it's happening

Ten years ago I moved back to Toronto with my now husband. I was 30 years old and about to go back to university for the third time to study interior design. While the majority of my friends were blazing paths with new careers and exciting work prospects I felt like I was slipping backwards. When people asked me what I did I was embarrassed to say I was student. In essence I felt like everyone was getting ahead while I was going nowhere. Tassel_Garland_Multi__New_LR

And yet I knew I was on the right path. I knew if I put my head down and worked hard that eventually it would pay off. I pulled all nighters for four years to get through design school. I worked summer jobs in busy kitchens, started and ended a cupcake business, worked as a caterer for photographers, began writing a blog, moonlighted as an assistant food stylist, prop styled photo shoots, designed kitchens, bathrooms, living room, exhibits and pretty much said yes to everything that came my way.


Yesterday it all paid off. I started a new job as the Home Editor of Chatelaine Magazine (The number one magazine in Canada!). I would be lying if I said it wasn't a dream come true. I have always wanted to work at a magazine. In fact, when I graduated from University (the first time around) that's what I set out to do. It's probably why I found myself writing this blog. It's not that I started it with the intention to get myself into magazine but it is inherently what I love and I think (not to be boastful in any way) that my passion for writing, editing and curating shined through.

Joslyn Taylor of the blog Simple Lovely (and one of my earliest supporters) found herself in the very same position as me about a year ago. She was leaving her old job of 13 years to dive into the world of editing a magazine. I'll always remember that she used the term "trusting her cape" as she took the big jump into her dream job.

Friends I'm taking a big jump and I'm trusting my cape!


Image credits:
Confetti System
Desk of Ayesha Patel - Martha Stewart



happy valentine's day

Share the love! If you're like me and have small children than you probably spent the past week writing Valentine's day cards and making treats for tomorrow's class. My sweet four year old refused to put his name on any of the cards I handmade so the effort was all mine. I hope his classmate's like them! For treats, I decided to go a little sweet and a little wholesome - chocolate dipped strawberries. Actually I have to give all the credit to my husband who bought all the ingredients late last night and hand dipped each one himself. That's true love. valentine moodboard-1


(I shot this Valentine's Day moodboard for HGTV. Head over there to read the post!)

styling - three holiday mantels

A couple of weeks ago, The Globe and Mail, Canada's leading newspaper, asked me to work on a story about holiday mantels. The idea was to decorate three separate fireplaces each with its own look. In addition to styling the mantels I was also set the task of finding the locations. Luckily for me, I have visited my share of homes in the city of Toronto!  First up was a contemporary take on the Christmas mantel which I infused with a Scandinavian feel. The Pia Wallen slippers and stocking, Kubus candle holder and the crumpled white bowl filled with osange oranges set the scene. (All picked up at Mjolk in Toronto - thank you Juli & John!) The felt garlands, storage box and wreath are from West Elm and completed the look. For a bit of a twist, I added in a collection of wooden dolls by Alexander Girard.

The second mantel of the day was a beautifully detailed Victorian number with elaborate mouldings and original tiles. The homeowner already had some deep blue and white elements going on (both the elephant lamp and large blue and white plate belong to her) so I continued in that vein. I added in some small potted cypress and cedar trees in porcelain bowls and vases, blue ornaments and two tones of blue grosgrain ribbon.

We also did a cover shot with this mantel rearranging the pieces ever so slightly. My favorite piece would definitely have to be the navy blue and white Santa ornament that my assistant Annie McDonald brought along. He is just perfect! Most of the blue and white plates in this shot came from one of my favorite vintage stores, Hawk Eyes.

The last mantel of the day was a wood panelled Tudor-style room with an elegant jade green tiled fireplace. Wax dipped pine cones, antler heads, birch candles and a vintage wood sleigh gives this mantel a slightly rustic feel while still saying true to traditional roots.

For a look at the story and complete listing of all the products please check out The Globe and Mail.

Do you have a favorite?


Photos: Kristin Sjaarda
Styling assistance: Annie McDonald



styling - a tale of two faiths

A couple of months ago I had the privilege to work on this story for Today's Parent about how multi-faith families celebrate the holidays at this time of year. With Hanukkah right around the corner I thought it would be a good time to share it!

Nothing says Christmas and Hanukkah like a snowflake wreath with dreidels! This amazing craft and the others throughout the piece are by a woman named Steph Hung who worked at Martha Stewart Living in the Craft Department. I peppered her with questions about what it was like to work there, if she ever met Martha, and what Martha's expectations were for each shoot. It was fascinating! If you'd like to learn how to make this wreath you can check out the DIY over at Today's Parent.

My fireplace! Yes you guessed it they shot the story at our house which made for some easier styling for me. It also took out one huge component of styling which you could call "schlepping". So much schlepping is involved when you style a shoot. (By the way, if you pick up the December issue of Today's Parent you might recognize the front cover as well. Also shot at our house with a real Christmas tree I chopped down by myself - very proud of that fact!)

The lighting of the menorah is an integral part of Hanukkah. If you would like to learn how to make this modern version you can follow Steph's easy DIY tips over at Today's Parent.

These traditional Christmas crackers blend the two holidays perfectly when filled with Gelt. We chose a colour scheme of orange, blue, silver and shimmery accents for this shoot but you could use a combination of any colours. The DIY for this craft is also over at Today's Parent.

Do any of you celebrate blended holiday's at this time of year? Do you have certain traditions you keep and others you let fade away to make room for the new ones? I'd love to hear!

Photography - James Tse
Art Director - Alicia Kowalewski
Crafts - Steph Hung