Sunday, January 31, 2010


We're in Miami.
  If we find something fabulous to show you, we'll take pictures for the blog.  Check back all week, we have 3 destinations.
 Lobby at the Delano, South Beach
Bedroom Suite

Loving all that marble

Nightime in the cabana at the Delano

NO, we are not staying at the Delano, but I thought you would like to see it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Blasting Out the Walls of a Boring 80's Suburban House

If you think you can't add personality to a boring 80's house in the suburbs, I am going to prove you wrong. Out the way Mike Holmes, Simon's in charge of this one.  Simon and his wife bought their home a year ago. It hadn't been touched since it was built in the 80's.  Owned by an older couple, it was wallpapered to death and had absolutely no architectural features and zero charm.  Simon is not only a master cabinetmaker and contractor, he has worked on countless older homes in Europe, and this experience, combined with his quest for perfection, and his very stylish wife's skills as a decorator, means this kitchen is going to rock.

So this is what they have.  3 young kids, a tiny, dark, kitchen with no space for even the microwave, and a living room, dining room combination that is barely used.  What they are going to get is a multipurpise great room, full of light and space.

Short on storage and space, the microwave has to sit by the eating area. You can just peek into the dining room which is dark and small.  This part is going to become the dining room part of a large great room that will encompass the kitchen, breakfast area and a more practical, less formal dining room.

The wall has come down and the dining room is now the kitchen area of the great room.  Notice the amount of light in the room from that back window (which will soon be a garden door).  Part of the hexagonal floor has been removed and has been replaced with a large rectangular linen colored porcelain tile that fits in with the contemporary, clean, neutral decor.

L-Boy sneaking past.

The old kitchen in the first picture is still there and fully functional, while the new kitchen is being built. Once this side is complete, the old kitchen will be demolished and will become the dining room.  Note the rough in for the island is there, plus a few units have been hung. Some of the units are from a big box store, but they will be customized and from what I can gather some of the doors are going to be be in an exotic wood.

Part of the pantry has been installed and the kitchen table is in it's temporary space.

Next week, the appliances arrive and I know I am going to have some serious stove envy.  Check back next Saturday to see what progress has been made. You will be amazed at what can happen when you think outside of the box, I am so excited to see the progress.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Watch for my new Saturday Posts "Simon's Kitchen".  Each Saturday we will follow the makeover of Simon's own kitchen.  A talented cabinet maker and general contractor, Simon can make absolute magic of the most mundane room around. We will follow Simon as he begins the renovation of his terribly dated, boring and dysfunctional suburban 1980's kitchen and how he and his super-stylish wife T. transform it.  I don't even know what the plan is, so I am checking in with them every Saturday.  All I know is........ the walls are coming down!!!!!!

My Girly Cottage Dishes

When we purchased the cottage (pictured above) a few years ago, I was determined not to run off to the mall and buy a second set of everything. Other than beds, towels and a sofa, everything was found second hand either from friends, flea markets or road finds.  (See this post for more of my road finds)

When it came to dishes, I had been stockpiling for years.  One at a time, here and there, they became a full set.  .......and a theme emerged.  Flowers.  Roses to be exact.  I don't own a boy-plate here at all so if you stay for dinner, this is what you get. 

 Either this ..............

Pink and ruffled............or this

Pink with Handpainted Roses........or this

Buttercup Yellow with Roses........perhaps this

Cream with Cabbage Roses....My favourite.

For the guy's guy there's this......

Ruffled, Lacy Edge.

Or less ornate.....this.....

The Blue makes it more manly.  (This one I rescued from a dumpster)

.....For your bread this.....

Festive Raised Star Pattern with Scalloped Edge.

For his soup, this one..........

A Delicate Sprinkle of Roses

 and for desert this ............

A full hit of Gold Trim and Big Blooms

And I haven't even shown you the glassware and vintage flowery tablecloths.!!!

For Show and Tell Friday go to

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Bit About My Past-.....Living in Africa... What I Remember

A blog reader emailed me and asked what it was like growing up in Africa.  I have very few memories, but here are a few that stand out.

When we lived in Africa, my Grandparents had a good bit of land, and they owned a donkey called Semolina.

During the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya in the late 50's and early 60's, the Mau Mau would get quite close to thier house and my grandmother would have to fire a shot gun into the air to scare them off.  She was 5' tall and would never have really shot anyone or anything.

A snake killed my cat. I came home from school one day and our houseboy (sorry, I don't think that term is appropriate anymore) was burying it.

One night a pole snatcher (person with a long pole who grabs things with it through an open window) snatched my blanket while I was sleeping.

My father worked for East African Railways.  While we were waiting for a house to become available, they put us up (4 children 1, 2, 4, and 5 years) in a railway car.  It would get shunted in the night while we slept to another track. 

.Sometimes when driving in the country an elephant would be in the road and we would have to pull over and wait for them to move.

When we holiday'ed in Mombassa, the hotel would bring tea to our little villa every afternoon and they would set it in the garden.  If you didn't hurry out, the monkeys would take it and eat it.

So these are the things I remember of my childhood in Africa.  Pole snatchers, elephants in the road, snakes, living in a railway car and my little we granny firing warning shots at the uprisers, and of course her lovely donkey Semolina.  What are some of your early memories?


A new collection begins.....

