Pretty little things make me happy

The lovely Brooke from Pure and Noble had a sale of some of her vintage items and I nabbed this cute little blue vase.  It reminds me of the Russel Wright dinnerware that I would love to collect.  It was sitting in my glass cupboard until I found a branch had broken off my new poinsettia plant during transport.  I couldn't bear to toss the pretty flower, and went to find a small vase - and voila!  I think it couldn't be more perfect.  Aren't the colours of the leaves gorgeous? They look painted on.

Sometimes the little things can make me so happy... :)

Christmas pinecone painting

The boys were a fabulous help with the Christmas decorating this year.  One of our favourite projects was collecting pinecones at the park and painting them when we got home.  We started by painting white on the edges to look like snow, but then the tubes of gold and glitter seemed like even more fun!  When they dried, I put them just about everywhere - I especially love how they look on the mantel and in amongst my beach stones.

The great thing about doing Christmas crafts is that they are instantly go on display - so gratifying for the kids.  It has me thinking about how I can incorporate even more of their art into my decor on a regular basis - any ideas?

Post-Christmas Peace

OK, I have to admit that I am sitting here a bit stunned.  Has Christmas really come and gone in a flash?  It was such a mad rush around here getting ready for visitors, decorating, finishing up school, and putting the basement back together; then wrapping, stuffing, eating, unwrapping, eating, and more eating!  

The basement was finished in the very nick of time - I was doing the final clean of the bathroom when my in-laws drove in, exhausted from 6 days of driving here from Alberta.  So I haven't had much of a chance to sit back and enjoy it yet, but I look forward to doing just that, and snapping a few photos.  The next day I enjoyed a rousing Sing Along Messiah at Massey Hall (so much fun!) and was home in time to chat with my parents, who arrived at my brothers' after a 2-day drive up from New Brunswick.  

Christmas Eve we celebrated here with the Petriks, enjoying an amazing salmon dinner in the Czech tradition.  The next morning my folks stopped by to watch the boys open their ridiculous number of gifts and we had a yummy strada for brunch (my mother-in-law truly spoils us with her cooking!).  Later that evening I made my way to my brother's for our traditional turkey Christmas dinner and it was nice to hang out with my family. We all headed back to Malcolm's (my brother) for brunch the next morning, and he served up delicious hand-made beignets (a tradition my Dad started when we were little of having New-Orleans-style beignets on Christmas morning!).

Now Chris is back at work, his folks are out for lunch with a friend, and the boys are ensconced with Max and Ruby.  I am enjoying a relative moment of quiet and feel like it must have all been some vivid dream!  How lovely though to sit peacefully with a cup of tea, the Christmas lights on, and a blanket of powdery white snow outside.  Always nice to have the simple moments give meaning to the full and festive moments, and vice-versa.

I hope you all enjoyed the peaceful and the festive over the last few weeks.  Here are some photos I managed to grab of our home this year - I went for a little more gold and sparkles this year, and pulled out lots of my thrifted brass treasures!  The boys and I were a little sparkle factory here as well doing our Christmas crafts - I think we will be finding them around the house 16 years from now.

So friends, did you have a nice holiday? :)

Merry Christmas Blog Buddies!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody!  I hope you were able to enjoy a few of those magical moments of quiet, surrounded by loved ones, feeling peace and joy.  xoxo.

A Cozy Reading Nook Guest Post

Happy Friday/End of the World guys!  I don't know about you, but I am ready for a wee break (insofar as a few weeks of intense family visit time is 'a break', lol!).  Things have been super busy the last few weeks, especially considering I am retired! :)

A few weeks ago I was approached by a freelancer agent, who was wondering if I ever posted articles from other authors on Wicked & Weird.  I have done some guest-post-hosting, but never actually invited submission, so I thought - why not?  Heaven knows freelance writers could use a break now and then.  So here is the article I chose - all about setting up a cozy reading nook (a must-have in every home, as far as I am concerned!).  Let me know what you think of the whole concept of writer-submitted posts in the comments - I am curious as to your thoughts. :)

Whether reading a graphic novel, piece of fiction, cookbook, coffee table book, mystery, comedy, romance or poetry book, make your reading nook all your own. Here are some ideas to give your reading space character.

