Tuesday, April 30, 2013


What an amazing place the Cotswolds is...just full of history. The antiques, museums, manor houses and gardens are fabulous and the food is amazing. Unfortunately the gardens are about 2-3 weeks behind due to the unusual cold spell they are experiencing at this time of year.  Chipping Campden is one of my favourites and the Craft Barn Museum is well worth a visit.  It is all about the Arts & Crafts movement that relocated out of London to this small village and of what remains to this day.I will elaborate further and post pictures when I get back home.

Visited Hidcote Gardens yesterday and although it was very cold we did enjoy seeing this garden again with it's stilt hedge and beautiful topiary.  Daffodils and primroses are in full bloom and the tulips are about to burst open - not doubt with the help of a little warmer temperature ( I understand how the felt yesterday).

Last week we were so delighted to see two young horsewomen riding their horses through the village of Broadway...talking and laughing and oblivious to the traffic behind them...such a nice little village and to see the huge horses come up the main drag was a sight for sore eyes. There is also something very soothing and calming about the clippity clop sound that they make...before you see them and after they have dissapeared out of  sight.

On the weekend we did absolutely nothing.  We enjoyed the cottage life on Saturday just chilling and my DH is a super cook. Asparagus with quails eggs and hollandaise sauce followed by local lamb slow cooked Basque style with a tomato base sauce and potatoes cooked in the same pot. Follow that up with an amazing sponge cake filled with jam and cream. On Sunday after visiting the Craft Barn museum we stopped by the Bells for refreshements and sampled their fresh sardines.They were very good.  Last night we had Hake and it was delicious in a parsley, tomato, onion paste cooked to perfection. Dessert was a Mille Feuille (sp?) and some lovely jammie, nuttie pastries.

Off to the sterling and silk museums in the village today...coffee at Huxelys and pick up tonights fair which will be anything that takes our fancy...fresh produce...the village has it's own little butchers, greengrocers, french bakery ( includes pates and cheeses) and several fancy bakers...I am picking up a huge merangue today. I have just been staring at them in the bakers window, salivating and walking away...not today my friend, not today!!

It's a beautiful day when you open your eyes and enjoy what is right in front of you at absolutley no cost!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Doing nothing in the Cotswolds today and it is brilliant.  I will post pics when I return.The food has been amazing...pigeon and quail eggs...and the weather has not been bad at all...49 worst and 66 best...the pubs are everywhere. Gardens and houses have been visited and small high standard cosy Cotswold village cottage is extremely functional and central. Creativity has been awakened and art galleries and antiques are being studied...can't wait to share the pics.

Here is a few more ideas for your blackboard....

One look at Medusa and you could be turned to stone however with Benjamin Moore’s Chalkboard Paint you can turn just about any item into a chalk board. Just think on the possibilities for your children alone. One wall of their room, section of wall, table that they can draw on directly….endless possibilities and the chalk wipes clean.

Large Chalkboard for Kids Playroom Design Ideas
Picture from: http://www.busydoor.com
Also you can use it in your office ( appointments, reminders), the garage (task list) in fact any space for notes to self, notes to family- the rest of the household, phone messages, appointments, calendar for school or work events etc., very helpful. However the ones that are catching my eye have a designer look to them with a quote of the day, month, year- permanent quote and coloured chalk with pretty designs around the edge or just a flower applied in the right space.

Home Office Design with Chalkboard Wall
Picture from: http://www.busydoor.com

Kitchen Design with Chalkboard Backsplash Decoration
Picture from: http://www.busydoor.com
It is a beautiful life doing absolutely nothing in the Cotswolds...


Wednesday, April 10, 2013


 A follow up to my announcement of April 6th...

The chalkboard paint has cured for the three days as per the requirements and we now need to apply the chalk to the whole board before "chalk writing/ drawing " on it.  I applied the chalk and wiped off with a cloth. Benjamin Moore recommends using a cloth to wipe off and using only blackboard light coloured chalk for design/quote application as other chalks can leave a residue...well we don't want that
Prior to initial use rub the entire surface
with a piece of chalk  and then wipe clean

Using a decorative  molding cut the trim pieces to
fit surrounding area to make a frame

Tip: Paint trim pieces before applying
Go to Michael's with 50% off coupon and pick up
stencils and chalk ( white and coloured)

If you thought I was impatient ???These two little helpers
 were all over it the minute the supplies arrived

Using chalk and stencil apply to board. These stencils worked well as
they had a large space to apply the chalk.  Smaller stencils were just blurry.

 Tip: when you remove the stencil use a small wet brush to clean up the edges

Or, using a combination of stencils and free
hand design/ quote...come up with your own images
Stencils did not do too well they were too small
so we used our own free hand style.
Note to self: buy larger stencils
All of this had to be wiped clean of course to apply the trim
but it was fun and we are getting the hang of writing on the board
which is cork board with chalkboard paint so maybe not as smooth.

