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Inside and out

This house is featured in Toronto Life's House of the Week. What I love so much about it is that the exterior tells you nothing about the interior. From the street, the home looks like a heritage piece, an old gem that is probably filled with nicks and knacks and coves and character. Meanwhile, the interior is very modern - straight lines and glass, very clean and open. That is my ideal: maintaining the originality of a house on the outside but keeping it current on the inside. Funny enough, I am also refreshed when I see this in people. I love nothing more than being surprised by someone because they look a certain way but in fact are not at all that. Like when someone looks really mean and then you find out they are super nice or when someone looks really straight, but is actually a joker. You get the point.

Here are the pics.

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-Kate

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Project Totteridge

Our clients needed to refresh their dining room. They had some existing furniture that they liked and some that they didn't. They needed a formal room to host dinners and entertain for hours on end. To us, that translated to comfortable seating and an accessible bar. We also fell in love with a Governors palace mirror that replaced a much smaller mirror and anchored the room. The rest were the details: art for the wall, a neutral rug that can handle spills, accessories like boxwoods and candles, decanters and table runners. The result is a formal and comfortable room with plenty of seating for family and friends. Here are the pics:

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Pictures courtesy of Nicholas Theodorou

-Kate and Amanda

 

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Cheesecake in a jar

As if I haven't eaten enough in the last week but it's kind of like i'm on a roll... so when I saw this "cheesecake in a jar" recipe on milkeverymoment I thought, what a fantastic dessert. Not too big, not too small, smooth and crunchy and you can prepare it in advance for guests. Best part: it looks so pretty! I was even thinking I could serve it to my kids for breakfast if I used yogurt instead of the cream mixture.

I also have this thing for mason jars. Any excuse to use one and I'm game.

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CHEESECAKE IN A JAR

INGREDIENTS

¾ cup (175 mL) 35% whipping cream ¼ cup (60 mL) icing sugar ½ vanilla bean 1¼ cups (300 mL) cream cheese, at room temperature 3 tbsp (45 mL) graham cracker crumbs 1 cup (250 mL) seasonal berries or preserves

Place whipping cream and sugar in a medium bowl. Slice vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into whipping cream. Using an electric mixer, beat cream until soft peaks form.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, frequently scraping down sides, until creamy. Stir 1/3 of the whipping cream into cream cheese to lighten it, then fold in remaining cream until incorporated.

Either place cream cheese mixture into a piping bag or use a spoon. Divide half of it between 6 (½ cup/125 mL) mason jars or small dessert dishes. Top with graham crumbs then fruit (reserving a few berries for tops of cheesecakes). Then top with remaining cream cheese mixture and reserved berries.

-Kate

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Christmas food ideas

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I can't believe Christmas is almost upon us.  Having had the stomach flu last Christmas Eve and having to pretend that I felt ok on Christmas makes me especially look forward to this year.  We went to the Distillery Christmas Market on Sunday night and although it was PACKED, it definitely put me in a festive mood.  We ( I ) had some mulled wine, listened to music and went to Cluny for dinner.  It was a lovely evening.  So lovely that Peter woke up the next day asking if we could go back.

I'm almost done wrapping but I still intend to light a fire tonight, drink some eggnog, watch a Christmas movie and make the best of what I still have to do.  Today is going to be packed with last minute food shopping and prep.  Yesterday I was looking through pinterest for breakfast and dessert ideas.  I found this awesome salted caramel chocolate tart to make for Christmas Eve.  I went to William Sonoma to buy the pretty tart tray and the fleur de sal.  I am planning on making these little no bake individual nutella cheesecakes for Christmas Day.

As for Christmas morning/brunch.  I was thinking of making these ricotta pancakes and putting together a nice cheese tray that will probably include some truffled brie, a chevre noir, old cheddar and a big chunk of parm.  Add some bread and crackers, meats and some honey and truffle oil and you're good to go.  It's nice to just put out food that people can just go back to snack on as the morning turns into afternoon and you sip on your mimosas.

I was looking through Food and Wine Magazine and came across these roasted grape ricotta crostini's which I think would be awesome and it made me think back several years ago when Kate and I went to Campagnolo and we had this delicious burrata cheese with roasted grapes.  I found the recipe and made it at home and again loved it.  So if you're looking for something new and yummy give it a go.  No one will be disappointed.

