easter decorating

I'm hoping by this time next week I'll be introducing you to my new blog. So exciting. Until then, I'd thought I'd get you inspired with some tabletop ideas for Easter that I did for Chatelaine. chatelaine_easter_sianrichards8There's nothing more beautiful than a basket (or bowl) of eggs. I mixed together natural duck and quail eggs with organically dyed eggs (instructions below) and a few thread wrapped eggs.


Make your own centrepiece by stacking different vases filled with one flower on top of a cake stand. Vary the heights to keep it interesting.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards6Make your own dyes using ingredients you find in your fridge and pantry. Onion skins, loose tea, blueberries, beets, and even parsley create beautiful, coloured eggs. For instructions, click here.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards9If you don't want to get your hands dirty, try wrapping your eggs in thread or washi tape. The thread can be held in place with a dab of white glue. Decorating eggs like this literally takes seconds.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards5Instead of traditional easter baskets, try these Mason Jar takeaways. Simply glue a plastic animal to a mason jar lid and spray paint the whole thing. Fill the jars with nesting material and top with candy eggs.

chatelaine_easter_sianrichards2Give a simple name tag some personality with a strip of washi tape and a thread-wrapped eggs. I chose to mix springtime pastels with hits of bright neon's to keep it interesting.

chatelaine_easter1_sianrichardsFinally, our Northern Climate means flowers aren't always in bloom by Easter. Chances are you have lots of bare branches though! Cut some down, place them in a jar and hang floral foam eggs pinned with chrysanthemums. Easy Peasy!

Photos: Sian Richards for Chatelaine Magazine
Prop Styling: Julia Black, Rayna Schwartz


a still moment

Still moments. Something I don't have a lot of time for right now. It seems all my worlds are colliding. Most days I'm just hanging on by a thread. I guess what I'm trying to say is that things might be a little quieter around here in the coming weeks while I wrap up a few projects at work. c1462bde55f74f5f162d263a21e4999aDetail from the Portinari Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes.

See you on the flip side.

(Good news. The redesign of my blog is almost there. Soon, I promise.)

coriander girl - christmas house

Around a year ago, I was scrolling through my instagram feed when I saw a shot of Alison Westlake's house. It pictured a stone fireplace, a roaring fire and a little white bunny named Harry. Alison as many of you probably know runs Coriander Girl, the floral design studio in Parkdale. I was so captivated by her charming house (which is actually a converted church) that I emailed her right away and asked if we could set up a Hello! Neighbour post. (I actually thought I was probably too late and that another magazine or online publication would have snapped her up.) Much to my delight the house hadn't been cornered by anyone else and she was delighted to be asked. However like most people she asked me to give her a few months to get it ship -shape ready. Months passed and life happened and suddenly I was working at Chatelaine magazine. As we were planning our winter lineups I kept Alison's stone hearth in the back of my mind. I just knew it would make a perfect Christmas home. In the heat of August we hatched a plan to shoot her converted church for our December issue. We took so many wonderful shots I just have to share some of the beautiful photographs with you today.

122013_ALISONWESTLAKE_XMAS0782Names: Alison, Tyler and Harry Hogan (the bunny).

Year home was Built: 1887

122013_ALISONWESTLAKE_XMAS0884How did you find your home?

We bought our first property in Belleville because the Toronto market was impossible for us. It was an adorable 100 year old walk up on East Hill, we were treating it like a cottage, coming down from Toronto every weekend. Once we were in the real estate game, I became a bit of an MLS junkie and found the church. We walked in, and I think I gasped, “well, we’re getting it!” You’re supposed to keep your cool in front of agents, so much for that!

It was love at first sight. The expansive ceilings, the hard wood floors, giant gothic windows, I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a bidding war but our agent explained this is considered really unconventional living.

122013_ALISONWESTLAKE_XMAS0812Why did you choose to live in the country?

Tyler is from Prince Edward County, I’m Toronto born and when my parents divorced my mom remarried and we moved to this area (Quinte West), in fact I grew up 2 roads over from the church. I’ve done the Toronto, Quinte commute since I was 4.

