On the Rocks

Popularized by UK retailer Mocha, Nordic Rock Stone Ice Cubes are the new chic way to cool your drink. This product - made literally of stone, is such a hot item it's nearly impossible to find in stock; but US retailer Teroforma has become a serious competitor with Whisky Stones now available through several Canadian retailers including iQliving, Teatro Verde, and La Merceria.  Whisky Stones will make great gifts for the men in your life - especially those addicted to AMC's Mad Men TV series. Simply add a few chilled stones to your drink and enjoy! So cool! (...no pun intended.)

J xx


The Raja Collection

Today I have found some of the most beautiful fabric placemats in the world! These deliciously color-saturated placemats are handmade and eco friendly.  In 2006, Creator Sylvia Pedder-Khanna launched Simrin, a Brooklyn-based firm that offers a collection of table linens, glassware and serving trays in an assortment of bold colors and Indian-inspired patterns. The Raja Collection will brighten up your table and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser among your dinner guests!

J xx


'Tee' for Two

Designer Soon Mo Kang created this very clever tea packaging concept entitled Hanger Tea. The tea bags are shaped like tee shirts and hang on little cardboard hangers from the package's hanger rod. The tea 'shirts' can be hung securely and conveniently on the rim of your tea cup. Unfortunately Hanger Tea is merely a concept, but I have a feeling that it won't be long until it becomes available to purchase. Hanger Tea is a fresh, modern take on tea packaging and will make great gifts for tea lovers everywhere!

J xx

Royal Refuge

I never had an affinity for crowns or anything characteristic of royalty until they started gracing home accessories.  I love this idea because there's no better place than your home to evoke feelings of privilege and respect using a little bit of crown ornamentation.  We may not run in the same circle as monarchs, but there's nothing stopping us from using a regal aesthetic to create our own majestic quarters.  Any one of these items is just enough to remind you that there's no place more important than home!

J xx

1.  SoapyChica, Royal Crown Soap available at notmassproduced.com: This regal soap has a traditional English Rose fragrance. Created from a unique luxury shea and avocado soap recipe. Leaves skin soft and sweetly fragrant.  No harsh chemicals or palm oil.  Soap is not mass produced and made to order.
Click to: www.notmassproduced.com

2.  Ballard Designs, Crown Bath Rug: Made by the same company that supplies bathroom rugs for many of the world's finest hotels, the whimsical crown design is woven from blended yarns, making it wonderfully soft under bare feet, yet incredibly durable. Edges are bound and serged to prevent raveling.
Click to: www.ballarddesigns.com

3.  Graham and Green, Crown Bottle Stopper: If there is any wine left, why not top off the bottle in style with this unique antiqued silver plated crown bottle stopper fit for a Queen.
Click to: www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

4.  Ballard Designs, Crown Hooked Pillow: This pillow is a must have for any well-decorated palace or home. The regal design is based on Britain's priceless imperial crown jewels. Hand hooked of 100% wool, cream cotton velvet reverse, and poly-fill insert.
Click to: www.ballarddesigns.com

5. Modern Chic Home, Royal Crown Hooks: These vintage inspired crown hooks are made of sturdy metal in an antique gold finish. Perfect to use for “His & Hers” bath robes, guest towels, a tote bag, kitchen apron, umbrella, jewelry and much more! Available in four different crown styles.
Click to: modernchichome.com

6. The Orchard, Crown Embossed Ceramic Mug: Fantastically chic and far too good to be hidden in a cupboard.  The shabby chic, Crown embossed ceramic range has an aged finish to the ceramic and a subtle, ornate detailing on each piece.  These mugs look beautiful even more so when paired with the matching teapot, milk jug and sugar pot.
Click to: www.theorchardhomeandgifts.com


Cool Britannia

What I know about Britain is mostly hearsay. As far as London is concerned, I am told that the chocolate is tastier, the rain is frequent, and the Underground is the longest metro system in the world. I have read that traditional fish & chips is a must eat, and Westminster Abbey is a must see. The red telephone boxes have become monuments in their own right, and of course there's Abbey Road made famous by four lads from Liverpool.

