"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Vivid and Twinkly

 I bought a new necklace last week and it's so nice I actually frightened MrBP: it's so vivid, twinkly and posh looking, he thought I spent the big bucks...
In fact it was on sale at JCrew and after looking at it online for a few weeks I ordered it on a day that offered not just the discount but also free shipping.
I thought I'd wear the necklace during the day with some Perfect Fit tee shirts from JCrew (still my favourite tee shirts for their colours and slimmer fit).
The necklace seems to be sold out online but I did spot the bracelet this morning:
Full Spectrum Crystal Bracelet
 I noticed a very similar necklace in a gorgeous minty colourway:
Twisted Crystal Necklace
 I wore the necklace at our party on Saturday night with a JCrew Collection dress that I bought on sale in February.  This dress was released last fall and is unique in the offerings from JCrew recently in that it is of good quality fabric, has a defined waist and is just extremely wearable.
JCrew Collection Wool Boucle Dress in Navy, Fall 2014
It's such a useful dress, simple yet flattering, it comes to just below the knee and pairs with a necklace really well:
JCrew Collection Wool Boucle Dress with the Full Spectrum Necklace in Vivid Ink
I've worn that dress so much these last two months: during the day, in the evening, for appointments, out for lunch... JCrew needs to issue more frocks just like this!  (JCrew is not doing very well these days, stellar items like these are few and far between, see this blog post by dear Alexis for more news on the brand.)

Back to that necklace... the colours are so varied but the predominance of blue really lends it to things like simple chambray:

Though pairing it with greens and pinks brings out those twinkly shades as well:
With some green silk JCrew capri trousers.  
The necklace arrived nicely packaged with a velvet pouch for storage and travel:
 In the interest of economy and keeping my closet streamlined two necklaces left when this one arrived.  They are great basics in their original JCrew boxes and if you're interested in a quality necklace at a terrific price run over to my fabulous local consignment store: The Wild Rose.
JCrew "Martha" necklace and JCrew long ivory pearls.
Currently on offer at The Wild Rose world's best consignment store.
Have you purchased anything pretty and/or useful at JCrew lately?
What do you think about the troubles the brand is having?

Have a vivid and twinkly day Darlings!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mop Philosophy Monday

 I spent last week polishing and scrubbing in anticipation of our weekend dinner party to celebrate our dear friend Christopher on his birthday.
Hosting a party like this is terrific motivation to get the whole house organized, bring in new glassware and linens and stock up at The Happy Store.  I had so much fun getting ready for the party but I had some help from some blogging friends...
 Jennifer, who writes the wonderful blog A Well Styled Life, wrote such a helpful post on hosting a sit-down dinner party, I loved it!
I decided to organize my party over the course of two days, taking many of her suggestions and running with them... like setting the table the night before and bringing in flowers a couple of days ahead of the party.  Thank you Jennifer!
 I set up this bar the day before as well, and it's a good thing I take pictures for this blog because I realized my Spode vase looked really sad without some spring-like branches of forsythia poking out of it.
That's better.

 When I went to my most favourite flower shop in the world, Sweet Violets, to arrange some flowers for the table I asked for help in acquiring a house plant for a corner of the sitting room that needed a little life... fingers crossed I won't kill this plant.
 They did such a terrific job with the flowers for our dining table, I asked for green, white and a bit of coral, look how perfect:
 I wanted something simple and spring-like for the piano in our foyer and they came up with the perfect arrangement of branches arching their way out of a simple vessel:
 I sent MrBP to search for pansies on Saturday morning which he then arranged in the urns I've popped on either side of our front door.  The branches add a bit of height and drama... (you can only see half of the urn because I took this picture in my pyjamas and I thought I'd spare my neighbours my leopard print robe).
 Another shot of green was the Dyptique candle in fig that anchored the cocktail table arrangement.  For many years I didn't think much about candles as accessories when entertaining but now they are on my radar... wait until you see the new candle arrangements in the dining room...
 But first, can we talk about table linens?  I was trudging all over Hell's Half Acre last week looking for a good heavy linen or cotton tablecloth in a solid colour.  It was so depressing and exhausting, I couldn't find anything.  Everything is polyester or a combination of polyester and cotton and I can't stand the slippery feel.
So I trotted over to the local fabric store (which has slim pickings as far as natural fabrics are concerned) and managed to find a new bolt of thick celadon green cotton that was marked down to $5 a metre for some insane reason.
My helper.
 The sewing went quickly for once and I made up extra large napkins which MrBP loved.

