Author Archives: Midori Tanaka
Each year (I can’t believe this is the third!!) I’ve compiled a gift guide of gifts and tributes that go further than standard gift fare can. These are gifts go further by giving back, sometimes in the most extraordinary and unexpected ways.
Image via Cape Grace
MonkeyBiz is a wonderful non-profit, income-generating project for women in South Africa that has brought the country’s beaded arts to an international market. These are true works of art, are hand-made, signed by the artist and each is one of kind. They are absolutely stunning, charming, whimsical. Not only are artists able to sustain their families on the income generated from their work, but any profits are reinvested into local community services. Available in Toronto through Eat My Words.
Stitch the Stars via Designed Good
Make gift-giving a bit easier by browsing through Designed Good’s online catalogue of unique gifts that aren’t just designed well but designed for good. Find gifts from fashion, to prints, journals and jewelry as well as information on how the artist or entrepreneur is fulfilling Designed Good’s mandate of improving the world. Becoming a member is free and only takes your email address. My favourite item is this Stitch the Stars Calendar Kit. Use glow in the dark thread to connect the dots to stitch together the constellations each month. Simply stellar!
Plan International’s Because I am a Girl
Image via Plan Canada
The work this international charitable organization does always leaves me in awe. Dedicated to supporting social justice for children, I especially appreciate their Because I am a Girl program (click here in the US) which focuses on empowering girls from the community level on up. Choose gifts that include a Newborn Check-Up for $12 (in Canada this gift is matched for a $48 value) to a Scholarship for a young girl for $295 (matched to $1180), and you will be contributing to the transformation of lives and in turn communities. Pick a gift through the Plan website and send an electronic or paper card to your special recipient with information on the tribute gift you chose in their honour.
Max the Shelter Dog
Max, the Shelter Dog by Nicole Rivera is a series of children’s books, also available in electronic form, that follows the life of a shelter pup named Max. This sweet series encourages a child’s awareness and compassion for animals. A great gift for little readers on your list.
Image via Figs
For the stylish men (or those you hope to transform), Figs ties, cashmere scarves and bowties are both a fashionable and ethical gift. Their threads for threads initiative means that every purchase also gives a school uniform to a child in need of an education in the developing world. Check out their video that explains this mission:
Charitable Online Auctions
And finally, if you’re looking for larger ticket items, consider Bidding for Good, a charitable e-commerce company that connects fundraisers, cause-conscious shoppers, and socially responsible businesses (or Ebay’s version, Ebay Giving Works). Both feature popular items as well as a number of one-of-a-kind gifts such as antiques and unique experiences like one-on-one violin lessons with a symphony member.
It’s Foodie Tuesday!
So today’s post is short and silly. As you madly prepare for Thursday’s holiday, I thought a good dose of silly might be in order? This was inspired by a post on Spoon and Tamago last week. A post that featured this Daikon radish:
For more photos of this adventurous radish, visit Spoon and Tamago
It brightened my day, this sprinting root vegetable (and the hilarious narratives offered by each picture in the series). That, and it led to an internet search for other strange gifts from the good earth. Just in time for Thanksgiving, this is a harvest to be grateful for. Such happy pause, these images give me. It’s quite extraordinary what nature allows for, over and beyond these strangely cuddly produce.
I couldn’t eat this oh-so-sweet teddy bear potato. Image via Design Swan
There really is something so tender about these carrots in embrace, image via Bee Healthy Honey
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that these strawberry boots come in a pair. Image via Wellies Wheelbarrow
I’m not sure what this looks like to me, but it sure is special. Image via Design Swan
And for my son, the Buzz Lightyear carrot.
To a moment of lightheartedness as you wildly prepare your Thanksgiving feast/marathon visiting/epic eating. Happy Thanksgiving to our friends down south. May there be much gratitude at your table this week.
Image via Metropolis Interiors in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood
Steampunk, originally a literary subgenre of science fiction that reinvents the Victorian era, has recently gained traction as an aesthetic in interior design. The interesting reimagining of 19th century machinery – and its components – into modern interiors makes a bold statement in the home, both as striking design but also from the commentary it offers about technology, history and the way forward.
Interior design by Philippe Starck for Ramses Restaurant in Madrid, Spain. Image via Eat Me Daily
For me the beauty of steampunk is its marriage of elements that seem oppositional: industrial elegance, the refinement of what’s raw. Steampunk design is influenced by the industrial era in Europe, and the beginning of the boom of automation and mass production, yet designs that fit within this category are handmade, one of a kind, avant garde.
Image via BHLDN
Image via Visualize Us
Often characterized by baroque flamboyance and geometric motifs, steampunk looks range from gothic to quite playful. If you’re looking to incorporate some steampunk in your interiors, here are some tips on what accents to look for:
- Look for pieces from a bygone era, especially those made of metal, glass, leather, chain and raw woods.
- Don’t be afraid to combine elements together, such as a raw hardwood tabletop with chunky metal legs and castors.
- Bring new life to plants and your prized collection by displaying these in apothecary and specimen jars.
