Tag Archives: autumn

A Blanket To Cuddle Up With

Cozy throws collectionImage via Coral Marshmallow

Oooh, I don’t about where you are but here in Toronto, it cooled down here and fast!  After a searing and record-breaking summer, the mercury drop seemed instantaneous with the autumn equinox.  It’s taken some getting used to, I must admit.

I’m trying to embrace the coming cooler months, and now is the perfect time to cozy up the home, especially the bedroom, as I mentally and physically prepare for the annual semi-hibernation.  At least fall and winter are good seasons for bedding: luxurious throws, cozy quilts, the amazing textures of microfleece and Egyptian cotton sheets, and of course big puffy duvets in beautifully patterned covers.  A soft blanket to cuddle up with on a cold day is one of life’s simple pleasures, bringing us back to the cuddle blankets, plush toys and parental hugs of childhood.

luxe faux fur throwsFaux Fur Throws from Restoration Hardware.  A very grown up version of our special blanket from childhood to be sure, but certainly as comforting.

bed with faux fur throwFaux fur throw done sexy.  Image via A Touch of Luxe

So why not celebrate the changing seasons with some new sheets and blankets.  We spend enough time in bed (or at least here’s hoping!), why not shell out on something beautiful, cozy and comfortable?  Here are some designs that caught my eye this season:

Anthropologie’s Georgina Bedding

Anthropologie’s home line, especially bed linens always wins for luxurious femininity.  This plum colour is rich and warm, but not over powering in the room built for sleep and relaxation.  And I love the over the top ruffles.

Garment dyed textured linen collectionRestoration Hardware bed linens

For something just as sumptious but with a stronger, more masculine feel, Restoration Hardware has a stunning line of bed linens that are handmade in small batches by a California studio.

Calvin Klein beddingCalvin Klein Oxadized Paisley bedding

west elm bedding

West Elm bedding

Both Calvin Klein Home and West Elm have beautiful bedding lines as well, especially if you’re looking for something stylish but understated.  I love Calkin Klein’s line for the Asian inspired colour scheme and patterns.  It feels like a perfect touch for a zen retreat.  West Elm’s line captures Americana with a twist for me.  Lovely!

Here’s hoping you get a day to sleep in, curled up under your favourite blanket, new or old! Happy Monday!

Posted in Design | Tagged , ,

Picking Pumpkin

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

What do you think of when you hear the word “pumpkin”? For me, it’s either “pie” or “jack-o-lantern.”

Jack-o-LanternsImage: Lola’s Curmudgeonly Musings

But many would answer “Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.”  The autumnal beverage has rabid fans, as evidenced by the public reaction when the company recently ran short of the spicy-sweet syrup needed to make their signature drink.

cup of pumpkinImage: Mashable Business

I have to admit, I have never had one; it just doesn’t appeal to me. Neither do the dozens of other “pumpkin spice” products that crop up this time of year, everything from Pop-Tarts to Hershey Kisses. In fact, there is a bit of a backlash happening against this fake-flavour fervour. A recent Guardian UK article urged Britons to resist “the US pumpkin invasion.”

collection of gourdsImage: Tracey Eckersley

While I agree that artificial pumpkin should be avoided (as should most artificial flavours), I disagree with the author when she denounces pumpkins themselves as “tasteless and watery.” When prepared properly, this type of squash can be quite yummy.

braised pork with pumpkinBraised Pork Ribs with Pumpkin; Image: Christine’s Recipes

Pumpkin has been delegated to dessert in America but, like other types of squash, it also suits savoury dishes. It pairs beautifully with pork or chicken but is hearty enough on its own to make a satisfying vegetarian soup or stew. The mild flesh can be bland, so feel free to play with spices like ginger, curry, and chili.

Curried pumpkin stewCurried Pumpkin Stew; Image: Guilty Kitchen

As much as I love a good spaghetti Bolognese, my favourite fall pasta is pumpkin ravioli with a sage and brown butter sauce;  it manages to be rich and decadent while still light and delicate.

