Monthly Archives: September 2010

hello!neighbor-murray & sian


This month’s edition of Hello! Neighbour brings us into the home of Murray and Sian. I have to say that one of the lovely benefits of doing this post is that I am getting to know the people in my neighbourhood! There is something about being in someone’s home that tells you so much about them. Murray and Sian’s place is no exception. Their home is like a book waiting to be unravelled. I found myself wanting to know the story behind every object, book and artwork in their home. Sian kindly obliged me and by the end of the tour (a few hours later!) I really felt like I knew her a little bit better.

Enjoy the tour!



Journalist & Photographer

How long have you lived in your home?

2 1/2 years

Any animals, kids?

1 child, another one arriving in a few weeks.

What is your favorite room?

The den/family room

What is your favorite object/thing/moment in your home?

The lovely light from our southern exposure; the huge old cherry tree in the back yard; the vintage photo of a Peruvian giant from Sian’s uncle in South America.

Martin Chamby

What are your future plans for the home?

To move into the whole thing. Right now we live in the top two floors and have a tenant on the first.

Anything you would change?

I’m not sure we would have used marble in the bathroom. It’s beautiful and we love it, but it’s high maintenance.

Best thing about living in Parkdale?

Our location. We love what Roncesvalles has to offer for day to day, family living….but it’s nice to not be too far removed from something a bit more urban on the Queen West/Parkdale strip.

What original feature(s) of your home will you never get rid of?

There wasn’t much left when we moved in — it had been gutted and made into 2 apartments decades before. So when it came time to do the porch — which, when we moved in, was an enclosed box of nasty brown aluminum and glass — we asked an architect friend to sketch whatever came to mind. It was very non-traditional, but we thought it worked with the building’s disjointed history, so we went with it. Inside, we reconditioned the upper 3-bedroom apartment for our own use, and will do the same downstairs at some point. We embraced the fact that it wasn’t at all precious — no fussy Victorian details here; it was a big brick box — so it was a blank slate to create our own blend of old and new.

All photographs by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House book.

Thanks Murray and Sian!

Filed under hello! neighbor

rustic pear tart


Our next door neighbour, who has lived in his house for more than fifty years, has two magnificent pear trees in his backyard. Due to our hot, dry summer his bounty this year was incredible. He collected boxes and boxes of Anjou and Bosc pears. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of some of them.

The question is what do you do when you have more pears than you can possibly eat? The answer is start baking! Right away, I knew I wanted to make some thin, crispy tarts with the leftover puff pastry I had in the freezer. These tarts are really easy to make and even better to eat.

You only need a handful of ingredients: your fruit (pears in my case but they could easily be apples or plums or peaches), some melted butter, sugar, and the puff pastry. I added a little bit of fresh thyme to my tarts which is a bit of an unusual twist but such a nice compliment to the pears. Cinnamon or nutmeg are other spices that would work.

Using an upside down saucer or some other measuring device cut circles out of your puff pastry dough. Prick each tart with a fork to stop them from puffing up too much. Then in a small saucepan melt some butter. You will need about one tablespoon of butter per tart. Finally, peel, core and quarter your pears. Slice the pears thinly and if possible try to keep the sections together. This will make fanning the pears out much easier in the next step.

Arrange the pear slices on the pastry discs. To create the pretty fanned look, keep all the pear slices facing the same direction and allow some of the pieces to overlap. Brush the tarts with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar and sprigs of thyme. Place the tarts in a very hot oven, around 450F and bake until the pastry is golden and crispy on the bottom – about ten to fifteen minutes.

I think these are best when eaten hot out of the oven with some cold vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream. A perfect treat for a fall afternoon!

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with an amazing Hello! Neighbour tour. Drop by for a visit, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Filed under in the night kitchen

eames hang-it-all


As many of you guessed my little shopping spree a couple of weeks ago resulted in one of these:

Yes, the Limited Edition Eames Hang-It-All with black frame and walnut hooks. The moment I lay eyes on this beauty I wanted one. I’ve always been a fan of the multi-coloured Hang-It-All but could never imagine it in my Victorian home. When I saw this more natural, organic version I knew I could make it work and I knew exactly where I would use it. In fact, I couldn’t get it on the wall fast enough.

Since we moved into The Marion House, the back entry way has always been a disaster zone. Due to poor planning and a lack of space, there is no closet or mudroom when you enter through the back of the house. Basically, you walk right into the kitchen. As you can imagine, coats, bags, shoes, boots, keys, mobile phones, sunglasses and anything else we might be bringing in lands in a heap on the floor. Add a toddler and a change of season, like winter, into the mix or some house guests and you can imagine the chaos. On a good day, it would look something like this:

Not that bad, but as I’m sure many of you can attest to it is these little disorganized piles that begin to drive you crazy. I found myself constantly cleaning this one area of the house and no sooner had I cleared this mess than another appeared. It was a losing battle!

Well, no more. The Eames Hang-It-All is up and I couldn’t be happier! For now I’ve added an old vintage wood crate to the floor to collect all the shoes and boots.

I might need to add a few more things come winter time – a few, tall woven baskets and a better floor mat come to my mind – but for now everything is off the floor and organized. What a relief – one less area to have to tidy everyday!

Filed under beautiful objects, house projects

the friday files


For this version of The Friday Files I thought I would feature the work of photographer Jake Curtis. You’ve probably seen his work in Living Etc. and Elle Decoration. This guy has photographed some pretty cool places. Check out some of the images from his portfolio below.

Isn’t this colour combination beautiful? I love that deep, sea marine blue paired with the warm brown shades of the wood. So soothing.These images just further fuel my passion for patterned tiles. They really lend character to a space. That two footed pedestal sink is also pretty amazing.

Finally, I always seem to be drawn to images like these two above. I think it is the combination of the simple, monochromatic palette and all of the wonderful textures. Just look at those linen sheets, the capiz shell pendant light, the collection of baskets, the smooth pottery, and the worn leather suitcases. You can almost feel them! I look at these places and think how nice they would be to come home to after a busy day out in the world.

Filed under the friday files