giftagram: gifts for the bookworm

(This is a sponsored post)

Hi! Now that we all have gift-giving on our minds, I worked with Giftagram to create a list of gifts that any Bookwork would love. These are all items that are available through the app, which makes gift-giving so easy.

I see Christmas as an opportunity to combine two of my great loves: presenting someone I care about with a carefully chosen gift—I simply adore everything about the gift-giving process—and the chance to give books. There is something so special and thoughtful about books, which can contain entire beautiful worlds within them, as gifts.

I’m flattered when I receive a novel that a friend thought I would love, or that reminded the giver of me; I love that any time I look at or pick up the book, I will think of that friend. It infuses the act with a little extra sweetness, I think. I also appreciate a gift of a more instructional book, such as a cookbook or a collection of photographs and wisdom, which can inspire me to better myself, to learn something new, or to create something I wouldn’t have thought to on my own. Books are gorgeous as objects, they are always useful and practical, they last forever, and, to my mind, are never clutter! Books truly make the perfect gift as far as I’m concerned, and there is one for everyone via Giftagram. Here are some I would be pleased to find under my tree.

The House Gardener by Isabelle Palmer (available on Giftagram Canada) 
While I personally do not have much of a green thumb, I love having plants in my home to create an air of serenity and warmth. This book contains tips on how to select, display, and care for houseplants, all useful tips for someone as hopeless with plants as I am.

Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi (available on Giftagram USA) 
Ottolenghi’s first book, Plenty, is one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, inspiring robustly flavourful vegetarian dishes that I crave constantly (especially the eggplant ones, yum!).

Love x Style x Life by Garance DorĂ© (Canada) 
I’ve been reading Garance’s blog since the beginning and have always been charmed by her approach to life. This book collects many of her bon mots, elegant drawings, and beautiful photographs, and would look wonderful on any coffee table.

Lint and Honey Giant Heart Pillow (Canada) 
This large heart pillow from Lint and Honey would make any reading nook cozy and comfortable.

Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady (available on Giftagram Canada) 
Written by a Canadian food blogger with Indian heritage, this lovely cookbook contains sumptuous photography and Tara’s trademark warm writing style. She draws from various cultures in a fresh way, and some of the recipes from her blog have become staples in my home. This would be a great book for inspiring a multi-course dinner party (which I have never thrown, but I can fantasize about!).

Toronto Cooks: 100 Signature Recipes from the City’s Best Restaurants by Amy Rosen (available on Giftagram Canada) 
If you’re anything like me, you prefer to eat home-cooked meal, saving restaurant meals for the most special of occasions. Luckily this book exists to bring home some of the city’s best to eat at your own table. Splendido may be gone but their roasted mushroom salad recipe lives on.

Sloane Tea gift set (Canada) 
This luxurious tea set from Sloane features a wonderful assortment of classic teas (Earl Grey, Signature Black, Blood Orange assam, and Marrakesh Mint) in Sloane’s beautiful keepsake tins. When you’re settling in for a lazy day of reading, a cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (available on Giftagram Canada) 
Aziz delighted us on Parks and Recreation and again on Master of None, and this no-doubt hilarious book about dating would be a wonderful companion to a warm bubble bath after a long day.

Milk Bar Life Cookbook: Recipes and Stories by Christina Tosi (available on Giftagram Canada) 
A few years ago, I made my husband a multi-layered, rather complicated birthday cake from the first Milk Bar cookbook. It took me three days but it was so delicious and impressive that it’s become legendary. This book contains savoury dishes, and my mouth waters thinking about how incredible they must be!

Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton (available on Giftagram Canada) 
I have yet to visit Gabrielle Hamilton’s New York restaurant Prune, but having devoured (ha!) her memoir Blood, Bones and Butter, it’s been a goal of mine. For now, this book would do as it is a little more affordable than a plane ticket.

