To complement "Catch of the Day", our East Coast food feature in the July 2014 issue (available on Eastern newsstands June 2nd and Western June 9th), I want to delve more into the wine and cheese being produced by the Atlantic provinces. This, by no means, is a definitive round up. For the sake of brevity and user friendliness, I'm sticking with the stuff that has some national availability. For more info on East Coast wines, visit Wines of Canada, and for cheeses, check out the Canadian Cheese Directory.
The inclement weather and short growing seasoning make farming grapes a real challenge in Atlantic Canada. There are, however, a few terrific wineries along the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia.
Benjamin Bridge in the Gaspereau Valley (see photo above) is one of them, a sparkling specialist with a devout following. Their entry-level Nova 7, a fizzy, pink Moscato-style wine, has brilliant sweet-sour tension that is terrific with piquant cheeses or with spicy food. Their new 2009 Brut, which was aged three years on the lees, is a tight, tangy sparkler that would go well with oysters or gooey, washed-rind cheeses like brie. Finally, their Brut Reserve — I have tasted both the 2005 and 2007 — is aged for five years on the lees, and is a magnificent bottle of bub that can go toe-to-toe with French champagne in the same price range. It should be cellared and saved for an august occasion.
I've also had the pleasure of trying a few wines from Gaspereau Vineyards in the Gaspereau Valley. Their L'Acadie Blanc, made from an all-Canadian grape of the same name, is a crispy, dry, citrusy white that has the lean charm of Petit Chablis. It's a knockout with shellfish.
Now you may be surprised to learn that Newfoundland produces wine, as the Rock is not exactly known for sunshine. While the province does not grow grapes for vinification, there is a bounty of wild fruit on the island, and Rodrigues Winery transforms it into award-winning elixirs. Their blueberry wine is more off dry than sweet with a good zing of acidity. Served well chilled, it would be terrific as an aperitif with goat cheese, or for dessert with any of Atlantic Canada's myriad of berry desserts. It also happens to be kosher.
Atlantic Canada is definitely more suited to cheese making than vinous agriculture, and a rapidly grown range of artisan wheels and wedges are making headway in market dominated by Ontario and Quebec.
P.E.I.'s Cow's Creamery may be more known for its chain of ice cream parlours, but among turophiles, it is the maestro of cheddar. Their Scottish-style Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar won a first prize at the 2013 Canadian Cheese Gran Prix, the Oscars of the dairy world.
From New Brunswick, look out for La Bergerie aux 4 Vents at your local cheesemonger. Their Gaie Bleu is a buttery raw cow's milk blue, and Le Sieur de Deplessis is an earthy, nutty tomme-style wheel made from raw sheep's milk.
Finally, from Nova Scotia, I am quite enamoured with the cheeses from That Dutchman's Farm. Their goudas are excellent (see photo above), and their unique Dragon's Breath Blue lives up to its name.
The next time you're putting together a wine and cheese party, don't forget about Canada's East Coast.
(For more East Coast inspiration, tour a pretty P.E.I. waterfront cottage.)
Many people like the charm and character of older homes, but often they can be daunted by the amount of restoration they require, as well as the costs associated with maintaining them. Many of my clients at Philip Mitchell Design request "A New Old Home." Essentially a house that feels and looks authentic in style, design and finishing, but that functions more efficiently than a historic property, with minimal or no upkeep.
The suggestions below definitely conjure historical charm and character, whether you are restoring, renovating, building an addition, or constructing a new home from scratch.
1. Paint Colours
Using historic paint colours for both interiors and exteriors provides that depth and softness often associated with period buildings.
2. Plumbing Fixtures
By adding original or reproduction vintage style faucets, pedestals, tubs and water closets, you can recreate that classic heritage feeling from a bygone era.
3. Windows And Doors
Selecting a specific window and door style based on appropriate historical style, size, mullion profile and glass can add that character often found in older homes.
Installing historically accurate reproduction or antique handles, knobs and latches in timeless finishes like natural un-lacquered brass, bronze and iron, can provide instant age to a project.
5. Roofing Materials
Choosing a composite cedar roofing product or standing metal seam roof (rendered in steel, aluminum or copper) can add that bit of history to a newly constructed home, while virtually remaining maintenance free for years.
