I found nine VC Andrews books in a charity thrift shop and brought them home for $5. Two series' worth, the Casteel and the Dollanganger (the best ones -- although I'm missing Garden of Shadows). I know it's trash, fluff. I can't get enough.

I burned through these books when I was in the 7th grade and often wonder what they did to my psyche. I didn't talk about my love of VC Andrews, my secret shame, for years. When I would find another girl who had loved the books, I would feel a frisson of excitement and a sense of understanding -- there is just something about these books. I wonder if it's important to have snuck them under the covers with you at a tender age.

I was up until 3AM reading Heaven. I noticed a few holes this time around, sure, of course. But oh, what a thrill.



A 500th post, a birthday. I'm not too happy about how quickly time seems to pass, but my life has been filled with beautiful things lately, and I'm grateful.

I made a BIRTHDAY DANCE PARTY mix to shake off those gettin' older blues!

So happy to provide Stephanie with an image for her beautiful new business cards & get some pretty bracelets in return -- read about it here.

An eyelashes print of my very own. Thank you, Sonja.

Alpaca knit hat from Chasse Gardée (where I got the Dieppa Restrepos above for a steal on Boxing Day), pom pom necklace from The Vamoose won in a giveaway.

Warmth for Christmas! Wool blanket (the label is faded, but it has a maple leaf on it) found for a mere 10 bones at The Public Butter.

My birthday present from Geoff -- a very special Steiff tabby from 1949. The head spins! This came from Narwhal's Unicorn show. I will treasure it always.

And a Christmas present -- a vintage coat with 3/4 length sleeves from 69 Vintage.

Spoiled rotten.

Just a quick note: if you're in Toronto, we have some of our items for sale at Tomorrow Never Knows and Kid Icarus! I'm also working on a special batch of ties for our friends at Robber. Also, Dreamcats calendars are now on sale. Thank you!


merry merry

Thank you all for your support & kindness over the past year. I hope you will have a wonderful holiday season with your friends and loved ones. Lots of love to you. xo


the dazzle the book

Narwhal Art Projects has put out a beautiful book to accompany The Dazzle, the exhibition that you may remember from this post.  It's not exactly the same as having an original painting or sculpture from the show, but it's not a bad consolation prize.

Top to bottom: endpapers; Carly Waito; Melinda Josie; Selena Wong; Lauchie Reid; Adrienne Kammerer; The Wild Unknown; Sonja Ahlers


new art

Over the past little while Geoff & I have been changing around some of the artwork in our apartment. It seems to me that it's never been easier to find affordable art options, particularly when it comes to prints (to me "affordable" means under $50 -- but of course there are prints to be found for less, or more).

I came across the work of Russell Leng via Little Paper Planes. The print on the right came from LPP, and the one on the right came from The Mammoth Collection. Both Little Paper Planes and The Mammoth Collection are great places to find unique, inexpensive pieces.

(I was way better about decorating last Christmas, but Pony would smash those little glass ornaments to pieces. Bah humbug.)

You might remember my buddy Caitlyn from her cute apartment or as my Summer Water model -- this weekend she will be at City of Craft selling her original drawings, necklaces, handprinted totes, and cards as Lemonade. I'm looking forward to picking something up from her -- I love this drawing.

We hung the Passage poster from Atlantic Treefox above our bed (this isn't my bed; I couldn't get a picture this nice in my dark bedroom). Sweet Erin and I traded for it, making this the third print I've received from her as a trade. I love that we're able to do that, and I love having her artwork around me. She's a very special kitten, that one.

Okay, this isn't art, but I'll probably display it as though it is. Francesca found this basket on eBay a few months ago, and I had it in my watched items list until the day that I broke down and ordered it for myself. Hilarious.


winter sewing

I didn't leave the house at all yesterday and stayed indoors where it was warm and where I could watch endless episodes of The OC while sewing & stitching. I finally got around to making a few draft snakes for our drafty apartment in various lengths and thicknesses. I used some of our misprinted tote bags since the canvas is sturdy and durable. Nothing is easier and/or faster to make; I recommend this project if you have access to a sewing machine, a few free minutes, and want to feel as though you are capable and handy (and possibly helping to prevent your cats from walking around with ice-cold little noses).

I recently lost a pair of earmuffs that I really loved. I am really not the type of person who loses things. Do Capricorns ever lose things? I think I dropped them in the first snow we had -- it was a sad time for me. After looking around for recycled fur earmuffs, I thought I'd make my own. I found a pair of earmuffs with a velvet-covered band at Silver Falls Vintage for $8, took off the leopard print faux fur (it was a bit matted with age) and sewed new muffs using a vintage fur scarf. It was the same scarf that I bought at Russet & Empire. I thought I would probably get more use out of it as earmuffs than as a scarf, but I was really nervous as I cut into it. I lined them with black velvet and gave them some cotton batting lining as well.

