ginger jars but these koi candlesticks are killer. They seem like a steal at $179 but alas, I am not in the market for any.

I'm quite convinced I'd be much more likely to speed through my edits if I had a desk like this on which to work. At $1,425, it seems like a good deal, should anyone be in the market for a fab workspace.

And now in the realm of total fantasy is a little something something from PFW. Was Valentino not genius? I'll take one of these and one of these and one of these

Well, that's enough wishful thinking, Kitty Cats. I have to get back to the real world and my not-as-fabulous desk. Have a great Wednesday.

Type Tuesday: Some News and Inspiring Books

So, exciting news. I've been accepted into decorating school for next fall. Yay! I'm very excited. I had to provide a portfolio of paintings and drawings in order to be accepted since it's a part of the fine arts faculty. I have not done art in forever so I was not sure I'd be able to pull together a portfolio of 10 good pieces in the three weeks I was given, but I headed to De Serres and Michael's to get some materials and advice and gave it a go.

I was not sure what they were looking for but I got into the program. I'm so grateful!

Plus, I was able to make a little grouping of paintings with the new work (Rachel Beach did the damask piece in the middle and my daughter did the bottom piece.)

I've had the middle piece since 2000 and my daughter's piece for 2 years (wasn't that line in Six Degrees of Separation so true? "But your grade, the second grade. Matisses, every one.") It's fun how it all came together. I'm using the blue piece as part of this multi-media large scale thing but I'm still playing with the idea.

Anyhow, since I've decided to pursue this whole decorating and design thing seriously, I can now talk about my lovely coffee table books as work!

One of my new favourites is Kate Spade's Things We Love.

I love how all of these designers are starting to share their inspiration. Charlotte Moss's A Visual Life is another great book I consult regularly.

It's nice to know that the great designers do not just wake up with their head filled with magic. They seek it in community and in the outside world.


Happy Monday

Great weekend. Skiing, a birthday party, some errands, church, brunch, and the kick off of The Bible Series on the History channel. The series is really well done. It's pretty ambitious to try to fit the entire bible into a ten hour show but so far they are doing a great job. And they are being quite savvy in getting around some of the messier points of theology so that it is an inclusive series rather than divisive. I'm so pleased. Now, content-wise, I've always had trouble with the Old Testament. I mean, what's up with Abraham? I'm guessing Isaac needed mucho therapy after that whole thing. And Lot's wife. Yikes. The best explanation I have of that particular passage is in Mended, the book I'm reading with the book club. Of Lot's wife, author Angie Smith writes:
We don't ever learn her name, but her legacy is one of looking back. She has been rescued from death, from sin and depravity, and there is something that still haunts her enough to stop her from moving towards whatever is ahead.

God wants us to move forward. The Bible series shows us that in full special effects glory. As Smith writes,
"...there is a reason you left that life behind. It has been swallowed by grace. And you need not miss what He has for you by believing there is something going back for. Leave it be. There Lord has told you where to go and it's time to walk."

Amen. Anyhow, I can't wait until the New Testament part comes along, which is in keeping with my theology: bring on Jesus.

So, today is Magazine Monday but first I just had to show off a card I picked up at Interior Design House (they are having a 20% off everything sale for the entire month of March, so I picked up couple of cards plus a piece I'll discuss in more detail one Frugal Friday.) How I love the cards from Tokyo-Milk:

It reads,
Seriously, I heard it from Emma, who heard it from Eloise, who overheard Darcy tell Raphael that at last year's party, she snuck in a 5th, 2 6 packs, 3 shanks of mutton and the Flannigan brothers under her petticoat.

Sounds a little like Badminton night and it made me laugh.

OK, so, the new issue of Veranda. Fabulous, right? If you've never read it before, run out right now and fetch yourself a copy. Gosh, that's a beautiful magazine. It seems like it sort of came from nowhere and is now this major publication. I can see why: the quality of it is amazing. So, here are my favourite pieces from the April issue:

Century Home's Chantal ottoman. Hello. Talk about glamourous. If I had one inch of room left (and an extra $2000) in my newly glamourized boudoir, I'd be all over this Dorothy Draper-esque puppy. Last week, there was a piece in Molly's Back Porch on Ottawa Street that you could have plated and reupholstered to hack this look at a fraction of the price. Tempting.

Next fab thing was the little article about the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity exhibit at the Met.  Suddenly have a very strong desire to go for a weekend in NYC. Some of the ladies were talking about a girls' weekend - I think I'm going to have to get on that!

And my favourite piece was Danielle Rollins's Atlanta house designed by Miles Redd. Love love love! Look at the Bird Room (above.) The Chinoiserie. The tiger-y goodness. No reversal of fortune here. I love to start my week with some pretty. I figure if the sweet Lord did not want us to enjoy electric colour, sumptuous fabrics and good design, we'd have a black and white world where everything is rough and scratchy.

So that's all for today, folks. Until tomorrow,

Frugal Friday: Spring Runway on a Dime and some DIY

So, I spent three hours getting my hair colour fixed today, hence the late post. I'd liked my ombre for the first few weeks but the ends started to frizz out from over-processing and then the brown started to pull red. Argh! I now know that it's a technique that needs to be done by a colourist with lots of experience in the area. I needed big time help so I ran to a new colourist and I'm now highlighted ash and butter blonde and I had them take off about four inches and add a long bang a la Jenna Elfman:

But, of course, corrective work is not cheap (even though it was half the price of what I've paid in the city), so thank heavens it's Frugal Friday.

Last night I was at a little private shopping event at Tocca Finita with the ladies before a few of us headed over to a pub to wish the beloved school principal adieu and welcome his successor. Tocca had gorgeous pieces. Loved the stuff by Marie Saint Pierre.

The MSP Kellich dress was insanely good, but the price made it far more suitable for Wish List Wednesdays.

I did manage to find this affordable goodness. It's a blush lace shell that's made in Italy by Montreal company Frederick Ian. It channels the pale floral yumminess that is Naeem Khan's and Valentino's 2013 spring ready-to-wear collections.

It's on sale on the Frederick Ian site for $24 but only in ivory or black. For blush you have to pay $55, which is still a steal.

For frugal design, this week I did a little DI Why. I'd been promising my daughter a more tween-looking room since we moved and she wanted some curtains to divide her tiny perfect room into a sleeping space and an entertaining space (she is what one calls an optimist!) I bought some Ikat Cynthia Rowley curtains at Homesense for $24, and 2 cafe rods (marked down to $2.77 each at Home Depot) and 4 cup hooks (about $5.00). The ceiling is popcorn over plaster so it was some trick getting them up but I managed it with a drill and a whole lot of

I then bought a zebra-print duvet cover at Jysk for $16.99. I normally hate disposable furnishings or fashion but I'd rather reserve the D. Porthault linens for people who are not tempted to paint their nails "rainbow" while sitting on the bed. I also got an ikat pillow at Winners that was downfilled and had been marked from $80 down to $12.

The whole bedroom is really fun now and it was a bargoon to transform the space for under $75. Next, I will have to freshen up my son's room although he still seems happy with the cars and planets thing.

Serena was miffed that she was left out of the festivities, but we'll make up for it by spoiling her on the weekend.

Enjoy your weekend, kids.

Christmas Traditions: The Nutcracker Ballet

Every year, I take my daughter to see the Nutcracker. (I took my youngest son once, but he loudly complained that there was too much dancing...