29 March 2013

One Of A Kind Is Back In Town!

It's that time of year, peeps! The One of a Kind Spring Show is back in town, and I took a very decadent day off work to attend. So worth it.

I know I gush every year over every show, and I'm sure some of you are like, OH MY GAWD, HERE SHE GOES AGAIN! But you know. It is what it is. And what it is, is awesome.

Despite my overwhelming love of the show, I'll be honest: it isn't every year that I could spend myself into bankruptcy (or close to it) on fabulous finds. This year is definitely that year.

Dudes, there were so many items I wanted to take home with me. I don't know if I'm just seeing the show differently (maybe the new house ~ and all the rooms I have yet to decorate ~ is giving me fresh eyes) or if the artists and products really are as fresh, cool and hip as I think they are. Whatever the reason, it was all I could do to hold myself back from stocking up my shopping bag and spending myself into a fashionable little hole.

If you have an opportunity this weekend, when not hiding eggs or hunting eggs or cooking eggs for a brunch for 40, you should definitely check it out. Here are just a few of my fave booths:

~ mined reCREATIONS ~
Joanne Jones, the owner and designer of mined reCREATIONS, was so incredibly lovely, and her pieces are flat out amazing. I totally bought one ~ a gorgeous Shearer bag for my camera. It makes me feel like a hipster photo-journalist (don't judge). Joanne's work is so complex and gorgeous, each piece is a steal at twice the price. And maybe the coolest thing she does? Memorabilia bags. If you've got a high school jacket or varsity sweater that you want to give second life to, she's your gal. I highly recommend a visit.

~ Creations Li ~
Wai-Yant Li at Creations Li is a new artist to the OOAK show, and her adorable little alien ceramic pieces are a wonderful addition. My favourite is the octopus-shaped hanging planter (I'm actually debating going back for it, and hanging it over my kitchen sink. Can you imagine?) but there's definitely something for everyone: mugs, butter dishes, vases, serving bowls... all with adorable little faces that say, "Take me home!" So.... you probably should.

Fabulous Canadiana, thy name is Identity. Designer Meghan Irish divines inspiration from vintage army and Hudson's Bay blankets and classic Canadian imagery (think bears, moose, antlers and the Queen), and marries the two to wonderful, whimsical effect. It was the pillows and purses that caught my eye first, but her t-shirts are are instant classics too: comfortable, fashion-forward and perfectly patriotic.

~ Lovefresh ~
It's rare that I find myself drawn into the bath and beauty booths at the OOAK, Lovefresh sucked me right in with their gorgeously simple, French-inspired packaging and the scents... People, the scents are to-die-for. The pomegranate body butter smells so good you could eat it, and the lavender scrub is floral yet refreshing. With flavours like Key Lime, Lemon Verbena, Vanilla and Pear (my personal favourite), there's a lotion, scrub or butter to please every palate.

~ Mod Pieces ~
I think it's fair to say that my love of mid-mod and vintage pieces is fairly well known (and if you don't know, now you do. I love it.) So when I came across Mod Pieces and their selection of vintage lamps with customized shades, I completely fell in love. This is statement lighting, to be sure, and some are not for the faint of heart (lampshades screen printed with anatomical lung paintings, anyone?) but they are flat-out gorgeous, folks, and definitely worth a visit.

~ Tealish ~
Hubby Daryn is the "fancy" tea drinker in the family (I'm strictly an orange pekoe kind of gal) but when I spotted the Tealish booth in the Taste of OOAK section, I made a beeline. Their colourful, slightly retro-looking tins are pretty enough, but it was the smell that sealed the deal. I chose three to bring home with me: Lemon Meringue, Green Harmony and Delicious Detox. They all smell FABULOUS, like you could eat them straight out of the tin (and with all-natural ingredients, you likely could). There's a good possibility I'm heading back tomorrow for another three; you can never have enough gourmet tea in the cupboard.

 ~ Love Nail Tree ~
If you are even remotely interested, affectionate towards or covetous of the hipster vibe, Love Nail Tree should be your first stop. Their printed apparel - long- and short-sleeved tees, dresses and sweaters, etc. - are branded with messaging and images that risk being trite if it weren't so cool (their mandate? to provoke conversation about topics ignored in the world.). From a strictly fashion perspective, topping it off are the vintage pocket watch necklaces that are a little bit of steam punk cool made wearable for everyday.

