SOFA Vendor Showcase, Digital Marketing Class and more

Yesterday was ridiculously busy. Either that or I've become really quite useless and a normal day leaves me shattered.

In the morning, I was at SOFA for their Vendor showcase.

Great turnout of vendors. I'm getting all of my trade accounts establish and it was nice to meet a lot of the reps.

Me (in AG Jeans, Smythe jacket and Dior bag) and Gardenflame's Lorne Demerse

They even had a great lunch.

And I now know where to source these bad boys should Serena ever opt to sleep in a dog bed.

Funny lady. I'm totally chewing up that Dior bag when you turn your back.

I zipped home for the after school pick up and then drove to U of T to speak in Michelle Pellettier's Digital Marketing class with the lovely Alexa Clark and Lisa Ng. It's always an honour to be asked to speak.

I also had some time to wander the campus and take a few photos of University College. I think that U of T is such a gorgeous campus and I'm always happy to have the opportunity to be there.

 I even had a chance to rub the UC Griffin for luck.

Well, that's all for now, kids. Tomorrow is a painting day since I want this summer house done and installed by the end of the month. Come June, I want to be sitting in there with a Mint Julep.

** Don't forget to enter out draw for a gorgeous silver pendant from Filou Designs. Just let me know that you want to enter by email, tweet, Facebook, or comment. And yes, you can approach me on the playground, too. **

High Point Highlights: Jamie Alexander Talk

Today, I'm off to the Vendor's Showcase at SOFA but first, I promised to give a little recap of the event I attended there last week. Jamie Alexander gave a talk on Living the Design Dream ... From the Furniture Side of Living. The event was sponsored by Van Gogh Designs, which is a Canadian manufacturer of custom-made furniture (and has gorgeous stuff available to the trade, which, for the record, I am.)

First off, Jamie looks like a designer, which I appreciate. My advice is, never hire a designer who does not have some sense of personal style. I mean, if you can't figure out what to wear in the morning, I'm thinking that buying $100,000 worth of furniture is going be a little beyond you, no? And Jamie's funny. Never hire anybody without a sense of humour. Life's too short to hang out with the buzzkill types. Anyhow, I figured he would have some good stuff to say.

He spoke a lot about client management and good business practices. I'm not going to get into that because, well, I plan to use these techniques on some of you as I build my empire.

The dessert part of the talk was his review of the latest High Point Market. It looks like a great season! Here are some of the upcoming trends:

Asian refined. There was a lot of asian influence but not the rough antique look from part years. The look is much more refined, which I love since I'm all about the Chinoiserie right now.

Black is the new black. Wallpaper, walls, sofas. Not grey scale. Full on black. Oh baby.

Privacy screens. Now that everyone has a great room, everyone wants to divide them up. Room dividers are huge. This is the one I want:

Architectural prints. I just sold all of my architectural prints because they were way too large for my current house but you can get them for a steal on ebay. Buy six. Get matching frames. Put them all on a gallery wall. You're done.

Tufting. If you can put a button on it, put a button on it.

Don't even think about it.

Faux fur on everything. Sofas, desk chairs, drapes. I'm a tactile person. Giddy-up.

Traditional look and manufacturing methods. It looks like an antique, it's crafted like an antique, it's priced like an antique. And it's new.

Mix your metals. (Look at Lisa Jarvis's diamond ring-inspired Bagua table. Swoon!)

Looks like it's going to be a pretty season. Jamie's talk reinforced my desire to get myself to High Point stat. Don't think fall will work out but I'm putting spring 2014 into the calendar.

Lyford Cay, Gatsby Chic and Tapas, Oakville Style

Another busy weekend. I've started the painting the ceiling in the summer house. So happy with the paint colour choice: a perfect haint blue that I had the local Benjamin Moore shop, Paintscapes West, create (great Oakville paint shop btw.) I must say, though, taking this on as my first painting project ever was a bit ambitious. Holy angles, Batman. And all of the work is done above my head. I'm about a quarter of the way through the first coat and I'm anticipating 2 or 3.

Most people paint start with painting their builder's beige drywall; I start with attempting to recreate the ceiling at the Lyford Cay Club.

(For the record, this is quite consistent with my personality.)

Friday, I got to get out of my paint clothes and into some Gatsby-esque goodness for casino night at the club.

I wore my sparkly silver dress from Fashion Crimes and my Emma Hope beaded heels and a recycled fox-fur stole (I know the best guy who tranforms old fur coats into these fabulous pieces. I'm angling for a bedspread at some point. Luscious!) It was all very glam city and someone even mistook me for The Supermodel. That makes a girl feel good.

