Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Open House Ideas

One of my favorite blogging buddies, Carolyn from The Buzz blog, asked me to participate in a series about my favorite tips to share for enjoying the upcoming holiday season.  What a treat!

I chose to talk about my ideas for a festive Holiday Open House.  Here are a few teasers of other fun holiday ideas, but head over there for the whole story!


Winter Ice Candles


Festive ice

This post may feel like deja veux to a few of you.  I posted this recently, but due to all of the chaos caused by Sandy and snow on the east coast, Carolyn and I had a little mix up on timing. So, please head over to her blog today for some fun holiday ideas from me!  :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Favorite Things: Throws

Hi Everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Now that the cold, cozy months are truly upon us, I like to add a throw in my home wherever I can.  Following my obsession with lamps and pillows, throws are a close second.  


Here are a few rooms where throws add a beautiful touch to the space...



J. Saladino, Photograph by Luca Trovato.

striped blanket, square bed, floor lamps

ceiling, rug

I bought an antique textile in Bali that I have yet to use in my house, but it was inspired by this bedroom from several years ago.  It's still one of my faves!

Beautiful outdoor space...

striped rug, striped pillows, striped walls, graphic throw

white with black accent



25 Days of Decorating | Reinvent Your Chandelier |

timbers, chairs, and a place for books

ciao! newport beach: beachy decor



What's your favorite style of throw? If you have one in your home, how do you use it?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pacific NW Holidays: Simply Fresh Dinners

Today's post about Pacific NW Holidays goes a bit north of Seattle - to Vancouver Island.  Robyn from Simply Fresh Dinners joins us today with her take on a luxurious holiday tradition!  I think you're going to really enjoy this one, and may even find yourself planning your next vacation there before you're done.  I have to warn you though, you will leave this post hungry for a delicious, gourmet, locally grown Pacific NW meal for sure!  Read on...


There is a mystical place on the west coast of Vancouver Island that embodies nature’s most spectacular landscapes and creatures, the unique artistry of local craftsmen, and the blissful pleasures of home grown organic food.  This place is Sooke Harbour House and every year during the Christmas holidays my friends and family visit their restaurant for a meal that can only be described as out of this world.

This romantic getaway has 28 oceanfront rooms and is nestled into the banks of the Pacific Ocean with beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State.   I`ve stayed overnight a couple times even though my home is just 30 minutes away.  It`s just that irresistible!

The property is on two and a half acres and beautifully landscaped.  The rooms are true to west coast design and the furniture is made by local craftsman.  I`m particularly fond of the chairs in the restaurant and after my first visit here, I inquired about the designer and was told he lived just down the road.  His name is Rusty Sage and  I went to visit him and  was so impressed with his work that I commissioned him to do my kitchen table and chairs and staircases in my home that I was renovating at the time.  The ones in my kitchen are almost identical to the ones below.

Whether you`re curled up watching winter storms or hoping to catch a pod of killer whales swimming by, these rooms are so cozy and romantic.  I love the variety of woods they have used.  Everything is hand crafted.

The inn has a beautiful art gallery and they actively promote local artists from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.  There is a very large and diverse community of artists in the area from sculptors and painters to jewellers and wood craftsmen and stone masons.   You can also find the art throughout the inn, in the rooms, the restaurants and even in the gardens.

If you`re a foodie, this is the place to be.   Most of the produce is grown right on the property and their seafood is local and fresh.   If you live in the PNW, it is worth a visit just for the food alone.  

The owner, Sinclair Philip, is the Canadian representative to Slow Food in Italy and some years ago was a Slow Food Vancouver Island Convivum leader. His commitment to offering the best in freshness, flavour and creativity is evident in the pictures below.

Sooke Harbour House Salad - Wild & cultivated herbs, lettuces, flowers and blossoms from their certified organic garden.

Early Winter Salad
Robyn has been kind enough to post this recipe today!  Click here to find out more!

Crispy Sidney Lemon Sole, lemon thyme & stoneground mustard spaetzle, basil & argula pistou, savoy cabbage, grilled zucchini & baby turnips, spot prawn & roasted tomato cream, shrimp red pepper salsa

Roasted Berkshire Pork Tenderloin, phyllo wrapped potato & caramelized onion terrine, kale with pancetta, green beans & baby carrots, rhubarb & sundried apricot chutney, rosemary & red wine bordelaise sauce.

Parsnip, Turnip & Borage Soup with smoked Albacore Tuna loin & leek oil.

Chocolate torte, rainier cherry compote, white chocolate basil ice cream.

The best way to walk off all that delicious food is to take a stroll along their beachfront.  There are also kayaks available and if you are staying overnight there are plenty of whale watching and fishing charters available.  I am passionate about the killer whale population around Vancouver Island and Puget Sound and there  plenty of opportunities to view them here.  There are also grey whales, humpback and a few years ago a rare blue whale was spotted along this coast.   If you are a bird watcher, there are plenty of bald eagles, golden eagles and blue heron.

Thank you, Barbara, for the opportunity to share one of my favourite places and Christmas traditions with you and your readers.   No matter where you are, the Pacific Northwest is always in your heart and it was a pleasure to revist such warm memories.

Pictures of the food are from  the beautiful blog  A legg up ,
All other pictures are the property of Sooke Harbour House

I warned you this was going to be irresistable.  :)
I'm not sure what drew me in the most - the food, the inn or the whale sighting!  
Thank you Robyn for such an incredible tour of a place where anyone would be lucky to celebrate a holiday!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Hi Everyone!

I hope you're having a great holiday today.  We are in a special location celebrating Thanksgiving today, but it's a secret for now!  Since I'm being mysterious, let's pretend it looks something like this:

wood rings, squash bowls, and arrangements
or this...


 I'll reveal the location for our very non-traditional Thanksgiving feast very soon. 
 Until then, enjoy your day and enjoy some turkey for me!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Favorite Things: Topiaries

I love the look of a topiary - indoors and out.  Currently I have an olive topiary in the kitchen window and right after Thanksgiving some oversized topiaries with twinkly lights will be sitting on either side of the front door, but I could go on and on in several rooms in the house.  :)

Here are a few of my favorite examples!



potted evergreens



Christmas tablescape.

Carolina at home

neutral and white




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