~ Meter by Metre ~
The selection of handbags at Meter by Metre are fresh, fun and stylish, not to mention pretty, feminine and beautifully crafted. Designer Priya is as lovely as she is creative, and her classic-meets-preppy-meets-sweet style equals handbags that move easily from day to night and work to weekend. Stop by and give them some love!

 ~ Moth Jewelry ~

Leslie Howchin of Moth Jewelry is a stunning artist, using waxed linen to weave a rainbow of dramatic jewelry that is both rugged and delicate. Necklaces, cuffs, bracelets, earrings... the array of styles, inspiration and colour is amazing and gorgeous. I particularly liked the connection to Native Canadian arts that I sensed in her use of stones and natural materials (which may just be my interpretation of her work, but it's appreciated all the same). Her pieces are easy to dress up and dress down, and with hundreds of colour variations to choose from, a few key choices will coordinate with your entire wardrobe!

 ~ Otra ~
Offering pendant lampshades in graphic colours and geometric shapes as well as carry-all bags and unique jewelry, among other items, Otra offers the eco-conscious shopper a series of unique, eclectic statement pieces for home and body. What initially drew me to their booth was the pendant lights: their silhouettes echo the classic Nelson lamps, but the cut-out shades in punchy colours ramp up the contemporary feel. The visible grommets, on the other hand, give them a homespun feel that reminds me of cut-out snowflake garlands you'd make in primary school. The effect is sophisticated and disarming at the same time, and being entirely constructed of recycled materials means you can feel extra good about the splurge.

Another springtime, another show, folks. I had a fabulous time trolling the aisles for beautiful treasures, and yet I'm sure I missed as many as I spotted. That's the beauty of the OOAK show: each time you visit, you can find something new and notable to drool over, covet, appreciate. I'm planning on heading back before the show closes, just to give it a final walk-through and maybe pick up a few of those pieces I left behind today (and shouldn't have). Maybe I'll see you there!

PS - All photos are mine. Awesomely amazing composites are courtesy of Mosaic Maker.


13 March 2013

Getting Away From It All in Lovely Niagara-On-The-Lake

This past weekend Daryn and I escaped together for a glorious, desperately-needed 44-hour weekend away in Niagara-on-the-Lake, our first in two years. It was heaven.

Way back in the dark ages when we were very young... and stupid... and really, really naive... Daryn and I committed to each other that we would take a weekend of "us" time every three months. We even managed to stick to that promise for a while, too, despite having one small child who needed to be farmed out for those weekends away. But when that one child turned into two (and the second one was a bit of an infant she-devil), the babysitting well dried up considerably, and has continued to dehydrate as the years pass and our schedules become more and more dominated by the kid's activities.

But to realize (in the midst of mild nervous breakdown stemming from said hectic schedule) that we hadn't actually been away alone together in two years... TWO YEARS (wtf?!)... was mind-blowing, and definitely a situation that needed to be rectified immediately.

So our leaving was sort of a spontaneous affair. We booked the cheapest hotel deal we could find in NOTL which, in the off-season, is pretty cheap. We filled the tank with gas, came to a rolling stop in front of the house after swim practice on Friday night and basically dumped the kids out on the sidewalk, then took off with no other plans than to spend a lot of time eating, sleeping and... let's call it canoodling. Rawr.

By noon the next day we were bored. Well, not bored, exactly. Not of each other. But what started as a plan not to leave the hotel room AT ALL during the weekend transformed pretty quickly into, "Well, maybe do you want to take just a quick walk downtown? See what's what?" Which we did.

Beyond our favourite haunts ~ Irish Design, The Scottish Loft and Maple Leaf Fudge, of course ~ two shops caught our collective eye that we've never explored before.


