Friday, November 29, 2013

Sno of Sweden Holiday Jewelry Sale

If you are looking for Christmas gifts, I have just added a TON of new stock to my Sno of Sweden jewelry online collection. Living very close to the Sno sales headquarters in Canada allows me to make frequent buying trips and hand select the items I wish to put in the shop. To make room for the new stock, I have marked down many items and am also offering an additional 10% off all orders. Every items comes in a sating drawstring bag, boxed and tied with pink stain ribbons. FREE SHIPPING in Canada and USA.  To see the whole Sno of Sweden collection click HERE. Use the coupon code HOLIDAY.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I have searched a long time to find the right table for my front hallway. It proved to be quite elusive. I have tried no less than 8 tables since I've lived here. Some too small, some too large, wide, formal etc. I think I've found the right one at last. My house is tiny and the hallway quite dark and cramped. I bought this new, but old looking saw horse table, and it fits nicely into the space, still allowing just enough space for Sweet Mama's wheelchair to pass through. Smack in the middle of this wall is the door bell box and a light switch, making it impossible to hang most mirrors. I found this tall, skinny mirror in a second hand shop and it worked really well there. I balanced the space with a pair of photographic prints of Cuba and a pair of found antlers. Baskets are a must n this house to store boots and shoes, dog leashes, dog toys etc. These came from Home Sense and work well to contain the "stuff".  I have removed all the carpet on my stairs and, given I have an old cat and dog, I opted NOT to re-carpet or fork out for new wooden stairs, opting instead to sand the old builder grade stairs and paint them with White porch paint. It's looking much cleaner and fresher and the costs is $40.00 for the paint plus my time. 

Speaking of the house being small....the dining room is very narrow and with a large cabinet and table and chairs, it becomes a frustrating squish into the room when entertaining. We moved the cabinet to the other side and have pushed the table over to the right. The plan is to add banquette seating on the wall under the blackboard so 3 or 4 people can sit on that side, giving ample room to walk about the room. The bench design is in the works. I don't have a drawing yet, but it will be tufted and it will be PINK.

Monday, October 21, 2013

An Elephant on a stool

I went to the circus with my kids when they were little. Being so young and unaware of the real habitat of the gracious animals, they loved it. It almost brought me to tears. There is nothing sadder than an elephant sitting on a stool. I vowed that I would never take my children to see captive elephants EVER again. Or tigers, or whales.....the list goes on. My children gained NOTHING of importance from seeing those circus elephants, except perhaps in hindsight they will look back and regret seeing such beauty in such an awful circumstance.

I was born in Kenya. We saw elephants in the wild. Once we were travelling by car to Mombassa and there were elephant on the road. With lights out and fearful quiet, we waited until they passed, respectful and fearful of these powerful animals in the wild. 

I am proud to announce that Toronto no longer has elephants. That's right. The 3 remaining elephants from the Toronto Zoo left Toronto last Thursday for a 4200 KM journey on a flat bed truck to the PAWS sanctuary in California. After years of planning, debate and training the elephants to get in and out of the huge crates they would later be trucked in.

The convoy arrived yesterday evening safely in California, greeted by Bob Barker who funded their journey. They will spend the rest of their days freely roaming the 2500 acre sanctuary with other elephants. 

The controversy over captive elephants is not a new one and slowly elephants are being removed from the world's zoos and finding refuge in a sanctuary.  If you want to watch a documentary about freeing elephants there is a fabulous one HERE

I hope that elephants in zoos and circuses are going to be a thing of the past. While our children may not ever see a live elephant, they will grow up learning that these beautiful animals live in far away lands and be able to learn about them from video, not seeing them parade in a circus or zoo.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A King's Feast

Henry Francis on the mysterious King's Chair, Bronte Ontario

Henry Francis in his new Camo print harness.

It was Thanksgiving here in Canada yesterday. Best of all the kids were here, including those from Montreal with our sweet grand daughter Emma. What joy she brings the entire family. She's at the stage of Peek-a-boo and other little games that make her laugh.

We celebrated with Sweet Mamma, now recovered from her hospital emergency, and the rest of family over a feast of ham and turkey with all the trimmings. I've given up on cooking a whole turkey, instead I get a double turkey breast pre-stuffed from the butcher. So much easier than a whole bird. My sister also does ALL the veg and potatoes and brings them pre cooked and mashed and ready to heat up. I can't tell you how much easier this makes preparing a feast. I also farmed out desert so my work load was minimal. 

