Most of the time, I am happy with the furniture I have. My hodgepodge home of thrifted finds works for me. Nothing is too precious. Nothing would cost much to replace. But once in awhile, I crave a really nice piece of furniture. I think to myself, Yes, I WOULD like that one-of-a-kind table AND that super-sexy designer chair. 

Then I remember that I have no money and my house is already full. And then I feel a little sad. Maybe one day I'll win the lottery and become an entirely different animal. (Maybe not, but a woman can dream, right?) 

Anyway, the next best thing to buying, is, of course, sharing. And that's what today's post is about. I'm sharing with you the furniture of local Toronto dude Ian Devenney, who is a friend of my friend Emily. I've never even met him, but I'm in love ... with his furniture. His studio is called Foxwedge and his pieces are super-lovely.

Take a look at just a few:
This is my favourite piece in Foxwedge's current portfolio. It's called the Hawthorne patio table and ... ugggh. I need it. I need it bad.
This is a coffee table. I don't know if it has a name, but according to the Foxwedge site, it "will be shown at Digital Promises, a participating exhibition in the 2014 Toronto Design Offsite Festival."
Finally, this piece is called the Trifecta Low Table. It's a bit mid-mod, but contemporary too. 

Some pieces in Devenney's portfolio are still in the prototype stage, but if these finished numbers are anything to go on, I expect more excellent things in the future. And one day, maybe I'll even meet the guy. If and when I do, I'll tell him how his furniture makes me wish I hadn't wasted my time on an English degree, learning to read books, while folks like him were learning to make amazing things with their hands. Stuff like this  makes me want to rethink my entire life.

Check out Foxwedge, here! 
 
 
This is not a real post. Or rather, it's not an important or significant post (not that any of them are.) It's just about a little thing that happened that I thought was sort of interesting.

See, ages ago, I bought a little terra cotta thingy from a junk sale. I think it was $0.35 or thereabouts. I didn't know what it was. Paperweight? Decor? Part of some larger item, unfortunately separated from it's context?
What it was for didn't really matter to me. What mattered is the way it felt in my hand. I liked the smooth terra cotta. I liked the palm-perfect size. It was a weird little thing and I liked it and I didn't know why, but it was only $0.35 so I bought it, because why NOT buy the little things you like? You don't need a reason to want the things you want, or to like the things you like. There's nothing wrong with that. And when something costs less than fifty cents, should I really have passed it by? I can easily spare one quarter and one dime. That's not much to pay for a tiny little bit of happy.

I know everyone is about decluttering these days, and that knick knacks are way out of fashion, but I think hotel-perfect spaces are soulless and lame. Who wants to live like that? With no heart and no mess? (A lot of people, I know, but not me. That's my point.) 

My other point is this: You don't need to have a place for every little item. If you like it, and you can afford it, and it doesn't hurt anybody or doesn't seem like an egregious waste, then get it. Worry about the details later. It's hoarder behaviour, but I don't care. If some little thing makes you happy, why deny yourself that?

Anyway, I've had the disc kicking around for the last few years. It was little more than clutter. It went from a windowsill to a table, to wedged-behind-the-bed, to a drawer, and then back to the windowsill. I didn't know what to do with it and I didn't know what it was for, but I didn't want to get rid of it. 

I still liked it. I still didn't know why.

And then today, just moments ago, I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinets, moving some of the bulk bagged items to glass jars, organizing, etc., and I came across a rock-hard bag of brown sugar. This is always a problem in my cupboard. I bake approximately once a year, so if I buy brown sugar, it inevitably gets hard, but since I was in organizing mode, I went to the Internet to see what I could find as a long-term solution and one of the first things I came across was my little terra cotta disc.

IT HAS A PURPOSE! It is meant (designed! specifically!) to live in a jar of brown sugar, to keep said sugar soft.

This is not a great discovery, but it gave me a little thrill, I admit it. To have some nutty little item I bought and hoarded for no apparent reason actually serve a need after all this time? Well, that, my friends, is what my sad little dreams are made of.* Junking isn't always for nothing, you know? Make of this what you will.
*Hyperbole. Have you heard of it?
 
 
Hey dudes. So I've got myself into a bit of a pickle. I found this mirror on the Anthropologie website and talked it up to some friends who now really want it. But Anthro tricked me! Despite giving me a pop-up that promised shipping to Canada, it turns out they (it) don't/won't. Or rather, shipping to Canada is available in a limited way. A lot of big items aren't eligible. 

