Endless Spring

You may have figured out by now that I am a bit of a flower nut (I am only just realizing the extent of it myself).  Although the weather has not been great in the Maritimes so far this summer, it has worked out beautifully for me, as I get to experience all the gorgeous blooms of spring all over again!  In particular, my parents have two varieties of peonies that are just spectacular.  I have no idea what their names are, but the first is a creamy colour, with just a hint of yellow and an incredible scent.  The second is this glorious pink and yellow number that has no scent but it one of the most striking flowers I have seen.  The fronds inside look like they belong deep in the ocean on a reef with clown fish poking their heads out of them.  I do hope you are not sick of my endless flower photos, because here are a few more:
 I wish you could smell the first one - just gorgeous...

Josef Schulz at Contact 2011

While travelling out East, I had the pleasure of seeing Josef Schulz's photography displayed in Terminal 1 at Pearson Airport as part of the 2011 CONTACT Photography Festival (you will have to excuse my blurry iPhone shots).  Its basic geometrical subjects could not have been better suited to the modern steel-beemed architecture of the terminal, and the vivid colours were arresting in the vast natural light.  I also loved the experience of viewing them while on the moving sidewalk, maybe they should have them installed in galleries!

Dusseldorf-based Shulz takes photographs of ubiquitous and utilitarian warehouses and industrial buildings, and then edits them to remove any identifying details. Windows, doors, chimneys, signs - all are stripped away to reveal the most basic shape and colours.  You can tell by looking at them that they aren't natural, but they are clearly photographs... I found it an interesting commentary on the line between "real" and "fake/manipulated" in photography.
Here is the info on the CONTACT site with regards to this installation, and a great roundup by BlogTO of some of the most interesting exhibitions in this year's festival.  I am so happy I got to see this one - I wish I could have seen more of them!

Home Sweet Home

Arrived in New Brunswick yesterday and today was delighted to have the sun come out and greet us.  I am completely beat.  Traveling with two toddlers alone is exhausting, and the night before we left was the Canadian Design Bloggers event.  The event was just beautiful, at Brassai on King Street, and with Tommy Smythe as the keynote speaker (he was hilarious), but I have to admit I left feeling a bit blue - there are so many wonderful, talented design bloggers out there - hundreds in Toronto alone.  Made me wonder even more why I keep this one going, or have the nerve to think anyone cares...ah well, hopefully it is a short-lived funk!  Certainly being here can't help but help, just take a look at my folks' wonderful garden, and that amazing view!
 Here's hoping for some fabulous weather and good times while we are here!

Hooray for Online Style at Home!

Oh how this postal strike is hurting me, really and deeply hurting me.  I have not had any design mag fix in AGES, and don't even get me started on Etsy deliveries...  But my withdrawal shakes have simmered down to mere trembles, thanks to the delivery of the latest Style at Home magazine to my email inbox. Phew! And what an issue it is.  I don't know if my perspective is enhanced by my recent deprivation, but I love everything about this issue - the photos, the styling, the stories, the tips, the DIYs - it is all amazing.  Here are some of my favourite images - including the gorgeous photo of HGTV blogger Elana Safronsky below.  Look at that light!  I wonder if they can come and make me look that good?  All the images are like this; perfectly balanced, full of light, and loaded with gorgeous colours and inspiration.  Bravo Style at Home!
So much great eye candy - I can't wait to get my paper copy.  Thanks for the quality content Style at Home.
Image 1: Photography Mike Deluca • Image 2: photography Louis Morningstar • Images 3, 4, 5 & 6: Photography Stacey Brandford, Styling Margot Austin • Image 7: Photography Stacey Van Berkel Haines, Styling Margot Austin • Images 8 & 9: Photography Edward Pond • Image 10: Photography Stacey Van Berkel Haines

Great Canadian Blogs

At January's Canadian Design Bloggers meet-up I discovered SO MANY amazing, smart, beautiful, and inspirational Canadian blogs.  My google reader instantly doubled in size, and I pledged to make a separate Canadian blog roll on the side.  With the next meet-up of the Canadian Design Bloggers happening this Saturday (so excited) I figured it was HIGH TIME to get my act together and make good on my pledge!  So there it is, over on the side, and honestly, it grows pretty much every day. I am sure after Saturday's festivities it will expand even more!  I thought I would pick just a few to highlight so you can add them to your readers too.  Here are some of the ones I jump to when I see they have a new post up:

The Lindsay behind Aubrey & Lindsay's Little House Blog is the same mutli-talented lady who is running the Bloggers Give Back project that I keep blogging about.  She is so sweet and approachable, and that kind personality shines through in her writing.  The blog is her account of all the work she and her husband have done and are doing to their house, both major and minor.  It also includes other fun tid-bits from her life, including accounts of their adorable son, parties, cake making, her business (Penny People Designs) and life in the Upper Beaches of Toronto.  Their Ikea Rast hack has been seen just about everywhere on the web, and even I have been tempted to try it.

Jen writes this great DIY home blog called Rambling Renovators, and the things she and her Handyman husband have done to their Toronto house are outstanding.  It is therefore no surprise that this blog has been profiled in House & Home, Style at Home, the Globe and Mail, Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge, and on and on and on!  She even went on the Nate Berkus Show to show how they did the paneling in the bedroom.  They also have an adorable little girl, who has inspired beautiful birthdays and crafts that Jen is kind enough to share - in really thoughtful parenting posts.  Again, a girl with similar taste to mine, but with the guts to take on big projects and do them brilliantly (and with a garage workshop I completely envy).