As for my second mantle I decided to keep it simple.  I just spray painted the little wooden wreaths white and hung a gold ornament on them.   I added some mercury glass tea light holders and put the battery operated tea lights in so my juju doesn't set on fire and the stockings.  Everything is white, silver and gold in my living room.

I hope most of your Christmas prep is done and that you can enjoy these last few days before the holidays really begin.

-Amanda

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Christmas Baking

 

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Every year I bake for Christmas. I have two staples that I make for two reasons: they are both simple beyond and they both taste delicious!  I fell in love with Williams Sonoma peppermint bark over a decade ago when they were handing out samples in the store. I couldn't get enough. But they charge $30 for a tin. That makes for an expensive habit. So when I later came across a recipe in the Food and Drink holiday magazine, I hoped that I had found a solution.  Indeed it tasted just the same. And it was quick and easy.

The other thing I make for the holidays is my mother's shortbread. Hers always tasted the best to me. No frills, no flavours, just melt in your mouth cookies. Literally, they melt in your mouth.

Here are the recipes - great for gifts too.

Peppermint Bark

1 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate

8 drops peppermint oil

1 lb chopped white chocolate

3/4 cup chopped candy canes

Line an 11x17 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Adjust amounts for different sized cookie sheets. Set aside.

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a heavy pot on low heat, stiffing constantly. Stir in 4 drops peppermint oil.

Spread chocolate evenly onto the prepared sheet. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

Melt white chocolate on low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 4 drops of peppermint oil, then add candy canes.

Spread white chocolate mixture over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the edge of the pan. Chill until set, about 4 hours or overnight. Refridgerate until just before serving then break into pieces and serve or package as gifts. Will keep in refrigerator for 3 weeks.

Recipe courtesy of FOOD AND DRINK magazine 2003 holiday edition

My Mom's Shortbread

1 lb butter

1 c fruit sugar

3 1/2 c pre sifted flour

1/4 tsp salt

Mix with beater. Roll into a log and refrigerate. When ready to bake, pull from fridge and slice in 1 inch pieces and place on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degree until edges are brown.

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-Kate

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Loving now

So I've always had a girl crush/fashion crush on Sienna Miller....and Caroline Bessette Kennedy and Gwyneth Paltrow.  Back to Sienna though she is on the cover of vogue for January and I've yet to read the article but I did watch the video and if you read celebrity magazine articles like I do, you'll get a good laugh.  Seriously, it's worth a few minutes of your time on a dreary Monday. You can find it here.

I've been eyeing this 3.1 Phillip Lim 31 hour bag for the last month or so.  It's such a classic and would hold everything from work stuff to diapers.

I must say I'm partial to an orange red lip but I saw this amazing new red lip a little while ago on Garance Dore and thought it was a great look unlike any I've seen before.  A little edgy, sexy and classic all at once.  Both shades are good on their own as well.

I'm really into pineapples right now.  My mother in law just bought me a cute little black one that I intend to put on my mantel once all the christmas decor is off.  I saw this gleaming Isla candle and wanted it right away.  It's my daughters name, gold, a pineapple and a candle all in one.  I think it also makes a great hostess gift for the holidays.

-Amanda

Image at top right from garancedore.fr

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Fondu night

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Okay, I have talked about my idea to do a fondu night to sooooooo many people and planned it soooooo many times that it is almost a joke.  I have tried to do it at least 3 times and it kept getting cancelled for various reasons.  Last night the plan was to go out for dinner with a few of my friends in the spirit of (excuse of) Christmas and of course Mike's flight got cancelled and therefore, so did my night out but luckily fondu night came to the rescue.  My whole idea was to replicate an experience I had in Paris 4 years ago.  We went to this hole in the wall in Montmartre that was recommended to us for fondu and I loved it.  They served us a cheese fondu and a broth to do meat fondu with a side of charcuterie. It was so cozy and warm and great for enjoying conversation and wine. The essential thing is that your charcuterie platter must have something crisp to cut the richness.  Think fruit, pickles, olives, nuts.

I picked a fondu recipe that had Champagne in it instead of Sherry because I wanted to start the evening off with something crisp and bubbly and if the bottles already open then you must partake, right!  Also I must say that this is super easy and fast to prepare.  I think it took me 15 min tops to get everything ready.  I went to the cheese store and asked for them to grate the emmentaler and I roughly chopped the brie.  While there you can pick up everything else.  Which ever meats, olives, pickles, nuts and dried fruits you like and then finish it off with some cubed baguette.  I also did a side of boiled new potatoes which is good for those that are gluten free. You can also do asparagus, apples, pears and mushrooms.