We stuck the painted wood frame on with "No More Nails"
Worked very nicely

Framed and flowered - Thistles freehand

Dearest GD added some poignant words of her own choice

... we have a ...blackboard!!
  It's a beautiful life when you "leave a message".

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Cottage Life Show or...

...an afternoon...an hour and half...with Colin & Justin...how lucky am I and it was April 6th, 2013 -Tartan Day. How appropriate that I spend it with them after wining two tickets on their Facebook page...I think they planned it that way lol!!
Is that real tartan? Can't be McAllister
Are you sure you are entitled to that...uh clan tartan?
...  DH and I headed down to the show yesterday with our complimentary tickets to be picked up at the "Will Call" booth. The staff were organized and  knowledgeable and picking up the tickets was a breeze.  I have done this many times before and it has not been as smooth a process...good start!! 
Freebies are good- although I would have paid big money for these
I usually go to Design/ Home Shows on Trade Day and it is can be quite busy but not overcrowded...lots of room, very pleasant experience.  At the The Cottage Life show on Saturday it was like Sauciehall Street on a Saturday afternoon...couldn't swing a cat...let alone get your camera out of your pocket. However Colin & Justin did not disappoint.  They were on stage at the exact minute published and they were absolutely hilarious.  Now DH does escort me on some of these trips and he is gracious enough to sit quietly and look like he may be interested (he must be somewhat as he comes back with explanations, what was said sometimes word for word etc) however each time I turned to look at him he was smiling ear to ear...his kinda show eh? Did I say they didn't disappoint. And he could not have been more complimentary on the boys performance and how quick witted they were...their entertaining skills were hailed to sheer excellence...well maybe not so much, he is conservative in his compliments like the true Scot he is. But he did rave a wee bit and said how he enjoyed the show...rare thing...makes it easy for me to show my excitement about the whole thing sillily ( not sure that is a word) and review the highlights over a nice dinner out later.
And here they are in the land of...cottages
The audience were treated to a presentation, power point style, of the cottage Colin & Justin bought in December 2012. A log cabin design with beautiful views over the loch  lake and amazing indoor spaces. Large area with wrap around screened in sunroom/ Muskoka room with lots of space for a nice seating and eating area and although it was functional (not sure what as) right now their ideas for the future are more in keeping with a luxurious multi functional space with lots of light and making the best of the outdoor views with mature trees. Future changes for the bedroom included tartan drapery and blankets, who knew. In the main seating area that looked out onto the deck the first thing I thought of was to replace the two windows in the sitting area with "panoramic doors" for an unobstruced view of the loch lake and to bring the outdoors in...maybe a bug screen inbetween...in any event that is what they talked about / planned too...how good am I lol!! My services are cheap boys and can also be bartered for cottage time!!
Design discussion in the most humourful way...
Now I have heard many a designer give a talk, interview, design demonstration and I have really enjoyed the exchange of information or/and the demonstration ...but to have been entertained like this at the same time was like taking in a show ( well it was a show but you know what I mean). That could be because I get it...the jokes, little innuendos, and just understanding everything they say ( being Scottish myself) but these two have personalities bigger than ...well bigger than ...you know big personalities, really big personalities and if they were not designers they would probably still be on stage as comedians.

I think Justin is trying to figure out who I really am - someone less famous lol!!
Just outside the main stage area the Model Cottage had been set up and we toured through it.  Not terribly big but I could see our little family out there on the edge of a lake in this cozy space and of course enjoying the outdoors in the warmer weather. We really enjoyed the show and most of all Colin & Justin's performance, that is what it was, a performance and hard work but they pulled it off effortlessly probably because they know their stuff.

Maybe next year I will win a cottage ...any cottage, a bunkie...time at a cottage...maybe rent a cottage...Colin & Justin bought this cottage with another couple. Friends that could be trusted to take on their share of the responsibilities and I thought that was an excellent way of "owning" in cottage land.  It would have to be someone you trusted implicitly but it could be done at half the cost of buying the cottage and half the expenses.  People are not at their cottage 24/7 so scheduling time for all and then separate quiet time for each couple should be relatively easy. I thought this was an excellent idea...now who could I share a bunkie with...oh well!

It is a beautiful life in cottage country if you can afford it!

Saturday, April 6, 2013


...and lentil soup
 Happy tartan day to all ...

...at Christmas

...at the Interior Design Show

...in our family room

...over the chair

...my Campbell shawl - luv it!

...whether your a Scot in Canada, rest of the world,
just wanna be...wear your tartan today!!

It's a beautful and colourful life in tartan!!



