Just a little note to say that the blog and all things web related will be on a wee hiatus until the New Year. Little break, you know. Hope you have a Happy Christmas.
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Creative commons image by stefanie seskin from Flickr.
 
 
Hey guys! Guess what!? I'm guest posting today over at Staci Edwards Design! Staci is an interior designer. I met her at my very first Tweet Up (when we were both bloggers in the audience of the the Steven and Chris show). She's sweet.

Gotta admit, I was pretty stoked when she asked me.

Anyway, my post is over there, part of her  "Favourite Interior Tuesdays" series. But for those of you who are too lazy to click through, here what I wrote:
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When Staci asked me to find a residential interior for this series, I was excited. A guest post for a real designer! By me? Little ol' moi?

That excitement immediately turned to anxiety. There are so many spaces out there. So many beautiful, inspiring spaces. How would I choose just one?

The truth is, I don't think I can pick a real "favourite" interior. That said, the space I chose has remained at the back of my mind since I first saw it in the June 2007 issue of Canadian House and Home. It's the London, UK home of Alistair Green and Lesley Hinder. The photos are by Kirsten Hinder. Most of them were scanned from the mag, for which I apologize. They're not perfect.
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Actually, imperfection fits, because I think that's what this home is all about. It's certainly why I love it. Green and Hinder are budget treasure hunters, just like I am. Their eclectic space is filled with a hodgepodge of secondhand, collected and rehabilitated finds. And as a result, it feels... real.

From the carved wood bed from Rajasthan (which actually isn't my taste at all), to the Chinese wedding cabinet, topped with vintage soda fountain bottles from Notting Hill and a temple Buddha that the couple picked up in Jaipur, India, everything about this home is personal. And I love authentic personality a lot more than I love perfect design.

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After all, we all have detritus from our past lives. We have teddy bears from our toddler days, craft projects from our childhoods. I personally have an extensive collection of antique perfume bottles inherited from my grandmother. They're not exactly my style. If I came across them in a store today, I wouldn't buy them, but I have them now and they have sentimental value, so they've become part of my decor. Do they fit in perfectly? No. But they're imbued with heart, and seeing them makes me happy.
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The Green/Hinder home is a bit shabby. The herringbone flooring in the conservatory is worn and the couple's style perhaps too eclectic, but I think it's beautiful. It's a real home, and in that way, it's something to aspire to.
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Credits:
All images by Kirsten Hinder
Original article from Canadian House and Home
Details from original text by Ellen Himelfarb

Jen Selk is a professional writer and editor working in Toronto. A hobby decorator at best, she nonetheless blogs about design, culture and crafting on her website
www.jenselk.com.

So, that was my very first guest post. Whaddaya think?
 
 
Hey Turquoise (Pantone colour of the year 2010)...
Meet Honeysuckle (Pantone colour of the year 2011)...
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Now, play nice.
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cc. licensed regency image by posh living LLC on flickr
And what of 2009's colour of the year? Poor old Mimosa?

Sorry Mimosa. You're out. You're nothing but plain old yellow, now.
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But don't worry, baby. I still love 'ya.
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Yellow forever.
 
 
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I grew up in a family that was never very big on Christmas. We celebrated, sure. We put up a tree. We (occasionally) went to church. Santa came and we opened presents. And we sat down to a generally traditional holiday dinner on the 25th.

As we got older, Santa stopped coming. Opening gifts gave way to unfolding cheques. We sat down to dinner, but nobody seemed very invested in the process.

Except me.

I took it upon myself to make Christmas happen. By the time I was 13, I was putting up and decorating the tree by myself.

cc. image by colin smith from flickr

Weird, right?

I guess it was. It was weird that, when alone in the house, I would sing myself Christmas carols. That I would lie awake in bed, listening for jingle bells and hooves on the rooftops, staring out my window hoping to see streaks of light... when I was 17.

I was a Mulder. I wanted to believe.

And in my adult life, determined to make my own found-family something different than what I'd had, I went a little overboard on the whole Christmas thing. I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted perfect white lights. Perfect decorations. Perfectly wrapped presents. Perfect music. A perfect turkey. Nothing in my actual life was perfect. I suppose I felt I had something to prove.

Luckily, I've calmed down.

In the last few years, I've stopped caring about how Christmas looks, and become more invested in how it feels. I've tossed the matching, mass-produced decorations I bought with my ex. Our tree is now decked out in vintage lights (that don't all work), and handmade or gifted ornaments that are nothing if not rag-tag. We add to our little (somewhat ugly and mismatched) decor collection every year. And we're happy. We're happy with our imperfect, beautiful little Christmas.

So today, in honour of that, I bring you images of holiday living rooms from around the world. Each one is imperfect. Each one is real. Each one is beautiful... in its own way.
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cc. image by ben smithson from flickr
For me, it's the painted, mismatched furniture that makes this room wonderful. It's both coordinated and uncoordinated at the same time.
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cc. image by Allison Marchant from flickr.
I love the faded, retro feel of this image. And the funny, fat-bottom tree. It's like something out of the 1950s.
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cc. image by juhan sonin from flickr. 
This living room is both homey and cool with its tear-drop table, it's mid-century modern furniture, the retro art-work and dad's fab bow tie. It's hipster without the irony.
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cc. image by Paul McDermott from flickr
If there's something more cosy than fire and candle-light, I'd like to know what it is.
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cc. image by scott feldstein from flickr
So traditional. This feels like Christmas at grandma's house. The wonky stockings are especially great.

Go deck the halls, people. And remember, kids don't care about Christmas being perfect. They care about it being magic.
 
