Wednesday, December 29, 2010

AGO: A Taste of India

If you're in Toronto and looking for something to do this week I highly recommend checking out the bedazzling Maharaja Exhibit at the AGO.  "Maharaja, The Splendor of India's Royal Courts" is showing until April 3rd.  Touring this exhibit you'll enjoy the colourful sights, sounds and smells of India while viewing the spectacular showcase of jewels and costumes worn by India's crown Princes.  You can even see a carriage made out of silver and one of the world's most expensive cars, the Star of India, a 1934 saffron coloured Rolls-Royce Phantom II.

Earlier this month I visited the exhibit with a friend and to fully complete this exotic experience of the senses we enjoyed a delicious indian meal afterwards at the AGO's Frank restaurant.  Such a treat! During this exhibit the restaurant is featuring a special indian inspired menu, including a long list of Maharaja themed cocktails - what a perfect way to satisfy your craving for Indian flavours after soaking in all the spicy colours of the show.

I love the ambience at Frank restaurant, designed by architect Frank Gehry, its understated and chic with its danish modern furniture.  The tables are centred around a dramatic metal sculpture that soars up the centre of the space and all surrounded by stunning backlit walls of wine bottles.

There's a strict no photography policy at the AGO including the restaurant (no photographing artwork allowed!!) so I don't have many photos to show you.  I did get permission from the restaurant manager for the photos here as they weren't of the artwork (scultputre).

The bar at Frank Restaurant.

Just as I found this was a perfect way to kick-off the holiday season,,,,I think its an equally perfect way to celebrate some leisurely time off during the holidays.  

If you'll be spending some time lounging at home and catching up on some of your favorite blogs, you should definitely check out Rambling Renovator's blog for her Great Reads of 2010 Blog Tour series. Its a wonderful round-up of her favorite blog reads and those blogger's favorite posts of the year.  A huge thank you to Jennifer for including CREED in this series,,,honestly, I'm so flattered to be included in such great company!!

All Photos:  Carol Reed

Monday, December 27, 2010

That's A Wrap

This week I hope that everyone is celebrating the holidays by spending time with friends and family and just relaxing after all the craziness of the pre-holiday prepping.

I barely managed to get my gifts wrapped and under the tree in time for our family celebrations.  I've been wrapping my gifts this same way for over 25 years,,,,,but each year they look a bit different because I embellish them with whatever I have on hand so every year it varies.  Even when I was a kid, instead of buying the fancy (and expensive!) Christmas gift wrap I used to pick up rolls of plain brown paper at the post office or office supply store,,,,this was years before it was trendy.

I always have large rolls of black paper and brown kraft paper on hand for my gift wrapping needs year round.  On top of this I use plain twine, raffia or wired ribbon. During the holidays, I add fresh pine or cedar (whatever I have on hand) and then top it off with ball ornaments or pine cones, again, I just grab whatever I have.  Using a hot glue gun instead of tape keeps the branches and pine cones in place and there's no tape visible on the paper seams.

Every year during boxing week I buy a large package of ball ornaments to use on gifts the following year,,,last year they were all silver, this year I used these dark chocolate brown balls.  You can find them in practically every colour imaginable and if you buy them on sale they cost next to nothing - I think they're prettier than bows.

My other favorite gift adornment is pine cones.  I collect them throughout the year so I'll have a large bag handy when I'm wrapping. This one was sprayed with a little bit of fake snow.  A silver paint pen is perfect when you don't have any gift tags - you can write your message directly on the package.  Normally I use metal rimmed round white price tags from the office supply store but my large stash of them finally ran out this year.....

I pick-up bulk rolls of wired ribbon at Costco or a gift wholesaler in a few different colours, this year I used silver one and bronze (I've had the same rolls for 2 years and there's still lots left).  The wired edges on the ribbon are a fail safe way to make super easy bows and twists.