My friend and her husband are moving to London come Spring, which makes my first visit across the pond a more pertinent reality. For Christmas I gave her a basket of all things unique to London, containing Marks & Spencer tea and biscuits, Cadbury UK chocolates including the famed Curly Wurly bar, Frommer's Born to Shop London traveler's companion, and the movie Notting Hill starring Britain's own Hugh Grant. But after coming across these cool products, I wish I had more room in the basket!

J xx

1.  Heal's, Cool Britannia Dinnerware: Celebrate being British with the Cool Britannia Dinnerware Range, designed and manufactured in England. This range lets you dine with pride with three of Britain's famous emblems decorating each piece of the set. Includes a dinner plate, side plate, bowl, mug and an egg cup.
Click to: www.heals.co.uk

2.  Jan Constantine, Pop Art Collection Pillows: The Constantine Collection includes original, hand-embroidered designs featured on exquisite textiles and home accessories that stand alone as unique speciality products in the interiors market. The Constantine Collection is designed for today, and each speciality item is destined to be an "heirloom of the future".
Click to: www.janconstantine.com

3. Miroslav Sasek, This is London, available at Chapters Indigo: From the Czech author/ illustrator of the "This is" series of books, This is London contains vibrant illustrations and presents impressions of London with its beautiful buildings, historic monuments, bridges, parks, shops and Piccadilly Circus, black cabs, Horse Guards, and famed Underground. The delightful narrative will charm both children and their parents. This is London, first published in 1959.
Click to: www.chapters.indigo.ca


The Cupcake Generation

The cupcake is the confectionary symbol of our generation. A friend suggested that cupcakes are irresistible because they are 'baby' cakes, and everything is empirically cuter when they are miniature.  While I wholeheartedly agree, many people attribute their popularity to their party favor versatility and modest portion sizes. Still others suggest their demand is maintained by cupcake bakeries setting up shop in every major city. We can't forget New York City's Magnolia (cupcake) Bakery made famous by Carrie and the girls in HBO's Sex and the City. Whatever the reason, the swirly frosting topper is reason enough to go cupcake crazy. Oh, and the taste isn't so bad either!

J xx

Here are some of my favorite products available to satisfy your cupcake cravings!

1.  Estilo Weddings, Cupcake Wrapper: Laser-cut cupcake wrapper.  Easily assembles to slip your favorite cupcake or candy-filled cup into a marvelous display. Chocolate Filigree design.  Create a beautiful cupcake tree, set at each place setting as a party favor, the possibilities are endless. Wrappers are for presentation only.
Click to: www.estiloweddings.com

2. Williams-Sonoma, Gift Cakelet Pan: Bakes six individual cakes shaped like gift-wrapped packages ready for decorating or dusting with confectioners' sugar. Made by Nordic Ware, the cast-aluminum pan has a premium nonstick finish that ensures easy release of the little cakes with all their detail intact.
Click to: www.williams-sonoma.com

3. Sur la Table, Wilton® Giant Cupcake Cake Pan: Great for birthdays! Giant cupcake cake pan is crafted of durable cast aluminum with premium nonstick interior for quick release and easy cleanup; heat-reflective exterior ensures even browning.
Click to: www.surlatable.com

4. Erin Bolger, The Happy Baker available at Chapters Indigo: While there are countless cookbooks on the market, as well as “chick lit” books about dating etiquette and escapades, there’s very little available on the unique topic of “Dating and Baking”…until now.
Click to: www.chapters.inidigo.ca


Chalet Chic

I don't ski or snowboard, I haven't been on a toboggan since childhood, and I can't remember the last time I threw a snowball. Despite being inexperienced in winter sports, I have had the privilege of enjoying a few chalet getaways with friends who are in fact, ski enthusiasts.  It wasn't the skiing tips that I reluctantly picked up, but the après-ski lifestyle that inspired me - especially the rustic decorating opportunities to create the perfect retreat after a long day on the slopes.