Frenchie, our Lab rescue has adjusted to the crazy puppy-ness of Henry Francis, who is such a sweet boy and this weekend hinted at liking the boisterous little King
We posed Henry Francis on the King's Chair-a chair mysteriously carved in the forest along the walking path.

I think we all felt like Kings and Queens this weekend with all the blessings we shared this Thanksgiving.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Adios Florida. Adios Raccoons.

On Central Ave. Pet portraits on wall

My Brother In Law built us these lovely shelves. 

The handle of my bag made with a Thai sash

The bag is made from a vintage textile...piece of a traditional baby carrier. From Etsy.

The light fixture was an anniversary (28 years) gift from the Raz Man. We call it the Maharaja's Lamp. Because of the proximity to the pool (and a cement block house) we had to mount it with no electrical. We plan to convert it with an LED light.

Add caption

We left Florida on Wednesday. Saying goodbye to our friends, house and garden is always a sad moment for me. I have come to love it so much there and count the days until we return. This time we battled raccoons swimming in the pool.  We caught the pack having a swim on our security camera. And they don't just swim in there. We had to close the pool twice for 24 hours, backwash it, super chlorinate it and change the filter ($85.00). We ended up hiring a critter control trapper and caught 2 babies who were relocated. For the next 8 days there was no sign of the rest of them. Raccoons carry parasites in their poop that is very dangerous. You can read the CDC info HERE on how serious this is. We also did a lot of research and discovered that a raccoon will not jump into water, they walk in. After 3 days of creative thinking we made a barrier for the steps that covers the entry. It easily snaps off and on for night time use. If you have a similar problem, email me and I will tell you how we made it. The Raccoon Blocker Net is pictured below.

We arrived home with 2 ours to spare before my Sweet Mamma had emergency surgery. Warned again by the doctors on how fragile she is, she once again sailed through it with no complications. One day I will tell the story of how we were told she was brain dead, only to have her come out of her coma and talk like the Queen. Thank God for the timing of the surgery. I would have hated not to be there for her.

Wishing you all a good weekend whether restful or adventurous.

Racoon Blocker Net

Attaches to pool deck to safety net anchors. Covered in double layered mesh to prevent potential poop dropping through. We secured the mesh with plastic grommets because we did not have a swing machine. You could also sew a mesh sleeve and slip it on.  Plastic coated metal grid (closet shelving) 15" wide covers the first and partially the second step and all of the first, so raccoons cannot step into the water.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Florida Garden....Making Progress

Quan Yin...Goddess of Mercy
Garden bench, once ready for the trash, now restored by a good neighbor

Pink Siam tulips in foreground. 

Crotons, Pygmy date palm and ferns

View from the shade garden to the pool

Under the Pony Tail palm

Cranum Lily and Bromeliads (they store 1 litre of water in their " tank")

We used the antique brick that formed the old patop for the pathway.

False bird of paradise

Quan Yin...perfectly aged statue from second hand store

Chinese Yellow Bamboo in foreground

The gorgeous orangey pink stems of the Bottle Palm.
Behind the hot tub I planted Lily of the Nile (not in bloom) false bird of paradise and crotons

Succulents in large pots.

A spot to sit beside  the bamboo, philodendrons and Cranum Lily.

My 3rd attempt to plant the Florida garden has yielded results I am pleased with. In the beginning I filled my cart at Home Depot with so many varieties of small plants, I had a mediocre strip of plants with mostly the same type of leaf and texture. It looked too varied and lacked cohesion. I discovered that just like decorating a house, you need a couple of really good pieces and then can build from there with less importants. I wanted the garden to have an old, established feel so the new pool area would blend with the old, historical part of the garden. I have split, moved, and moved again, dozens of plants. I removed 3 Tavellers Palms that were to large for the small (30 inch) strip by the pool. I invested in 2 large Bottle Palms and a couple of  massive Cranum Lillies, and filled the back with Chinese yellow Bamboo and the front with Philodendron, Ferns and false Bird of Paradise. 

If I was to move the camera a foot higher, you would see the top 2 feet of the rotten fence and the windows and stucco side of my neighbors house. With a bit of manipulation I can block that out. Eventually, the bamboo with provide a wall of greenery to block the view. I have foraged in neighbors gardens and accepted gifts of Elephant Ears, peace lily and Bromeliads. And anything that sneaks over to my side from the spooky vacant house next door finds a new home over here.