The day before our party I went searching for brass candle holders to light up the dining room.  The lighting in that room is an issue, in fact we're thinking of installing a much bigger chandelier over the table, hanging low and on a dimmer of course.  Whether we accomplish that or not I knew I wanted to incorporate some gorgeous candlelight.
Initially I found some colonial style brass candle holders, heavy and from England but let's face it: Boring!  Then I walked into one of the dusty rooms of the antique market and actually gasped when I saw a pair of absolutely mad candelabras:

 Right there in the shop I had what can only be described as a What Would Ellie Do moment.  Ellie writes one of my most favourite blogs ever, Have Some Decorum.  Slowly but surely she is teaching me how to accessorize my home, make pesto, have a positive attitude to life even when it punches you in the face and also the importance of gilt mirrors.
Ellie has taught me well and those lessons gave me the courage to buy the Italian candelabras that I really loved... it is this kind of accessorizing that really personalizes a home and makes it interesting... yes Ellie taught me that.  Thank you Ellie.
I had some trouble sourcing ivory candles but I did find some in the green shade that was a part of my theme for the evening, here they are lit early in the afternoon, a test run:
How about the food?  There was no crying in the kitchen I am happy to report.  I decided to make the provence chicken that was featured in last week's NYT magazine.
 What a delicious recipe and dead easy.  I prepped the lemons, shallots and garlic cloves ahead of time...
 ...bought a few baguettes...
 ...and had the chicken in the oven when everyone arrived.
 I made a swiss chard and kale salad with a shallot-dijon vinaigrette and asked my friends to bring the other courses: a second salad, a cheese platter appetizer tray and a cheesecake for dessert.
 It was one of those parties that was slightly mad in the most fun way possible, and I think it was the candelabras.  Before dinner my friends grabbed them and placed them on the table, they looked fabulous lighting up the food and the laughing faces.

I'm planning my next dinner party already and in the meantime I need to embark on some spring cleaning.  The sun is out today and I can finally see the dust in the house properly, never have I looked so forward to spring and the cleaning that goes with it.
I hope your week is off to a great start Dollfaces!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Slapdash Decorator: In Praise of Skirted Tables

Bryan Ferry's homes make full use of the Skirted Table.
 In an issue of House Beautiful that I recently chucked into the recycling bin the bold proclamation on the cover went something like The Skirted Table is Back in Fashion!
Well perhaps I spend a bit too much time longing for the 1980's but I don't think they ever went out of style.
If they are good enough for Bryan Ferry they will certainly do well for me.
Another Bryan Ferry skirted table.
Do you think he stores record albums under those skirts?
 A skirted table, just the size for a lamp and perhaps a picture or two, is an opportunity to show off some beautiful fabric as well as hide all manner of ills underneath.
Celerie Kemble
 I find layered decorating so attractive but it is difficult to pull off without veering into absolute clutter.    Now that our renovations are complete and we have the bones in place I'm starting to think about layering in fabrics, art, books and antiques.
Isabelle d'Ornano's Paris apartment.
 One project in particular involved a "problem corner" in MrBP's study.  We bought a beautiful large mercury glass lamp (chosen by our designer as part of her "lighting plan") for the corner of the room but somehow the table was wrong, all wrong.
Wrong, all wrong.
 So blocky and rectangular with those turned legs!  Ugh.  The worst part of the situation was the absolute cluster-mess of wires and interwebby gadgets that live in that corner of the room.
Not only was this table a highly visible corner of the otherwise beautifully finished study, it was the first thing we saw when we rounded the corner on the second floor.
Good crikey what an eyesore.
 I decided to look for a decorator table that I could cover with a tablecloth from my own fabric.  I found the perfect thing online at Bed Bath & Beyond.
It was really inexpensive and the best part was I was able to order a tempered glass top for the table as well.