So I called every Anthro in the city. Sold out. Everywhere. I double checked for human-error and called the main American Anthropologie telephone number and found out that there are definitely none available in Toronto at all at the moment, and that no more are expected to be restocked in Canada. There are also none in Buffalo, so driving down to get one is out.

If I had an American address, I could order one online and have it shipped there, then perhaps have it driven up, but that seems like too much rigamarole. And besides, I don't have an American address.
So my question to you is this: What should I do? I want a French-style mirror like this one, and I can't seem to find one anywhere. It's a BIT like a Louis Philippe-style mirror, but more delicate. I can't find anything that compares or captures the same feeling. Do you have any ideas? Anywhere in Toronto that might have something similar or in the same vein? Y'all are very stylish and I could use your input.

Thanks peeps! 
 
 
So over the past month or so, I've been helping a couple of friends decorate rooms for their two little daughters -- ages 4 and 2, respectively. 

These are two VERY adorable little girls. And the house they live in is beautiful. It's a classic "Annex-style house" (that Victorian/Edwardian red brick and stone) but renovated to have a very sleek and modern interior, fused with some restored/classic touches. It's quite unique and very striking. A posh architect did the remodel. 

The family is very busy, and we're pals, so they asked if I could help them with a little shopping for the bedrooms. They just wanted some more homey touches to help counterbalance the sleek, modern stuff. After all, it's a family home. 

It's a straight decorating project, and really, they're picking everything. I've just given them a few ideas. (Don't worry, I'm not going to start calling myself a designer now or anything!) But I wanted to share where we are so far.
Before I arrived on scene, the walls of the first bedroom were painted what looked to me to be a muted chartreuse. (Later, the family told me the colour was meant to be like the interior of an avocado, and that is certainly a clearer way to describe it.) The floors are a slim-plank hardwood -- oak, I think. Matte, not glossy. And the doors and frames are a creamy white, which can be seen in the photo above, which I snapped with my iPod. I'm not sure if you can tell from the photo, but the light in the room makes for a lot of variation on the tone of the colour, which is why it looks darker on the right wall than on the left, around the door. 

There is very little colour in the house otherwise. White and wood tones rule. 

The family chose furniture from Pottery Barn. It's all very well-made, classic stuff. The bed is a double, there's a dresser, and a bookshelf as well. All white.

I admit, when I first saw the walls, I was a little uncertain. It seemed like a tough colour to work with. Initially, I was focused on choosing wood-toned furniture, but once the family went with white painted pieces, bedding became the most important thing. 

Googling offered up inspiration shots that featured the wall colour in various states of intensity, often paired with bits (or "pops" as they say -- stupid phrase) of other brights.
What colour pairing might be best?

There I was, thinking and Googling, and thinking and Googling, and thinking and Googling some more, when I came across the old Bob Hope movie Louisiana Purchase (1941). I love old movies, and often find myself putting Turner Classic Movies (TCM) on in the background while I work.
Anyway, Irene Bordoni in that coral/chartreuse knot-waisted dress is BOOM, right? I loved her chunky emerald/gold jewellery, too. As a colour-scheme, I thought it could really work.

So. Back to shopping. While I suggested a bunch of different stuff -- deep navy blue bedding, turquoise-trimmed bedding, yellow bedding, etc., here's the bedding I found that I liked best: 
I have my issues with Anthropologie, like a lot of people do. I wish they wouldn't steal designs from independent artists, for one thing, but man ... I love this bedding. It's called the Zocalo Embroidered Quilt. The family is still deciding, but I think I'm firmly behind it. And that dress is the thing that first turned my head.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. That's where we are.
 
 
I've been sick, and as a result, some of my makeover projects have been put on hold. The office/guestroom is mid-makeover, though the painting hasn't been done, and the dresser I found on the street has been cleaned up a bit, but not actually refurbishes. Basically, everything is in progress. Eventually, I'll get cracking on those things and pretty pictures will follow, but in the meantime, I thought I'd get cracking on something else. Eggs. Quail eggs, to be exact. (Cracking ... eggs ... get it? See what I did there? Not lame at all.)

Anyway, yeppers. I bought some quail eggs. No big. Saw them for sale at the Korean market and thought, why not? The last time I bought them, I made some mini Scotch Eggs with some, and reserved the leftovers for a little bird's nest craft. Since then, however, all the shells in my wee nest have been smashed or lost. Nonetheless, I didn't buy this batch of quail's eggs for crafts (although I'm open to the idea), I bought them for eating. I just need some ideas on what to make.