After searching for a statue to replace my elephant statue that was taken from the yard, I found a beautiful old Quan Yin to bless us with her calming presence. She came from Janet's Antiques on Central Avenue, St. Petersburg. By far my favorite haunt for lovely old things.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Night Real Estate.....Santa Fe, New Mexico

Adobe dwelling. Cobblestone walkway and gorgeous iron lanterns. The front door is fabulous.
Tonight's Real Estate adventure takes us to New Mexico. I've never been to the desert, except for Vegas, but I really would love to plan a trip to New Mexico on of these days. There's something very primitive about the desert, and I think it would be exhilarating to get out of the City and stay in the outskirts with cacti and mountains for companions. I came across this amazing house. It epitomizes the feel and look of the American Southwest. Built in 1999, it is built with great thought to the surroundings and respect for the style. 
This home also serves as a museum. The listing describes it as follows 

"Rolling across 175 acres of quintessentially SW ranch land near the crest of a hill, with the Ortiz Mtns as a stalwart backdrop, the centerpiece of the ranch is a 13,395+\-sqft residence including a chapel; a torreon with rooftop deck; guest and caretakers quarters; a courtyard with cantina; and patio, pavilion, and portal beside a breathtaking infinity-edge pool. Not far off is a private 4-bedroom guesthouse and equestrian facilities that include several pastures, 12 stables, a barn, an arena for roping and cutting. The dramatic boveda ceiling reemerges in the kitchen. This dramaticall
...y unparalleled space includes custom light fixtures of goatskin and wrought iron above a copper-topped breakfast bar. The distinctive cabinetry, carved by Jose and Constantino Jaramillo, features a decorative flourish based on the work of Russian artist Nicolai Fechin, who carved the doors, window frames, pillars, and furniture of his home, now the Taos Art Museum"  You can see the complete listing HERE

My favorite photo. I love the repetition of the lanterns and the wrought iron railing. Note the floors in flagstone and the gorgeous thick doors.

The same flagstone is carried to the outside pool area. Imaging lounging by this pool looking at the mountains.

I would LOVE to examine this room in person...

Note the chairs and the ceiling.

Again the repetition of the ceiling lights and the furniture along the walls, combined with the barrel brick ceiling are so authentic. It could have been built 100 years ago, not 199.

This is the most spectacular view of the house. Nestled at the foot of the mountains, the drive up alone would take your breath away.

I love the copper vent hood and also those bar stools.
As much as I love to look at these million $ ($12,000.000) in the above instance, I always wonder what the average person can afford in a city. I am not sure what the economy is based on in New Mexico, but there are pages and pages of homes over $1 million to look at. Next is something affordable for the average person. This charming little condo was built in 1930 and exudes the charm of both the desert and the era. The listing describes it like this

"Darling, old-world pied a terre near downtown. The Larribas Compound dates back to the 1930's, and was modernized in the 1990's. This quaint, private and secure Compound offers mature landscaping, private patio's for the units as well as limited common amenities such as banco's, fountains, ramada's, etc. This 1 bedroom, 1 bath unit features wide plank wood floors and tile, a large, central kiva fireplace, skylights, W/D and private patios. The construction is adobe, with original divided light windows and french doors. It is as sweet, and charming as one can find in Santa Fe" You can see the entire listing HERE.
No Boys, that is NOT a urinal.

I would change the seats to white and throw on a load of ethnic toss cushions.

Note the old beams, wood ceiling and skylight.

A tiny courtyard

Lazy agents leave Winter pictures on Summer listings.

Charming little patio

Tiva fireplace. for a snug winter.

I love the kitchen...a little fresh paint would work wonders.

And of course Santa Fe tile in the bathroom
House number 3 is an incredible home with gorgeous decor. The home owners have great taste and all the pieces and accessories suit the house beautifully. This one is under 2 million. 

The listing describes it as follows "The ultimate discovery for discriminating connoisseurs. Turn of the century adobe meets 21st century luxury. The absolute best of authentic Santa Fe style nestled in the Sangres in the near North East area with panoramic views. Double Adobe with myriad architectural details. This home is rich with local history and provenance. Treat yourself to the magical experience!"
You can see the complete listing HERE

The rug is lovely as are the accessories and furniture

I hope that stockade fence keeps out rattlesnakes and coyotes

I would love to see this art up close. Brick floors, spooled furniture...quite lovely.

I am discovering that Santa Fe has the most amazing real estate. Completely different than anything I have seen, except in magazines. A whole new style and way of building. If you would like to peruse Santa Fe listings, Trulia is the best way to do it. Here are the Trulia Santa Fe homes for sale click HERE

Next week.....a San Francisco treat.