6. Architectural Salvage
Introducing a unique salvaged architectural element, such as a vintage cabinet or an antique mantelpiece from a historic building, add character into a new space, and is eco friendly at the same time.
Introducing a number of different types and sources (wall sconces, surface mount fixtures, pendants and picture lights) of antique-look lighting fixtures can add a charming ambiance to new space.
Browse a gallery of Philip's designs.
1. Benjamin Moore
2. Spaces Design
5. Tim McGhie, via House & Home
6. Angus McRitchie, via House & Home
8. PMD Design Inspirations
9. James Dixon Architect PC
10. House & Home October 2010 issue
11. Steven Grambel, via House & Home
12. House & Home July 2010 issue.
Every time I visit Chester I take a short detour to The Finer Diner in Hackett's Cove. It's a quaint roadside building on enroute to Peggy's Cove.
I love their crab cakes with onion rings and paired with a glass of white wine, I am totally in heaven.
The first space we shot was designer Philip Mitchell's guesthouse at his new house (he completed the guest house before tackling the main building this year). Their property looks out to Chester's Front Harbour. I tweeted this picture of photographer, Janet Kimber, taking our first shot of the day before the sun came up.
I loved the rope railings on the neighbouring pier so I made Philip and his partner Mark Narsansky move their Muskoka chairs for their portrait.
That's their new house called 'the White Cottage' in the background and the guesthouse is tucked up to the left (their first house was featured in our October 2011 issue).
Everyone who visits Chester has to book a dinner at Nicki's Inn restaurant at the intersection of King and Pleasant Streets. It's Chester's finest restaurant — the food is fantastic, the decor is lovely and the owner Nicki is charming. She also has a few rooms that she rents out upstairs if you are looking for a place to stay for a few days.
Here I am at Nicki's celebrating the completion of the shoot with Philip (far right) and Mark (they are so handsome) and another east coast designer, Deb Nelson, (who has the most gorgeous hair) whose home we shot the following morning. We all look so happy!
Another place to stay is the historic Mecklenburg Inn which has this totally charming exterior. I have never been inside though!
Deb's shoot also started bright and early the next day. Here are a few of my fave moments at her place that didn't make it into the story in our July issue. Of course there was the white picket fence surrounding her backyard that affords this pretty view over her neighbour's yard to the Front Harbour.
The third floor of her house is like a lookout tower with paned glass windows on all sides. I could have stayed up there all day. While we were shooting up there a regatta was taking place and one sailboat actually sunk — it was high drama.
Deb had the cutest vintage hardboard doorstop of a fox terrier that I adored.
And her whitewashed painted floors were perfect for summertime living.
Going to Chester is like stepping back through time: the white picket fences, old cars, and clapboard or shingled houses and sidewalk less roads make it the one of the most charming towns I've seen in Canada.
Another restaurant that Deb and I usually check out is the Rope Loft for a wharfside dining experience. It's lovely to sit on the back deck and watch the boats come into the harbour. But apparently it's up for sale now.
We also had breakfast one morning at the Chester Golf Club — what a breathtaking view!
If you have time, take the ½ hour ferry ride to Tancook Island, for a very different experience. It is far more rugged and wild. Only a small number of people live there and it is like stepping away from civilization: which we all need now and then!
If you follow the dirt road to the right from the ferry you will eventually come to the Wishing Stones — an eclectic store where you can get a tea and check out the antiques. I fell in love with the landscape painting on the right and totally regret not buying it — a reminder that if you see a find that calls your name when you're in an out-of-the-way spot, buy it!!
They also had a display of ringed rocks where they ask you to take one, walk to the back bay and throw it in to make a wish. The wishing stones are marked by a "magical" white quartz ring that must be continuous with no breaks in order for the magic to work. The instructions read: stand by the water's edge, close your eyes and make a silent wish, and throw the stone as far as you can into the sea.
This summer I will be heading back to Chester once again to photograph architect Nicholas Spencer-Lewin's house, so keep an eye out for it on our pages in 2015!
For more Maritime style, browse a gallery of East Coast homes.