The sad thing is, the Internet isn't being much help this time around. The ideas for these tiny dudes seem limited. There are few food options (I'll lay out what I can think up below), and even fewer crafting options. 

Let's go over them, shall we? 

You've got your mini Scotch Eggs (been there, done that), but they ARE delicious. 

Then you've got your canapé, which are too much trouble perhaps, especially since I'm only feeding two people.
I could make mini devilled eggs, but I dunno. That seems sorta meh. Adorable, but not exciting, and again, more suited to a party. 
 And then, finally, you've got your straight up Easter crafts. This one, which turns the shells into tiny candles, is admittedly impressive, but way too hard for me. Remember how my Peep cake went last year? HINT: BADLY. I can't handle anything too difficult.
Anyway, I made it look like there are four ideas here, but there are really only two: hors d'oeuvre and Easter crafts. That's all I can think of. There has to be more. Does anyone else know of something I'm missing? Some way to make use of the cuteness of a tiny egg, that isn't one of the listed options? Something chic, but ideally not-to-difficult? Something delicious? Something that isn't geared toward a Christian holiday that already passed?

Hit up the comments, yo.
 
 
So, yo. I found an old dresser on the street and lugged it home. Or rather, I took out the drawers and rolled those home in my bundle buggy while Nathan lugged home the rest of it. (He is a big strong man with a good attitude about my random garbage picking and I am glad to have him around most of the time as a result.)

Anyway, here it is:
I want to make it over. It's a wood piece, yes, but not old or particularly well-made. There are no dove-tailed joints or anything. And it's been well-loved by kids (note the stickers), so I feel absolutely fine about painting it, but I'm not sure if I want to just paint it, or if I want to do something fancier or more fun with my makeover. And I have no idea what colour to do. I was thinking red, but I"m not wedded to that idea. The hardware is, of course, a nonstarter. I wouldn't even consider keeping it.

At this point, the only thing that I don't like about the piece is the weird groove in the bottom drawer. Can you make that out? Sorry about the bad quality photo. I snapped it with my iPod. Is that groove going to be a problem, I wonder?

(Please don't mind the bits of psychotic mess you see in the surrounding space, either. My apartment is a loony bin of piles and junk right now and I don't even want to talk about it. Please don't judge me.)

Anyway. What should I do? Solid paint? Multiple colours of paint? Paint and wood? Decoupage? Something else? THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS. This piece will probably go in a closet, honestly, so it will be pretty in a secret-and-just-for-me sort of way, so I do pretty much anything with it colour-wise, and that openness is giving me pause. I just don't know what I want.


Here are some inspiration shots I found online. What do you think? What would YOU do if you were to make over this dresser? And what can or should I do about that annoying groove?
Weigh in, please. I have no mind of my own on this one.
 
 
So, if you've been paying attention, you know I've had some rug problems lately. I had to throw out a jute number that contained worms. It was disgusting. 

The worms have been eradicated and the house is bug-free again.* But the guest room floor is also bare, and that, more than anything else, calls to mind one of my life's minor tragedies: The loss of my grandparents' Beni Ourain rug.

Here's a very similar vintage one that costs, oh, about $4000+ CAD.
The one I ALMOST got would have cost just as much, if not more. It was very large. It was cream, with a brown diamond pattern (of course). It was hand-woven from berber wool. It was totally authentic. It lived in my grandparents' den, and now, it's gone. Lost to the landfill or to the Goodwill. On occasion, my heart aches for it.

The truth is that it was promised to me several times over the years, as were various other small things that I, as a design-lover, seemed to appreciate more than others in the family, but I never received it. This happens and it's no one's fault. Moving is chaotic, people get old, personalities clash, and plans fall apart. Inheritances are weird and shit happens. I don't think anyone swiped it from me. I just feel bummed about it, you know? I should have explained that it was valuable, at the very least because I'm pretty sure it ended up in the garbage, which is wrong wrong wrong. Depressingly wrong.

Anyway. I really miss that rug. All it needed was a good cleaning. :(

Now, let's twist the knife a little bit and take a look at how a Beni Ourain rug looks in context. (Hint: They look damn good.) 
This one's in a couple named the Shaffer's house. Photo by Max Kim-Bee for Country Living.
Design by Roman and Willams.
Cindy Crawford's room, designed by Michael S. Smith, as seen in Elle Decor. Photo by Simon Upton.
Sigh. Goodbye forever, beautiful rug. I am poor and will never see the likes of you again. It hurts to have come so close.** Feel my pain, blog readers.