Nearly everything in the store is individually sourced by the owner and her artist husband from Africa, India and Indonesia; architectural pieces (such as carved antique doors) sit alongside vibrant, jewel-toned textiles and contemporary accessories. It's a magpie's dream: I could have spent a great deal of money in there and held back only by the thinnest threads of self-restraint (and a husband who had a firm grip on my wallet while I snapped photos). We did purchase the cutest little pouf for A's room that I'll (hopefully) be sharing next week once we've got her room painted (this weekend? fingers crossed) and it no longer clashes with her too-pink walls.

The second shop caters to the theatrical and the morbid. I, being both, fell in love. Daryn, being neither, suffered it gladly because I was so stoked about it. He's a good husband.

~ The Haunted Shop ~

The Haunted Shop capitalizes on NOTL's ghostly history as Canada's most haunted town, offering daily ghost walks June through October. I totally made puppy-dog eyes at Daryn because I sooooo wanted to go, and he initially agreed. Once mid-afternoon set in, however, and the awsmazing burger and flight of beer we inhaled at Cork's Winebar and Eatery settled in our tummies, we were too tired to traipse around town being scared. Plus, we forgot to bring jackets. Instead, we'll head back at Hallowe'en ~ with the appropriate outdoor gear ~ so I can truly terrorize myself.

Speaking of puppy-dog eyes, I can't mention The Haunted Shop without highlighting this little beauty:

No, not Daryn, though he's cute too (obviously).

Let me draw your attention to Shia the rescue dog.

~ Shia Le Woof ~

Is she cute, or what??! She and Daryn made fast friends; the two of them hung out (as pictured above) the entire 25 minutes I was yapping at the owner and shutter-bugging the store. If I could have smuggled her back to the car and brought her home with me, I would have.

Outside of this little bit of shopping and much fabulous eating, we watched this

which I can't recommend. Then this

which I totally can. I laughed until I nearly peed my pants which a) I wouldn't admit to if it actually happened - I would totally downplay; and b) am copping to it almost happening because I trust you and I know lots of you have had babies too and totally get why this nearly happened. Suffice to say: if you haven't watched it and you're ANYWHERE in the neighborhood of 40-slash-married-slash-with-kids, you need to watch it. It's your life, only funnier.

And then... we came home. We missed the kids, sure, and the Shih Tsu, but I'll tell you: there's nothing like a weekend away from it all to make you want another weekend away from it all.

Signing off now to surf around Expedia.ca... :)


08 March 2013

I'm Singing The {Moody} Blues

Blue ~ in any shade, hue or tone ~ has always been one of my least favourite colours on the spectrum. I would rather live with almost any other colour but. So you can imagine my surprise when I walked into the new Money Pit and instantly knew this was a blue house. Colour me shocked (and yes, that colour would be blue).

It's not all about the blues. It wouldn't be me if this house wasn't (eventually) painted predominantly white. But where I've had opportunity to add colour, I'm going for it with gusto. Our main floor media room is a velvety, clubby affair that looks like deep twilight, and our master bedroom is preppy in navy-black. They're both still works in progress but I'll be sharing some sneak peeks next week.

For inspiration, I've been trolling the internet indulging in my cool {blue} new obsession. Here are just a few of my favourite jewel-toned gems; do you find them as inspiring as I do?

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

These beautiful blues feel like you could just fall right into them, don't they? I've never appreciated the gorgeousness of blue until now but, boy, have the tides turned for me. I'm a bluesy girl all the way.

Daryn and I are off for a romantic weekend sans kids! I can't wait... it's our first weekend away (without family, so Cuba doesn't count) in, like, two years. How ridiculous is that?? I'm so looking forward to having him all to myself for 48 hours, but the sad truth is: we'll probably end up talking about the kids for most of it! The tribs and trials of being a parent, I guess :)

Happy weekend, everyone! Hope yours is just as fab. 'Til next week!


07 March 2013

Preview | Coastal Getaway with Andrew Richard Designs

This past Tuesday I attended Andrew Richard Designs 2013 collection preview at their Adelaide Street East showroom, and it was all over lovely. The presentations, the catering, the company and most especially the collection, were a real treat (for the eyes, and otherwise).

If you're not familiar with Andrew Richard Designs, you're probably not alone. It would seem they are the best kept secret in the design industry that's in fact not a secret at all.