I was given this set of Lebanese Prayer Beads by a friend, and have really fallen for them. They are really quite heavy, brightly painted and have symbols (words?) painted on every bead. I spent some time reading about prayer beads, and almost every religion has them. I think that grouped together, they would make a super collection, all bright and shiny and so interesting.

My Lebanese beads.

Bright shiny blue, my beads hang on the glass knob of my bookcase

Beads in a market

Prayer beads for addictions..drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, overeating..whatever it is you do,

you can pray about it.

Swarovski Catholic rosary

Buddist Beads

Picture from
Black rosarys for prisoners

Made by my children when they were young. My Mother in law made them for the church and the kids helped. They preferred to make the ones for the prisoners...

African Beads

Monday, January 25, 2010


CANADIAN ICON-Hudson Bay Point Blankets

As the Olympics draw near and all eyes are on Canada, I thought I would do a few features on Canadian goods and designers.

My first in a series is the Hudson's Bay blanket, now in existence for over 325 years. First brought to Canada in the 1700's as an import from England to use for trade, these blankets are an icon here in Canada. Each blanket has a line known as a point stitched onto one end. The # of lines tells how large the blanket is, up to 6 points being the largest. Made of 100% wool, the blankets are made larger, then shrunk, or felted, to the correct size. All HB blankets have an identifying label sewn onto the corner. There are many makes of fantastic vintage blankets though, and you can find them fairly often at flea markets.

Designers have been playing around with the gorgeous wool and colors and have adapted them into ottomans, bags, chairs and coats.  This image is from the Globe and Mail 2009. Photograph by Charla Jones. I am sorry I could not find the name of the designer.

Vintage Point Blanket- image from

Pillows from vintage camp blankets

If you want a little something to bring home from you Canadian Olympic holiday, consider treating yourself to a genuine or vintage Husdon Bay Blanket.


Sunday, January 24, 2010


Farmstyle Chicken and Potatoes

I think it is so important to sit down as a family for supper as often as possible.
I read a great post on regarding sitting with your family to eat. You can read it here; . She makes a good point about family mealtime becoming a relic. I know many families who do, but many who seldom gather to eat.

My mother lives in a nursing home, and not only is the food not great, the atmosphere can be a little daunting at times. We like to have her here at the house for supper on Sunday, along with whatever kids, friends and other family members are around.

I always set the dining table with cloth napkins and a tablecloths, vintage silverware, wine glasses and candles.
When mum is with us, I try to make the table as festive as possible. Last Sunday, I set the table with French COuntry style linens and cooked a farmstyle dinner with chicken, roma tomatoes, onions and fingerling potatoes, followed by homemade rice pudding.

The chicken dish was a 5 minute, 1 pan recipe and anyone can make it easily. Here is my recipe.

4 large Chicken Breasts, bone in, skin on
1 big Onion chopped into 8
4 Roma tomatoes quartered
Oregano- 4 sprigs chopped
1 ½ pounds Fingerling Potatoes (par boiled for 15 mins)
Olive Oil,
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place chicken breasts in large oven roasting pan. Add the chopped onions, tomatoes and potatoes. (I always par boil the potatoes first until soft, as then they go wonderfully crisp in the oven. Splash a little olive oil over everything and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, making sure everything get evenly coated with olive oil. Bake for 45 mins or until the chicken juices run clear.

Homemade rice pudding with a dollop of homemade jam.

Friday, January 22, 2010


To all Gypsy Fish Sunday Silver readers.  My appologies, but I put the wrong link on today.  I already posted this.  I meant to put this link

Collecting is an obsession for me, a compulsive behaviour, a habit. It is a reflection of me. I don't collect any item worth over $20.00. I like to group similar items together as they become more cohesive, not as junky. When you collect something, you are instantly drawn to it at a flea market and can zero on in it amongst hundreds of items. Your heart gets that flutter when you see it, and you swoop in and touch it, thereby laying claim to it as yours.

There's hardly an old knife, spoon or fork I can walk past without examining it more closely to see if the pattern is roses, or sunflowers, delicate scrolls or even, the best of all, if there are initials engraved on it. If it is engraved, I simply have to have it. I have to tuck it in my drawer until I find the perfect person with that same initial to present it to with a jar of homemade marmalade or jam.

This is my extra cutlery drawer. Not my everyday stuff, but the exuberantly mismatched drawer of vintage pieces that I bring out on special occasions. These are the delicate rose teaspoons, the Bakelite handled knives and the long barley- twist handled spoons. I could never pick a set of new silverware. The old just have a feel and look like no others.


Clockwise from top Left:  1. Steak Knives with Bakelite handles 2. Silver Mustard and Salt Spoons 3. Silver Spoons and more Spoons, some with engraved initials. 4.  DinnerKnives with Embossed Roses-a pretty gift

Take a look at Silver Sundays over at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

FIND-Oil Painting

Lilac oil painting:

This gorgeous oil painting was painted by R. Cserjes in the 1930's or 40's. On the back it has a label identifying it as being from the T. Eaton Co. Fine Art Gallery. I did a little research and found that the Eaton's Co in the 30's and 40's had a British Company that procured original art for them to sell in their Galleries in Canada. They were considered to be done by skilled artists, although perhaps unknown.

This one I picked up for the shop, however, as so often is the case, it looked super in my own home. But, I have to have some control and relinquish these purchases to the shop.

Looking so great against Lorraine's reclaimed brick wall.