A Crime Fiction Cave

From Stieg Larsson's “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to Dan Brown's “The Da Vinci Code,” crime novels are filled with mystery and intrigue to the extreme. These books offer a chance to travel through time and space to far away lands as one attempts to solve a crime before the book ends. How would the mystery lover like their reading nook to look and feel? An understair storage is a great location because it's dark, cozy, and mysterious. If you don't tell anyone about this hideaway, you can immerse yourself in all the guilty pleasure you can handle. Hang a framed photo of a weathered handwritten note with a bloodstain. The Shade Store's drapery will come in handy as you cloak a velvet curtain in the corner. Add some battery-operated flameless LED flickering candles to the space, and scare yourself at any noise coming from outside of your thriller sanctuary.

Your Fantasy Escape

Do you prefer misty mountains, fantastical forests, and epic adventures? Escape into an alternate universe as you channel C.S. Lewis and climb into your own wardrobe transformed into a reading nook? Or, better yet, grab a book and fly the coop as you head out the door to a secret location in a nearby park, garden, forest, mountainside or beach bluff to depart from your daily grind and get lost in a fantasy land of fairies, witches, knights, princesses, unicorns, and magic.
If daydreaming is more your style, consider adding dark greens and pastel pinks. Soft light can illuminate through flameless LED candles, twinkle lights, or by running a lamp with a colored bulb into the space. Be sure there is tulle draped from the ceiling to all walls. Add images of fairies and mysterious forests. A liquid motion water wave feature would add that extra touch of nature to your escape.

Science Fiction, Solar System

If Arthur C. Clarke's 2001— “A Space Odyssey,” George Orwell's “1984,” and Aldous Huxley's “Brave New World” float your boat, a Sci-Fi inspired space is in the stars for you. There are so many directions you can take for the futuristic reading nook. For example, deck it out with universe-inspired decor using a planet projector, glow in the dark stars, and colors that take you right off of this green earth and into the darkness of space. Or, consider a restoration decor that marries elements of the past with an imagined future of nautilus, time travel and space exploration that jump off the pages of your favorite literary masterpieces. Incorporate brass wall switches and exposed gear clocks. Mix leather with lace and velvet. Put weathered maps on the walls. Maybe even some aviator-style goggles, a pith helmet, and a corset. Who cares what the cat thinks.

Victoria James Daughter of a designer and home ec teacher, Victoria learned everything she would ever need to know about being a successful designer from her mother. Victoria loves passing her mother's secrets on to readers.

Basement update: the rug arrives

Notice I didn't say it was installed, but at least it arrived and my nervous little eyes got a glimpse of it.  I like it.  The wall colour I am not so sure on - sure looks blue more than grey.  But at this point I would settle for a finished basement of any colour.

In-laws arrive in two days... well, one and a half really... no worries... I have faith!

My Christmas Wish List, er, ideas

Dear Husband, you know how you keep saying that I am so hard to shop for and you never know what to get me (even though I have an entire BLOG about things I admire and would love to acquire)?  I have made a list for you.  Some of these are a little spendy, it's true, especially since we made that deal about no gifts this year...  And considering you tell me pretty much daily that we have too many rugs (and chairs), I have too much jewellery (some nonsense about not enough fingers to wear all those rings), that we have too many pillows (never!) and too much art (since we seem to have run out of walls), and of COURSE that I have too many clothes (pffft), I have a hard time imagining you getting any of this.  Which is actually fine, because, (keep this to yourself), I actually agree with all of the above.  So consider the above simply a pretty picture of pretty things that kind of appeal to me.

