Monday, January 31, 2011

Project Genesis- Food for Thought....Thought for Food.

Although I don't like to think too hard about where our meat comes from and the process of getting it to plate, I do think long and hard about how our meat is grown and the welfare of livestock.
Starting with beef, there are a few simple facts.  Cows eat grass.  Grass is their natural food source.  For generations cows have eaten grass or hay.  Their digestive system is perfectly designed to eat grass, digest it and produce milk or meat.  
Over the last decade, largely subsidized by the government to support the pharmaceutical industry, keep corn a steady commodity, and to lower the price of beef, cows now eat corn as their staple food.
A cow can't digest corn properly.  They get a build up of acid requiring drugs and infections requiring antibiotics.  In the past, a cow could spend its life wandering a field, laying in grass, and doing what they do.  Eating grass and fertilising the land with their droppings. 
Cows are often kept now in massive "Feed Lots".  Shoulder to shoulder, standing on concrete or metal grates with cesspools of excrement underneath their feet that causes illness and more antibiotics.  Each day they consume their daily allowance of corn.  Corn grown in fields sprayed with pesticides that robs the soil of nutrients that needs to be added back with fertilizers. 

To me, an animal raised for food deserves to be raised in a habitat "natural" to it's species, with dignity and respect and care.  My commitment for Project Genesis this month is to find a good local source of grass fed beef.  How hard can that be?

If you wish to read more about our food sources and the dilemma of our agricultural system, I recommend this book.  The Omnivore's Dilemma. by Michael Pollan.  Not an easy read, but a must read.
Also, here is a very interesting blog post about Goat cheese and the dilemma of male goats from


Weekend In Pictures

This last weekend in January has everyone in the Northern Hemisphere craving Spring and warm sunshine.
I took my globe collection from the cottage and arranged them here on top of the big cabinet in the dining room.  That little bit of turquoise brings some life to this quite dark room. 
My mum, sister, daughter and daughters friend joined us for Sunday Supper.  The weather just calls for a big roast dinner, in this case Pork Loin with applesauce from wonderful organic Granny Smiths, which needed no sugar at all.  I made my first ever Coconut Cream Pie using a recipe I found on Deb's blog Loyalist Cottage.  HERE is a link for her wonderful pie.  Short on time, I opted for a bought crust, which turned out to be all smashed up in the box, so I had to take the second one in the package and patch it up. 
Hubby got a leather wing chair for his 50th, and I moved it to the living room because it simply was not getting sat on in the basement and I want it to look old and worn which may take 50 years.

Hannah Cat enjoys the family dinners and prefers to watch the goings on from her cozy bed.  She really misses the dogs :(
We went for a Cheap Chicken Dinner and to see The King's Speech which I loved.  I love anything with Royalty and  the costuming was lovely. newest TV programme infatuation is Downton Abbey.  Tales of Lord and Lady Grantham and their household.  A bit of Upstairs Downstairs for those who enjoyed that.
Check it out on  Again the costuming is fabulous, as is the house, the scenery and of course my favourite Maggie Smith.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bonne Maman!

When some people go to Vegas, they comeback with a wife, a secret (so the commercials like to make you think) or a pile of cash from the poker tables. Me, I pocketed 3 mini Bonne Maman jams. 
Over breakfast, I was excited when the waiter brought a little basket of these lovely little jams.
After we had eaten them all I asked him to some more so I could mail them to a Welsh blogger.  Being Vegas, they don't bat an eye.  No one is weird in Vegas.  He just slapped 3 more down on the table. 
I stashed them in my regulation size poly bag with my cosmetics and made it through security, past people having to toss their water and liquor. 
When, I got home I emailed Mise at Pretty Far West to get her address to mail them out.
For whatever reason, she didn't get it, and they sat on my windowsill relatively forgotten, until today when Mise posted THIS.  It seems she had already found some minis to go with her magazine famous collected of Mama Size Bonne Maman.

I love miniatures of food.  I like those little Heinz bottles, mini mustard all of it.
Does anyone else like food minis.

Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 Interior Design Show Toronto

I attended the Interior Design Show in Toronto today for Trade Day, which is always an interesting day out and a great way to meet up with design friends, as well as to see what' hot.  My favourite exhibitor today.....this installation of pink paper lanterns and a very dark (you can hardly see it) kitchen.  Can you guess what big box vendor this was.....IKEA.