I am terrible at measuring, cutting fabric and sewing but I still managed to make a tablecloth for this little set-up in about 15 minutes (using these instructions).  Of course I didn't iron the seams or do anything else I should have taken the time for, but honestly I don't think it makes much of a difference.
This is the look I was going for:
 The cloth itself is quite uneven (due to my slapdash work) which I used to the advantage of the wires undeneath: the cloth is shorter at the back of the table which gives all of those wires and things some "breathing room".
I like the way the glass top reflects the mercury glass of the lamp:
 The fabric I chose was one that I had purchased just out of love for the hand-feel of the linen as well as the pattern and colours.  I like the way it looks in the study with the cinnamon silk draperies and the antique persian rug.
MrBP's grandfather brought this rug back to Vienna from fighting in the first World War.
 The simplicity of the table and the hiding of those distracting wires lets the rest of the room glow in the comfort of books and objects from our travels.
Pottery from the Pottery Man in Kirkby Lonsdale.
I'm pleased with this little slapdash project and I would encourage you to try a skirted table if you have a pesky corner... or just an area that could benefit from the texture of a lovely fabric, a glass top and a fabulous lamp.  If I can throw one together anyone can!

I hope you are all well whatever you're up to today.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Dressing Up For Easter in the Foggy Cold North

JCrew Toggle Coat in Heather Turquoise
Drake's Wool Pocket Square in Dragons
 It's Easter weekend and the weather outside is frightful: cold fog, snow, muck and frost.  I was hoping to wear a pink silk dress with high heels and bare legs but those hopes are dashed.  So instead I've put together an outfit from what I consider to be my "autumn section", warm and fit for the weather but with vivid colours and patterns at least.
Look it's a bunny.
 This Drake's pocket square in a fine wool is a beautiful little scarf, it can be worn around the neck or tied on the handle of a bag.
Another happy bunny.
 I bought this JCrew toggle coat for the colour.  I'm giving my grey parka to my daughter because I just can't stand wearing black and grey all winter long.  This coat is a good parka substitute because it has a warm hood, but it will need a couple of wool layers worn underneath to be warm enough for our winters.
Wool Melton Toggle Coat
 I spotted this wildly patterned silk dress at JCrew last fall but it's a collection piece so it was nine million dollars.  I found it on the site last week marked down and in my size, that's the way to buy one of these frocks and not spend all of the grocery money.
JCrew Collection Paisley Shirtdress
 Of course as soon as I saw it in person I knew it needed one thing: LEOPARD.
With a calf hair leopard belt from JCrew.
Here is one that is similar.
 I'll be wearing this for our Easter lunch with Ole Rascal.  We're headed to one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto to meet him, Easter this year falls right at the beginning of University exams.  I was sad about it until I realized it was an excuse to go out and have a proper long lunch visit!
 Pattern on pattern:
 I'll be wearing some tall dark brown boots and carrying my Louis Vuitton handbag, also in dark brown.  Brown is not a colour I would normally associate with Easter but I'm thinking of it as chocolate bunny brown.
 Chocolate brown with gold accents:
 I'll be busy around the house this weekend cooking and cleaning and I'll be wearing these little Liberty print blouses I've bought from JCrew over the years.  They are light and comfortable to wear with jeans or slim pants and the prints are festive and colourful.
JCrew Liberty print popover, here's one that is similar.  
 This one is my favourite for the contrasting patterns:
 How are you dressing up for the weekend?  Are you dealing with cold mucky weather or are you able to wear a spring dress with bare legs?

I hope you have a wonderful time no matter what.