Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Around the House

I thought I was done with this year's holiday decor around the house, until I came across this wreath at Target this past Saturday. For the longest time I was looking for a simple faux boxwood one like this, but either I was too late to the game or it wasn't popular here, all my search efforts were to no avail. The Target 18-inch flocked wreath was on clearance (cha-ching!) so I grabbed two of them before they were all gone. The size is perfect for the two mirrors I have in my living room and foyer. 

Fresh Christmas greenery is a super easy way to amp up the festivity around your house. Again I was pretty late but finally was able to find two of these amazing Lemon Cypress plants at Terra Greenhouses. Its vibrant chartreuse green foliage is undoubtedly very uplifting, which I am definitely going to need for a long winter ahead. 

The Target Threshold Flocked Wreath with Blue Ornaments, 18 inches in diameter. It looks so full but it's surprisingly light-weight. All I needed was a small suction cup hanger like this to secure it in place.  

The Paperwhite Narcissus are in full bloom. The fragrance is just as elegant as its flower. 

The other wreath is now in my living room over the fireplace mantel. 

With that, I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We are off to do all the amazing things we wanted to do. See you around in a few days. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Ultimate Christmas Staycation Guide

2014 was a year of travel for us, so we very much look forward to not going anywhere this Christmas, and do all the awesome things we love but have been putting off doing. This is my ultimate staycation plan for Christmas 2014. 

1. Make spiced apple cider. I am looking forward to making this delicious and festive apple cider when entertaining friends and family. Who doesn't love a hot cup of apple cider when it's sub-zero outside? It's definitely going to be a crowd-pleaser. 
A Beautiful Mess

2. Have some "me" time. By that, I mean having some alone time with hubs over a snifter of Cognac. Do you believe Cognac is making a comeback? Or something so classic should never go out of style.

3. Sleep in. This is something that we are both most looking forward to. No more setting alarms on our phones; no more waking up in the middle of night worrying we might miss a flight. 

4. Do a watchathon. There are so many shows I can think of: Arrested Development which is one of my favourite comedies of all times. 

And maybe Breaking Bad again and 24

5. Read some books. I am almost done with the entire Outlander series, and I so want to finish reading them before the end of the year. 

6. Go back to our favourite restaurants. We have a long list of restaurants we haven't been to for a while that we want to go back to. Auberge du Pommier is among the first that comes to mind. We went there almost once a month when we were dating and lived in the area. Good memories. 

7. Shopping. We can't go on a staycation without helping our local retailers, can we? Although this means mostly online shopping for me. 

8. Go on a ski trip. Since we can't get rid of snow, we might as well embrace it. Blue Mountain Ski Resort is less than 2 hours away for most Torontonians, so let's head out there and have some fun on those slopes. 

What do you think? Do you have a staycation plan?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

In the Mail Today: Schumacher Pyne Hollyhock Pillow

It's been a while since I posted to the "In the Mail" series, but I am nonetheless still an online shopaholic. As a matter of fact, over 90% of my Christmas gift shopping this year was done over the web! 

I am finally convinced that I have pillow-philia. I lost count of the number of pillows in my possession. For this particular one that arrived in the mail today, it all started with this most amazing floral pattern I spotted in the Elements of Style book. 

Took me a while but I finally figured out it was the Schumacher's Pyne Hollyhock print in charcoal - where were you all this time? I immediately turned to Etsy and ordered this beauty from SouthernShades. I love that the owner Patricia makes this pillow with fabrics on both sides, and she lets you choose among knife edges, self cording and black linen (or a different color) piping at no additional cost! 

Side A

Side B. Which pattern do you like more? 

I chose black linen cording which enhances the elegance of this moody charcoal-colored floral fabric. 

On an unrelated note, my Paperwhite Narcissus continues to grow taller.

This flower bud popped tonight, and a cluster of small white flowers came out. They smell heavenly. 

I took the staircase print back to the framing shop and changed the matting to a warmer shade of white. You probably can't tell from this picture, but it looks so much better against various shades of whites in my house. I plan to lean it against the wall on the fireplace mantel once all the holiday decor comes down in the new year. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 Christmas Tree

Can you believe Christmas is next week?! The thought of it sends my heart racing. Well our 2014 Christmas tree is finally up. This year my tree is all about back to basics - I amalgamated a pool of ornaments I liked and got to work, with no particular theme or color variations in mind. 