Tickets were courtesy of Colin & Justin ( Scottish Designers Extraordinaire) and I just happened to randomly win one of 20 pairs...how great is that! So, it is off to the Cottage Life Show we go. I am quite excited to see what all that entails and hoping it is as relaxing, well somewhat, as going to the cottage.


Here is a little taste of what is to come this week.  I started a little project and it needs three days ( yes 3 days) to cure...
Corkboard to Blackboard
I will provide step by step instructions and pictures so check back.  I have picked up some trim for framing which I will cut and paint this weekend and then "stick" it on to frame the blackboard. I am also going to look for an artistic piece/feature to make the board more designer looking...not blank...maybe a stencil, child's drawing etc.

It's a beatiful life when you are on your way to the The Cottage Life Show!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Arts & Crafts Design

MacIntosh, Morris & Lloyd Wright

...sounds like a law firm but couldn't be more different. As the founders of the Arts & Crafts movement these three men were right brain thinkers from a very deep creative side. I also believe some of them had lot of gray matter on the left side and were good businessmen although it appears they also missed deadlines, imbibed, partied hard etc., which seems to apply to a lot of creative people. After all Leaonardo da Vinci rarely finished a painting.

When Scottish designer Charles Rennie MacIntosh entered a European competition 'Haus eines Kunstfreundes' asking architects to develop fresh and innovative ideas for "A Grand House in a thoroughly Modern style" his entry was incomplete and he missed the deadline. However his work could not be ignored and a "Special Prize” was awarded with no first prize being considered whatsoever ( future post). So I am really interested when I read about the difficulties these highly creative folks had in life and wonder if it is just life and happens to us all or are they so far right-brained that the left is just not computing businesswise and it is their downfall, at times. Like all artists once recognized these designers did make a huge difference and took us in another direction. I chose Arts & Crafts Design for my final project in the Advanced Interior Decorating course further studying in much more detail an area of design I was seriously interested in . My design boards are illustrated below:

A 1920's Arts & Crafts bungalow designing two rooms (Bedroom and Living Room were chosen) and a bathroom ( my apologies for the reflection).  I changed the layout to accomodate an ensuite with window and a laundry room off the common space. The bathroom was designed to accomodate disabled requirements

Floor Plan & Electrical Plan
Highlights the Glasgow Style of Charles Rennie MacIntosh portraying the lattice profile in furniture, curvature in pattern with japionese style end tables and mission style lamps

Sample Board - based on Charles Rennie MacIntosh Design
with William Morris Fabric (Acanthus Leaf)
The Edinburgh Collection from Stickley furniture which was inspired by the Glasgow Style of Charles Rennie MacIntosh includes the Willow bed and the Glasgow bench which demonstrate the lattice motif /pattern that MacIntosh was famous for and is reminiscent of a chair MacIntosh designed for the Willow Tea rooms in Glasgow. Two oriental style night stands flanking the bed are striking in black wood with gold details as they support two streamlined mission style bedside lamps in a metal finish. 
Vogel Slipper Chair in William Morris
Heather Acanthus Leaf Fabric

Drapery- Woeller Textiles, Kitchener ( through Isle Mill Fabrics, Scotland) Grovedale Lavender 100% wool with definite curvature and pattern of oval shapes connected end to end characteristic of the Glasgow style.

Slipper Chair - Grape/ Heather upholstery for Slipper chair in William Morris Acanthus Leaf pattern from Sanderson, UK and available at Telio, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Sample board based on Frank Lloyd Wright Design
I believe the Frank Lloyd Wright style with open concept living is more favourable today than it was in his time.  Lots of wood in furniture and panelling with Morris' Arts & Crafts style upholstery and wallpaper patterns in botanical and nature designs. Lloyd Wright was also know for his multi-functional furniture and spaces.    

Frank Lloyd Wright's Coonley occasional tables were selected for the room.  The slim end table is comprised of two tables, one within the other. The Boynton Hall Table (console table) matches nicely and sits at the window housing a Japonisme style lamp and space for refreshments. The Robie Tabouret (small table, footstool or seat) can be used as a tea table or an extra seat  The Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin chair can be used as a stand alone piece or utilized in the dining room.

The Robie Tabouret - Upholstered in rich Aubergine colour in Faux Leathertex, 100% Polyurethane, Polyester & Cotton Blend, 100,000 rubs for multi purpose use from Woeller Textiles, Kitchener.

Taliesin Barrel Chair - Sun coloured upholstery fabric in Velvet finish. 100% polyester.Stain repellent finish w/ acrylic backing from Woeller Textiles.

The yellow sun colour on the chairs is reminiscent of the sofa Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the Martin House. However today’s fabrics with stain repellent applications bring it up to today’s standards.

The next three future posts (3) will be on the individiual works of MacIntosh, Morris and Wright.

It' a beautiful life when you learn something new...