My second favourite was Montauk. The whole "room" had blackboard walls with literally designs chalked on them.  Montauk makes fabulous sofas.  Huge enough to have a party on. 
This one surprised  me.  This is back from bankruptcy with a new view on hip. London Calling style.  I loved the raw wood table set with jadeite. Newly made Jadeite.  (I checked for vintage)

Top-Carpets by Weavers Art.  Pillows by Textiles Students at Sheridan College.  Cool light fixture
Pillows silkcreened with maps.  Embroidery from Caribbean Design....a Trend I forecast save your vacation treasures..................
Ultra chic pink.  1/2" tile of the products that I really liked .............. 
Naked chair frames from Gresham favourite furniture manufacturer.Most comfortable couch.

I was reading a couple of blogs this morning and read this post from Kelly at Jax Does Design.  She is in Town from Ottawa for the show and posted a photo of herself this morning.  I walked into the show, grabbed a coffee to nuzzle and the first face I see upon looking up was Kelly's.  I asked if she was Kelly (I've never met her) and told her I read her blog that morning.  Small World.  Check out he blog today because was was taking a lot of pictures, plus she attended last night's opening party and met a few TV designers including our Tommy Smythe..........................................................................................................................

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are You Laughing at Me.???

I can't help but smile back at this pig.  I been grumpy today.  A smile has not crossed my face until I saw this guy. I am working on a kitchen design that would be great if they didn't need a fridge or could do with a European size one.  We tried to move a wall, but it is a 100 year old apartment and needs a support beam upstairs and below, plus a huge cast iron down pipe right in the middle.  When an Engineer and Architect are iffy, and you are responsible for all damage to other units incurred, you do the wise thing and either move, or work within the walls.

I hate walls.  How great it would be to add the walls after.  Anyway, so the elusive fridge placement, slow software, and horribly cold (minus 14Celcius) weather has made me a tad huffy.  Mr. Raz just bought me a big slice of Baklava dripping in honey.  So, IF I solve my puzzle, I get to eat it.

My sister shot this pig at Bronte Creek Park.  A park within a big suburb.
He is so happy to see her, he is smiling.
She walks her dog here daily and the pigs rush out to greet her and her bag of apples, carrots or whatever.
By SHOT it,
I mean with her camera.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Itchy Feet

Before we left for Vegas, we had an offer on the cottage. 
 Quite low and including most of the furnishings.
We couldn't settle on a price, so no deal was made.  Part of me was quite relieved.  While I look forward to finding a part time home in Florida and helping Mr. Raz with his plans to expand his business into the US, part of me doesn't want to sell this place.
Which is weird because I love to move.

I started to feel the attachment when they asked for the furniture, (a common request with a cottage), but it made me realise that it won't be easy to let go of all my Bits.  Almost everything has a story, like this wing chair, which was my mums, now wearing a new slip, but dusty pink underneath, or the little cupboard underneath the wall cabinet, that my friend and I found one Spring day after venturing into the most appalling vintage shop we have ever been in. 

But now I have itchy feet.  Bored already with Winter, finished with the home renos, and no Florida scouting trips yet, I feel the need for a change  I have a couple of new clients next week, and that is always exciting, but I am still looking for a bit of a new direction.
I would love to have some livestock.  A cow, chickens, and a donkey called Semolina after my Granny;s donkey(a forever dream of mine).  That would be my "wave the magic wand" wish, but given I live in the suburbs, that just isn't about to happen.

When you feel the need for change, do you take it as a sign to do something new, or slap yourself on the wrist and tell yourself to be be content with all the good things you have?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Master Bedroom and Bathroom Makeover....Before and Afters...

I hope you don't mind a long post, because this one is just that.  Loads of pictures.
The Reno of our master bedroom and bathroom is now complete.  We have lived in this house for 21 years, and except for a lick of paint, these rooms have never been touched.  We have talked about removing the closet and bathroom walls to open up the space ever since we moved in.  This is actually one of the last rooms in the house to be done.  The work has taken 3 months.

I bought the button tuffted linen headboard 3 years ago, knowing natural linen would never be out of date.

My jumping off point for this design was the ceiling.  Originally I wanted to panel the walls, however it is a very narrow room and even losing 3-4" in width would have compromised the layout.  So I decided to panel the ceiling. This ceiling took a great deal of planning.  I wanted the sight line into the bathroom to be perfectly lined up and centered on the centre beam, closets, pocket doors and the bathroom sink.

That pretty ruffled pillow was made for my by a fellow blogger Li from Creamy White.  I admired her pillows on her blog and she made one for me.  A completely random act of kindness.  That was over a year ago and I told her it would find a home in my bedroom. 
Mr. Raz bought me this long dressing table last Christmas 2009 from a second hand shop, and it works well at the foot of the bed.  It houses my Bits and also a TV.  This chair with the RM Coco animal print is one I found on the road and had recovered.  The original owners came to a party here and kicked themselves for chucking it out.

The velvet Coco chair by the closet has been moved from my living room and housed here.