The muff-puffs are pretty giant. I have never really forgotten the picture of the girl skating in giant earmuffs from Sally Scott's A&W 2009-2010 collection. Maybe these are too giant, but I don't care.

I really love Tannis Hegan's recycled fur earmuffs.


shop local gift guide: guest edition, part 2, & giveaway winner

Just a little biz first: the winner of the Libris Lunaria giveaway is Sarah, whose favourites were No. 10030 - Harry's Ladder to Learning - Strawberries, No. 10003 - A New Work of Animals - Wolf, and No. 10012 - The Perfection of Logic. Congratulations, Sarah! If you didn't win, you still have a few more days to use the code "fieldguided" for 20% off your order.

I have a kitty coasters DIY on the ModCloth blog, so please do take a look!  If you make them, I'd love to see them.

Also, if you are interested in something from our shop and would like the item to arrive in time for Christmas (if you are in North America, that is -- it's too late for the rest of the world), you will have to place your order this weekend. We only have about four of the Thunder totes left at the moment. Just a little FYI!

This will most likely be the last time the words "gift guide" appear on my blog for a while! Here is the second part of the guest contributions -- I hope you will enjoy them. 


Erin Hall, co-owner of Robber

I guess this is a gift idea for me, even though nobody I know would buy me something quite this nice... most depressing gift guide comment evarrrrrrr!! But for real, anything by Hoi Bo would make an incredible present -- designer Sarra Tang and her two fellow makers produce all the bags by hand in their Distillery District studio and are super-picky about their waxed canvases and leathers. PLUS Sarra always has the best gossip and will even help you win a dating bet, if you need it (umm, so I hear). Anyway, I love her pleated satchel best of all - it's the perfect size, shape, colour, everything. And this gift idea is also timely, since Hoi Bo is having a studio sale this Saturday!  I bet there will be hot chocolate.

Tanya Roberts, Snap & Tumble Letterpress

For books on design and advertising, I head to Swipe Books near Richmond and Spadina. I'm always sure to find the perfect book for my graphic design, printer and typography-loving friends.

For something antique or a little unusual, I can always count on Abraham's Antiques near Queen and Bathurst. I've picked up a couple of vintage wood type from Abraham and he's always very friendly so it makes shopping there a nice experience.

Sometimes I like to pick up some special art supplies for my artist friends at Woolfitt's. Artists can always use more supplies and it's nice to get a few things that you know they'll need or are running out of. Also for something a little extra, splurging on high end papers or artist pens makes for a sweet gift.

Though I've only been to Public Office once in the Trinity Bellwoods area, I fell in love with it right away. If you have someone on your list who loves prints, graphics, type, paper and overall vintage paper goodness and stuff, try this shop on for size.

Also in the same area in Trinity is Polka Dot Kids. I love browsing in there for whimsical gift ideas. I often pick up Japanese deco tape and rubber stamps. Every inch of this little shop is covered with sweet products for kids and for those young at heart.

(Images via Tanya)


I've been meaning to order a pair of these for myself, but would definitely give them as a gift to a close girlfriend or sister: cashmere underwear by Sartoria. They're so luxurious! And so pretty and cozy looking! They're made using upcycled cashmere sweaters! Satoria are located in Toronto, and they run an Etsy site. I don't believe you can buy these in a local shop [not yet, anyhow! -a.]. There's an option to order merino wool undies, too, but cashmere? Seriously.

I'm also totally in love with the Totem Mug Set by Canadian designer Rob Southcott. I've seen them at a few different shops now, including the Drake Hotel General Store and Swipe. I would give these to any of my friends or family. I think my Dad would even appreciate these. They're so nice stacked on a shelf or in a cupboard.

Melinda also submitted Kid Icarus' Handmade Holiday event as an opportunity to purchase handmade goods, but since it has already happened, I will add that a stop at Kid Icarus is always worthwhile. You can pick up some of their amazing 3D wrapping paper, handprinted in-house, as well as posters & prints by local designers. -a.

Amy Borkwood, Nightjar Book

Lee Meszaros is a Toronto-based crafter who makes these amazing Merit Badges -- handmade (silkscreened, embroidered, sewn, hand-painted!) brooches that celebrate different characteristics / events in our lives. Everytime I look through Lee's badges, I always think of a million people I want to give them to -- they remind me of little shared memories with friends, or something specific I really love about a family member. This one is perfect -- for "Being Proud as a Peacock".

Available at Distill Gallery, which has a huge selection of her badges, so you can choose between "Being the Black Sheep" or "Pushing the Envelope."  Lee will also be at City of Craft next weekend.