Kate Spade New York: All in Good Taste by Kate Spade New York (available on Giftagram USA) As someone who is forever clutzy and forever spilling drinks and food all over herself, but who loves to write thank you notes and who has collected several editions of Emily Post’s Etiquette, yearning to be a gracious hostess, this modern style guide could come in quite handy! As a bonus, it’s full of Kate Spade’s signature illustrations and clean design, and cloth is in my favourite colour: pink.

Food52 Baking: 60 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off in a Snap by the Editors of Food52 (available on Giftagram USA) 

Even though I have tried in vain to cut sugar out of my life time and time again, it truly is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I could spend a very happy hour flipping through this collection of cookies, cakes, and tarts, tummy grumbling!


good night, day: the pattern book

Over the past few months I’ve been working with Tara-Lynn of Good Night, Day on a book of her patterns. She’s had booklets published in the past, but this will be much higher quality, with all new photos by Arden Wray and a full redesign by me. I took on this project happily because I love Tara-Lynn’s work—I’m sure I’ve mentioned it here many times, but the only reason why I took up knitting was to knit her patterns—and because I’ve always admired her fierce independence and integrity. We’ve created something that I am really proud to have my name on. The book will be perfectbound, full colour, and will feature 18 patterns.

Unfortunately, printing costs can be quite high for an ambitious, self-funded project such as this one, and so Tara-Lynn has set up an account through Go Fund Me through which you can pre-order the book, or simply send along a few dollars to help keep this project going, if you’re in the position to do so. Asking for help and allowing people to see your vulnerability can be one of the most difficult things to do, and I admire her for taking this step.

I really love her newest knits but the patterns have been so important for me as a knitter. They’re simple and elegant and really satisfying to knit. I hope you will like them too!

Photos by Arden Wray
Models: Brooke Manning, Airin McGuinty
Styling by Tara-Lynn Morrison


new: a cmyk peony print

For the past little while Geoff has been experimenting with CMYK silkscreen prints of photographs. This process requires breaking a photo down to four colours, and printing four separate layers. The end result is this peony print that, at a distance, looks like a photo, but up close, is something else entirely.

This print is available in our shop now. We hope you like it!


giveaway: nettle's tale and dani press

Today I’m pleased to host a giveaway from two wonderful Canadian companies, the Vancouver-based Nettle’s Tale, and the Toronto-based Dani Press. Nettle’s Tale creates swimsuits for every body, and Dani Press is a stationery company that stands by the power of the handwritten note. As a kiss to our steamy summer (there is still nearly a full month of it left!), we’ll be offering one swimsuit of the winner’s choice, 8 film notecards, and one art print.

It’s been a treat to work with these companies, who create their products with their whole heart, and who are committed to giving back. Both donate 10% of all profits to a charitable cause. You can read more about Nettle’s Tale here and Dani Press here.

This giveaway is open to everyone, and to enter, simply click over to Instagram, where I will outline the details. Good luck!

Dani and her friend Lisa Gilroy


ceramics by bolden and sojourn

Over the past few months, Shayna of Sojourn and Jen of Bolden have been collaborating on a fun series of wild/domestic cat ceramics, and the results are so charming! They’ll be updating their shop tomorrow (Friday, August 7) at 1pm EST with all new pieces—the last run sold out in a few minutes.

Both of them have been posting progress shots on their Instagram accounts (Jen here and Shayna here). I love to see the two of them working together and creating such wondrous objects!


a perfume workshop!

Last week I was lucky enough to take The Art of Perfuming workshop with Julie of Province Apothecary. I had missed out on this workshop in the past so was thrilled to finally be able to take it! I adore perfumes but haven’t ever tried to make my own, specifically because I was too intimidated by the vast world of scent. With Julie’s instruction and advice, though, it felt easy and came naturally.

I’ve been a fan of Province’s Parfum Botanique line, particularly No. 7 and No. 14, and still wish I hadn’t missed out on the perfume she created especially for Easy Tiger a while ago. That one was a blend of rose, jasmine, vetiver, bergamont, and cedar wood, and without realizing it, I ended up making one that was similar (more on my blend later).