Here's the recipe I used courtesy of Bride & Groom - First and Forever cookbook (the title makes me laugh)

We ended the night with salted caramel ice cream, chocolate chip cookies and nutella rice crispy squares.  I'm actually happy that our night out was cancelled!  Also, if I promised you a fondu night I will follow through because like I said it was too easy and too good not to do again.  As for where to find a fondu set...I would head to your parents storage area like I did.

-Amanda

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The story of our house and a great photographer

We booked our photographer Nicholas to take pictures of a dining room we've been working on. Unfortunately, the prints we ordered for the space hadn't arrived yet, so rather than waste his time, we asked Nicholas to take pictures of my house instead. Nicholas is very professional and does not rest until he gets the shot he wants. I had to force him to eat in the middle of the day because he hadn't stopped working. Not to mention that he manages to capture the best angles, the best lighting and all that other magic that great photographers do. If you've seen pics of my house on here in the past, you will notice a big difference in the quality of photography. He is fantastic. You can reach him at Nicholas.e.theodorou@gmail.com.

THE STORY OF OUR HOUSE:

Chris and I lived in an old century home on a busy street. We loved our home and our neighbourhood but as soon as Max was able to scoot around on a bike, the street seemed busier and our joined nostalgia of growing up playing in front of our houses became ever more prominent. Chris was still resisting a move but on the long weekend of September ( a year and a half ago) my MLS surfing paid off. I showed him a listing for a simple two story home on a cul de sac in our neighbourhood. The fixer in him was sold. I believe what he said was, you can do anything with a brick house, so we bought it on a whim.  And that's when I started to get nervous because the house was not the one of my dreams but I knew this was my one opportunity to move and I loved the street.

So fast forward 8 months and a reno that turned into a gut and an add-on and a dig-down and a build-out and we got ourselves an open floor plan, white walls, an ensuite and walk in closet never previously had, and a finished basement to host all of the kids' toys. Ta da!

Here are some pics of our home, minus the basement and a couple bathrooms and my closet which was too messy to photograph.  It is forever a work in progress because I am constantly wanting a different look or feel but that's also all the fun, right?

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-Kate

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Slip

Andrea and I came across the most beautiful take on a slipcover today at Elte. I am totally smitten. They are a loose, inviting version of the standard slipcover.  Kind of like a linen curtain draped on a couch but with just the right amount of stitching in all the right places. Even the amount of gathering on the floor is perfect. And if you can find someone to make one, even better, cause this one doesn't come cheap. Take a look:

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I just think they look really cozy and easy.  Not like those stuffy couches that you're afraid to sit on. Plus, from a practical standpoint, how easy would this be to remove and wash?

-Kate

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Colour coordinated gift wrapping

ikea wrapping It's a two post day!  I'll make it short.  Have you been to Ikea recently!?  I was pretty pumped when I saw an entire section dedicated to wrapping.  It's all colour coordinated to make your Christmas wrapping super easy and pretty.  I'm talking several different colour schemes all laid out for you to make your entire Christmas look come together effortlessly. There is a black and white scheme, a brown paper and gold, a pink, a red and a green scheme. There are bags, wrapping paper, tissue paper, tags, tape and ribbon that all go together.  This will be my first Christmas of going for the cohesive wrapping look that looks great with your tree. I'm usually the type of person that goes into my old bags from Christmas past.  Some may have other peoples' names on them, some may have some small rips.  Not this year!  Not when Ikea makes it that easy!  Now I just have to get around to buying some presents...

-Amanda

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A Christmas mantle

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I finished both of my mantle's yesterday.  I gave it a go this weekend but trying to do it while the kids ran around left me with some seriously lacking results.  I tried the hang a wreath on the gold mirror approach with lots of tea lights but it didn't sit right.  I kept trying to like it and thought if maybe I added a bow to the wreath I may like it but no.  I knew all along I wanted a garland and had my heart set on this faux one from Lowes that I saw on Cityline last Thursday.  I searched for it but it was gone.  I decided to just go with the real deal and bought a white pine garland instead and I must say I do love it.  I also found the faux wood and gold "merry christmas" garland that I have hanging from Chapters for 40% off on Monday.  I kept it simple with LED candles and some restoration hardware battery operated twinkle lights.  Mike actually threw the gold ornaments in the garland as he said "it ties it all together with the gold mirror" with his fake Amanda voice.  I told him I actually agree and left them in.  I will post my other mantle once I "dewrinkle" my stockings but I must say the above one is my favourite.  I love, love, love turning all my twinkle lights on in the morning when it's still dark out.  It makes it a little less painful to wake up.

