Tradition. The Hudson's Bay Co. Christmas Windows

Aubrey, Oscar, my sister and I drove down to see The Hudson's Bay Christmas Windows this week. It was my sisters idea to go down - she e-mailed me a link to this article in the Toronto Star and I realized we just had to visit with Oscar. Although we used to do this as kids, it has been years since I had made a trek on a wintery night to see the windows. Big hugs to my sister for encouraging this tradition to continue for Oscar. xo

Ps., Oscar didn't really know what to make of the windows and stayed on Aubrey's shoulders for the visit.  It is definitely worth a visit - with or without kids. :)

A trip to Melbourne

I've just returned from a fleeting child-free visit to Melbourne (under 24 hours). We were attending a client of Mr AV's Christmas cocktail party at their home in Toorak. With lots of interesting people to talk to, French champagne and delicious nibbles, it was a proper grown-up evening. I didn't take pics while there (thought it would be rude), but here is a pic of my outfit.

I was somewhat perplexed as to what to wear. Toorak parties are generally fairly conservative, so a dress was called for, but I didn't want to be either too casual or too overdressed. I went safe with this Tory Burch black crepe dress, and wore my pearls, which always makes Mr AV happy (as he gave them to me), and I wore my peacock feather shoes to show I wasn't too straight laced and boring. While my blog audience are probably wondering if I own another pair of heels, they are the perfect Christmas shoes. And they are still not exactly cheap on a cost per wear basis, but I think in around 10 years time I will probably be able to say they were a great buy. So brace yourself for further photos of them.

We had a drink/ something to eat afterwards in one of the bars at the bottom of the Grand Hyatt. It was very dark and moody, I could barely see all the young women snuggling up with their elderly fathers in the corners.....

And this morning I had a brief 1.5 hours of shopping in Collins Street before heading to the airport to catch my flight home and retrieve my children. I managed to avoid temptation in Miss Louise, but here's a snap of the beautiful colour themed windows. It's one of my favourite places to window shop. Chanel is across the other side of the laneway, you can see it reflected in the mirrors behind the display.

And finally, here is where we stay when we're in Melbourne - it's one of the Clubs on Collins Street, and decor wise the suite is a timewarp from Thatcher era Britain. All medium toned woods, flame stitch upholstery (which is now back in fashion), and tasteful prints hung on subtly striped wallpaper. It feels a bit like visiting your grandparent's, strangely homely and familiar. As for location, it can't be bettered - right smack in the middle of the nice shopping, and next to Mr AV's office.

Hopefully it won't be long before I make another trip time for a little longer.

scenes from the house

The tree is decorated, cookies are made, and a few decorations made it out - like my beloved brass reindeer that I scored on Etsy a few years ago. Some ornaments didn't come out , I decided to scale it back a little bit this year.The theme in our house is always the same - we pull out the same decorations year after year and slowly build up on our collection. I stay away from colour trends, and stick with things that bring back memories. In other news, I'm still working. Shipping and packing orders - I really should have closed down the shop much earlier than I did. Making a note to do that next year. I'll be taking a few weeks off after Christmas to work on some new art for my publisher, paint, and launch the 2013 collection for the shop.

Ps., Oscar didn't love us decorating the tree at first. I don't think he understood the concept of hanging ornaments. He wanted to play with each one. One would go up, he'd get mad, pull it off and play with it. There was some creative distraction thanks to my Mom. Now he likes it decorated, although I still find him taking ornaments off to play with - I'm not too picky about that. It's kind of cute to see the nutcrackers talking to his trains on the floor. ;)

diy clay tags

I was inspired to do some crafting when I saw a roundup of clay tags by Stefanie at Brooking Limestone.  These are super easy and just involves Sculpey + a stamp.  My favourite tag is the bark one - the original bark stamp is via Live. Laugh. Rowe.  I decided to make circle bark tags like she did, but also did a rectangular one (shown above)

I used a straw to punch holes in the top of each tag. Some clay pieces I left without holes and made them into seals, like the one in the last photo. Simply hot glue gun onto a parcel!

Anyhow, this project is kind of last minute fun for the holidays. Enjoy!

xo Linds

Where to buy:
Star TagStar stamp via Penny Paper Co. 
P seal - I used a toy wooden block as a stamp
S Tag - Custom Initial Stamp via Penny Paper Co.
Bark Tag - I made my own, but you can buy a similar one off Amazon 
Twine: Red + Pink Twine via Penny Paper Co. 

sharing online - where do we draw the line?