* Until the centipedes come, of course. I can hardly WAIT until the warm weather. Real spring! Hooray for old Toronto houses and their summertime crawlies! Yayayaya! I love it! By which I mean I hate and despise it. Centipedes are the effing worst. Disgusting.

** It doesn't hurt that much. I mean, my life is pretty good. This is a very privileged complaint, and I definitely know it. I'm just being hyperbolical, as is my wont.
 
 
So remember when I made those name ornaments out of white DAS air drying clay? It was awhile back. Quite awhile. (Worst blogger ever.) 

Anyway, I had plenty of clay leftover from that project and have been trying to think of a way to use it up for all this time. And recently, I realized I had better get a move-on because my clay was drying out. So I googled "DAS clay projects" and came up with these fun feathers from the blog The Gilded Hare.
The process looked pretty simple. Michelle (blogger at the aforementioned Gilded Hare) said all she did was roll out her clay, shape it into a featherish shape, press down the sides (leaving the raised vein in the centre), and drag through lines with a toothpick to create the texture. I thought, "I can do that." So I tried. 

I didn't really follow the instructions properly, AND it turns out that my DAS clay didn't survive more than a year in storage, so I had to toss it. But I bought another brand of clay from Dollarama and went to work anyway. It only took me about 15 minutes to fashion two feathers. Here's how they look:

Note: They clay is grey/brown when wet, but is supposed to dry white. These aren't dry yet, so they're still a little dirty looking. Don't mind that.
Nailed it? No. But this wasn't a complete loss. Michelle's are WAY better than mine, I know. But for a first-attempt, I'm not unhappy. Here are the things I know I did wrong:

1) I didn't follow the instructions about pressing down to make the quill-line. Rather, I made a skinny worm of clay and pressed it into the centre. Not the same effect. Next time, I'll press down like I was supposed to. 

2) I stunk up the holes/hanging loops. These were just hard to do! I will have to practice or something. 

3) I think my feather-edges were too uniform. Next time, I will make them more ragged and natural, and I'll be more careful with the texturing. 

Nonetheless, as far as crafting goes, I'd call this a win. You know how ugly some of my efforts are, and these guys really don't look bad, even if they aren't perfect. What do you think of them? Can you imagine some use for them? Mobile? Holiday decor? What else? 

Also, P.S. I should probably have used a better clay, but the Dollarama version was a good bet for my practice runs. The brick was only $1.25 and I can practice with that to my heart's content. Then, once I'm good, I'll make some with better materials. Unless you don't want me to. Just say the word.
 
 
I was flipping through an issue of Country Living the other day and I came across a little story on tools by Estwing Manufacturing and I thought ... "Hey, those look familiar."

I have a vintage Estwing hammer, once my grandfather's, then my father's, now mine. I've had it for years, and though I actually have a couple of other hammers in my tool box, this one is my favourite by far. And now I know why! According to CL:
"Swedish immigrant Ernest Estwing was a self-taught engineer who started as a six-cents-an-hour machinist before eventually striking out on his own in 1923. His big idea: Hammers forged from a single piece of steel would be stronger than the traditional wood-handled models. He developed prototypes in his garage and then patented his 'unbreakable' design."
Photo from Country Living taken by Alison Gootee/Studio D; Styling: Paola Andrea.
Tool shown: Estwing sportsman ax with leather grip.
These bad boys really do seem to be unbreakable. My hammer, though old and worn, works beautifully and feels wonderful and aerodynamic in my hand. The leather-wrapped handle is soft and the patina is lovely. Apparently, Estwing had already been making tools for a couple of years by the time he opened his first factory in 1925. I'm not sure how old my hammer is, but I suppose it doesn't really matter. It's just a great tool.

You can still get Estwing tools today. A brand-spankin'-new Estwing Leather Claw Hammer (English Pattern) costs about $30 and looks like this: 
My vintage one, however, looks more like this:
I think i'm going to keep my eyes peeled for more leather-handled vintage tools by Estwing. Maybe start a bit of a collection.
 
 
Mason jars. They're not just for weddings anymore! I mean ... they're not just for preserving anymore! I mean ... they're not just for crafting anymore! 

MASON JARS ARE NOW EVERYWHERE AND THEY ARE FOR EVERYTHING.

But seriously, you've noticed, right? The whole mason jar thing? We've all seen them at weddings and on Pinterest. We've all noted them containing laughably-small amounts of flour on whatever cooking show is cool this season. (Who stores single servings of flour, I ask you?) We've all seen them corralling nails on The Most Adorable Workbench EVA!™ (as if the sort of people who use serious workbenches hang up their filthy coveralls only to channel Martha Stewart by night).