I haven't gambled for a long time, but Friday night was a lucky one.

Sunday, we had the Church picnic. They had a little thank you for the Sunday School staff, which was lovely.

And then I went to Oakville Taste (in support of Art For All) where I stuffed myself with amazing food. As in elk tacos and lobster bisque amazing. It was held at the Oakville Gallery and Gairloch Gardens which looks positively spectacular on a beautiful spring day.

I would have taken some photos, but then I'd have had to put down my wine. The really great thing was that we were able to bike to the event (I brought my daughter and her BFF to Junior Taste.) Oakville is a very liveable town, I must say. Nice people too. The redemption theme carries on.

This week is a busy one. I'm loaded up with art assignments, have several meetings and am attending the Vendor's Showcase at SOFA. Plus, the Milly line for Banana Republic launches and that looks like all kinds of good. I'm speaking about blogging at U of T, which is always good fun. No rest for the wicked.

Speak for yourself, sister.

Take care, kids.

The 99th post, Filou, and a contest

So, this is my 99th post on this blog. Because I've been blogging forever, it does not seem like that big a deal. It's not like I've not written 99 posts before. But when I think of where I was when I wrote my first post on this particular blog to where I am now, it's a very big deal indeed. A new life in 100 blog posts - not a bad concept...

To celebrate, I'm doing do a little giveaway from Filou Designs (thank you Fiona!!!) I first discovered Filou at Belle de Provence at Bayview Village a few years ago and loved the Canadian handcrafted sterling silver pieces. I have been looking for a coral-inspired piece this season and thought I'd remembered that Filou had one. I was in luck! 

At $51 including a 16" chain, it's a steal. I upgraded to the 30" chain and the piece looks fab with white jeans and a navy tee. I'm complimented every time I wear it and it's my go-to summer piece along with my Elsa Peretti starfish. I figure that if you cannot go to the ocean each summer, you have to bring the ocean to you! Best thing is, each piece is handcrafted in Vancouver by artist Fiona Louie (hence Filou!)

Fiona has kindly offered a 10% discount on all orders for readers of Dwell on These Things (see, aren't you glad you've been sticking around since the T.O. Mama/MUBAR days in 2004!) . To get your discount, shop online at and enter code DWELLONTHESETHINGS for 10% off regular priced in stock items online, valid until August 1, 2013 (not valid on gift certificates, special orders, custom letterpress bracelets, shipping, or with any other offer.)

If I were buying, I'd be picking up this pinecone necklace ($70 including 16" chain)

or the clamshell ($68 including 16" chain)

Fiona has also generously sent along a gorgeous little sterling silver flower pendant on a 16" chain for one very lucky Dwell on These Things reader.

To enter for a chance to win, comment on this blog, our facebook page or via twitter (or if you are very shy, you can email me at jen [at] dwellonthesethings [dot] com - I just need to know who you are and how to contact you.) Contest is open until 11pm EST on June 6th, 2013. Draw will be June 7th.

Next week I'll be writing about a fabulous talk given by Jamie Alexander yesterday at SOFA. He shared some great business advice and then got into all things High Point Market. Delicious!

In the meantime, I have to dash to do some more drawing for my class. I'm also moving forward on the summer house project with some fab green fabric to complement the Trina Turk/Schumacher navy and white. Busy busy.

I got the last 4 yards! 

Take care, kids.

Weekend wrap and Gatsby review

So, we had our first long weekend of the season. I did not go up to the cottage since I wanted to get a lot done around the house. I had scheduled very little on the social front but that turned into tennis, shopping on Queen West, dockside drinks, getting to know the neighbours better at a BBQ, a couple of movies, and then another BBQ and fireworks with the kids. There are very few perfect times in life, but this weekend came pretty close. My friend Melinda, who upheld me during a very dark chapter in my life was amazed at the transformation. As we sat outside at the club, enjoying spectacular weather and watching the sailboats, we were spontaneously joined by various people I've come to know over the past eight months. God does amazing work. Even though I'm a type A planner, I'm learning that sometimes it makes more sense to hold things lightly and see what unfolds. 

On Friday, I saw Gatsby. Fabulous. The acting is bad - distractingly so at times. And the story is not plot-driven, as anyone who has read the book knows. But that is all beside the point. The sets and costumes are genius. The Prada gowns alone justify the ticket price. And the soundtrack. Amazing. I downloaded it the minute I got home.