On Oscar's half birthday I was sitting with my Mom after dinner - watching Oscar play in the other room with my brother and sister. I watched him with his hilarious mannerism, having full out conversations.  I turned to my Mom and said "I think it's time that Oscar was no longer on my blog." I'm not sure why I said it, but when the words came out I realized that I had been thinking it for awhile. My Mom kindly responded that she agreed, that maybe it was time for Oscar to just be, well, Oscar. It wasn't a huge discussion and within a minute we were back to talking about other things.  The drive home that night I wondered what had changed. Why had I felt comfortable for two and a half years of Oscar's life to post pictures, and suddenly, almost overnight, I decided I wasn't?

Read more »

wood toys

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I adore wood toys - They give off a warmth and feeling that packaged toys from the toy store just can't seem to replicate. I especially love wood toys around Christmas - it makes me think of Santa and his workshop of elves. Because my heart skips a beat when I see beautiful wood toys I decided to do a roundup of some of my favourite from Etsy. Should you be looking for the perfect baby gift, something that will surely be a keepsake - perhaps the above may inspire you.

Ps., Food is my next favourite gift!
P.Ps., I'm considering buying #1 for myself as I'm slightly obsessed with how cute it is.


Like the rest of the world, I'm heartbroken at what happened on Friday. It felt wrong for me to jump back into posts on my own blog as if nothing happened to our world this weekend. Thankfully my sweet little Oscar is oblivious to the pain and sadness in the world right now and it was playtime and story time as usual over the weekend. My thoughts are with all of those families and friends who lost someone that they loved that day.

This week- Figs, Christmas Preparations, & Eating, & Eating some more

It's been another busy week. School Holidays started on Wednesday for my children, so my time has been somewhat taken up with the constant snack making and tidying up since then- our house pretty much looked like someone had broken in and ransacked it within around 10 minutes of them starting holidays. Seriously. If someone had looked in the window of the playroom intending to burgle us, they would have thought we'd already been worked over.

In between the mayhem of ending school festivities, I've written out 28 thank you notes for my surprise party gifts, and done the Christmas cards as well. I've used up two boxes of these Smythson note cards that I bought when we were in London earlier this year.

And I was very excited to pick some figs from our ancient fig tree that grows down in the back wilds of the garden, near the old well. I was not so excited to look out the window around a week ago and see a flock of vicious Rosellas (parrots for foreign readers) helping themselves to the almost ripe figs. That explains what happened to the figs last year - they just disappeared. After stringing a million damaged Children's DVD's in the tree, as recommended by all gardening experts, it seems that it has not really deterred them. So save for netting the tree (which I can't be bothered doing frankly), it looks like the birds will be eating the majority of them, and we'll be getting a few that they've missed. Here they are. They were slightly disappointing - not quite ripe enough, as the birds take them before they're fully ripe.


I also had to do an emergency run into Mecca Cosmetica to get a refill for my face powder, and they gave me a free sample of Diptyque's Philosykos perfume. It's supposed to smell like a Fig orchard in summer, and it does - earthy and delicious.  

I finished off making a superhero cape for my youngest's Christmas present. I used this free online pattern a few years ago while I was pregnant with him to make them for the older two, and of the three, he is the one that loves dress ups and pretending to be flying around and has been asking for his own for the past year. I actually find presents for him quite difficult - I really feel like my children have more than enough toys, and I'm trying to really cut back at Christmas time, but unfortunately we have large families who love to give gifts to our children and are very generous. This equals Christmas overload. I know that S. will love this cape, so it seems like a good compromise. He's still getting his scooter from Santa, and some books, and a couple of little bits and pieces like a puzzle, so it's not like he's suffering.

And I've been out almost constantly this weekend. Wore this to lunch today at The Grace - it's my new Hermes scarf as a top. I studied Maitai's website and after a bit of tricky knotting, this is what I managed to achieve.

And this is a sequinned Alice + Olivia top that I wore yesterday. It puts me off buying further sequinned clothes as it's quite painful to wear - very scratchy under the arms. Aside from that I'm always a bit borderline on whether it makes me look like a Richmond Football Club supporter, or alternatively as if I'm channeling a bumble bee, neither of which are good options. But overall I decided the sparkles won, so this was for drinks last night.

