July 17th, 2013
After years of conspicuous consumption, we decided to do a hardcore clear out, and get rid of our junk once and for all.
We started with The Minimalists, a website dedicated to living a meaningful life with less… stuff. Thus began an epic de-clutter which has not only tidied our home but, most important, satiated our thirst for "stuff." After a series of mentoring sessions with Ryan Nicodemus, we attached a purpose to our drive for simplicity, and understood why it was important, which gave us the momentum to clear out another shelf, drawer, and cupboard.
A set of four sessions ($300) can address two topics of your choice, including career finances, simplicity, and habits. While there is practical advice on how to do things, Nicodemus also gives you the guidance to make decisions on your own.
This year, try reverse back-to-school shopping; pick up a box of garbage bags, fill them, and distribute accordingly. Imagine opening your closet and finding an edited selection of clothing you know you love? It is a very nice feeling, and then you’ll be ready to face the new term. —Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
Skype mentoring sessions with Ryan Nicodemus from The Minimalists, starting at $75/hour, www.theminimalists.com
February 4th, 2013
I read once that dry cleaning your cashmere is like giving it a perm. If your winter woolies need a wash, give them a sink bath instead.
Start with a gentle detergent (425 ml/ $16) like Soak. It’s biodegradable and phosphate free.
Fill the sink with cool water.
After a brief soak, wash the sweater by squeezing it over and over again with your hands.
Don’t rub the fibres roughly or you’ll pull the garment out of shape.
Take it out of the water and squeeze out the excess, but don’t wring it.
Lay it flat on a towel for it to dry, flipping it over so it can dry on both sides.
Cashmere crisis averted.
August 22nd, 2012
Your garden is as wild as Miss Havisham’s, and you’re only as green-thumbed as your glittery seafoam nail polish. Fret not, Garden Rescue is here to help.
A two-woman band, Linda and Fin are blooming with fresh ideas for your green space. Whether it’s basic maintenance ($30/hour) or more of an overhaul, ($70/hour) no job is too big or small. My garden has transformed over the summer into a whimsical home to hostas, hydrangeas and forget-me-nots a plenty.
No garden? Garden Rescue will make up gorgeous planters for your porch or patio that will flourish regardless of how green your thumbs are. —Athena Tsavliris
For more info call Linda Harper, 416-459-8263.
June 18th, 2012
We've always thought it ironic to send our compost to the city in plastic bags – especially once the now-defunct bag tax put them in shorter supply.
Canadian eco-friendly manufacturer Cascades has come to the rescue with double-layered kitchen waste bags ($14.99 for 40) made from 100 per cent recycled paper. I found them easy to use, leakproof and – best of all – absent of that unsexy eau de green bin that permeates the plastic kitchen container no matter how many times you wash it. Forget plastic fantastic – these paper bags have true green cred. —Kat Tancock
May 29th, 2012
Velvet, silk or printed cotton, what girl doesn’t take pleasure in placing clothes on a padded hanger? For our most treasured frocks, we do just that.
Everything else lives on these ultra fine velvet hangers ($9.99 for five) that don’t hog space. The soft velvet covering is kind to your clothes (unlike pesky wire ones) and stops them from falling off the hanger all the time.
Your vastly overflowing wardrobe will appear as a capsule in no time. Make way for the voluminous peplum skirt. —Athena Tsavliris
At Canadian Tire, www.canadiantire.ca
May 16th, 2012
You don’t have to be Banksy to appreciate a decent can of spray paint.
At Homebase, you’ll find dozens of cans of high-end paint ($7) (imported from Germany) artfully stacked on open shelves. If the graffiti outside is anything to go by, the colours spray sharper and more saturated than most other lines and stick to anything from brick, and metal to plastic and wood.
DIY-ers can get cracking on a Miro-inspired mural, or why not paint those garden chairs a bright shade of Schiaparelli pink? My old, neglected bicycle is due for a makeover. A fresh lick of cherry red would suit me fine. —Athena Tsavliris
Homebase, 11 Camden St., Toronto, 647-352-2271, www.thehomebase.ca
May 15th, 2012
Come spring, sensible gals are scrubbing the floors and airing out the attic.
Drop the mop and forage for décor deals at HomeSense’s new downtown store. Set in a former bank (beauty products are shelved in the old safe), stock is geared to fashion-forward, space-challenged condo dwellers. We’re sprucing up with stackable reproduction Panton chairs ($79.99), union-jack pedal bins and a bright orange cooler-cart with built in bottle opener. Get there quick and you might snag one of five Picasso prints signed and numbered by the artist’s granddaughter.
With rooms this pretty, no one will notice the dust bunnies ’til autumn. —Marianne Wisenthal
HomeSense opens today at 82 Spadina Ave., Toronto, www.homesense.ca
May 8th, 2012
The ceramics at Bluebird’s new location suit sleek glass shelves over mahogany cabinets. This isn’t your grandmother’s porcelain dishware.
A Geoffrey Lilge cutting board ($180) would make a wonderful wedding gift, and for you, why not snap up a Victoria Bekerman beaded necklace ($155) or a printed silk cashmere scarf ($135) from Snapdragon?
Bluebird, 758 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-535-3232, www.bluebirdshop.ca
April 30th, 2012
You’re prepping for dinner à deux – a spicy puttanesca followed by berries with zabaglione – when the fridge breaks down.
Trust Delroy Spence to arrive before the penne is boiled. He’s quick, efficient and likes to whistle (or sing Motown) while he works. Spence fixed our fridge, but he can take on any appliance. —Athena Tsavliris
Delroy Spence, 416-419-8542.
April 17th, 2012
We’ve managed to banish plastic from almost everywhere in our life, except the laundry room.
With the launch of Seventh Generation’s new 4X Natural Laundry Detergent ($17.99) there’s one less earth-enemy clogging up our shelves. Packaged in 100 per cent newspaper and cardboard casing, the shell can be composted and the inner plastic bag thrown into the recycling bin. Great packaging aside, we like that it’s mild-scented and uber-concentrated so we use less per load.
Have we single-handedly saved the polar bear population with a washload of whites? Probably not, but we feel awfully smug nonetheless. —Marianne Wisenthal
At Loblaws stores, www.loblaws.com