Sarah has a great blog called Sarah Wandering, and again, (in my opinion) beautiful taste.  An architectural designer by trade, she uncovers some stunning homes and buildings online. She also shares her own unique style in chronically the decor in her home in Toronto, and I especially love when she uses objects from her family's treasure trove in the Southwest-Ontario farm town where she grew up.  Her DIYs are kind of legendary, and probably occupy 50% of my "Someday I Will Do That" list.  Also she has great hair, and an adorable lab.

Bess Callard is a talented graphic designer based in Montreal with a sweet shop of kids (or adult!) prints.  She is also the Illustrator for Pure Green magazine, a fantastic online magazine with a focus on eco-inspired living.  Her English Muffin blog is full of lovely photos and finds, but my favourite is her Canadiana series, which highlights the work of Canadian artisans.  She also chooses some great music, and hers is one of those blogs that I keep clicking through to see where she finds things!  Oh and someday I will do this project.  Someday.

Shannon is another Toronto-based blogger who has a fun feminine style.  Her What's Up Whimsy blog is full of eye candy, funky finds, and original DIYs.  She just finished her son's room and it is unlike any you have seen on other blogs, which is not easy to do.  She also dabbles in event design, and her son's last birthday was also totally original.  She has a series on her blog called A House is not a Home without Craig's List, which as you can imagine, I am completely addicted to.

I have only recently discovered Barbara's Vancouver-based Hodge Podge blog but I am already hooked.  She is the DIY Queen of Canada (I enjoy handing out royal titles).  Her projects are always stylish and affordable, and just enough of a stretch beyond my skills that I think I could learn to do them (well some of them).  Her column So Canadian, eh? is what brought me to her blog.  Barbara interviews people connected to the Canadian style and design community in an effort to bring them some exposure and somehow identify what constitutes "Canadian style."  Her recent interview with Christiane Lemieux of Dwell Studio is one of my faves.

Renee's blog Eat. Live. Shop. is an obvious obsession.  I mean, it is called "Eat. Live. Shop." for pete's sake.  She has the funkiest style, and has introduced me to many new clothing and jewellery designers through her posts.  She puts together some fashion mood boards that combine things that I would never have thought of together, and always inspire me to push beyond my boring basics (although I never really do...).  She has great DIY's of the "I could totally do that this weekend" variety, and her column Cool Shit is chock full of, well, cool shit.

I will try not to sound like a gushing, mildly overly obsessive fan when I describe this blog.  It is one of the first ones I check every day.  Mostly because I have decided I want to be Emma when I grow up.  Her house is beautiful, so perfectly but uniquely styled, and recently got a Sneak Peak tour on Design*Sponge (another one of my all-time fave blogs).  Her taste is 100% my style, only waaaaay better.  Plus she works as an exhibition designer at the AGO, which at one point in my life was my dream job (I even have a degree in Museum Studies).   Her Hello Neighbour posts are the highlight of my voyeuristic blog reading: all homes in the Parkdale area of Toronto, all with exceptional style, all beautifully and professionally photographed.  Heaven for someone who tries to peek into people's homes when I am out on a walk in the evening to see how they have decorated (don't tell me you don't do this!).

OK, there are about a dozen more I was going to add, but my wine and some sleep are calling my name.

But rest assured - click on any link in that blog roll and you will find gold.  Solid, Canadian gold.

Music I Like: Aidan Knight

I think I first heard Victoria-native Aidan Knight at an amazing vintage store in Kelowna (Frock - it is so, so good. I never leave empty-handed.) I downloaded his album Versicolour immediately and it is one of my go-to albums.  Mellow and folky, but so original and smart, it is full of those songs that seem to be the perfect soundtrack to whatever you are doing.  Suddenly washing the dishes slows down, the room is lit with flickering sunlight, and you realize that this simple moment is actually epic and life is pretty damn amazing... know what I mean?  His song The Sun does this to me every time.  You can download his songs from his website and see some of his more produced videos, but I wanted to show you these live videos - having listened so much to his album I can't help but love the fresh and sprawling take on his songs.

The Sun

Jasper with Dan Mangan - I have to admit that I feel a little patriotic as I watch them singing in the Rockies with their parkas and toques... :)

Aidan Knight - Giants of the Forest - Episode Five from Amazing Factory Productions Inc. on Vimeo.

California Architecture Do-Over

Tonight I stumbled across this beautiful home designed by Rob Quigley for the Vivrette family in Laguna Beach.  I immediately loved the openness of the house with entire walls of windows joining the living space with that amazing view, and all the warm wood tones throughout the house.  However, the truly unique part of this story is that the Vivrettes inherited the property from his parents, including a pre-existing home on the site - also designed by Rob Quigley.  It was one of Quigley's very first projects, and although the Vivrette Seniors had enjoyed it and lived there until they were eighty, they found the layout over several floors and levels increasingly challenging as they aged.  When the Vivrette Juniors got the home, they invited Mr. Quigley back to tear down the first house and build another, single-level home.  The architect was delighted to take on this project and "redeem what I call the sins of my youth." The fabulous story can be found in Orange Coast magazine (find the link here), but here are some of the photos from the architect's site.
Photographs by Brighton Noying.  Found via Design Elements Blog.