My family used to think it was weird, wrapping gifts in plain brown kraft paper,,,,and now,,,,many of them do the same thing.  These days you can find rolls of kraft or black paper just about anywhere but what I love about them is that the fresh greenery and pine cones (your topping of choice) become the feature. You can pretty much add anything you want to embellish this basic wrap, in the past I've used gingerbread cookies, candy canes, fresh flowers and even dried fruit - you can't go wrong.  But I think the best part is the hand crafted look of the package.  I'm not the type who plans out my gift wrap ahead of time - this method of always having basic plain wrap on hand allows me to embellish with whatever I have in the house (or from outside) even at the last minute.

Despite all the simple beauty of these gift wraps,,,,I was outdone by a sibling this year.  Under the tree at my moms was a gift box addressed to me that looked like it had been shipped from around the world.  It was sooo mysterious, I can't tell you how exciting it was to open it up.  I needed a flat head screw driver thought because it was a wooden box with stapled edges.

My brother made then entire box which had labels on it from all over the world....(this pic is from after I destroyed most of the packaging to open it)...

And the gift inside was handmade too......a solid walnut serving board made for me by my brother.  Aren't these the best gifts ever!  We don't even exchange gifts among my siblings but he made this for me anyway - so it was a complete and total surprise.  I love it, thank you no.2!

Now that this Christmas is a wrap, I'm going to find the time to relax by the fire this week and enjoy a couple of new design books Santa left under the tree for me.

Happy Holidays, from my house to yours!

All Photos:  Carol Reed

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Past

Weeks ago many bloggers started sharing photos of their holiday decor,,,but I'm still here scrambling to get some festive touches in place around casa CREED before Christmas day actually arrives!  Ah the joys of running your own design business usually means you don't have any time left to focus on your own home.  So since my halls are still only half decked for xmas 2010,,,I thought I'd share some photos of xmas's past.  These pics are also mostly from pre-blogging days so I'm sorry to say they're not the best quality photos but I think you'll see a glimpse of holiday decor despite the really bad flash exposure. 

My tree this year, looks exactly like my tree last year, as shown above.  Its simply adorned with white lights, hand-blown glass ornaments, glass icicles, dark chocolate brown balls, lots of silver balls and natural pine cones. I'm always on the lookout for new tree ornaments and usually pick up something new every year but nothings caught my eye this time round.....

Like usual I was running short on time last year so out of necessity I kept the mantle simple, these vases are on the mantle all year long I just added some evergreen branches and silver balls.

During the day an oversize bowl filled with huge sugar cones and evergreen branches sits on the coffee table, when guests arrive I move it to make room for food.....

This is what our coffee table looks like all day long on Xmas ,,,,always covered with food and wine! A guest brought the flowers.

Our dining table last Christmas,,,,,and our $2 light fixture from Habitat for Humanity (which replaced an unsightly ceiling fan).  Even though this is just a rental property and is not a 'designer home' by any means it's never stopped me from entertaining here -  I can't stress enough how strongly I feel about this - never hold off from entertaining family and friends because you think your house isn't 'perfect' yet, your guests really won't care.  Make the most of what you have, you can create an inviting and festive atmosphere with simple things and have memories you'll cherish forever.

Our Christmas table in our Condo about 4 or 5 years ago.  I had more hydrangeas,,,but of course they died a few hours after I brought them home, this was only one that survived. : /  The disco balls were from the dollar store, I loved the sparkle they added.

Another Christmas at the Condo, I think about 4 years ago, orchids instead of hydrangeas on the table.  I had hung crystals from the arc floor lamp the xmas before this and I liked them so much they stayed permanently.  

This is a pretty good reflection of my holiday decor style,,,I keep it really simple and as natural as possible. Some fresh evergreen, white flowers, pine cones and silver balls are my essentials. This was a favorite way to dress up the mantle at the condo, one bough of evergreen with a vase of orchids and branches at the end with a few oversize silver balls.  And probably my favorite holiday accessory I own are the 3 white letters, JOY.  I especially love the subtle effect of them on white walls.