(Except #8, via Mecklenburgh Inn) Suzanne Dimma
Last weekend, I held a garage sale at my parents' home in Ancaster, Ontario. Despite the fact that I had never hosted one before, the sale turned out to be a huge success. Here is some advice to follow if you're planning a sale of your own:
1. Spend on advertising
Garage sale enthusiasts scour their local newspapers for listings. If your sale is taking place on a Saturday morning, you should place ads in your local daily on both Friday and Saturday (I also booked a Thursday ad in a weekly village paper). Many newspapers gave you a bonus listing online; some also offer free posters. Be descriptive in your word choice — are you hosting a garage sale? A contents sale? List any key items that could attract specific buyers. Our family was offering antique furniture, vintage books, old tools and garden decor; we mentioned all of these things in our description. I spent about $85 in advertising.
2. Take the day off work the day before (if you can)
A successful garage sale is a well-organized garage sale, and preparation takes time. Start with a clear-cut plan of action. The day before our sale, I cleaned out our entire garage, which gave us a blank slate to work with. I also made room in our backyard shed and in our basement. Don't wait until the night before to do the grunt work, or you'll be working into the wee hours of the morning.
3. Expect people to arrive early
If your sale starts at 8 a.m., count on the first people to arrive an hour early. (Ours started at 8 a.m. with the first buyers pulling up in front of our house at 6:45 a.m. A few furniture dealers actually came to our house the day before. I was happy to sell a few pieces in advance.)
4. Enlist a team of helpers
Leading up to the sale, my brother and sister-in-law did an incredible job of organizing our sale items into batches: in each room of our house, they made neat piles of all the things we'd be selling and clearly labeled them "For Sale" or "NOT For Sale!" They arrived bright and early on the morning of the sale, along with my niece and my partner. With five people working the sale, we were well covered.
5. Don't bother with pricing
Determine the going price of your important pieces beforehand. Everything else can be negotiated on the spot. Even though we had five people working at our sale, we decided that one of us needed to play the role of Tough Cop if buyers made low-ball offers (and they did). I had no problem saying no to an offer of a single dime for a lovely vintage leather-bound book!*
6. Merchandising is everything
Even though hosting a garage sale was new to me, I am no stranger to flea markets and antique shows. Here's what I've learned: display as much as you can on tables, so people don't have to bend down, and place similar objects together. I organized my family's collection of rose glassware and wine goblets on one table, and placed our crystal decanters, vintage cutlery and silver trays on another. Kitsch all got grouped together! When items start to sell, it's a good idea to either replenish or consolidate — no one likes the look of a sparsely laid table.
7. You can never have too many card tables
For a full-looking garage sale, plan on using 10-12 tables. Don't have enough? Ask your friends and neighbours if you can borrow theirs; offer them something free from the sale to say thanks! I set the tables out along the perimeter of our driveway, so that there was a nice flow of foot traffic.
8. Don't think it will sell? Think again
On the morning of our sale, my sister-in-law and partner emerged from our basement with a few dusty cardboard boxes filled with old copper pipe fittings, plumbing cast-offs and fishing tackle. They both thought we might be able to get good money for them. I was mortified. "No one will want that! Plus it doesn't look very nice!" I told them. Guess what things sold in no time flat?
9. People love to rummage
An addendum to #6 above: Even though attractive merchandising can make an everyday garage sale look more elegant, don't be afraid to include a few unorganized, haphazard boxes of "junk." People enjoy the thrill of the hunt! I was about to start organizing several boxes of old paperbacks and records onto shelves, until I saw how much people seemed to love the process of leafing though them.
10. A good back story goes a long way
I can't tell you how many times I closed a sale by offering up a fun anecdote about an object. "That glass demijohn you're looking at? My dad used to make wine in it every September!" "That framed print you're holding? It's in the style of Dutch Renaissance genre painting, and it hung above our fireplace for almost 30 years!" A little history goes a long way. Who doesn't want to bring home a fun story?
*Before you host your sale, it's a good idea to prearrange a pick-up of any items left unsold. We called a local charity and they were able to swing by after our sale. Gently used books and full sets of dishes are especially appreciated by charitable organizations.
Finally, I'll share with you list of what I found to be the most in-demand garage sale items. These were things that people either asked me for repeatedly, or pieces that we sold immediately, with no haggling whatsoever. If you have any of these items to sell, I'd suggest that you start thinking about hosting your own garage sale soon!
Our 5 Most Popular Items
- Teak furniture (preferably from the 50s or 60s)
- Vintage globes
- Antique wristwatches and jewelry
- Outdoor furniture
- Vintage tools
See a gallery of our editors' refurbished salvaged finds and read more about top flea market finds here.