-Amanda

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A motel remodel

Our friend Cate sent us a link to this really cool boutique rental property in Palm Springs. It's clean and white and modern. It boasts beautiful views and has a lovely pool. The best part, however, is that a Canadian gal bought it when it was a dungy looking motel that nobody would glance at, and transformed the whole place with great design and flair. The_Amado_Web-12

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Check it out - it's called The Amado. The pictures are from here. The boutique rental can also be found on airbnb.

-Kate

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Side table

Kate, Side table 1

I'm on the hunt for a great side table.  As of now, I keep returning to the one above.  When I initially started planning my living room it was going to be very light.  Think a lot of cream, white and light wood.  Then I bought some black chairs and the whole look changed and now I'm into a lot of black, white, cream and light wood.  Reading that may seem like all I did was add one colour but I intend to do a mood board so that everyone can see how different the looks really are.  The chairs really did change the whole feel. (I will post them shortly along with my new mantle!!!)  It's amazing how you can go into decorating a room with a plan and then you can find one piece and the whole thing changes on a dime.

Anyway back to the table, the black and light wood tie in the chairs and I love the midcentury look.  I also love that it's multi-functional, it can be used as a tray, a stool or a side table.  Check it out here.  Plus for $199.95 it's a good deal.  No purchases will be made until after Christmas so I have a lot of time to think on exactly what is right for the space.  Stay tuned.

-Amanda

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Meatball Sandwiches

Kate, Since the holiday season is approaching I started to reminisce about last year and think about the food I really enjoyed...mostly recipes I want to steal from others.  These meatball sandwiches that Lex made last boxing day were definitely a favourite for sure.  Every boxing day since I can remember we go to my parents friends' place for a huge get together.  Think a lot of food, a lot of cocktails, and a massive game of boys vs. girls pictionary that can get quite intense.  The age range at this party is massive and it is, probably for all involved, one of the most looked forward to events of the year.

The food thing has changed over the years.  Recently it was a chili off, there was a crockpot year and last year all I can remember were these meatballs and mac and cheese.  These sandwiches were so simple yet fantastic and the best part is that when you are entertaining you can get them done in advance and only have to slice some buns and slap on a piece of provolone and voila, you're done!

You can find the recipe here.  The recipe is just for the meatballs and sauce, the sauce is soooo garlicy good, but make it a sandwich...you'll thank me!

-Amanda

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Loving now

Kate, Sweater

This sweater is the bomb! I'm thinking it's one of those ones that once you have it you wish you bought it in every colour just so that you could wear it every day.  Or you know when you buy something you love and slowly it pills or fades or gets a hole and you think " I should have bought 3 of them"... I think this is one of those sweaters.  The drop shoulder, the perfect slouch, the warmth, the length, the fit are sublime.  This is easy yet stylish dressing at it's best. Seriously, it's a no brainer which is why I am going to ask for it in multiple colours for Christmas.  I'm hoping to get the colour above at an Artizia store since it's sold out on line and then after Christmas getting the light grey and black for a deal.  Can I make it any easier for you dear husband!

-Amanda

 

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The Stone House

My friend Natalia sent me a link to a vacation home that she visits once a year just outside of New York.  It's her chance to get away from the busy and enter the calm. And this house absolutely exudes calm. It's a great example of how white can be really warm and how a get-away can really be a get-away. The history behind the house, as Natalia explained, is that some of the original Dutch settlers arrived via the Hudson River to New Paltz to settle. They built these magnificent stone houses and two centuries later this one still stands, sitting on 12 acres of land amidst the deer and the trees and neighbouring an organic farm where you can buy fresh local produce on your daily stroll.

Am I painting the right picture?

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The rental listing can be found here if you're looking for a relaxing escape. Natalia regaled me with images of hiking and cooking and listening to Fleetwood Mac in the comfort of a fire and lovely surroundings. So appealing.