My brother and I a couple of years ago.  This was the first Christmas my family celebrated since my dad's passing,,,,he's wearing dad's Christmas Pants - my dad wore these every xmas for about 30 years or more (they're really old!) until he finally outgrew them, and my brother took over the tradition.  Yup, he actually leaves the house wearing those!!

Ah the morning after, this was boxing day morning from 2 years ago here at the house, my most favorite day of the year.  (Seriously it is).  The centre piece on the table is an example of what you can whip up in about 2 minutes as your guests are pulling in the driveway - I can't even take credit for it, my 'handyman' made this literally seconds before the doorbell rang.  He took a glass cake stand, laid some pine cuttings on it,,,,threw some silver balls and pine cones on top.  Done.  I loved how it was elevated but low lying so it didn't obstruct any sightlines or take up table space and it lasted for weeks.  I thought it was brilliant. 

Here's hoping this Christmas will be just as brilliant as Christmas Pasts!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Freeze Frame

I know it seems this blog has been frozen on Dec.4 for a little too these roses in the garden of a house I'm working on right now.  To see such a spectacle of beauty amongst a pile of construction debris - I couldn't resist but stop and 'smell the roses'.  It was wonderful to just take a breather for a moment and enjoy the beauty, even for a minute in the bitter cold.  Just like these buds I've spent my days freezing my butt of on this job site over the past couple of weeks,,,,and driving all over the city non-stop sourcing for another project, all while talking other clients thru site issues over the phone in between!

Thoughts of holiday decor or shopping haven't entered my mind yet,,,but I feel the stress building up in my shoulders already.  I'll have to do something about the decor this weekend so I've been looking thru photos from Christmas past to try and get myself motivated.  If I can manage to find more than one photo that wasn't taken with a horrible flash exposure, I'll share a few here in the next couple of days.  And if I really get my act together and manage to get the house looking somewhat festive this weekend, I'll snap some pics and post them too,,,,,,but that's a big if at this point. : )

Please excuse the lack of new posts over the next couple of weeks while I concentrate on getting merry and finding joy.  I hope you are doing the same!

  Photo By:  Carol Reed via Iphone

Saturday, December 4, 2010

NYC - Fishs Eddy

If you love to cook and love to entertain you'll love Fishs Eddys.  While I didn't do a lot of shopping when I was in NYC last month (too much sightseeing!)  I did manage to make it back to this meca for diner ware twice.  I wish I could have brought more things home with me but I discovered they provide shipping services for purchases in the store and on the website so I know I can get my fix anytime.   I imagine if I lived in New York I'd be a frequent visitor to this shop,,,like everytime I throw a dinner party!  This store is a home cook's dream, its chock full of retro and classic style kitchen ware both new and vintage.  While the store itself isn't huge the shelves are stacked to the ceiling and overflowing with wares.  Quirky vintage finds, classic diner plates, american glassware and every kind of kitchen gadget you can imagine all displayed amongst a collectioin of vintage portraits hung on beadboard walls.  On your next visit to New York don't miss a chance to visit Fishs Eddys, its right across the street from ABC Carpet & Home so this local is a destination point for any home decor enthusiast.  

They had me at Diner Whites.  Gasp.

Hotel Silverware...

Glove Moulds,,,,I bought a couple of very small white ones.   Remember seeing similar ones in this House Beautiful shoot from January 2009.....

......colourful, quirky and unexpected!

She was my favorite of all the portraits and looked stunning beside this American glassware.  I'm pretty sure they colour co-ordinated their displays to the portraits...

No space was left bare, portraits were everywhere....

another beauty,,,,and see how great she looks with the gold and green dishes in the background...

I'd never seen such a large collection of everyday glassware...

I was crazy for these Italian wine glasses sold in sets of 6,,,,,,I was so sad to leave these behind.

Handpressed Amercican glassware cake stands.  Need I say more...........

Just a small sampling of all the other tempting treasures....

Want to see more Fishs Eddys but wont be in NYC anytime soon, you can hop on over to their website and drool some more, I recommend starting at their American Glassware section. : )

All Photos:  Carol Reed

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