July 20th, 2012
This editor was totally against sandboxes until her son’s daycare mentioned that he was content playing in it for an hour straight. What they didn’t mention, was that a water table would keep him entertained for 90 minutes. It was a done deal.
The water table is safer than a kiddie pool, less dirty than a sandbox (albeit wetter, but water dries fast in the heat) and can be set up in a yard or on a patio or balcony. Pick one up from Toys "R" Us (pictured, $25), or make your own. A large under-the-bed-storage plastic box works great balanced on two cement blocks. Stick a few bath toys in there, and let the fun begin.
Just be careful if you do have a sandbox, too. This inevitably turns the water table and sandbox into two mud pits. Great for the production of tasty mud pies, less great when it comes to cleaning up. —Alexandra Sunher Isenberg
$25 at www.toysrus.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.
March 20th, 2012
Moths have good taste. Why else would they only target my most luxe cashmere? This spring, I’m determined to banish the blighters. Here’s how:
Cashmere should be washed and combed (with a blunt razor) before you stow it away. Moths are attracted to human sweat, so make sure your woolies are always clean.
Careful storage is key. Invest in some garment bags and store them in large tight-fitting containers.
The Scottish Cashmere Club suggests filling handkerchiefs with cloves, lavender, rosemary, thyme, dried orange peel and cedar and storing the sachets with your woolies.
A useful tip is to regularly sand down your cedar blocks to keep the scent fresh.
A little essential oil goes a long way. Soak a piece of blotting paper in Lavender oil and stash it away with your sweaters. —Athena Tsavliris
February 13th, 2012
Just in case you haven’t read the memo, it’s Valentine’s day tomorrow. We searched the web for a few last minute DIY projects to impress your lovey dove.
Many of you may have seen this amazing cake doing the rounds in the blogosphere, but have you tried to make it?
What man wants heart patches sewn on his favourite sweater? Yours? Follow this easy step-by-step and he’ll love you forever. —Athena Tsavliris
January 30th, 2012
Julie Gabriel, author of The Green Beauty Guide takes a holistic approach to winter skin care. Here, the Toronto-born nutritionist and organic skincare creator shares a favourite homemade recipe for year-round moisture-rich skin.
Herbal Coconut Body Butter
This butter can be used on face, hair and body skin. You can load up the coconut butter with whatever herbal teas and infusions you happen to have in your kitchen.
• 2 cups coconut oil
• 2-3 twigs fresh rosemary or a tablespoon dried leaves
• 2-3 stems fresh mint or 2-3 peppermint tea bags (preferably organic)
• 2-3 rosehip tea bags
• 2-3 nettle tea bags
• 1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced
Melt coconut oil on very low heat in a metal saucepan. Add the rest of ingredients and allow simmering on very, very low heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to allow ingredients to infuse evenly. Strain and pour the coconut butter into a pot and close tightly. Cool down and use as necessary.
Massage as necessary into hair, skin, even nails.
Store in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
December 23rd, 2011
If Maria von Trapp can make clothes out of curtains, we can certainly think up imaginative ways to wrap a gift. Herewith, a few of our crafty favourites.
Fabric is always a lovely alternative to paper. Those old Toile de Jouy cushion covers would work beautifully, or how about cutting out the wine stain from an out-of-use table cloth and using that? If the collars and cuffs are looking tatty on your chap’s shirts, you could up-cycle them too.
If you like the idea of the wrapping being a gift in itself, why not opt for a Marimekko tea towel or chic vintage silk scarf?
Read All About It
Newspaper is a good one too. I like Corriere dello Sport and the Financial Times because they’re pink!
Your kitchen drawers are likely filled with possibilities. Parchment paper stenciled with glittery stars is so pretty and festive.
Gift tags are so easy to make, and remember, most things look better with a bow on top. —Athena Tsavliris
November 8th, 2011
Forget fancy baubles and try-hard winter sunglasses, right now scarves are the can’t live without accessory. Turban, kerchief or security blanket, it doesn’t matter how you wear one, just do it with aplomb.
This four-minute video is genius, showcasing 25 different scarf-tying techniques. I’ve been busy perfected the ‘Mira’ and the ‘DIY Infinity’ on my Juma scarf but I’m always a fan of the simple ‘European Loop’.
What about you, do you loop, knot or tie? —Athena Tsavliris
October 21st, 2011
Many moons ago I went to the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition, and ever since I’ve wanted a picture wall of my own. You see them a lot lately. But I love the way the RA’s is hung — pictures stacked one on top of another in a riot of colour. Once I got started, mine took on a life of its own and practically hung itself. Here are some tips:
Set out with a plan, (you may want to lay the whole thing out on the kitchen floor) but don’t be too disciplined. The best picture walls are the ones that break rules and look as though they were hung over time. Think playful and organic.
Try to mix it up.
Hang a ceramic plate or an old record alongside a favourite vintage silk scarf, photograph or postcard. You may have a valuable print that works perfectly next to an old photobooth pic.
Some people prefer a uniform look, (all black frames, let’s say) but I personally like to combine materials, ceramic frames next to brass ones next to a Reeba, for instance.
I chose not too be too symmetrical, but it’s still orderly. If you aim to be too precise, your job will become very challenging.
This is definitely a two-man job, with one person hanging (someone with a very good eye) and the other supervising the display.
October 8th, 2011
We all complain that we don’t have enough time to do crafts or make children’s clothing, but Halloween is a great time to try making a costume. They only wear it for a few hours, so our sewing skills won’t really be put to the test… Here are three of our faves:
An owl costume for our little girl
This owl costume is made from an old t-shirt and scraps of fabric. We suggest you keep her warm by pairing it with black tights and boots, and have her wear the mask on her forehead if you are concerned about visibility. Try old towels for the feathers, to give them a bit more texture. Find the instructions on Alpha Mom.
Dress our little boy as Clark Kent
This adorable outfit requires shopping skills over sewing skills, just get your little one a Superman t-shirt, a white shirt and some pants. Layer long johns and a turtleneck underneath the outfit and voila! Your little superhero is ready to go. For directions skip to slide two on Quick & Simple.
Turn our little baby into a goldfish
This costume works best for wee ones who aren’t too mobile, as the tail is enclosed. You’ll need an orange onesie to wear underneath, and perhaps a glass bowl for an adorable photo op. Warning, this one actually requires a few sewing skills. Goldfish outfit from Martha Stewart.
—Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
Safety tip from the editor: Use reflective tape on the back and sleeves of the costume, if you are letting your kids out trick or treating by themselves. And make sure they carry flashlights.
September 16th, 2011
Want to try your hand at a DIY pizza-pie? Cheat a little and buy the dough. Here’s our roundup of the city’s top crusts:
This one can be tricky to work and gets a bit sticky but with patience you can create the best pizza this side of Naples.
Not as much “chew” and taste, but the crust bubbles nicely and it’s easy to roll out.
The in-store pizza is pretty delicious, but unless your oven cranks to over 500 degrees we wouldn’t bother with this one. In our oven it stays a little too moist and never really seems fully cooked.
This is the in-a-pinch dough. It’s not as good as the rest, but it’ll satisfy your pizza cravings just fine.