Hope you all had a great week.

bits + pieces

This week was packed full of fun. Here is a recap of what hasn't gotten blogged about. :)

  • Aubrey celebrated his birthday this week! Birthday breakfast for Aubrey included scrambled eggs and smoothies. Orange juice was served in my new, awesome glass orange juice container from Shannon. It's insanely awesome. Pssst. She has an Etsy shop that you should bookmark. 
  • Gifts for Aubrey wrapped by Mom - it comes to no surprise that Mom wraps the same way I do. ;) Love that stripe ribbon
  • Every day we're taking orders from the shop to the post office, although this will slow down a lot over the next week as shipping deadlines pass. Ps., There is a sale section in the shop, of ready to ship items that are on sale.
  • I cut some white felt for Oscar's train table and added some dollar store trees. The trains pick up the trees and move them around and deliver them to kids. That's Oscar's story line - not mine. ;)
  • I moved his train table from the living room to the basement/studio so it could go on top of my coffee table. He likes walking around the table and plus, it allows me to get some e-mail replies in, while he happily plats with his Thomas and friends. 
That's it! Have a great weekend. xo Linds

Designer Critique: Location, Location, Location

At first glance, this kitchen looks pretty awesome, doesn't it? I agree! I love the base cabinet colour. It has a nautical, industrial look without being cliche. Now after studying the photo, do you have any design critiques? Naturally...I do...


I mean, this is the purpose of my help point you in the right direction to make your space perfect!

It's the sink that bothers me. It's placed at the end of the island, which at first looks like an interesting location, but think about it...Where will you put your dishes when you are washing up? Where do the dry ones go? I believe the sink is a full basin (one bowl) sink, which doesn't lend to a drying sink for the clean dishes. When planning your sink location, if possible, 24" on either side of your basin is ideal. And to top it off, who wants to stare at a wall when they are doing the dishes?

Just something to think about...

Simple Evolution

The simplicity of linear design is appreciated for its purity, for its wilful determination to remain straightforward and for its ability to remain effortlessly understated in a World that has become complicated by un-necessary distractions!
The challenge now is to take something that is commercially un-broken and allow it to evolve into the next generation of uncompromised purity!!
This design allows the clean lines to remain but adds interest through the introduction of depth and height variation.  Functional cantilevers, mixed materials and shapes overpower the original monolithic island in a struggle which is sympathetic to the original concept but daring enough to challenge our preconceptions!
This design presents great flexibility allowing the more daring elements to be stripped back to a more tried and tested format if necessary. But would the extended walking distances and the appearance of dissolved, unfocused functional zones call the functional integrity of this design into question?  The Mogul will let you decide!

Matthew Mead's Holiday Book + Giveaway

Have you heard of Matthew Mead? Apparently I have been living under a rock, because he is quite accomplished author, stylist, photographer.... the list is endless. I was recently introduced to Matthew's work when my friend Debra blogged that she got to contribute on his most recent book, "Holiday with Matthew Mead". (Yay!!)

A few weeks ago Deb sent me a preview of his book via e-mail. Unfortunately because of the craziness of the season I didn't have an opportunity to see the pages of the book until this week. When I finally opened the file I was hit with 250+ pages of gorgeous photography, styling, ideas for the Holidays. It's ridiculously amazing. Matthew and his who's who of contributors like Deb and Stefanie from Brooklyn Limestone, don't just show you one style of decorating and ideas for the holidays, it shows the you the largest collection of different looks. (Above is a snippet of some of my favourite looks and also, Deb!)

I'm  itching to buy it so I have it in my collection. You can buy yours online, but you can also enter here to win a copy of a book. Yay! (Jealous of the winner)

Enter to Win one Copy of Matthew Mead's Holiday Book - Contest ends Monday, December 17th at midnight. 
How to enter: Comment below and tell me what your style of decorating is this year. For example, my style this year is earthy tones - kraft paper, greenery, the classics. Pretty much that is my style every year. I don't go with "trends" for the holidays. What about you?

1 Winner will be selected at random. Open to Canadian & USA. Book will be shipped to you via Matthew Mead. The winner will be e-mailed to the address they comment with. If a winner doesn't claim their prize in 1 week, a new winner will be drawn at random.

You can buy the book online here:, and at Indigo

COMMENT #19 - Lynne! (I've commented below your comment). If Lynne doesn't respond within a week we'll redraw. Thanks for entering. - Lindsay

Before and After - Bedroom

This before and after is for my daughter's bedroom (and my youngest son, who is currently sharing with her until the renovations are completed and he gets his own room, but I think you'll see from the photos, it's much more a girl's bedroom).