This is probably the last year I am going to use a faux Christmas tree. Next year I am going for a real one - not only do they smell good but their shapes and forms also look so much more lively and organic. A faux fir tree looks so rigid and formal, not the type of the look that excites me any more. 

The jumping-off point of this year's Christmas tree is this blue glass ornament my best friend Jessie made for me. It's heavy so I had to hang it pretty low on the tree otherwise if it slips off the tree, it will shatter. 

Each ornament has its memories and sentimental value. 

You are not going to believe this but I found this wreath at Dollarama! $2 never looked this good! 

This is our foyer now fully decorated for Christmas and holiday season. 

The Paperwhite Narcissus Ziva bulbs I planted three weeks ago are on track to bloom around Christmas. It has been a very rewarding experience to witness the Paperwhite from sprouting to budding. This is definitely a holiday tradition I will be keeping. 

Next up is our holiday table setting and dining room decor. Until then, stay warm and merry! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Best Faux Fur Throw

These days every designer project and/or home I came across seemed to have a luxe faux fur throw casually lying around somewhere. It would seem like it's a winter decor accessory must-have. I wasn't purposely looking for one, out of the concern that it might shed and that I am super sensitive to lint and dust. I tried out a few in store, but they were either too dark, too light, too fake, with patterns too busy or shedding too much. 

This past weekend we went to Loblaws for our weekly grocery shopping, and I came across this lynx? faux fur throw blanket made by President's Choice. It's 50" x 60" in size, so plush but doesn't shed much if at all. The velboa backing is so soft that I couldn't put it back on the shelf. And when I saw the price tag (a whopping $39!!!), I knew immediately that I had to take it home. I was prepared to pay a lot more than that because the going rate of a faux fur throw of that quality is in the $150-200 range. Believe me, when I say it's a good deal, it is really a good deal (insert the Cameron hand gesture)! 

The President's Choice Home Collection faux fur throw beautifully recreates weight, depth of colour and indulgent softness of natural fur. 

The colour works perfectly with the rest of my living room. 

Are you still reading? Start the car and go get your own! :)

I didn't think the last picture did Boo's cuteness justice so I snapped another photo of this plush replica. It makes me so happy looking at him. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

New Art, A Dog and Growing Paperwhite

I've always wanted to add a black and white photograph of a geometric object to my art collection. I was intrigued by this staircase poster seen in the hit TV show "Castle", but it's neither in black & white, or within the budget I was willing to spend on a poster. Then I found this spiral staircase photograph by Kim Hopf on Etsy which is exactly what I was looking for. I like the lighting and the depth Kim was able to capture in the image. 

I ordered the 12"x18" size which doesn't fit into any standard ready-made frames. I wanted to do something different for the photo so I went with a minimalist thin black metal frame and crisp white double mats. The framing was done by my favorite framing shop Edmond at YM Art

I tried hanging it in my dining room - my intent was to introduce a modern element to an otherwise traditional space for some surprise factor. Not sure if I liked it there - the mat looks too stark to go with the rest of the room. 

Then I moved it to the foyer, liked it there slightly better but again, the bright white matting stands out too much. 

Maybe I should go back to Edmond to change the matting to a creamier shade of white? Do you prefer the framed art in my dining room or in the foyer?

Now onto this super duper adorable dog named Boo. I've been following his Facebook page for a while, and let me tell you, on any given day if you ever feel you need a pick-me-up moment, visit Boo's page and stare at his pictures! This is a plush toy replica of Boo made by Gund.

And this is the real Boo! My cousin also has two AKC Pomeranians, so I've been trying to convince her to cut their hairs so they would look just like Boo. 

Now back to the topic on everyone's mind these days - the holiday celebration! My parents grew Paperwhite Narcissus every year during Chinese New Year for as far back as I could remember. I wanted to pick up this family tradition again, except that I want to grow them twice for both Christmas and Chinese New Year. We picked up these fragrant Paperwhite Narcissus Ziva bulbs from Terra Greenhouses. This is how they look like after 5 days in the soil. 

Holiday decoration is well underway here at AM Dolce Vita. I wanted to add a bowl of ball ornaments on my coffee table only to realize that I don't have a decorative bowl on hand! Now I have a reason to shop. :)

This is the take two of my holiday mantel - I added a colorful ball garland to liven it up.

Have a great weekend everyone! 

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