ARD is a Canadian purebred led by brothers Andrew and Richard Bockner, from a family-owned company that spans nearly 50 years in business. Here's a bit of brief history, pulled from their website (because really, they say it best):
Andrew Richard Designs (ARD) offers a varied and beautiful selection of chic, luxurious, yet durable outdoor furnishings that can transform any space into a functional and decadent retreat. With an impressive global slate of high-end hotels and celebrities among their clientele, the duo have been prominent figures in a design movement that is revolutionizing the way North American's view their outdoor spaces. 
The Bockners have deep roots in the industry; a thoroughly Canadian brand, ARD evolved from Cana-Foam Products Inc., a family business that has been successfully producing outdoor accoutrements for over four decades. Founded by Cecil and Donald Bockner in 1964, Cana-Foam manufactures cushions and umbrellas for mass merchant and independent retailers. Cana-Foam was also one of the first companies in Canada to import synthetic, outdoor-friendly woven furniture.
This is them. But at a different party.

Their client list includes the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels, The Ritz Carlton, Molson Amphitheatre, Canada's Wonderland, the National Ballet School, Sandals Resorts, Intrawest and most recently, Disney. The list literally goes on and on.

And seriously, you guys? Their stuff is gorgeous. In the most ironic of ways (because I think it's fair to say we're not really "yard people"), it really made me wish our backyard was substantially bigger!

For such a large expanse of real estate (12,000 square feet!) the gathering was surprisingly intimate. Catered by Toben Food by Design, the evening featured more than its share of delicious food and drink, all beautifully presented, naturally.

I even ran into a couple of blogger friends -- shout out to Jennifer and Tim! -- who were taking in the sights as well. 

All in, it was a great preview. If you're in the market for exceptionally well-made outdoor furniture in sleek, sexy designs and an array of beautiful fabrics that will blow your mind, you'll make to check out ARD. And designers, now's the time to be thinking about custom designs (for summer delivery), so get your thinking caps on and your creative juices flowing. Summer's calling!


05 March 2013

Target, You Missed The Mark

I was all set to write a rave review of the grand opening of Target Canada's pilot store in Milton, one of three that opened up their doors today to the Canadian public. I had done some research (unusual for me: generally I just fly blind with things like "facts") and was prepared to share a ton of details about the chain, including what we could expect price-wise north of the border and important dates to note. And I nailed a fabulous (if sort of obvious) title: "Bulls-Eye for Target Canada!" Cute, right?!

But what I assumed would happen and what actually happened at the Grand Opening were so diametrically opposed in terms of experience that I actually deleted that first post to write this one instead.

I don't know, Target. I'm not really feeling it, you know?

Nothing makes me sadder than when something I've been waiting super-excitedly for turns out to be a disappointment (I'm looking at you, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Partly the problem is mine: I think I expect too much. In this case, I've been stalking the store since the official announcement came down the pipe. The body wasn't even cold (Zellers, I mean) before I was full-steam-ahead planning my Target onslaught.

Given it's location in town, it was easy to drive by every day to check on the building process. Which I did. A lot. And when the little notice popped up in my Facebook feed that the pilot store was opening today, you better believe it went straight into my calendar. Target and I... we had a date with destiny.

I was less impressed when I had to park more than two blocks away from the store to get any parking space at all. I didn't assume I would be the only one there, but I thought in the middle of a workday ~ smack-dab in the middle of the workweek! ~ that crowds would be a little thinner. Not so, as it turned out. The crowd was more than healthy. Clearly, a good start for them.

It doesn't look impressive, but that's more foot traffic than Milton Mall has seen since Le Chateau opened six years ago and all the high school kids in town took the day off to celebrate and shop. Usually, it's just the local seniors.

Once inside the store, my immediate first impression was that it felt like a glorified Zellers (one of my Twitter peeps suggested it may have felt that way because Zellers long ago adopted Target-esque-style branding, which makes sense to me). The layout also contributed: it's not exactly the same as Zellers, but it's pretty close. The biggest difference was the crowd (in that there was one).

I took a few preliminary shots with Jimmy, the new love of my life (more on him later), and was no more than 30 steps inside the store -- and five photos into my tour -- when an associate rushed up to me in boy's wear and said, "No! No thank you. No photos please."