Starting with that goooooorgeous ring (sorry, I am drooling like Homer all over my computer) from Toronto artist Kate Zabone.  And yeah, yeah, too many rugs, but...wouldn't this look amazing in our basement??  Lucky for you I don't know where it comes from, but I saw it on Beci Orpin's blog.  The t-shirt and twisted gold bangle are from the Invisible Children shop I blogged about the other day.  That second druzy ring is from a lovely Etsy shop called Illumanence (I highly recommend a visit for the rest of you), and the bracelets are the MoonRox ones I used pure steel will power not get at the OOAK show.  And, sweet hubster, you will be happy to know that those pillows are FAUX fur and ON SALE at Restoration Hardware.  I mean, for the others out there who may purchase them... And the lovely round painting is actually only 2 inches in diameter and is a magnet!  Cool, right?

Now if only YOU had a blog I could peruse for ideas... on the other hand... it would be all about ridiculously expensive bikes you don't need, and I don't need a blog for that. :)

xo, your loving wifey


I was not going to mention the recent tragedy in Connecticut on the blog, but I have been unable to think of much else this weekend.  I have tried to avoid the details - knowing that it happened at all is enough to send me into a tailspin.  I can't stop thinking of those parents, of the young children and the women who worked there, and the agony they must be in, knowing that what I imagine against my will is nothing, nothing, even close to their reality.  I can do nothing but send them all my compassion and love, and breathe in every moment I have with my own sweet boys.

Exposing my inner window geek

Greene and Greene Gamble House doors and windows

Hey guys, I wanted to let you know about my guest post for the Fieldstone Windows and Doors blog.  Our family gets pretty excited about building materials, so I ended sending them off more than they had probably bargained for - but that's what happens when you ask a Mackay to talk about windows and doors, am I right Mackays?  I focussed on the American Arts and Crafts style, so if you would like to read my essay post, head on over.

Foxy Stuff

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My Pinterest feed is overflowing with foxes!  They are the latest woodland animal to capture everyone's imagination, and will look great beside all the owl stuff you bought over the last couple of years...and the bird things before that.  Any bets on the next trendy animal?  I want hedgehog, but I don't think it is hipster enough - too obviously cute.  Wolf is too close to fox, maybe opossum? :)  Woodpecker?  Honey Badger? :p

Shopping for a good cause: Invisible Children

Invisible Children and its campaign against Joseph Kony attracted a huge amount of media attention earlier in the year, not all of it positive.  In my mind, it was a powerful and effective use of social and traditional media to not only bring specific African atrocities to light, but also to successfully engage and mobilize people in a 'new school' grassroots effort to make change happen.

The organization continues to work hard towards its goals, and this holiday season it has launched an online store selling artisanal African goods, including beautiful jewellery, bags, scarves, and shoes, with 100% of the profits going towards supporting Invisible Children's mission.  100% - astounding!  Now, having worked in many a non-profit organization, I know that there are many ways to explain the distribution and allocation of funds, and it is easy to nit-pick a claim such as this.  However, it beats the pants off buying pink nail polish and having 2% (or sometimes 0% - see "pink-washing") go towards fighting breast cancer.  And the products are both gorgeous and affordable!  I call that a win-win-win.  Now let's look at the pretty:

So many beautiful things - I don't think there is one thing on there I wouldn't love to have (with special love for bracelets).  The scarves, bags and shoes are equally awesome (and the shoes are produced in collaboration with Canadian-based Olibert√© Shoes).  So if you have anyone left on your holiday list...start shopping!

Basement Update: The Carpet


Nothing terribly exciting to report folks, but I DID make my way up to Highway 400 and Langstaff to pick my carpet for the basement.  Our sample piece that we had kept to show the insurance people and contractors had been thrown away - a fact I discovered as I rushed downstairs to get it on my way out the door.  Oops.  No biggie, I grabbed some heavy duty scissors, pliers and screwdrivers (leverage) and yanked and slashed a piece from the stairs.  I guess we're doing the stairs.