The movie made me cry, which surprised me (and likely the people sitting beside me too...) It was some combination of Lana Del Ray's voice and Fitzgerald's words and the theme of the book and the space I was in. How easy it is to fill our lives with Buchanans and their associated money, power, and prestige. I first teared up when Nick sees Tom and Daisy for who they are:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made....

I pulled out my high school copy of Gatsby. As an English major and voracious reader who has moved too many times, I have given away hundreds of books. But I kept Gatsby and as I flipped through it I saw that I'd both underlined and asterisked that particular passage in the book. Although most of the ink has faded over the years, the asterisks remained bold.

I was glad I filled my weekend with good people. I have a new life now, one devoid of the glitter set. What most people consider a major reversal of fortune has been my biggest blessing. And ultimately, that's where Gatsby gets it wrong. Yes, we beat on, boats against the current, but nothing is beyond redemption. There is life - amazing life - beyond the green light. And for this I am so very grateful.

Like a Dude, Pretty Art and Sun-baked Bulldogs

Busy few days. Yesterday afternoon was the last ladies' luncheon for the season, followed by the kids' spring concert at the school. Summer really is coming! In anticipation of the season, I just spent Chanel bag money on a new fence and barbecue, so we had a little BBQ after we endured enjoyed the recorder music at the school. This morning, I lined up at the liquor store lest the LCBO go on strike before the Victoria Day weekend (people in south east Oakville get very panicky at the prospect of no alcohol, it would seem). I even threw some beer into my cart. Did I mention that last night - for the first time in my life - I mowed the lawn? BBQ, beer, lawn care: clearly, I'm turning into a dude. This weekend I plan to see The Great Gatsby and lounge around in my vintage Lilly Pulitzer maxi dress drinking Pimm's and sorting through fabric swatches so I can get things back on track.

Oh, and I can gaze at my gorgeous Kerry Steele painting. Isn't it delicious?

I have moved toward traditional oils on the main floor but thought these two modern pieces gave a nice punch of colour  over my writing desk (the other piece is a Michiel Gloeckner and the little Santini pieces are from Petit et Jolis.)

To paraphrase the A Team, I love it when a space comes together.

Well, tomorrow is art class, then I plan to chill for the long weekend. I hope you have a safe, sunny and joy-filled weekend.

Fetch me a glass of Pinot, will you? I'm working on my base tan.

Frenchie Champions, Chick-fil-A Leadercast, and a home office makeover.

So, excellent weekend. So much so that I decided to make it into a three day one. Hence, my Tuesday is my Monday.

Friday was the Chick-fil-A Leadercast event at Crossroads. If you are living in the west end of the GTA, Crossroads makes a really excellent hangout. Some people seem to think I work there since I'm a fixture at so many of their events. I had class in the afternoon so I could only stay for the first session but I got to hear Andy Stanley speak, which was the main reason I'd signed up for the event (after reading about Stanley on CNN's Belief page back in November, I wanted to find out more.) I always have a lot of respect for people who carve out their own path in spite of being handed a legacy (Andy is Charles Stanley's son.) His talk was terrific. For those who have never attended the event, the Chick-fil-A Leadercast is a day-long event designed for leaders of organizations. The speakers are located in Atlanta and then there are a number of satellite locations livestreaming the event. Although the event attracts a number of Christian leaders, the talks are not religious (Jack Welch was one of the speakers, for example.)

Stanley spoke about the idea of making leadership simple. He said he leads by asking himself and his team answer three key questions whenever they start feeling stuck:

What are we doing?
Why are we doing it?
Where do I fit in?

Stanley urged the viewers to come up with a one sentence job description answering the above questions to serve as a mission statement. He cited the one sentence description for the bellhops, cleaners and cooks at the Ritz Carleton chain: We are ladies and gentleman serving ladies and gentleman. Whenever you are in a new situation and don't know what to do, this sentence will act as your compass. Stanley's one sentence statement for his North Point Ministries is: We create churches that un-churched people love to attend. 

I thought a lot about the decorating business I'm launching. There are a zillion people out there who can tell you what pillow looks best with the curtains. So what am I doing that's unique? For me, decorating was what healed me during a very traumatic time: saved by pillows. I believe that rearranging your space in a way that provides you comfort is just as important a part of moving forward as therapy, talking with friends, or medication. Organizing your space can be an amazing counter to the chaos in the rest of you life. Making your space beautiful can make up for some of the ugliness in the world. So my one line job description and mission statement for Jen Lawrence Design boils down to the following:

We create spaces that restore joy to people. 