-Kate

 

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Blanket Scarf Obsessed and oops!

This cold weather and snow has totally enhanced my obsession for the blanket scarf trend. The second it starts getting chilly I am consumed with how to stay warm. Most warm items, however, don't improve your look; like my flannel pyjamas, my huge down winter coat, any hat on my head (just flattens my hair even more.) So I'm thrilled with the whole wearing-a-blanket-like-a-scarf thing that's happening because it's both warm and stylish! Here are some examples.

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I don't have one yet. Maybe the perfect Christmas gift?

On another note, the new ELTE MKT is opening this weekend and that's pretty exciting. A lower price point and a younger target market is right up my alley!

Lastly, I was looking at my last post about Christmas decorating and my pictures are horrible. So sorry!! You can't even tell that there are lights on the mantle. My bad.

I will post better pics after I decorate some more.

-Kate

 

 

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White Christmas Tree

Kate, When I was on Instagram yesterday and saw Monika Hibbs white christmas (please click over to see it because I like this picture better than the one below) tree from last year I thought I thought it was so beautiful and dreamy.  It looked as though snow had just fallen all over it.  I asked Mike whether he would think I was crazy or going too far if I bought a white christmas tree to which he replied "uh, yeah" but then I showed him the picture and he said it was actually very nice and followed up with "why don't you just spray paint it."  We are big spray painters over here.  I actually love how the tree looks all lit up with out any ornaments but then again I love the whole "decorating the christmas tree" activity itself.  I have my christmas playlist, some champagne for moi and a hot chocolate for Peter and away we go.  Then I end it off with Love Actually once the kids are asleep.  Last year I kept everything silver, gold and white and I think I'm going to stick with the same this year with a few more natural aspects thrown in.  Boxwood, garland, branches.

As for Christmas, I'm the oppposite of you.  As you know the Christmas decorations are still up at New Years.  I just don't like to let go!  Plus we have Ukrainian Christmas so it gives me a good excuse to keep up the holiday spirit.

So, in a few weeks time I'll either be in my backyeard spray painting away or I'll have to source a white christmas tree because really, that tree is just too pretty to resist!

Monica Hibbs xmas tree

 

-Amanda

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Kinda xmas decorating

I used to think it was crazy that stores had Christmas inventory the day after Halloween, sometimes sooner. This year, however, I have jumped on the bandwagon... I pleaded with Chris to pull down everything Halloween and toss it in the basement so that I could start envisioning a bit of christmas cheer. Since it's still too early for a tree I thought I'd do some pre-xmas decorating with lights. They warm up a space any time of year, right? Meet twinkle tree and twinkle lights up on the mantle. I also bought this sweet reindeer candle that smells like pine. All that's left is a Christmas movie and hot chocolate and 'tis the season.

 

 

 

My sister in law walked into our house today and said, "oh my god, have you decorated for Christmas already?"

Kinda?

I have to say, that I'm also the first person to take Christmas down. I get really excited at the onset but I've had enough by the day-after-boxing-day.

-Kate

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Gallery wall

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I once had two bookcases in my room but I sold them this weekend and put up a gallery wall instead.  The bookcases were good in theory but I ended up just dumping junk in them.  Things like batteries, lightbulbs, a pack of gum (Mike). Random stuff that every month or so I would sort and throw out but just add to again. It basically didn't look the way I wanted it to most of the time.  I also needed a change.  Originally I thought I would do floating shelves again but that wouldn't have eliminated my issue of random collection.  I had a bunch or art work, framed photos and mirrors that were just lying around and I decided to use what I had and get a little creative instead of spending money.  I started the process on my bedroom floor and began from the middle and worked outwards.  I just kept standing up on my bed and looking down on my progress.  It really didn't take me very long...what took a while was what Mike had to do, the actual hanging process.  Especially since his little helper isn't always the best listener.  Regardless I'm super happy with it and I love waking up to something that is so personal.  Sometimes you really do need to change things up.

As for what I still need to do well, I think I'm going to add a basket to cover one of my outlets. The one a currently have is little too low so I may have to switch a few baskets that I already have around.  I also really want to add either two small frames in the middle where there is a gap or one mid size one with a black and white print.  I have my eye on either this or this.  I just have to make up my mind but I'm leaning towards the black and white from minted.com

-Amanda

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