Sunday, 27 November 2011

Crafty Christmas Creations

Berries framed in ice. Pour water in a shallow pan and leave
outside in freezing conditions. Loosen carefully and stick in the 
snow. To achieve a crystal clear, transparent surface, the ice 
should form as slowly as possible, i.e. not in extremely cold 
temperatures. In the freezer, the ice often turns frosty, not 

The countdown for Christmas has begun; only a few more weeks to go! Out comes the box with decorations (it's a pretty big box), and along with it, my special collection of holiday DIY objects. These projects are all simple, unique and beautiful - exactly what I wish for the season. They often also involve an activity that can be shared with others. So, double the fun! After all, isn't that what this time of year is all about?

I'd love to hear about your favourite Christmas project! What's cooking in your own DIY workshop?
You'll need a heart-shaped cookie cutter, 
a flower bud and thin wire to make
this adorable outdoor decoration. Put the
flower bud in the cookie cutter, shape the
the wire as a loop. Add water, making
sure the wire is immersed in water. Freeze.
Hold the heart in your hands for awhile and 
it will come out from the cookie cutter and
will be ready to hang.
Who doesn't like ginger cookies?
Not only do they taste good, they 
also look fabulous in the Christmas
More ginger cookies, this time made of felted wool. 

Paperwhites are the ultimate Christmas flower. 
Delicate, proud and sweet.

Plant them in a tall glass
container to enhance the
vertical shape. The visible
root system adds texture
and interest.
A creative spin on the traditional wreath.
This one is made of recycled sweaters, 
yes sweaters, cut in squares and triangles.
I saw it in Chatelaine last year and thought
it was ingenious! You'll need thick-gauge
wire, 3 to 5 old sweaters, good fabric scissors
and ribbon. Bend the wire into the shape of a 
wreath with a loop at one end. Thread the
knitted squares onto the wire, until 1 inch of the
wire remains. Feed the wire end through the loop
and twist to close. Finish off with a large bow.
Another stunning wreath from Chatelaine, this
one made from pot scrubbers!
Apples double as candle holders. 
Natural and simple.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Favourite fireplaces

Noll ClimateCare's product range includes fireplaces from Regency 
contemporary gas fireplace is from Regency.
Fireplaces are hot this time of year, in more than one way. I visited one of our local suppliers, Noll ClimateCare, to learn about the latest trends and highlights. Here they are:

1) Fireplaces are taking centre stage in our homes, with a prime location and dramatic flames. Gas options continue to be a popular choice, and contemporary lines are more and more in demand. The shape is often horizontal, with inner, reflective panels that amplify the appearance of the fire.

Crystal firebeds add sparkle
and interest.

2) Firebeds can be so much more than traditional logs, whether real or ceramic. Contemporary alternatives include multi-coloured crystals, ceramic spa stones and river pebbles. These options will intensify the sparkle and provide additional reflection.

3) When buying a new fireplace, be clear about where it's going and what its purpose will be. Will it be the sole heat source in the house, will it supplement other heat sources, or do you want it solely for aesthetic reasons? This will determine the size and the heat output you should look for.

4) Be true to the style of your home when choosing a fireplace. To help you visualize how a certain fireplace will look in your own room, visit the Regency Fireplace Design Centre.

Electric fireplace from Napoleon Quality Fireplaces.
5) Today there is a great deal of flexibility when it comes to the installation of a gas fireplace; it does not necessarily have to be close to an outside wall. Electric fireplaces can be installed basically anywhere, whereas wood and pellet stoves are more limited when it comes to their location.

6) We used to relate "high definition" to audio and visual devices, now it's also the name of a fireplace. And speaking of high definition, if you just want the sound and image of a fire, there are many videos with sparkling fires that you can download online and show on your TV screen. If you can't make it, fake it! This said though, nothing beats the real thing. Just take a look at these inspiring environments with "real" flames:

Gas fireplace from Regency.
Direct vent gas fireplace from Napoleon.
Three-sided gas fireplace from Regency.
Vent-free gas fireplace from Napoleon.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Focus on dining rooms

What is the focus of this room? Ask yourself that question in every room. The focus will most often relate to the main activity that will take place in that space. So in a bedroom, the focal point will be the bed; in a library, it will be the bookshelves and so on. Make these areas the shining stars of your d├ęcor! In the dining room, it's the dining table that should be highlighted and embellished. Here are five tips to get it right:

            Highlight the dining area by placing
            tall objects below the light fixture.
            Photo: Crate & Barrel.
1) Place the dining table right in the centre of the room.
2) Make sure your dining room has a stunning light fixture. Bigger is better than smaller!
3) Place decorative objects that reach up from the table to the light fixture. It can be a bouquet of flowers, some candlesticks or a beautiful bowl. This way you create an axis from floor to ceiling that the eye will be drawn to.
4) Add interest to the side walls surrounding the dining table. A sideboard with a framed mirror and a pair of wall sconces might be a choice for one of the walls, while the opposite wall is adorned with a group of paintings. Now you have further enhanced the floor-to-ceiling axis. There is no question about what the main feature of the room is.
5) Dress your table in a table cloth that complements the colours and textures of the space, take out your best china and cutlery and let the entertaining begin!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Turn up the heat!

Nothing beats the deep, generous flame of a see-through 
fireplace if you have a big space and want to maintain an 
airy feeling. The enclosing stonework provides texture and
contrasting colour.
Oh baby it's cold outside! Well, not so much this weekend. But colder days are definitely approaching, and more than ever we want our homes to feel warm, inviting and attractive. The solution? A strategically located fireplace! Not only does it provide heat, it also functions as a focal point and light source that will energize the most tired of rooms. That was exactly what happened in my own living room. It felt and looked cold. Something was missing. It wasn't until we installed our contemporary pellet stove that we started to spend time in this room, and today it's our favourite hang-out spot. (Knowing that the stove saves us over $1,000 per year in fuel costs also helps!). So look around your home and see where you can introduce an element of fire. There are so many alternatives today; ventless gel fireplaces, electric, gas... Or for an easier solution: group several candles on a beautiful tray and let the light and warmth fill the room. Snuggle up!