I also heard executive coach David Allen speak. He is the author of Getting Things Done, which sounds like it's about time management, but is so much more than that. He spoke about how the real barrier to creativity and productivity is not a lack of time, but a lack of psychic bandwidth. You could have knocked me over with a feather, for in five minutes he explained the last four years of my life. Immediately after my divorce, I involved myself with all sorts of distractions that took up time, money and energy. I have very little to show for the last four years except a decent tennis serve, a fine golf swing, and - as everyone I've come to know tells me - one heck of a screenplay for a Lifetime movie of the week (speaking of MOWs, has anyone read this month's article in Psychology Today on Confessions of a Sociopath? Yikes. ) Since January, when I made a new vision board and said "enough!" I've started school, incorporated a business, finished the book on critical thinking, started blogging again, taken up photography and drawing, done some freelance work, joined two committees at the club, become a french bulldog fancier, and started teaching Sunday School. And yes, I still parent my kids and play tennis. If you are not creative or productive, Allen urges you to look at all of the draws on your psyche - bad relationships, financial worries, health worries. If you can fix these things, do so, and your energy will flood back to you.

Friday afternoon I played the class grandma in art class. On the positive side, I think I've found an illustrator for the book! Plus my kids are just pleased as punch that they can help me with my homework.

It was the National Specialty show for French Bulldogs on Saturday in Arnprior near Ottawa. Serena's relatives were all going to be there (including her mother!) and I thought it would make for a fun family adventure. I have never been a fan of the long car trip, so we stayed at the cottage overnight to break up the drive. There was still a lot of driving however, including some side trips to find a Walmart for a change of clothes. (When a germaphobic mother discovers that her son has stepped in poop just behind the locked-until -May-15th washrooms at the provincially operated roadside stop and suddenly realizes that no-one would be encouraging their dog to poop behind the washrooms just out of view of the traffic, said mother will immediately throw away his shoes and socks and the car floormats and wipe down every surface and person with antibacterial wipes while feverishly trying to remember when the kids' last hepatitis shot was administered.) Thankfully, we all arrived in one piece and Serena got to visit with her family. (The kids were so thrilled to meet 4 generations of french bulldogs!)

Her granddaughter Vivianne won Best of Breed and her son Pudge won Best of Opposite. Her mom, Cashmere, won Best Veteran.

Serena won a lovely print in the silent auction. (She did not compete this year.)

Auction, schmauction. Next year, I'm calling in sick to work so I can go win myself a trophy.

Finally, Sunday - Mother's Day - was lovely. All three generations (of people, not bulldogs) gathered for brunch at the club. The kids presented me with handmade gifts. I bought my mother some amazing handmade chocolates from the lovely Sweet Nadine. I'm going to be having a stern word with Nadine about profit margin at some point, so you might wish to order from her before I encourage a price increase. The pecan caramel clusters and rum truffles are to die for.

This week is a busy one. I've moved my office to a downstairs hallway so there is a room for a drafting table and all my supplies. I had to rearrange a bunch of furniture to maximize the amount of natural light and I really love the way the house has come together. It just goes to show that you do not need a large space to have a functional home and office. (Or to buy a bunch of new furniture: A night-table became a desk, a TV stand became a sketchpad shelf.) Plus, I learned yesterday that the new setup is able to withstand an impromptu indoor badminton game. I'll photograph it and show it off over the next week.

Now I have no excuses not to do my homework, so I'd better get to it!

Frenchies, top hats, and too much homework

So, just a quick blog post today. I have to do my homework for my art class and I fear that will take me forever. Honestly, the MBA in finance was a breeze compared to this - and I had to teach myself grade 12 math then too.

The saga of the missing chandeliers continues. I got one of them back, which I've had installed in the living room but I'm still waiting for the others (the woman who is hanging onto them is channelling Charlton Heston's "from my cold, dead hand" thing and I fear the process will be lengthy.) I'm tired of having a stairway without light (I nearly broke my head the other night.) So I sprung for the Jake Phipps's Wooster fixture (yes, it really is a top hat) and it looks pretty great!

I'll be able to change the bulb without requiring scaffolding, which was key.

I surprised my son with a new light too.

It's a glass and acrylic airplane lamp that has an almost Art Deco vibe when you see it. It was a nightmare for the electrician to put up as the ceiling is plaster but they did a great job. And my son was thrilled. Best of all, this Hampton Bay light was a steal at $139 at Home Depot.