Erica of Erica Knits

It was hard to decide which of my favourite shops to feature, but I immediately settled on Alison’s lovely flower shop, Coriander Girl. My favourite gifts to give and receive are bouquets of flowers and Alison does the best ones! Her flowers are all sourced locally and they are often unlike any I’ve ever seen before. The time I discovered Kangaroo Paws was a particular highlight.

Last Friday I stopped by her shop to take some photos while she made up my $25 arrangement for this gift guide, and I discovered so many more great gifts! There are perfect, pink poinsettias ($12), Lavender sachets ($3), gorgeous letterpress cards from Shiral Leuchter ($6) and an assortment of lovely soaps, candles and vintage vessels. I think that the best part about shopping local is meeting the owners of lovely Toronto shops. Alison is an absolute pleasure to meet and her warm energy is contagious, everyone who leaves her shop has big smile. Seriously, it is impossible to resist her charms.

(Images via Erica)


Bre hasn't been living in Toronto too long and therefore isn't too familiar with many local businesses, but she does recommend products made by the Regional Assembly of Text. This stationery line is maintained by two Emily Carr University grads, who have a shop in Vancouver. Some of their products are carried at the Design Exchange Shop (as are some of Scout & Catalogue's!). While the Design Exchange isn't exactly a small business, they do have a mandate to support Canadian design!

Caitlyn, Lemonade

I found it really hard to narrow this down to just a few things. These are some good presents that will be very well received each holiday season. First off are a few records from local haunt Rotate This.

I'd also really enjoy lunch out to a place like Swan, where I can have a grilled cheese sandwich and be merry.

And finally, why don't you stroll on over to She Said Boom! and buy me a book?

(Swan image via the amazing Charlyn)

Carole Park, writer

Red Canoe (1) is a great heritage brand. They have access to the CBC & RCAF archives and make great bags and scarves in provincial tartans. They just opened a shop at 1356 Dundas Street West.

6 boutique by Gee Beauty (2) is a new shop open next door to Gee Beauty in Rosedale and they have a well edited selection of books, Lomography cameras, jewelry and accessories by local designer Jenny Bird. They also exclusively (as in the only location in Canada) carrying LeLabo fragrances; their candles are a bit at $70 but are worth it as the fragrances are well crafted and each candle is handmade.

Nadege near Trinity Bellwoods (3) is amazing to pick up some edible stocking stuffers. Their handmade flavoured marshmallows come in flavours such as mojito and cakes can be ordered for pick-up.

Dean Davidson (4) is one of my favourite local jewelry designers. His stuff is sold at Holt Renfrew, but if you can't find a ring in your size, they can be sent to him to resize (you can also purchase the items online on his website). The stud earrings in semi-precious stones in an 18k gold or sterling silver typically retail for $150 or under are a favourite. He also has an annual holiday sample sale (which unfortunately just passed!).

889 Yonge (5) is also one of my favourite yoga studios in the city. Aside from the amazingly tasty complementary tea, the facilities are great (with organic shampoos and soap in the showers). They also have a wellness spa. My favourite part is how welcoming everyone is, and if you end up falling off the yoga wagon or are like me and end up not going for a while, they don't judge (unlike some studios that have super intense people always going and frown when you decide to show up once a month instead of everyday).

Carole also says that "people don't need to be intimidated by fancier sounding places in areas like Rosedale. Despite some really expensive stuff, they also carry well-crafted things that are affordable/affordable enough to splurge on."

(Images via retailer sites; Nadege image via BlogTO)

Thank you Erin, Tanya, Melinda, Amy, Erica, Bre, Caitlyn, & Carole!


shop local gift guide: guest edition, part 1

As I mentioned in my Shop Local Gift Guide post, I had asked some of my favourite (but not all) Toronto bloggers & business owners to pick out a gift from a local business. There are two votes for Xococava, which means I really have to try it! I love that these picks reflect the personality of each person so well, and I love how thoughtful these submissions are. 


(Images are linked to source, except where noted)


When Anabela emailed me about contributing to her local gift guide, I was absolutely thrilled!  As much as I love online shopping, there's something really satisfying about going into a store, making small talk with the staff & putting thought into a great gift -- even if is the the craziest time of year.

I bought an early Christmas gift for my husband & I. These cute penguin tea cups from Sanko (1)  are now a part of our bedtime tea drinking ritual. Too cute!

Choosing gifts for my husband is a favourite of mine. Since he recently parted ways with his beard (I hadn't seen his bare face since our early dating days), it would be nice to give him some manly smelling shaving/skin goods from the Portland General Store line (2) available at Jacob & Sebastian. A hop, skip & a jump down the street will take me to Type Books, where I'll pick up "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote (4), for Brian's daily read on the commute to work.

For my niece, an aspiring pastry chef, I picked up a cookie press & icing set from Honest Ed's (3), and for my little nephew, a grey mini Fjallraven backpack from Lavish & Squalor (5).