In the workshop we learned about top, middle, and bottom notes, and how to blend to make accords. We sniffed and sniffed essential oils and narrowed down our choices. Julie said that if something really spoke to us, it probably meant that our body needed it (Julie has a background in aromatherapy). It was very relaxing!

It was fascinating to see how different everyone’s finished blends were! Some were floral, some were more citrus-based. No two were alike.

In the end we got to take home a 10ml bottle of our own custom blend. I really love patchouli and mine ended up being pretty heavy on the patchouli, although made a little more subtle as its also blended with rose otto, bergamot, vetiver, and black pepper. A very earthy blend. I have been carrying it in my purse and I love to pull it out and give it a sniff. I jokingly said mine was called 1997 because in that year I went through a phase in which I wore patchouli oil. It takes me right back, although it detours a little through a few other lovely scents along the way.

Thanks, Julie! If you're interested in taking a workshop with Province Apothecary, watch this page, or follow on Twitter and Instagram.


classpass pt 2

I last wrote about ClassPass back in March, and I wanted to share a little more about my experience and to write a little about some of the amazing studios we have access to here in Toronto, since I have now taken over seventy classes. I try to test out a new spot once in a while (and always get the first-visit jitters!), but often find myself going back to my favourites. When I was in New York recently I wanted to take advantage of ClassPass Flex (that is, your ClassPass account entitles you to work out in any ClassPass studio in any city), but I was so overwhelmed by the sheer number of studios (I ended up going for a run along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which of course was wonderful as well)! I thought maybe these posts with my faves could be helpful for anyone starting out in Toronto.

I had a few lazy weeks recently, and for a while I was running outside more thanks to a fun run club, but being a ClassPass member has helped keep me active in a way I have never been before. It’s gotten to the point where I feel off if I don’t do some form of exercise every day (even if that means squeezing in fifteen minutes of at-home yoga and some foam rolling). That’s not to say that I’m in the best physical shape of my life, because I’m not (yet!), but I am so happy to have renewed my love of exercise. I used to feel anxious and guilty when other people talked about exercising, but it’s become an essential part of my life. I never thought I would grow to love squats and lunges, but here we are!

This was definitely one of my favourite discoveries via ClassPass. The studio is located in the east end and it is one of the most beautiful, light-filled spaces I’ve visited, and the workouts are challenging and, dare I say lovely? I particularly love the Allegro Ballet Bootcamp or the Allegro + Sculpt classes. The Allegro is a workout designed by owner and dancer Jenn Nichols that incorporates ballet movements to get the heart racing. It is a little challenging for the uncoordinated among us (in front of a mirror, no less), but I have found it addictive, and pick up more steps every time. I particularly like the Allegro + Sculpt because it incorporates hand weights in addition to the cardio movements and core exercises, making it a well-rounded workout. I haven’t been in a few weeks and I am itching to get back. Image via Fashion and Beauty Inc.

This is another workout that I find so pleasing that I’m almost surprised when the burn kicks in! This workout incorporates barre, pilates, and yoga (hence the “3”) and packs a good punch despite being low impact. Lots of modifications are given, making the classes accessible to any fitness level. The instructors are so friendly; the instructor who signed me in for my first class remembered my name every other time I came in, which I don’t think has ever happened before, especially as I am not one to chat and make myself known after a class. Image via Beauty Editor.

Surfset is a workout performed on a a type of surfboard that is balanced on three stability balls (to mimic ocean waves) for a very shaky 45 minutes. About ten minutes into my first Surfset workout, after being told to jump onto the board, squat, and jump back down, I laughed out loud and said “I can’t do this” seeing as I could barely walk up onto the board and hold myself steadily. But I did it, and I went back and saw improvements within three classes. Some classes are yoga-inspired, and some involve weights and circuit training. You have to approach it with a good sense of humour, because unless you have abs of steel already, you will feel like you’re going to fall off. And you probably will fall off, but the floor is padded so it’s all good. Embrace the wobble. Image via BlogTO.