Pumpkin ravioliPumpkin Ravioli; Image: Culinary Masterclass

The biggest problem with fresh pumpkin, besides trying to find it beyond the few weeks around Halloween, is the messy preparation. For many, scooping out the “guts” is enough to turn them off this vegetable for life. If this doesn’t gross you out, The Pioneer Woman has a wonderful tutorial on making pumpkin puree.

roast pumpkin via Pioneer WomanImage: The Pioneer Woman

Thankfully, for squeamish people like me, there is canned pumpkin. Low in calories and fat, this high-fiber puree makes an excellent substitute for butter or oil in baking recipes, so go nuts with pumpkin breads, scones, and brownies all year long! Just make sure to buy canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling, which has sweeteners and spices added.

pumpkin pull apart breadPumpkin Pull-Apart Bread; Image: love.life.eat

As for pumpkin pie, I have to admit that I’m not really a fan of it either. I find the texture to be a bad mixture of grainy and mushy. The solution? Add something creamy.

pumpkin cheesecakeDouble Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake; Image: Ask Chefs

I think a pumpkin cheesecake might grace my Thanksgiving table this year, or maybe pecan pie with pumpkin frozen yogurt.

pumpkin frozen yogurt

Posted in Food | Tagged ,

Escape to the Farm

a horsey swing

riding a horse swing

While we live in a wonderful community, it’s very urban with the ability to walk to pretty much every conceivable amenity and 24 hour public transit at our door should we feel like drifting further afield.  It’s bustling and vibrant and loud and bright, sometimes a little too much so.

Chudleighs apple farm kids barn

a little red barn in a children's sand pit

So it’s nice sometimes to escape to quieter surroundings, where life slows down a little, or at least abides by more natural cues, like sunlight and circadian rhythms.   And there’s no better time of year than now, during mother nature’s greatest production to find yourself in the country:  the stunning colours of leaves in transition, the golden hue of autumnal light, the bountiful harvest.

say cheese goat

Tim asked the goat to smile, so he did

piglets nursing

our little guy laughed and laughed at the piglets snorting while enjoying "boobies"

On Thursday, we packed up the family and drove to the country.  If you’re a born and raised urban dweller like me, I can’t recommend this escape more highly.  If there are little ones around, this will be a most memorable daytrip.  With our little guy, lessons about food supply and environmental care were part of the day’s conversation, addressed ever so naturally between squeals of delight as he frolicked with the friendliest farm animals, in the apple orchard and pumpkin patch and through the playground of hay bales.  It was an idyllic day.

hay play!

hay play!

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and truly there was no better way to give gratitude for the harvest, to mother nature, than immersing ourselves in the very fields in which it grows.  We were left with a feeling of peace, joy and warmth, a perfect way to kick off a long weekend about thankfulness.  The annual trip to the farm has quickly become one of our favourite family traditions.

tractor and pumpkins

pumpkins for jacko-lanterns and pe

Happy Thanksgiving fellow Canadians! And Happy Monday everyone else.

All photos by Tim.

Posted in Culture, Travel | Tagged ,

Crazy Corn Mazes

Image from Knight News

Fall is starting to pick up in the northern hemisphere, with days getting shorter, the air getting crisper, and leaves just beginning to slowly fade into the colors of the season. With Halloween just around the corner, fall activities are coming to the forefront as well.

Harvest-related activities are usually the norm for the season, especially in areas that are more rural or that are closer to rural areas. Farms open up their fields for hay rides, pumpkin patch picking, and apple picking. And then there is the corn maze.

Corn is one of the largest crops in the American continent, especially in the United States. It has a significant cultural and historical value to the lands as well, as seen in its association with the traditions and symbolism of the Native American peoples. Today corn is still a ubiquitous part of the American landscape, be it geographically or culturally.

Corn mazes are exactly what you might assume. Fields of corn are cut for harvest, and in this process, the fields are cut to create a maze from one end of the field to the other as part of a tourist attraction or fall harvest activity for the farm.

There are some people that have taken this simple harvest season task to new heights however, and have made wildly intricate and outrageous maze designs out of their corn fields, seen fully only through aerial photographs. Some farms create these mazes every year, hoping to attract visitors and tourists.

Here are some amazing corn maze designs.