Just last week, I saw a gal drinking her coffee out of a mason jar. Her morning coffee. She's knitted some sort of sleeve/cosy to keep the heat from hurting her hand through the glass (I think). She wasn't even going to a wedding. She was just chillin' with her mason-jar coffee.

Mason jars are taking over the world. If they were sentient, they'd already be in charge.
Ball put these limited-edition blue mason jars out not that long ago. Green ones are available too.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining ... exactly. I like a nice mason jar as much as the next lady. I enjoy the mysteriousness of the freemason brotherhood. In the 1990s, I was into the Canadian band Wide Mouth Mason. I was into masons before they were cool, okay? I have nothing against masons. 

Here's something I think, though: Mason jars might be best-used for preserving. Maybe. (I am actually uncertain about this, rather than judgemental, so bear with me.) All I mean is that mason jars were designed for a specific purpose and they work beautifully at it and have done for, what, 150+ years? Something like that. So when you repurpose a mason jar, while your project may look crazy cute, you nearly always abandon some aspect of the jar's functionality -- the rubberized lid meant to create a seal, for example, is rendered useless in many repurpose projects. 

And that's fine, I guess. I mean, they're your mason jars and you should do whatever  you want with 'em. I just wonder if mason jars might not be the best tools for every job, you know? Are the projects worth the trouble?

Let's examine some projects that are adorable, and that I have considered, since I pretty much never preserve anything and I have a whole box of unused mason jars languishing in my basement right now, but that I have nonetheless NOT undertaken, for various reasons (laziness being the main one). 

1. Spice jars. So cute. BUT, I already have spice jars that I love AND I've noticed spice smells stay in the rubberized bits of mason jar lids forever, so if you mix up your lids, you're going to have some cross-smell contamination issues. (Is that a thing? I know I expressed it badly.) Also, while I think the chalkboard-painted lids are adorbs-to-the-max, doesn't all that painting seem like a lot of trouble? Am I wrong? Maybe I'll just stick with spice jars that were designed to be spice jars? 
These spice jar images hail from A Cozy Kitchen
2. Mini wall planters! These are really appealing, aren't they? I first saw the project online a couple of  years ago. Downsides from my perspective include having to discard the lids, having to attach the jars to the wood, having to find a spot for them that will get enough sun, having to deal with drainage (the jars have none), and just generally feeling like this is one of those things that looks great on day one, but might be impossible for a person like me to maintain.
Wall-planter project pics (and instructions) from Not Just a Housewife.
3. Pendant lamp shades! Again, while lovely-to-look at, I'm just not sure I have the will to complete such a project. You'd need the lighting kits, which aren't that cheap. Or you'd need to be handy with electric stuff. I think they look best in a cluster, so you probably shouldn't make just one, etc. All that said, this project is one of my favourites. (Shout out to Kerry at First Time Fancy who just posted her own mason-jar-chandelier project  just today: Holy cow, Kerry! I am wowed by your DIY prowess.)
All pendant lamp project images and instructions are from/at the Dutch site Woon blog.
4. Bathroom storage. Again, cute. Very cute. Here's why I don't like it: no lids. Bathrooms get muggy and if your swabs and whatnot are out in the open, they will get swampy and dirty. You could keep the lids, but that would take away a lot of space and these containers are already very small.  I don't know about you, but when I buy cotton balls, they come in a big-ass bag. Where am I supposed to store my extra balls (ha), and how many times am I supposed to refill these jars in a given month? Maybe the lady who did this is just a lot less lazy than I am. (Okay. All these project-people are less lazy than I am. Let's face it.) 
Images, etc. for the bathroom storage project can be found on the Liz Marie blog.
5. An advent calendar. Sure, you've have to affix the bottoms of the jars to something sturdy, so that the numbered lids face out (making for a very heavy calendar that I am not sure is child-friendly), and SURE, the jars are glass and transparent, so you'd have to line them with something to hide what's inside, but it's still a cute idea. I am just not sure it's practical.
All these images are from Studio DIY. Click through for instructions on making the calendar.
Look, here's what I need to know: Have any of you actually done anything like this with your mason jars?* Not just for the purposes of putting a pretty picture up on your blog? Have you found a legitimately good use for repurposed masons? Something that made the work worthwhile? Please tell me. I need to know the truth.

*Other than Kerry, of course, whose post was a timely coincidence that kind of negates everything I just asked. But maybe Kerry is an outlier? Someone with an unusual amount of energy?