Monthly Archives: December 2010

until the new year


Friends, I’m signing off until the new year. Of course, I have a list of things I’d like to accomplish over these final weeks of December (lovely things like read books, try out new recipes, watch movies, and see friends). I hope I get around to most, if not all of them. Of course, I’m also looking forward to taking time off with my family and enjoying the simple pleasures in life like snowy walks, hot chocolate, and snuggling under a blanket. I hope you get to do the same.

Thank you all for taking the time to stop by here and say hello! I am so grateful for all the inspiration and pleasure you give me.

Love and Peace,


Image Credit: Michael Graydon for House and Home
Filed under beautiful objects

hello!neighbor – jenny


This is the tenth Hello! Neighbour post I have done and with each one I reach a little further out from my network of friends to discover new homes and places. I first learned about Jenny Francis from her blog which I came across when looking for a web designer (not only is she an architect but a graphic designer as well). She had a post about a Parkdale Victorian which immediately caught my eye. I loved the images of the exposed timber wood ceiling and cutout in the hallway and immediately started wondering if I could do the same thing to my Parkdale Victorian. Then a few months later, I was flipping through an issue of DesignLines magazine when I spotted not only the same beautiful ceiling but a long horizontal mirror that looked eerily familiar. I knew that mirror, it was a vintage find that got away! I was so upset about missing out on that mirror that I actually blogged about it here. I now knew not only who owned the beautiful Victorian house but the mirror as well, none other than Jenny Francis, herself. So, I reached out and sent her an email and asked her if we could tour her house. Of course, she said yes.

Enjoy the tour!


Jenny Francis, principal and owner of Jenny Francis Design



How long have you lived in your home?

5 years

Any animals, kids?

2 charcoal grey cats

What is your favorite room?

The ground floor living/dining room. We have had fantastic dinner parties at this long table. It feels good to be in it.

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

The custom pieces that I have designed are special to me, such as the cocktail tables and the walnut dresser in the bedroom.

What are your future plans for the home?

Additional renovations are planned, for the exterior of the house, the upstairs (new bathroom, new custom closets) and we are considering turning the laneway garage into a little studio.

Anything you would change?

Yes certainly – the house is small and so every design move must be considered very carefully – we haven’t touched certain areas yet but refinements are definitely planned.

Best thing about living in Parkdale?

It’s a vibrant neighborhood, with a wonderful mix of cultures. It feels as though it’s constantly changing and improving, which generates an energy that is exciting to be a part of.

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

One of the nice things about the house is that none of the original interior partitions or finishes were precious, and so we could strip things back to a crisp, clean new space. The house is solid and well proportioned, but other than that, there is little we would hesitate to change. We would never get rid of the amazing douglas fir joists that we have exposed in the ceiling though – the wood is beautiful.

Thanks Jenny for letting us inside your home! I’m happy the mirror went to a good home. It looks absolutely perfect above your dresser. It was obviously meant to be.

All photographs by Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book.


Image 1
- Wicker couch: InAbstracto
- Brass edged cocktail table: Custom designed by Jenny Francis for Hotel Le Germain
- Ottoman: 3rd Uncle for the Drake Hotel
Image 2
- Coat hook: Eames Hang-It-All
- Scarf: Virginia Johnson
Image 3
- Baskets: Hollace Cluny
- Jielde Lamp: Inside Modern Living
- Framed photo: framing by Soho Framing
Image 4
- Rolling bar cart: vintage stand, custom corian top
- Stool: Tolix
- Chair: vintage, reupholstered by The Big Stuff
- Mirror: from Chatelet
- Blanket: from Istanbul textiles market
- Pillow: from Fluf
Image 5
- Stools: Tolix
- Chairs: Caban
Image 6
- Brass edged cafe table: Custom designed by Jenny Francis for Hotel Le Germain
Image 7
- Mirror: vintage from Queen West Antiques
- Walnut dresser: custom, designed by Jenny Francis
- Side chair: vintage, from Machine Age Modern
- Pillows: Assorted, from Fluf, Caban, Dwell Studio
- Basket: West Elm
Image 8
- Framed prints: Top by George Taxali, bottom – lino cut bookplates
- Lamp, stool, case: all vintage
- Bedspread: from Istanbul textiles market
Image 9
- Mirror and framed photo: framed by Soho Framing
- Light: combination of vintage parts
- Dresser: vintage from Bungalow
Image 10
- Rolling table: vintage stand, custom solid walnut top

Filed under hello! neighbor

gingerbread cookies


On the weekend, I made my first batch of Christmas cookies. I settled on the idea of gingerbread men (and stars) because I like the idea of making some for eating and some for decorating the tree.

Like sugar cookies, the process of making gingerbread can take awhile. First you need to make the dough, then it needs to chill, then it has to be rolled out and cooled again, then you need to cut the shapes and bake them and finally after another cooling period you have to ice them. Seriously, at this point that last thing you want to see is another gingerbread man! The good thing is that you can do it all in steps. I made my dough about two weeks ago and placed it in the freezer. It keeps for about 3 months.

You could also choose one day to roll and bake your cookies and then save the icing for another day although I chose to do these steps back to back.

Have you ever wondered where the idea for making gingerbread men (and women) came from? One version of history suggests that Elizabeth I presented her courtiers with gingerbread likenesses of themselves. A novel idea! It is likely that they would have been decorated in gold leaf and other elaborate decorations. Of course, gingerbread is also very popular in Germany where houses, people and animals are made out of this dough. The tale of Hansel & Gretel by the Brothers Grimm was the inspiration for the popular gingerbread house.

When it comes to icing my gingerbread cookies I tend to stick with white icing and a little bit of sanding sugar to give it some sparkle. Of course, you could add coloured icing and candies as well.

If you want to use some as decorations, simply take a wooden skewer and gently press a hole into the top of the cookies and thread a ribbon through. I find it’s easier to add the hole after they have been baked rather than before. (It’s also a really good way to use up the ones that might have been left in the oven a bit long!) For the little scarf, I just cut up a piece of old ribbon I had left over from last year’s presents.

If you’d like the recipe for these cookies head over to Renee’s blog Eat.Live.Shop. where she has this one plus a whole bunch of other Christmas baking favorites submitted by other bloggers. Thanks for inviting me to participate, Renee! Oh and if you have small children in the house you might want to hang the gingerbread high up on the tree. The other day we caught wee Henry with a cookie in his hand all that remained was the tell-tale head left on the tree!

Filed under in the night kitchen

deck the halls


It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas!

Finally, this weekend I got around to a little Christmas decorating and baking. We put up our tree, put some lights on the outside of the house, made some gingerbread cookies and decorated the house.

We also went up to the country and visited some friends of ours that had recently moved there from the city. Their new hometown is a vintage hunter’s dream. In one short block, we went into three incredible antique stores! Not only was the selection great but the prices were so much lower than in the city. I picked up these two wooden spools which I love.

I also decorated this branch which moves around our house quite frequently. I wish I could say that I made all the ornaments that hang on it but the truth is, I bought them. The one exception is the gingerbread stars which I did make! I’ll have the recipe for you later this week.

How’s your Christmas decorating and baking coming along? Can you believe it all happens this weekend? I better start working on my grocery list for Christmas dinner and buying my stocking stuffers!

(Oh and I just wanted to say a special thank you to my husband who bought me a new camera for my birthday a few weeks ago. This is the first time I have really been able to play with it. It allows me to do so many more things than my last one. Thanks, Myles!)

Filed under beautiful objects, in the night kitchen