There are so many great design finds right now. I love these chairs by Jimmie Martin. The french bulldog one is divine!

My assistant Serena would love this chair. She's very excited about an upcoming french bulldog family reunion and is not getting quite as much work done as I'd like, but that's OK.

Since when is going on not considered work?

Have a lovely weekend, y'all.

xo Jen

Met Ball, Easy Glam and I Want My Name Back

Well, while I spending my time unloading the dishwasher and taking something back to Home Depot, the other Jennifer Lawrence was glamming it up in Dior and hanging with her new bestie, Marion Cotillard.

 I know, totally unfair, right? It's bad enough that the woman stole my name and Google ranking.

You mean, I'm not working for the actress? 

I'm totally going to bring my New Lock bag to school pickup so at least in Oakville I can be the Jennifer Lawrence sporting Dior.

(Marion has this bag too.)

She thinks I'm going to let her borrow my bag. That's funny!

Just because my life is not quite as glamourous as my namesake's, does not mean that the glam life is off limits. Here are my top five tips to Glam Living on a Budget.

Display fresh flowers. I always have flower in the house. I buy fair trade flowers that are on sale. Sobeys has great little roses right now for $10. In the summer, my garden will yield some pretty flowers gratis. Love.

Use the fancy glass. I hate drinking water. I hate drinking water less when it's in my Napoleonic bee glass. And ice just makes everything better.

Wear your jewellery. I have jewellery from everywhere from Cartier to Target. And I am making myself wear some of it every day. It's pretty on, and it's pretty draped around the house. Be a magpie. It's good for your soul.

Wear something pretty. Today I biked my kids to school, biked to the gym, went to Home Depot and will bike back to school. Needless to say, I am not wearing couture. But with my Joe Fresh capris and tee, I can wear a little chiffon floral bomber jacket from Zara.

And a cute bike helmet too, of course.

Get something lucite. The cheapest and easiest way to put a touch of glam in any space is to add something in glass or acrylic. I like acrylic or lucite because it's safe for kids. My ghost chairs in the eating area have taken ten years of heavy wear and still look elegant. So far the CB2 Peekaboo coffee table is holding up well too (at $299 shipped to Canada - less when they have a sale - I think it's a steal.)

How are you bringing glam into your life?

Parisian Glamour: You Had Me at Trumeau

I've highlighted three of my five go-to styles: Palm Beach Chic, Country Club Traditional (aka The Oakville) and English Eccentric. Next up is Parisian Glamour.

I love this look for bedrooms and bath. It says "there is a diva in the house," and there is nothing wrong with that. (My very sweet neighbour was looking at Serena the other day and commented that "she looks very high maintenance." I could tell that he was actually talking about me.)

This Jean Louis Deniot designed apartment featured in AD is my idea of perfection. 

The panels, the french grey, the marble fireplace, the classic sculpture. Gorgeous! 

And the bathroom...

If I owned that tub, I'd never get out. I'd sit in there drinking champagne and reading Paris Match until I looked like a raisin.

Claudia of The Paris Apartment is amazing at creating the Parisian Glamour look (one of her Paris shopping trips is on my bucket list.) The settee. Bonjour!

I also adore the lovely Lidy's French Garden House. This chaise! I die! 

And I in the GTA, I love French Market Collection (available to the trade - email me if you need some French goodness.) 

Of course, nothing about France is cheap but I think every woman, especially every woman who has suffered a reversal of fortune, needs a little bit of Paris in her life. Here are some touches I added to my space to up the glam factor. 

Nothing says Paris more than Chanel or Dior. I like to use elegant handbags and shoes as decor (I wear them too of course! Good design is a movable feast.) It seems a shame to hide such pretty things in one's closet and having them out encourages me to wear them more. 

My Josephine bust came from Petits et Jolis in Oakville and Tamara can also source the Santini sculptures. I'm a huge fan of trumeau mirrors and scored a great one on sale at Winterberry Lane. The Deyrolle-esque butterflies are a Homesense find. 

Now, I can lounge around, reading True Pleasures: A Memoir of Women in Paris and practically taste the croissants. If I use my Nars Cruella lip pencil (the most Parisian of lip shades) the whole effect makes me feel like this:


When I wear my Hermes scarf, Marion has nothing on me.

Well, have to fly. Have some work to do and tennis to play and kids to parent.

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...