Jacquelyn Clark of Lark & Linen and Style Me Pretty has been named one of Toronto Life’s top 6 most inspiring home decor bloggers. She's always full of good ideas, and has an eye for gorgeous images so we couldn't wait to ask her tips for ushering in the new season with style.
After the dreadfully long winter we all experienced over the last few months, I'm beyond thrilled that Mother Nature has finally started to co-operate! Though every change of season tends to ignite that desire for a fresh start, this seems to ring particularly true when it comes to spring. And as the temperature increases, so too does my need to transform my home to prepare for the warm months ahead. Here are my personal favourite tips and tricks that truly help bring spring home:
Spending a few dollars a week on fresh flowers (fresh tulips, a handful of gorgeous magnolia branches or a potted orchid) is incredibly effective. After a long, grey winter, it truly helps infuse a sense of life into your every day.
Deck Your Door
A little paint goes a long way! Greet your guests with a freshly painted, vibrant front door. Think poppy red, a bright shade of coral or a more subdued teal. Bonus: it increases curb appeal and is a welcome sight when you return home each evening.
Infuse New Scents
When it comes to your home, you need to consider all five senses. All too often the sense of smell falls by the wayside, but I stand by the fact that it's one of the most important! Save the masculine, woodsy scents for the cosy wintry months. Instead, consider lightly scented candles or incense like vanilla fig, Meyer lemon or cucumber.
Whether it's in the form of a new toss cushion, switching out some artwork (there are so many wonderful, inexpensive prints online) or a new coffee table book... Introducing a new hue into your decor regimen is a wonderful way to make a space feel fresh and new on a dime.
Think About Texture & Introduce Natural Materials
Tuck away those heavy fabrics for the cooler months ahead. We're talking heavy wool curtains, velvet toss cushions and that furry throw you love. Instead, introduce natural materials: cotton, linen and the like for a light, bright feel. Bonus: your winter decor will feel brand new when you bring it out again months down the line.
Put Up A Bird Feeder
We can't forget about our fellow feathered friends! Invite them to stay a while by hanging a simple bird feeder on your balcony or in your yard. Instant spring, I swear!
Start an Indoor Herb Garden
Not only does it smell amazing, much like the addition of fresh flowers, it instills a sense of life into your home. Bonus: it's crazy satisfying to be able to whip up a meal with the help of some of your home grown friends.
Dress Your Bed
Flannel bed sheets be gone! Switching them out for a cotton set may be a no-brainer, but it's something I look forward to all year. In addition, opting for a light quilt in lieu of your feathered duvet is intrinsically satisfying.
When it comes down to it, small details and simple touches are key. It's amazing how these simple changes can make your entire home feel brand new without having to spend a ton.
1. Potted Orchid, Lark & Linen
2. Charleston Front Door, Elisa Brickler for Hearth Magazine
3. Tulips, Bess Friday (photography) and Caitlin Flemming (design)
4. Living room photographed by Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine, via Style Me Pretty Living
5. Prue Roscoe photographed room, Design Sponge
6. Herb Garden photography by Ruth Eileen, via SMP Living
Both The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post U.K. recently ran stories on the rise of the 'shelfie' – a buzzy word for the trend on social media of sharing photographs of artfully arranged items.
The habit is hardly news to design fans: we've been posting pics like these since the dawn of Instagram, when such shots were quaintly known as 'vignettes' or 'tableaux vivants'.
These photos help us define our style, get inspiration and see the beauty in the everyday – that is, until they become cliché. I couldn't help but laugh – and wince a little – at the five repetitive shelfie motifs identified by WSJ. I'm guilty of at least two. Do you see yourself on the list?
1) The Stunning Espresso
2) The Haunting Glass Cloche
3) The Casual Magazine Tableau
4) The Evocative Pair of Spectacles
5) The Strangely Popular in Norway Wooden Hand
See designers' tricks for styling bedside tables.
1. Photography by Ashley Capp
2. May 2009 House & Home, photo by Heather Ross
3. Latte via Pinterest
4. Cloche via Pinterest, photography by Renee Arns
5. Magazine via Live The Fancy Life Blog
6. Eye glasses via Real Simple
7. Wooden hand via Pinterest