- Create instant drama on your walls by displaying typographic signs, old maps, medical and scientific charts.
- Re-imagine and repurpose items like gears, old camera and film equipment in new and exciting ways.
Designed by Martin Smith, purchase through Laikingland
Or look for inspired pieces like this stunning little automaton called The Heart Machine by Martin Smith. What a wonderful gift this would make for the person who makes your heart go pitter-pat.
Images via Steampunk Home Decor
If DIY is more your style, here’s an interesting tutorial on creating steampunk inspired light switch plates.
Images via Metropolis Interiors
And if you’re in Toronto, the best place to go is Metropolis Interiors in the Junction. There you’ll get lost in a dark other-wordly shop of beautiful oddities. The owner-designer’s creations and relics are truly a sight to behold.
There’s something so damn cool about steampunk as a design aesthetic. This is one design trend I am really looking forward to seeing more of.
Happy Monday everyone!
Image via Valley and Co. DIY Lifestyle
It’s always nice to bring a little thank you when a friend or acquaintance goes to the trouble of having guests over for a nice meal. Here are some simple DIY hostess gift ideas, many of which you can make up now in bulk so that you always have something on hand to give.
Images via My Recipes
Mix up some fancy cocoa packages to give away, including little extras like mini marshmallows, peppermint sticks, vanilla sugar and mini chocolate chips. I’ve seen this packaged all sorts of interesting ways: layered in a mason jar like above; with each ingredient in little test tubes; in cellophane cones.
Image via Make and Take
If you’re feeling a tad more adventurous, try this hot chocolate on a stick recipe from Make and Take. This combines homemade marshmallows and chocolate blocks on popsicle sticks that are swirled and melted into warmed milk. Mmmmmm….
Image via Bijou Kaleidoscope
A simple selection of individually wrapped teas together with a little jar of honey and other garnishes like lemons, cinnamon sticks, ginger root make a wonderful gift this time of year. Bonus points if you package the tea in a vintage tea canister or other decorative box.
Image via Hip Hostess
Image via Kitchen Samurai
Scented sugars make a wonderful gift and are perfect in a morning tea, bowl of porridge, or atop fresh fruit. And they couldn’t be easier to make. Pick up, or re-use some glass jars with tightly fitted lids, add granulated sugar and an aromatic such as halved vanilla pods, mint leaves, lemon and orange peels, or rose petals. Let the jars of sugar sit in its closed jar for about one week and ta-dah: A uniquely sweet gift! How awesome too that this gift is shelf stable, beautiful to present and inexpensive to make.
Got kids or visiting grandkids looking for a fun sparkle mess of a craft, because this one is perfect. Pick up some simple glass baubles (or a less breakable material like Styrofoam balls if little ones are involved) and create a masterpiece for your host’s tree.
Image via Shelterness
Simply coat the bauble with a glue stick and dip/sprinkle with sparkles. For a snowball look, coat in Epsom salts. It’s really simple and fun if you’re a crafter.
Image via My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Image via Ideas Home Concept
Image via PurlBee
If knitting is your thing (it’s mine!), these charming washcloths by Whit’s Knits are made from a soft machine-wash cotton. The “log cabin” design makes for a visually interesting colour blocked look that are sure to be soft yet durable. For the full tutorial with loads of pics, just visit Purl Bee.
Hope you find time to relax and enjoy as the holiday season starts ramping up!
Coziness seems to be less of a problem for bedrooms, as the size of beds increases at the same time as bedroom size decreases. But how do you keep things fresh, add a little bit of art and drama to tight spaces? The answer: the headboard, the new focal point of the bedroom. I’m not particularly drawn to traditional headboards; I prefer the idea of creating a look that’s a little more unique, more visually interesting and adds some practicality to the space. Whether you’re decorating a smaller space or just want to do something a little bit different, steal these ideas for headboard alternatives, all using pieces from Greentea Design’s line.
Bookcases and other shelving make a visually interesting choice in place of a traditional headboard. These work particularly well in condos, where bedrooms tend to be smaller and storage space is always in demand.
This look with 2 black asymmetrical shelves is sleek and modern, while offering much needed extra storage. This look would work perfectly in a condo. Plus if you move or just feel like changing things up, these unique shelves will work in virtually any room in your home. Bonus points if you use the stunning red asymmetrical shelves!
The black display shelf helps create a cozy, romantic yet strong bedroom look. Like the shelves in the above bedroom, this headboard alternative offers practical storage that can be further dressed up with decorative storage boxes as well as your most prized collections.
Wall hangings, like the exquisite hand-painted crane screen make for an artistic headboard, without taking up any extra depth. I love the rich soothing colours in the screen that are echoed in the warm woods of the furniture.
These unique carved doors from China add architectural interest as well the warmth and rustic feel from the aged wood. And as with the shelves, these would also make wonderful room dividers and window treatments should you move to a new space or just want to change up the look in your current home.
What do you use for a headboard in your bedroom? What’s your favourite look? Let us know in the comments!