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Can we talk about how much I love Toast for a minute? Not the warmed up bread (though I love that, too.) No, I'm talking about the UK-based clothing and housewares company.

With every new season, I often think about how feasible it might be to move to England just so I would be able to purchase everything in their collection. Seriously, I want it all.

Part of the appeal is the company's incredible catalogues. They're shot in gorgeous locations and styled to perfection (beautiful yet simple, much like their products). But don't take my word for it. Have a look at some of my favourites from the latest in women's and home:

 

Photo credits:
1-9. Toast

Author: 

Kai Ethier

 

As some of you know, I do an advent calendar every year with ornaments instead of treats. Here is a shot (an old one, I'm afraid) of my son in action:

Every year I try to include one new special ornament for my son, my husband and myself (each bag has three ornaments so we all get a chance to put one on the tree — and so the ornaments aren't crowded at the bottom of the tree where Louis inevitably places them).

I've been on the hunt for this year's additions.

Anthropologie always has a great selection of ornaments and I loved these Alphabranch ornaments as soon as I saw them. At $8 a piece, they're not out of line price-wise. So, being perhaps deluded in my crafting ability, I decided that I would make this year's ornaments extra extra special by attempting to make something similar myself.

For this project, I used some twigs I found at a park, a paperclip and some embroidery thread I happened to have from my hair-wrap and friendship bracelet making days tucked in the bottom of a box. If you're not a hoarder like me, I've seen packages with several colours for a buck at dollar stores.

Step 1: First I positioned the twigs into my desired shape — an L for Louis, of course!

Step 2: Next I wrapped the paperclip around the connecting pieces. It would have been helpful to have pliers but I used my callused fingers and a quarter.

Step 3: This is where those days of wrapping little braids in my hair proved to be more than a waste of time and a questionable fashion statement. I tied the embroidery thread in a knot around the top of the twig, then started wrapping it, much as I did my hair, only making sure to cover the top of the stick. After about a half and inch, I switched colours.

Step 4: Once the entire L was all wrapped up, I took an extra piece of red embroidery thread and tied it to the top, then tied a knot, leaving a little loop.

And here is the final product!

Okay. So maybe not quite as pretty as the Anthropologie guys... maybe not even in the same ballpark. But it cost next to nothing and was made with love, and that should count for something, right?

For more crafty ideas, see our Editors' Top Holiday Gift-Wrap Trends photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1, 3-8. Kai Ethier
2. Alphabranch Monogram Ornaments, Anthropologie

Author: 

Kai Ethier

Last time we chatted I was on about what to do for shoe storage. In case you missed it, here are the cliff notes.

I have two of these Ikea shoe cabinets. They are functional but not my style, so I am looking at ways to jazz them up.

Angela Clarke suggested that I paint the cabinets Monaco Blue (one of Pantone's colours for 2013).

That got me thinking about this fabric from Designer Fabrics which I have remnants of lying around my office. Sunburst SNS/670548, SKU 33151.

That got me thinking about this fabric, also from Designer Fabrics, that I have been drooling over for months and hoping to find a project in which to use it. Pom Pom DK Wash, SKU 29495.

And then a lightbulb went off when I remembered this Editor's DIY from former design editor and all-around awesome gal, Stacy Begg. There's only one hitch with this DIY — it's a little heavy on the sewing. Which is a skill that I unfortunately lack. Luckily for me, the Internet exists, and I found an easy tutorial over at Little Green Notebook. Not sure how this one is going to turn out, folks, but I will keep you posted! Wish me luck!

Photo credits:
1. Bissa cabinet, Ikea

2. Pantone
3-4. Designer Fabrics
5. House & Home September 2011 issue, photography by Kim Jeffery

Author: 

Kai Ethier

Where do you store your shoes? Shoe storage has been something I have struggled with in every place that I've lived in.

In my first few apartments, my shoe organizing system always looked a little like this.

If life were fair, I would have a wing of my closet dedicated to shoes à la Mariah Carey.

On the plus side, I don't really need that much space (though one could argue that I have a lot of shoes, I am nowhere near the 1000 mark that Mimi is at) — and truth be told, I prefer to have my shoes close to the front door. I'm practical like that. So what's a gal to do?