 
I first heard about Penny People Designs at the Canadian Design Bloggers meet up that I attended in November. (That thing was just chock full o' talent, yo.)

Anyway, Penny People is this great little stationery company manned by Lindsay Stephenson who is based here in Toronto. She started it about five years ago. (Actually, the current tag line is "celebrating five years of creating cute," which is, well... cute.)

Lindsay is a real sweetheart. She processed my order in minutes and mailed the print I chose within 25 hours. I received it not two days after choosing it online. And it was customized. Amazing!

What did I get? An alphabet print for my niece Katherine. She's only three, but I think she'll appreciate it. After all, what three year old doesn't enjoy the alphabet?

Her favoutite colour is yellow, so I had her name done in yellow, at the top. Here it is:
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Now all I've gotta do is frame it. Luckily, the print came with handy-dandy framing instructions AND it is designed to fit in an easy-to-find IKEA frame. See:
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Cool, right? I'd suggest ordering something from Penny People for somone on your list this season.

And for the record, I haven't been paid a cent to say this. The blog is not monetized. I just really liked this print and the service from Lindsay was really great. So there. :)
 
 
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This isn't really along the lines of what I usually post, but I just had to brag... I mean, share (ahem) news of my latest Goodwill find: An incredible little hat, made by Toronto's own Karyn Gingras of Lilliput Hats.

It's a designer original, yo! And it's local, one-of-a-kind and completely handmade! It's the sort of hat that retails for hundreds!

And I got it at GOODWILL.

How much did I pay? Funny you should ask. Cheeky too. I paid...

a cool $1.50. That's one dollar and fifty cents, thankyouverymuch. It was supposed to be $3, but I bought it on 50% off day.

Believe it. And see it for yourself:
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Hats aren't usually my thing. Even though I'm told they suit me, they call to mind memories of Mayim Bialik, Blossom and the early 90s. Memories I've tried hard to forget. 

But when I saw the Lilliput label inside this little beauty, I just couldn't pass it up. It was actually in the cart of the lady in front of me in the checkout line and I was eying it and lamenting not having seen it first, even before I knew what it was. Something about it just called to me. And luckily, at the last minute, she decided not to buy it.

I swooped in. I had to stand in line a second time to pay for it, but the wait was worth it.

For out of towners and those who just don't know, Lilliput Hats is basically the very best traditional milliner in Toronto. The College St. store/studio is absolutely adorable and just packed with unbelievable style. Some of Karyn's pieces would  make even Philip Treacy jealous.

And I got one for $1.50. Yes!

I don't care if I do look like Blossom. I'm gonna wear this baby.
 
 
Hey all.

So yesterday I mentioned that I was going to be featured today in this wishlist series that is currently running on the blog What's Up Whismy. It's happened. I'm there.

My pick was a piece of jewellery by NYmetals. They make plenty of stuff in gold (which means I'm not allergic -- hurray!) and it's all very wearable, affordable and everyday.

But special too.

Here's just a selection of what's currently available:
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Bird charm necklace, $25 USD.
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Orchid earrings, $21 USD.
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Tree of life necklace, $26 USD.
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Personalized disc necklace, $37 USD.

I really think this store is something special. Consider stuffing a stocking with one of these beautiful baubles this Christmas. Or, you know, buy something and send it my way. I'll be your best friend.
 
 
So, I'm not really into Christmas gifts anymore. Now that I've become anti-capitalist and super left, I try to avoid shopping in the mainstream marketplace whenever possible. I make a lot of stuff and rescue a lot of vintage and second-hand items instead. Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect, and I'm no Judgey Judgerson, but I try.

That said, all this do-goodery doesn't actually keep me from desiring (nay, coveting) various beautiful things. So yes, there are a few things that I would like for Christmas, if peace and an end to world hunger aren't an option.

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So when I was approached by Shannon from What's Up Whimsy to participate in her series entitled "The 12 Days of Holidays: A Blogger Wish List" I said... sure.

I'm a blogger, after all. I have wishes.

It looks like the series is going to be pretty great. It kicks off today and my pick will be featured tomorrow (Thursday, December 2, 2010). More than 80 contributors and blogs are taking part, including fancy-pants peeps like  Design*Sponge, Young House Love, Design For Mankind, Absolutely Beautiful Things, etc. 

I won't reveal what I chose here. For that, you'll have to check out the series. But in the meantime, I will reveal a few other materialistic wishes. Stuff I sorta want. It is the holiday season, after all. What would Christmas be without a little old-fashioned commercialism?

Jen's wee wish list, 2011:

1. A subscription to Anthology Magazine.
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Everyone I follow on Twitter seems to get it and they're all raving about it. I'm jealous. 

2. A Wacom tablet .
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Just a little one. Maybe a Bamboo or something. The thing is, I don't need one AT ALL. I just WANT one. I don't even know what I'd do with it.

3. A Digital SLR camera. Shown is the Canon Rebel.
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Ridiculous. Just something I'd enjoy if money were no object.

Nate and I have agreed not to do any real presents for each other this year, just like last. Instead of spending money on objects, we try to invest in experiences. Last year, it was a trip to Cuba. This year... who knows? I'm sure none of the things shown above will actually make their way into my stocking this year, but I'm okay with that. It's fun to dream. Probably more fun than actually owning.

The truth is, Nate and I want for nothing. We already have everything we need, and access to nearly everything we could conceivably want. So I'd say we're pretty lucky.

Happy holidays, everybody. Don't forget to check out What's Up Whimsy tomorrow to see my pick on the Blogger Wish List. It's very cute and very affordable. It's also from an Etsy artist. I think you'll approve.