The designer I met with pulled this one (above) out almost before I had shown her the old one.  I liked that it was a bit darker (the old one shown spots super easily) and had a tighter weave.  I am hoping the tighter weave conducts the heat from the in-floor heating a little better than the plusher one did.  I looked through a handful of other samples, but this one worked for me.  I was also distracted by grilling her about her background and how she got into interior design (she had a background in marketing and no formal schooling).  Sadly, there were no extra samples to bring with me, but I left feeling pleased.

Of course about 11:30 pm last night I couldn't sleep worrying that it was too dark, too grey, too muddy.  I only had my iPhone photos, and around midnight I got out of bed, went down and interrupted the DVD Chris was watching to check the photos against the pictures of the former finished basement.  He was less than impressed.  Then today I sent my mom the iPhone photos and she reassured me that it would look fine and reminded me to trust in myself.


Jeepers, how long will it take before I get to be confident in my own decisions, and not always second guess them?  Or is that simply my nature?  The bigger the commitment, the more I stress (just ask my husband). Anyway, I put together a bit of a moodboard on Olioboard with the new carpet and a new paint colour, plus a few new accessories to go with the 'warm, cozy' vibe I was hoping the new carpet would bring.

The carpet here is a screen grab from the manufacturer website, which (incorrectly I hope) shows the colour I picked as being much darker than I had in my photos.  But maybe if I add lots of textures (anyone want to get me some Mongolian fur pillows for Christmas?  Or maybe I'll try the fake ones from Amazon...and yowza, that throw from Anthro!) and a beautiful warm kilim carpet it will make the place more of a cozy den.  I have my darker David Hannan painting (similar to the one pictured here) and the sepia photos of Prague from an old calendar that I framed.  And Dad made me a gorgeous full length mahogany-framed mirror (or rather made it for himself and I stole it) ... But... I just liked how the light carpet reflected the light from the pot lights and made it feel less like a basement.  SIGH.  Stupid tree.

Amazing how I have no problem making other people's decor and design decisions, but am completely stymied by my own.  Never-the-less, there are supposedly people coming tomorrow to start fixing the drywall, so maybe it will be done in time for the in-laws after all!  The sooner the damn carpet is in, the less time I will have to stress about it.

It's time to get personal(ized)

I recently got an email from, a British online marketplace for beautiful, one-of-a-kind personalized gifts.  I quickly looked over the site... and 5 hours later... I had a basket full of gift idea for everyone I knew (sorry guys, I did the responsible thing and decided to blog about it instead of buying it all!)  They kindly offered me a gift from the market - or should I say shrewdly, since of course I love way too much on there, can't decide what to get, and am going to blog about it!

Started by two women, Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker, is a place where over 3,000 independent artists and craftspeople can sell their products.  It is kind of like Etsy, only the products and artists are carefully selected and vetted for quality and dependability, and for the most part they maintain a certain vibe.  I am not sure when it was started in relation to Etsy (I suppose I could do some research, huh?), but these ladies have been racking up awards like crazy as the site has grown.  It is definitely as addictive as Etsy, that's for sure!  But on to the good stuff; here are some of my favourites from the site.  I was going to do one board, but there is just so much good stuff on there, it kind of got out of hand!

Weekend Update

Many of you have been asking for a basement report and I always oblige my dear readers.  These are photos of my basement on the 15th of November.  Should you photoshop out the heaters and fans, and add a lot of dust, you would have a completely accurate image of our basement as of tonight.  Did I mention that this is also our guest room and that my in-laws are arriving (with their beautiful white boxer Sunny) two weeks this Saturday?  Just checking to see if I had mentioned that...

Anyhoo...  Hopefully the nest two weeks will be FULL of basement reports!

Instead of worrying about our basement, we threw ourselves into family time this weekend.*  We had our last swimming lessons, made our way through Santa in the Junction (which was really fun) and went to see the Canadian Pacific holiday train.

The next day we all went to see Raffi, and the boys and I were so excited.  After the concert we went for dinner at the pub for a special end to a special weekend.  I wouldn't even trade it for a finished basement...

What about you - how was the first weekend of December?

*Actually, I threw myself into Mommy-Night-Out a little too forcefully on Friday night and felt the bruises thoughout family weekend...