When I was 18, I moved to the city full time. I pursued an acting career and worked in the service industry. In my late 20’s I started to question what I really wanted from a career, it felt like I was supposed to be doing something more. I also finally learned what I needed in a relationship. I met Tyler at a café in Parkdale, he made me my morning lattes and very quickly we became inseparable. Tyler believes that he was drawn to the city to find his love and bring her home. It’s no coincidence that this love inspired my career change, taking a leap of faith and opening Coriander Girl felt a lot less scary with a man championing my every move.

122013_ALISONWESTLAKE_XMAS0523What have you done to the church to make it your own?

The church had a few cheap modernizations that we promptly tore out. We loved the kitchen and didn’t have to do much but upgrade the counters, tile the backsplash and change out the cabinet hardware. There was already an addition on the back for bedrooms and that just needed a good paint job. We had to upgrade the windows, we still have the old ones and dream of restoring them one day but for now we just need to keep warm in here as we heat with wood only. The entire church was painted from floor to ceiling. (imagine Penny(Tyler’s mom) dangling 25 feet up cutting in!) New baseboards and door trim throughout and a chairrail was added for extra charm. The lights were swapped out for the classic schoolhouse style. The biggest job was probably changing the front doors on the church. It used to snow inside, we’d wake up to snow drifts in the foyer. My dad being a general contractor/craftsman was the only person for this job. The church was begging for old doors and we searched for months to find the right ones. These European ones with their arch top and original flower etching could not have been more perfect.



What is your favourite moment/room?

We talked about this and our favorite moment at the church remains the night we found Dance Mix 97, we had a great bottle of red wine on the go and literally danced all over the place. I imagine our neighbors got a good show if they happened to walk by!

122013_ALISONWESTLAKE_XMAS0692 How do you make the commute work?

We long for a time when we’ll get to be here together full time. I’m in the city 3 days a week and Tyler works in Prince Edward County so it’s not ideal but we always have 3 days off together every week and that’s pretty unique.  We’re absolutely in love with our home and so the next move would probably be out of necessity like expanding the family and needing more space although we could build a loft here and add another bedroom.

122013_ALISONWESTLAKE_XMAS0653 What's your holiday decorating style?

As you can see our holiday style is really subtle, almost Scandanavian with minimal less traditional color. Much like at Coriander Girl, we decorate so it feels festive but easy on the eyes.

I’m all about keeping it simple or I won’t do it because the shop is all consuming over the holidays. We lay fresh bows everywhere. I make simple fresh door swags, small and large and you can put them everywhere for an instant holiday look.  My joke is, “put a swag on it!” If you watch Portlandia you might get that reference.

122013_ALISONWESTLAKE_XMAS0752 What is your favourite holiday greenery?

My favorite has to be cedar, the smell is unmatched.

DSC_1363Do you have any holiday traditions?

Our marriage is still so young, I think we’re still finding our traditions. But family is key, seeing as much of each other’s families as we can. And what’s so cool is that are families actually adore each other so we can all get together for one incredible shin dig.

DSC_1428Many thanks to Alison and Tyler for sharing their home with us this holiday season. Check out the December issue of Chatelaine to see more photos.

All photos by Sian Richards.

shop with me at west elm

It's official. The countdown has begun. Only 23 more days until Christmas! Have you started putting up your decorations? What about your tree? And how is the shopping going?


If you still have a few people on your list why don't you join me and some of the other editors (Claire Tansey & Laurie Jennings to name a few) from Chatelaine this Wednesday night, December 4th at West Elm. There will be sparkling wine to drink, food by Mildred's Temple Kitchen and music to dance to. Shouldn't all holiday shopping be so civilized? Plus there will be a 20% discount throughout the store which is kind of just the icing on the cake. A few of the things I'm hoping to pick up include those polar bear ornaments above and this felt mistletoe because you never know when you might need to steal a Christmas kiss!


If you'd like to attend please send an email to RSVP@janegill.pr or follow the easy link here.

Come raise a glass with me! Hope to see many of you there. (Plus it's my birthday so another good reason to say hello!)

Speaking of my birthday make sure you come back here on Wednesday. I have a little Christmas/Birthday/Hanukkah giveaway that is going to knock your socks off. No lie.