My mistake! Usually I'm pretty good about asking folks to take photos in their shop, especially smaller retailers who offer unique or one-of-a-kind products and who generally have a small online presence. (does this sounds like Target to you?) Photography can be a touchy issue for some independents, and I try to be very sensitive to that fact. But Target is neither small, nor independent, nor unique, and I think we can agree that their online presence is considerable. Besides which, the store was inundated with local media outlets; cameras were everywhere. I was frankly surprised that they managed to single me out.

So when I apologized (profusely) and let them know I was there for media purposes ~ that I ran a small local blog ("Here's my card...") and was excited to be writing a post about the launch ~ I expected it to smooth the waters. It usually does. Instead, she looked at me and said again, more firmly, "I'm sorry. No photos."

I then asked if there was a media office I could connect with onsite. If it was a matter of obtaining credentials, I thought, I'll just pop in right now and git'er done. I smiled. She smiled back. Then: "Hold on, I'll call someone." Someone. But not the media office? No, not the media office.

We were joined a moment later by another woman who was, I guessed, a floor manager. I repeated my request. Smiled winningly. Looked harmless. Waved my camera in her face a little, sort of tempting-like. Handed her my card. Smiled again: full teeth, raised eyebrows. You know.... hopeful.

"No," the new woman said. "Sorry. We have enough media."

Umm... I'm sorry. What? Is there such a such as enough media? I'm speaking generally of course, but also specifically: Target's warm welcome to our fair northern shores isn't universal. I know of many ~ my own friends and family among them ~ who are completely and totally against the brand invasion. They view it similar to the arrival of Wal-Mart and other wildlife: a foreign specious infiltrating our habitat and devastating the native population of retailers (as with the brown tree snake, so too with Wal-Mart)

Sure, he looks harmless. But he and his pals have eaten their way through all of Guam's indigenous bird population and are now starting to wipe out the rodents and the lizards as well. Not so cute now, right?

As a lover of cute, affordable lamp shades and place settings and area rugs, I don't mind the invasion. More concerning to me is the antiquated approach to social media management. To give credit where credit is due, Target has one of the most effective marketing campaigns out there. Without their amazing branding, they're just another box store full of discounted goods of middling quality. Yes, they've got the fashion-forward angle going for them, especially when it comes to housewares, but what sets them apart from their competitors is purely advertorial.

So it stands to reason ~ and I fully understand ~ that part of their marketing success stems from controlling their messaging with an iron fist. It also stands to reason that blogs, living as they do in the badlands of traditional media, may not be the type of media they want to rub shoulders with.

But here's the real rub: blogs are out there. Social media is now the driving force behind consumer decisions in this country for the under-40 demographic: it can - and does! - deeply influence the purchasing choices of Canadians. It's not something to be trifled with, no matter how huge or how successful you are.

And granted, Money Pit Love is small and maybe a larger, well-known blog would not have received the same reception. But they don't know how small ~ or big ~ this blog is, nor can they control what happens on any other social medium (because naturally, I immediately shared my experience on Twitter, where there are no do-overs. It's out there. Interesting side note? While I've been deep in conversations with several of my Tweeple who share my view on this type of media management, Target Canada hasn't responded to any of our missives. Not once. A serious fail in message management, in my opinion).

Furthermore, I fail to understand exactly what they are attempting to protect. Any and every product they carry is online and readily available, including pricing information, descriptions and photography. Clearly, the production value of photography is better: professional versus amateur wins every time. But outside of that, what state secrets are being protected by disallowing photography in-situ? Or more specifically, what secrets are being protected by disallowing camera photography in-situ?? Because had I wanted to take photos with my phone, she "couldn't stop me. But cameras are not allowed."

Social media is a powerful tool that, like any other tool, can be useful or dangerous depending on how you treat it. I don't presume that this one little review on this one little blog will make any difference whatsoever in the success or failure of Target's expansion into Canada ~ that would be a ridiculous expectation. But what I am is one little drop in an ocean of bloggers that grows larger and more influential every year.

Blogs are no longer on the outskirts of mainstream media, they ARE mainstream media. It's time that retailers large and small learned to adapt.

Brown tree snake image via National Geographic