Exchanging gifts is pretty fun but what I am looking forward to the most is being with my friends & family & eating yummy foods & drinking copious amounts of hot apple cider & whiskey!

(Mug image via Rizie)

A few years ago, I colluded with two local makers for my sweetie's gift.  It may seem impersonal, but I knew that he was making a new year's resolution to think about business more and I thought a handmade tool for him would be a nice, encouraging boost.

The business cards were letterpressed and duplexed by Nicholas Kennedy at The Trip Print Press and two wooden card holders were made by Mike Kennedy (no relation) of Two Toques Design.

My tip towards getting custom work done: the more honestly open and flexible you are, the happier your collaborating craftsperson will be and the more surprisingly awesome the finished product will be. But you have to honestly be open to tell them you are.

Tea! It is really hard to buy gifts for people who either have too much stuff or don't want anything. Over the holidays, though, I sometimes find myself in a position wherein I want to give a gift but also don't want to mindlessly buy something that won't be liked. For me, that often means buying consumables -- they don't add to a mass of possessions and, if you do some digging, you can usually find something that even a minimalist recipient will love. Last year, I was in such a position with my mother-in-common-law. She truly didn't want gifts but I knew she liked to drink tea so I decided to treat her to something nicer than she might usually buy for herself. I went to my personal favourite local tea shop, Tealish, with a list of flavours I knew she liked (through my network of spies, obviously). I ended up with a little assortment of my favourites and a new-to-me citrus and ginger green tea called Sunshine Reggae which was the biggest hit of the bunch. The staff is so knowledgeable and clever there that they lead me straight to the sunshine. I highly recommend the whole experience.

Ayalah Hutchins, illustrator

I'm all for giving practical gifts -- especially things that can be used up and even shared.

As a hostess gift for a holiday dinner party, or for a last-minute stocking stuffer, I would head to Xococava and pick up some Orangette. The shop is located next to sister restaurant Cava, and apparently during the holidays, the chocolatier is working around the clock to make enough Orangette to go around.

They also have plenty of other classic options as well as some more daring chocolate combinations (like bacon or earl grey tea leaves) sure to satisfy anyone (including the foodie) on your list.

Celine from Bonjour!

Cement pearl earrings!

Coming from a background in architecture, these are especially intriguing to me. I love concrete, and I love it when people make it wearable. When done well, it is very elegant, but rarely is it ever feminine. This is on my Christmas wish list. I would wear these everyday. They are made locally!

They can be purchased online, or at Nomad.


Readers of my blog will now I'm pretty standoffish when it comes to holiday spending and gift guides. For me, it's more the season of sharing than of giving. I'd much rather find merriment makers and spend easygoing time with friends than engage the ragged hunt for perfect gifts.

In that merriment-making vein, my neighbourhood boasts the best chocolate shop ever, Xococava. And this time of year, I seem to be popping in there every weekend. I'll hit the store for marshmallows, their delicious chocolate roulade, churros, salted caramels and, of course, xocolata as seasonal entertainment ramps up. And I completely love that this kind of gift is all too fleeting and Proustian in its sensuality.

I also love setting the stage for entertaining and will hit up the flower markets at Ave & Davenport to make all kinds of arrangements and garlands. I love seeing friends' reactions when they walk in and I've gone a little over the top on their account. Spending money on making an evening special and memorable is also the best feeling. I usually get some exotic (and ginormous) Amaryllis bulbs from Teatro Verde and lace Christmas stockings with a few sweet ornaments from L'Atelier.

When I'm on the hunt for a special gift, Linda Penwarden is my go-to source. I met Linda (pictured above) years ago when I wrote a story about her store and custom jewelry. In that process, I commissioned a necklace for myself. And the rest is history. I've been shopping from her ever since and love to give some of her pieces. I know a certain someone who is dying to own Linda's Sterling Hammered Bit Bracelet. I also find special gifts at Augustina. I especially love their stunning collection of scarves (Epice, Marika Charles, Matta, and more...). It can be hard to justify buying an expensive accessory for yourself, but it's a beautiful thing to give or receive.

I'm a hungry reader and have been known to take a stand and only give books as gifts certain years (to the chagrin of some friends!) D&E Lake is my all-time favourite source for rare, out-of-print, signed and first editions and (buyer be warned) Don always upsells me to a few new tomes for myself too. And if you're already down that way, you might as well nip over to the Distillery and grab something from Soma Chocolate and grab some sachets of their Mayan hot chocolate for all and sundry. Yes, I just began and ended with chocolate... says it all really.

(All images via retailers' sites, except Amaryllis [via Jane's Flickr] and D&E Lake [via Google Street View])

Thank you Rizie, Becky, Ayalah, Celine, and Jane!