Vintage sconces made the electrician frown.  He wanted to change all the candle thingies, but I like the older look.  I hang some jewelry Bits on them.

The Crystal lamps with striped shades came from Home Sense and were only $49.00 each.  Both end tables are from second hand shops.

I had originally wanted silk drapes, however, I didn't want the room to be too luxurious and frilly, so I took it down a notch with a block printed ethnic print fabric in a charcoal grey and white.  I purchased the fabric and had the drapery made at Tonic Living in Toronto.  Great service and Fabulous prices.  It may have been obvious to select a fabric to go with the headboard or an off white silk, but I felt the drapes needed to be unexpected, as well as be able to balance the crimson Indian rug (it has lots of charcoal too) that lays on the left side of the room and to tie in with the grays I used in the bathroom. The black rod picks up the black in the lamp shades and the bathroom tile. I also had them make a small pillow for the chair.

I think the fabric ties in well with the ethnic accents both here and in the rest of the house.

I do love pink and added a pair of pale pink cases with ruffles edges.

The duvet cover has a very tiny ruffle too. 
I used a white linen bed skirt.  All linen is by Pine Cone Hill available from my online shop Razmataz.
I like linen doesn't bother me.

My side table, which can't be seen is a large round drum table and works marvelously for holding lots of bits.

From the bed, you can see into the bathroom.

The view from the bathroom.  You may notice here that the ceiling beam does not line up with the centre of the window.  This is a 1979 builder home and the window is off centre.  If I had designed this room entirely from scratch, the window would be centered.  This does bother me actually since we worked so hard to center the other end.

A closer up of the drapery. 

The Crystal balls on the lamp mirror the "circles" on the drapery. 
Mr Raz's closet.  He prefers baskets and bins for his socks and tees.

My closet.  Comprised of nearly all back, grey, cream and white with a few pale pinks and red (out of sight).
Hmn.  I read that book The Well Dressed Home and the author talked about your clothes mirroring your taste in home decor.  Appears to be true.

This is the before.  At this point we had moved into the spare room and the spare bed was in here..  Sad and tired and hardly romantic.

After shot. ......same angle.

Before....the bathroom is to the right and the small walk in closet to the left.  That wall between was removed and the new pocket door went between.

After.....same angle.

We chose a $99.00 Home Depot door installed on a pocket door track.  It came frosted.  It allows light in through the bathroom window to the bedroom.

After shot of the bathroom.

Before shot.....the awful 1980's peach.


After shot of the ceiling. 

I absolutely hate a stucco ceiling.  I would like to cover every ceiling in this house with drywall or bead board, however it is not an easy task. 

The entire ceiling had to levelled with shims.  Simon used a laser level to ensure all of it was level.
Simon loves this ceiling.  When I first spoke to him about it, I think he was unsure how I wanted it to look and unsure of the difficulties in doing it.  It was difficult.
It has now become our Signature Ceiling and we want to re-create it in a client's home. 
Ceiling...After.  the highlight of the room adding an architectural element that was missing before.

 So, that's it.  A bathroom design I drew in design class 6 years ago, and a bedroom makeover that we waited over 20 years for.

As with any design, it is only as good as the workmanship.  I was lucky enough to work with Simon Hubble of SPH Construction.  As well as a general contractor, Simon is a master carpenter and his workmanship is impeccable.  The only problem now is that other areas of my house needing work look twice as bad.  We've hatched a plan over endless cups of tea (he's a true Brit) to remove the walls in the hallway and add bead board ceiling.

My sources.

Headboard-Gresham House Oakville
Fabric Headboard-Robert Allen Natural linen.
Chair-Gresham House Oakville
Chair Fabric-Kravet
Bamboo Chair-Road Find
Bamboo Chair Fabric-RM Coco
Bed Linens-Pine Cone Hill through Razmataz
Drapery Fabric-Paula Prass for Michael Miller-Tonic Living
Drapery and pillow sewing-Tonic Living
Round drum table-My Back Shed Oakville
Dressing Table-Pure Home Couture Hamilton
Paint-Wall bedroom.  Wimbourne White Farrow and Ball
Paint all trim and ceiling-All White Farrow and Ball
Sink and Bathtub-CSN stores (free shipping)
Toilet and shower rod-Vintage Tub and bath Online
Taps, Shower Head, Towel Bars-Restoration Hardware
Area Rug-Home Sense
Lamps- Home Sense
Pocket door-Home depot
Paint Bathroom-Benjamin Moore Calm OC 22
Vintage Sconces-The Lofty Lion Lion's Head.
Wall and floor tile bathroom-Factory Tile Oakville
Custom closets-SPH Construction
Contractor-Simon Hubble.  SPH Contracting Oakville. 905-617-1774