Treinen Farm corn maze with complex-additives of da Vinci Vitruvian Man part cyborg steampunk medicine and math

Image courtesy Treinen Farm

Treinen Farm in Lodi, Wisconsin created a variation of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, adding symbols and design creating an overall steampunk look. If you look closely, the figure is holding a ray gun in its left hand!

QR code corn maze

Courtesy the Kraay Family Farm

The Kraay family’s farm in Lacombe, Alberta, is home to what the Guiness Book of World Records certified this year as the world’s largest QR code. The maze code opens the farm’s website, where people can learn more about the mazes and see past designs.


Image courtesy Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post

To coincide with the US Elections this year, Summer’s Farm in Frederick, MD, reminds airborne travelers to the Capitol Area to exercise their right to vote.  the Maze shows both presidential candidates for this year, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Image courtesy Mike’s Maze

Mike’s Maze, in Sunderland, Massachusetts, has some of the most intricate maze designs I’ve found, including this one of Charles Darwin. The maze is exquisitely trimmed almost in an art-nouveau style poster, complete with some golden finches.

And speaking of Art, Mike’s Maze has also done past designs featuring icons of art history, including the Mona Lisa and Andy Warhol’s Campbell soup can.

Image courtesy Mike's Maze

Unfortunately, to fully enjoy these corn maze designs one has to rely on photographs, but perhaps in the future, there will hopefully be an aerial tour of amazing corn mazes! For the meantime, we can revel in the feats their creators have achieved, and literally, get quite lost in their ingenuity and creative prowess.

Posted in Culture, Design | Tagged ,

Layers upon Layers

Layering up in the homeimage via Justina Blakeney

It’s no secret that interior design and fashion are often engaged in a game of mimicry with each other, and when the seasons shift you can really see the interplay between the two design worlds. Just like in fashion, where layering textiles becomes synonymous with fall and winter, the same approach can be applied indoors to add warmth and style. Today’s post features some fabulous textile goods, many of which are created by hand, that will keep you and your home toasty and warm.

Starling CushionStarling cushion by Imogen Heath

Throw cushions in a mix of prints are an easy way to add comfort and interest to a sofa or chair. Love this one from Imogen Heath. Their fabric designs are always amazing, and you can purchase fabric as well as pre-constructed home goods from their site.

Souled ObjectsSouled Objects via pretty little green

Souled Objects by Dana Barnes Studios are not so much rugs as they are textile sculptures for your floors. Their process involves each rug being hand woven out of thick roving. The results mimic natural landscapes and they invite you to interact with them through touch.

Knitted Stool

Knitted Stool view 2knitted stool by Claire Anne OBrien

Claire Anne O’Brien’s chunky knit furniture pieces have made it onto our blog before; she really is an expert at creating soft, welcoming shapes in beautiful knit. This foot stool has an interesting basketweave design, and I love the warm yellow colour.

Mohair Blanked by ToastMohair blanket from Toast

Beds, sofas and chairs will instantly be cold weather ready with a luxurious mohair blanket draped upon them. This ombre dyed blanket from Toast is the perfect remedy to cold days and nights, and the neutral colours make it extremely versatile.

Linen and Felt Textile ArtLinen and Felt Textile Art by Castle

Castle’s embroidery art is so fun and crafty that I can’t help but smile whenever I see them.  These works featuring common sayings and pop song lyrics made from colourful childlike felt letters are in high demand, so it may be tough to get your hands on one, but they also sell prints if you don’t get a chance to buy an original.

Scarf by Pidge PidgeHandwoven Scarf by pidge pidge

There are some remarkable textile artists on etsy; I’m particularly smitten with the handwoven scarves by pidge pidge. They are all made by hand in Pennsylvania and each one takes about eight hours to complete and is a one of a kind. Definitely a great fall layering piece.

A-Frame DIY Tent via A Beautiful Messa-frame tent DIY from A Beautiful Mess

Lastly, if you want to create your own fabric nest for book reading and lounging A Beautiful Mess has a helpful tutorial for creating an a-frame fabric tent using vintage fabrics and inexpensive wood. Making one of these tents is high on my to-do list for my little guy, and I’m tempted to make an oversized one for myself too.

Hope you all have a cozy weekend!

Happy Friday Everyone!