Posts from December 2019

Moody beach

December 31, 2019

I love to walk a beach on an overcast day, when the sky and sea is a watercolour of lilacs and greys and the sand is cool and damp under my feet. There are no kites, parasols and coolers to distract the eye from nature’s raw beauty. The sun, in all its glory, demands so much, that it leaves little room for much else.  At it’s height, the light is white and blinding, unlike moody days when the tones are muted and nuanced. Of course, we must see the majesty of a sun-filled sky, in order to appreciate the quiet beauty of an overcast one. And vice versa.

basket case

December 31, 2019

Baskets are such an inexpensive, and playful way to decorate a wall. We have a heap of baskets that my Mum brought back from Zimbabwe, that over the years have moved from one wall to another. You can create a striking, symmetrical design, or opt for something more haphazard, as shown here.

art party

December 28, 2019

I love the person daring enough, playful enough, to use their own walls as a canvas for an abstract painting. Also, pink and orange is a truly winning colour combination. Can’t afford giant art? Invite your friends over for a painting party. Give them a wall. Some brushes. And a palette of your favourite hues. If it’s not the Rauschenberg you hoped for, just paint over it, and start again. It’s only paint, after all.


December 28, 2019

I love curved design –– oblong mirrors, round staircases, sofas shaped like a kidney beans –– as I think it brings warmth, softness and play to a room. From the 1950s Federico Munari armchairs, to the vintage console by Pucci de Rossi, to that earthenware dish by Helle Damkjaer, this Paris apartment is all curves. Even the bathtub from Leroy Merlin is shaped like an egg. Have a look around, you may just want to move in.

christmas spirit

December 24, 2019

Look at this festive display at the Dior store in Paris. Air balloons yes, but they also look like Fabergé eggs. I’ve always loved sumptuous, over-the-top window displays, and the Europeans do go all out at Christmas time, transforming shop windows into pages from a magical storybook. Toronto is a new city, and a multi-faithed one at that. So, I do appreciate the way the city respectfully celebrates its many people and faiths at this time of year. Type Books always does something whimsical and unique with its window, as does the lovely clothing boutique, Gaspard. I haven’t ventured out that much this holiday season, but I have noticed an abundance of white lights. More than usual, in fact. Bon Noël and Happy Hanukkah.


December 23, 2019

I was at a lovely flower shop yesterday, and the conversation between the owner and I veered to flower names, and how the English love them. Daisy. Iris. Rose. I met a girl called Amaryllis when I was a teenager, and ever since reading Kevin Henkes’ delightful children’s book, I’ve wanted to meet a Chrysanthemum. At the post office today, I did meet a sweet young girl with candyfloss pink hair called Magnolia. Her mum loved Gone with the Wind, and turned to the film for inspiration when naming her three daughters. Scarlett. Savannah. And Magnolia. “Maggie is my Starbucks name. Otherwise I am always Magnolia.”

cabin fever

December 20, 2019

If I owned a cabin in the woods this is how I’d decorate every room. A mix of lake life, oars and mallards, kantha textiles, and plenty of well worn wood. I can imagine whiling away a million of hours in this cozy nook. Can’t you?

tinsel town

December 20, 2019

I can’t think of a more festive look than Dovima in this fringed Chanel. The fringe looks like strands of tinsel. The photograph was taken by Cecil Beaton in 1953, but I can see this dress at any contemporary fête.

stairway to heaven

December 19, 2019

We’re building a round staircase in our little Victorian, inspired by Cycladic architecture, shells and a stringed instrument. At least, that’s how I’ve imagined it in my mind’s eye. So, every time I see a staircase that defies the norm, I stop and pay attention. This concrete beauty is sculpture, and I love the quiet elegance of this staircase here. The staircase at Palazzo Biscari is pure whimsy and romance.


December 17, 2019

I’ve never spent Christmas somewhere warm, or traded a turkey dinner for fish tacos on the beach. But that’s what we’ll be doing this year, and I’m pretty stoked about it. We’re flying out on Christmas day, which is also a first, and landing just in time to catch the sunset. Since having children, traditions are something I think about a lot. As a child, there were so many traditions to look forward to at Christmastime, from carols at midnight, to my giant quilted stocking, to the champagne jelly my Mum used to make. England at Christmastime is magical, and my memories belong in a Hans Christian Anderson novel. I wonder sometimes what my children’s associations with the holiday will be? The Lindt calendar they receive from their grandmother every year? The Panetone they eat on Christmas morning? The fights they have over who gets to place which ornament on what bough? It’s nostalgia that prompts me to gather round the fireplace to send the children’s hand written letters to Father Christmas up the chimney. And while I know that they enjoy such old fashioned traditions, I know that they are as much for me as they are for them, a desire to connect with my own childhood. Children don’t care whether it’s turkey or tacos, a Balsam tree or a Palm tree. The magic of Christmas prevails regardless of such details. It’s in the anticipation. It’s in the imagination. It’s in that fleeting belief that maybe, just maybe, reindeers really do fly. So, I can sprinkle my sugar plum fairy dust with the stories I tell, the traditions I pass on, but the real magic, that’s something that children have within them. And that’s what we remember. And that’s what we hold on to.

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