This room was originally used as the Master Bedroom. It has a painted timber mantel and had several sets of wall sconces and a very ugly central light fitting. 

My daughter, who was two at the time that I planned her bedroom, wanted a Pink bedroom. Fairly typical for a little girl, but I am not a pink person - I'm more a blue person, so initially after going back and forth with her (she is fairly stubborn), I decided that I could do a pink room if it was balanced by a lot of white. It also all fell into place when I found the curtain fabric, Thibaut's Avalon  which is quite grown up with its beautiful birds and flowers, and which is definitely more of a deep Raspberry pink colour, rather than a pastel pink that is more commonly used in little girls rooms. I'm hopeful that the room will grow with her (although she is quite put out that the walls are not pink too....). Carpet was in the same charcoal used throughout the house, and the light fitting was a glass lantern, the same as used in the family bathroom. We also had shutters installed for privacy, as her room faces the front of the house. 

I chose a raspberry linen to upholster her headboard, and it has contrast piping and deep buttons in a lighter pink that is also in the curtains. The little armchair came from my in Law's house. It is very old and is quite small in scale - perfect for a child's room (not so much for their Library where it had lived for the past 100 years or so). It was reupholstered in a Brunschwig & Fils fabric, again with contrast piping in the same pink used for the headboard. There is a cushion still to come, I'm having it made out of a Pierre Frey offcut in pinks and whites.

Furniture in the room is a bit of a mixed bag - the large Cedar wardrobe was left in the house by the previous owners. I could not understand why they'd leave such a lovely piece, until we went to move it from the room it was in (the room we took for our dressing room and bathroom) - it wouldn't fit through the door! Fortunately the builders dismantled the window and got it out and into E's bedroom, and it works well in the space (and saved having to pay for a built in wardrobe). 

The small Cedar chest of drawers also came from my in Law's house, and was used in the children's Nursery in Melbourne. It has a little Georgian mirror above it that was from my Grandfather in laws estate. No one else in the family was interested in it, but it's a pretty and small scaled one, and I loved it. 

The bookshelf came locally via eBay. It was in a shabby chic style with slightly yellowing chipped paint (it's a new piece, likely made in Indonesia to look like that from the start), and it was much cheaper than buying either new, or from IKEA. I filled the chips and painted it the same colour as the walls and woodwork. These are a fraction of the books that we have for the children - the playroom is overflowing with them. The bedside table is temporary - as we are at the ruining furniture stage, I've take away the pretty little Victorian table that was also from my Grandfather in Law's estate, and she can have it when she's older. 

Artwork is fairly mixed. The large collage picture over the mantlepiece is from Tiggywinkle baby boutique in Toorak, Melbourne. The artist is called Nicole, and I just loved her pieces. It's got little buttons, feathers, glitter, and liberty scraps on it. Very sweet. 

The "art" over the bed are Eboo bird counting cards, which I put into IKEA frames. The cards cost $30 for 12, which I thought was good value. They used to be in the Nursery in Melbourne, but the white walls here needed colour on them.

The art next to the armchair are two Fifi Lapin prints, which I loved. Fifi is dressed in Couture such as the Prada and Chanel runway collections. It just makes me laugh. Around the room are some Love Mae wall decals that I had previously used in the children's playroom in Melbourne, and as they're moveable, I restuck them here. Little birds are perched on frames or light switches.

Poor little S has a corner at the moment. I have promised I'll make him a great bedroom once the renovations have finished! 

dollar store finds, mini bowls

I picked up the cutest little dishes at my favourite dollar store in Toronto. You wouldn't know of the store unless you happened to walk into the mall as it's not advertised on any sign, but it's impossible to miss once you walk into this mini mall.

Little dishes like this are just pretty fun to have in the house as they really can be used for a lot of uses. I used them to hold some berries for Oscar during our picnic (shown above) over the weekend. They can be used to hold dips like ketchup if you have french fries with a meal. When Aubrey and I have oatmeal in the morning, and we like different toppings (brown sugar, raisins etc) you could put each topping in their own respective bowl at the table. It just makes things a little extra special.

Mini Bowls, Three for $1.00

Ps., I was hit with a pretty awful cold, that got better and then got worse again. It just wears you out. So on the weekend Oscar and I just had really quiet mornings and I napped with him before we went off to all the Christmas parties. The picnic was an awesome way to add a little bit of excitement to the day. ;)