I was familiar with this space because I attended classes there when it was a different studio, so I was happy to revisit this airy space on Bloor Street. Union offers a wide variety of yoga classes, some of them heated. I’ve enjoyed flow classes there, as well as flow + meditation. I took a 7am flow class there a few times with a teacher named Megan and she sang during savasana. It was utterly blissful. Image via BlogTO.

A few others:

HARMONY FITNESS: This facility is in a warehouse-like space by Wilson subway station. It’s got a bit of a harder feel than, say, a barre studio, but the workouts are amazing. I highly recommend the Treadsanity class, which combines running on a treadmill with high intensity training intervals. They also have a rowing class that is similar, which would be so amazing for the arms (I hope to try it soon!).

STUDIO LAGREE: A cult favourite, and the studio on King is usually fully booked way in advance.  Another very intense workout, one that left me sore for three days after the first time I tried it. This one is performed on a machine similar to a Pilates Reformer or a Gravity training system, is low impact, and gets the heart racing. You go hard and non-stop for 50 minutes.

KULA YOGA: Kula offers a very wide variety of yoga classes, and I particularly LOVE their Reiki Restorative. It’s delicious.

SPYNGA: I’ve only tried the spin classes here, but they offer yoga as well. I usually find spinning kind of boring, but have found the teachers here to be really encouraging and motivating, and they tend to play good music, whieh makes all the difference in a spin class.

If you have any recommendations for me or questions, please let me know! I love to talk about this!


new york in june

Recently Geoff and I took a very quick jaunt over to New York City for a pre-wedding fĂȘte for some beloved friends who live there (dinner at Zizi Limona and drinks/partying at Night of Joy). The weather was glorious, the hangs were fantastic, and we took a few rolls’ of film worth of pictures. This is a mix of photos taken by both Geoff and I, using both our Olympus Stylus Epic and our Canon A-1. Enjoy!

Unfortunately for us we had booked a 7am flight home since Geoff was teaching a class in the afternoon, so we were operating on maybe two hours of sleep after the party on the way to the airport. Thanks to Blacklane for the wonderfully luxurious drive home! We dove straight into bed with Netflix as it poured rain outside and tried not to think about how much we missed our friends. Sigh.

We stayed with friends at their apartment in Brooklyn Heights and all the roses were out. Rambling roses + brownstones are such a dreamy combo.

We popped into this shop, The Primary Essentials, and wanted to buy pretty much one of everything. So many great ceramics, and a cute shop dog too.

A sweet community garden in the neighbourhood, and on the right and below, a Picasso sculpture we visited on the NYU campus. Geoff had read about it online and we decided to visit. It’s such a gem; more info here.

There happened to be a Hare Krishna festival on in Washington Square Park (which, sorry, I will forever associate with Gilmore Girls because I love Jess).

A quick stop in to visit Kiosk, one of Geoff’s all-time favourite shops (which is moving online only).

Our friend Trevor works at the Met (nbd) so we went to meet him there on a Friday evening. The light in European Sculpture Court is stunning.

Here is the happy couple, who are now married! (Annie was my maid of honour for our wedding)

Pretty good rooftop, I’d say.

My first jaunt through Central Park!

We also took a quick jaunt through the Floral District.

Trevor and Mike at the Judd Foundation (we didn’t go upstairs as we hadn’t made reservations in advance. Still a great place to visit!).


Geoff and some pieces by Dan Flavin.

Picture Room, an art shop that, again, Geoff heard about online, was one of the few shops that we visited and it was so good. The McNally Jackson Store next door (same ownership, and same ownership as McNally Jackson Books) was also wonderful to visit. Lots of great stationery and home items.

Some bright Sol LeWitt back home at YYZ.