I love this antique glass cabinet turned fancy house for your shoes (found in Michael Hainey and Brooke Cundoff's New York pad via The Selby), but I have a couple of problems with doing this in my own place. Problem one: I have a rather narrow hallway. Problem two: the price tag of one of these. Those fancy pants antiques aren't cheap!

Alrighty, moving on.

I found this budget-friendly DIY project from Martha Stewart a while back, using simple trim along a wall to secure heels. It may not be great for a front hall though? It seems weird to walk into someone's house and be at eye-level with a pair of shoes — possibly less than pristine shoes. Also, while it might be a good idea considering I'm a measly 5'1", not all my shoes have heels. And then there are my husband's and son's shoes to consider. Right.

So, any guesses what I have going on at the moment? If someone can cue the drumroll I'll show you...

Behold, the Ikea Brissa cabinet. I picked up two of them for $30 each. They're narrow enough for my hallway, hold a decent amount of shoes and they are cheap! And it's possible they would look nice in some stylist's place but they are, really, umm, utilitarian in mine. I'm thinking about jazzing them up. What do you think? Comment below with all your amazing ideas!

Read about my ideas for covering these Ikea cabinets in fabric for a hit of colour and pattern.

Photo credits:
1. Mainland*girl blog
2. InStyle.com
3. The Selby
4. Martha Stewart
5. Brissa cabinet, Ikea

Author: 

Kai Ethier

There is something about the temperature drop in September that makes me want to spend all my time in the kitchen roasting and baking. Maybe it's the heat coming from the oven? Anyway, after a long hot summer of steering clear of the oven, it's nice to get reacquainted with an old friend. And what's nicer than to introduce an old friend with some new ones? Here are a few fellows that I would like my oven to get to know this season:

I love the entire line of Dansk Kobenstyle cookware from Crate & Barrel, but I'm in need of something along the lines of this baker. Imagine a bubbling lasagna or gooey brownies in here... yum.

When I laid eyes on this new baking set from Anthropologie by stoneware goddess Judy Jackson, my breath stopped short.

Then I clicked on the blue motif colourway and promptly passed out. Gorgeous.

And finally, because I don't want to leave my stovetop all on his lonesome, I think these copper guys would be a lovely addition to the gathering.

But seriously, how good would all that stuff look in my new kitchen? What? You thought I might go a post or two without mentioning it? Sorry guys, it's kind of the best thing that's happened to me since the birth of my son (who turns four this Friday — happy birthday, Louis!) so you will have to endure just a little longer.

See our Bistro & Restaurant-Style Kitchens for more great finds.

Photo credits:
1. Dansk Kobenstyle White Baker, Crate & Barrel
2-3. Judy Jackson Nested Baker Sets, Anthropologie
4. All-Clad 7 Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Cop R Chef, The Bay
5. House & Home Kitchens & Baths 2012 special issue, photography by Ashley Capp

Author: 

Kai Ethier

For most of the spring and beginning of summer, my family has been consumed with the renovation of our kitchen. (Watch a video tour here and pick up our Kitchens & Baths special issue for before and after photos.) We just managed to wrap up the reno and have it photographed for the magazine before we flew out west on a holiday that we booked months prior to visit family (primarily my new adorable nephew Zachary). Between family visits, we were also able to book a little getaway up the Sunshine Coast.

We spent four nights at the Stillwater Beach House B&B, situated between Saltery Bay & Powell River. Despite cooler temperatures and a little (well, quite a bit of) rain, we had a fantastic time. It's hard not to with views like this:

The beach house is just steps to the water's edge, where, during the precious sunlit hours, my son splashed in the ocean and looked for starfish. When the clouds rolled in we snuggled up on the sofa, lit the wood burning fireplace and read books or watched one of the DVDs in the library.

The decor in the beach house was tasteful but relaxed, which was perfect for us. I can appreciate the posh decor of a boutique hotel when I'm travelling on my own but require something a little less fancy and more functional with my three year old, who is usually covered in sand, mud, or both.

All in all it was an amazing trip and I was very sad to leave, though coming home to a nicely renovated kitchen did help a little.

For more oceanside charm on the other coast, read about Suzanne Dimma's trip to Nova Scotia.

Photo credits:
1-8. Kai Ethier

Author: 

Kai Ethier

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