After recently learning about a friend's weekend ski plans, I decided to make as if I owned a chalet and decorate. In my search for chalet-inspired decor I came across some great items; the cleverest of which is the ski poll potato masher by black+blum!

J xx

1. Black Forest Decor, Winter Sports Ski Sign: a decorative sign personalized with your favorite ski resort. Measures 18 inch by 30 inch. Available on wood or metal.
Click to: www.blackforestdecor.com

2. Black Forest Decor, Cabin Tissue Box: a rustic wood log cabin tissue box that seems to always have an inviting trail of smoke coming from the chimney.
Click to: www.blackforestdecor.com

3. Ralph Lauren Home, Hardwick 16x16 throw pillow: RL's Indian Cove Lodge collection includes an eclectic assortment of buffalo checks, heritage plaids and luxurious cabling that captures a sense of rustic elegance that is both comforting and holiday-appropriate.
Click to: www.ralphlaurenhome.com

4.  black+blum, Spudski Potato Masher: a potato masher based on the old fashioned ski pole (note the cross stitch detail on the back of the rubber handle). It has an ergonomic easy to grip rubber handle that allows you to hold it from the side or from above.
Click to: www.black-blum.com


A Very Vintage Valentine

I am inspired by this lovely 1930s Valentine's Day card, one of many antique greeting cards that my father has collected from flea markets and antique dealers. The best part of buying a lot of old greeting cards is the handwritten messages you might find still legible inside the cards. To a collector this may reduce their value, but to a romantic it increases their worth exponentially!

What is it about all things old-fashion that make me feel brand new? I can't put my finger on it... I get this feeling of exhilaration that can only be compared to first love. Those butterflies and that feeling of not giving away too much too soon.  The sweetness of cotton candy, those pretty decorative edges, that watercolor dreaminess.  Ok, so I think I've answered my own question.

Valentine's day is the perfect occasion to wrap up something old-fashion and give to your loved ones. Buying antique goods may require a fair bit of research and effort, so if you lack motivation or can't find the time, consider purchasing modern items with an old-fashion aesthetic.

J xx


The Meaningful Gift Generator

Has the extent of your holiday shopping sucked the joy and creativity out of year-round gift giving? Or, are you simply hard-pressed in deciding what to give your best friend for her birthday? If so, let me show you a simple way to generate unique and meaningful gift ideas.

The idea is to provide an experience or facilitate a mood, rather than simply gifting an object. Creating a mood through gift giving adds instant value and gives you some control over how the recipient feels about your gift.

Your 'movie buff' friend always receives DVDs for every gift giving occasion, and you'd like for a change to give your friend a suitable gift, but are reluctant to give her the same old thing. Besides, no one wants to spend money on a gift they are not excited about giving. So, how will you satisfy your friend's appetite for film in a way that is unique, meaningful, and worth your while?

If you are the gift giving type, money doesn't have to be an issue. You can spend more or less, as long as you ask yourself the relevant questions and think in terms of the experience your gift will create. You can still gift a DVD, but you want to ensure it is extra special.

Answer the following questions in sequence to generate a meaningful gift idea.

1. What does your friend enjoy doing most frequently?
2. What kinds of things, products or services, are associated with this activity?
3. What feeling or sentiment is commonly associated with this activity?
4. Further, is there a product that is associated with this feeling or sentiment?

1. Watching movies
2. DVD, popcorn, Cinema gift card
3. Relaxation
4. Candle, blanket

A movie to watch while wrapped up in a cozy fleece throw, 
relaxing on the sofa by candlelight.

J xx

Roots® Checked Fleece Throw: $29.99 CAD, Sears.ca
Voluspa Travel Tin Santiago Huckleberry Candle: $8-$12 CAD, Chapters Indigo Stores
DVD, The Big Chill (1983): $14.95 CAD, Chapters Indigo.ca

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