Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Elegance of Oscar

Oscar de la Renta                                          via Vogue

Sadly it was announced today that fashion designer Oscar de la Renta died at the age of 82 from a re-occurring cancer. With over 50 years of designs crediting his name, Mr. de la Renta's style was legendary.

1956 coming out party in Madrid. Oscar de la Renta designs for Beatrice Lodge, daughter of U.S. Ambassador.

Oscar taking Beatrice, and his first dress for a spin.

“Real beauty is not what you project with your physique, but what you project with your mind.”    
Oscar de la Renta

Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Penelope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Oprah, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Amal Alamuddin, the list just goes on, and on, and on. The long list of women who created a stir when they walked into a room wearing the Oscar de la Renta label.

At the young age of 18, Oscar Aristides Renta Fiallo left his home in the Dominican Republic to study painting in Spain. He abandoned painting to pursue an interest in fashion and apprenticed with Cristobal Balenciaga, assisting at Lanvin. Fifty years later, his designs make women swoon at the glance of a de la Renta gown.

The elegance that Oscar de la Renta injected into his creations is the same elegance that he wore in his own persona. 

"Elegance is a discipline of life".
                                                                                              Oscar de la Renta

The bridal creations from Oscar de la Renta filled the romantic dreams of so many brides over the years. He understood how a woman wanted to feel in a dress - feminine, confident, elegant, soft, and oh so special.

Oscar de la Renta - the Sultan of Suave

There are hundreds of images on the net of early creations {some of my all time favourites}, bridal collections, day wear, resort wear, and exquisite gowns. It would be so easy to fill this post with all of the de la Renta designs that I love. But I will share one of my favourite gowns that Oscar designed and his comment that evokes the level of confidence he wanted a woman to feel.

"Walk like you have three men walking behind you".  Oscar de la Renta

The elegance of Oscar de la Renta

Monday, October 13, 2014


It was Thanksgiving this weekend for us {in Canada}.

Richard and I went for a walk this afternoon and started down a path at a nearby creek. As I turned the corner and saw this view, the first thing that came to mind is 'the true north strong and free'. For those of you who are not familiar with those words, it is a line in our Canadian national anthem. And that line says so much about what we are thankful for.

True North Strong and Free

We had an OUTSTANDING weekend for our very first Thanksgiving celebration in Cardinal House. My Granddaughter helped me make a cake for dessert and of course it had to sport candles for a Thanksgiving song {to the tune of Happy Birthday to you....}. 
Before the cake and pie was cut and passed, I asked everyone 'what are you thankful for?'  Without a moments hesitation Kya {who is four} said; 'I'm thankful for my wonderful family and our healthiness'. Yup - not a dry eye in the house.

We are blessed. And we are Thankful.

Richard drinking in the beauty of the fall leaves.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A New Glass Slipper.

When you are one of the most famous ladies in the world, 38 million dollars for a face lift is a drop in the bucket. Yes, the biggest celebrity of all time - Eiffel Tower, has just unveiled her new face. I am happy to say that she really hasn't changed from the sexy silhouette and sleek curved lines that she first debut in 1889.

Can you believe that only 300 workers constructed the 18,038 pieces of wrought iron with 2.5 million rivets for this 10,000 ton, 984.25 foot lady.
So when you turn 125 years old what is a lady to do? For this well sculpted beauty she catches her breath from years of wear, a staggering number of pictures she posed for, war{s}, weather, and the ever changing environment. Then you get fitted for a new glass slipper.
Miss Eiffel started her 38 million dollar transition in 2012 and just this week revealed her 'face lift' that includes a glass floor at the first observation level.

Eiffel Tower green floor is charged up with wind and solar power.

during the face lift

When your facelift is 38 million dollars it can't be all just smoke and mirrors. The two year project includes a green floor that this charged up with wind and solar power, a new reception area, a 200 seat multipurpose theatre, a new conference room, the new visitor center, and an open air Museographic path that leads around the new setting.

And when you have your peak-a-view look on - well, the world of selfie photographers just can't contain themselves.

So beautiful is the lady that we cannot resist standing next to her for proof that we were there..........

My 50th birthday in Paris.
The view from the first observation deck prior to the new glass enclosure. via Glamour Begins At Home

Miss Eiffel is the one to wake up next too.....

Shangri la Hotel, Paris.

Fashion photo shoots, engagements, and tango dancing - this lovely lady has inspired us for 125 years.

via theonlinephotographer.typepad.com

Hauntingly beautiful .....................

via Glamour Begins At Home

Paris is always calling my name and this new glass slipper is a reason to celebrate.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cardinal House :: How our Fireback was installed

'Winter' - the Fireback at Cardinal House kitchen

Early in the design process of Cardinal House I came across several images of kitchens with a fireback installed above the cook top area. I loved the look and started to search for one for our new kitchen. What I discovered is that it is more than just the aesthetics, these heavy cast iron panels come with a story.
Some of the earliest Fireback's date back to the 15th century and were placed at the back of the fireplace to radiate heat forward. The early designs were of simple everyday objects but then they began to display royal coats of arm. Throughout the years pictorial designs and stories developed on the cast iron forms.

Unfortunately, there really are not many fireback's available in Canada, many company's I looked at in the U.S. were shipping in from Europe or producing reproductions. Fireback's were more commonly used in England and Europe.

I found several fireback's on 1stDibs that I liked, and while searching for more information I discovered that Firebacks.net sold the pieces direct.
Richard and I poured over the details on size, pattern story, age, and condition. We narrowed it down to a half dozen pieces we felt would work for us and ordered one online. The fireback {a mere 100 pounds} was shipped from The Netherlands to Canada ........ in four days. 

We decided to put the first fireback we ordered {Fruits of Summer} above our fireplace mantle on the lanai. It is currently put aside while we complete the wood burning fireplace and mantle. We ordered another fireback for the stove area. The piece is called 'Winter' and shows Old Man winter gathering wheat with Putti.
Some of the cast iron panels are patina brown, somewhat rust in appearance - these are generally an antique. The black firebacks have been treated with stove polish. You can take a patina cast iron to black stove polish finish, but you cannot take a black finish back to patina.
We love both of the pieces and it was size and colour that made our decision to switch things around and put The Winter over the stove.

Fruits of Summer

So now came the difficult part - how to install the fireback above the stove. I searched the net and didn't find details anywhere. Firebacks.net has recently added a description on installations for both the fireplace and for over the stove - HERE.

One of the contractors came up with a plan to install and took on the task. ** First let me say - this worked for our installation. We do not in any way suggest that this is safe/workable for all applications. Check with a certified contractor for installation.

How our fireback was installed:
1.  Additional framing was inserted horizontally between the studs to offer support.

2.  During the drywall installation the GC screwed a template of the fireback into the studs. He added a wood brace {screwed in} just under the bottom of the fireback template - this would help support the fireback through the process.

3.  He then 'PL'd' the back of the fireback to the template.

4.  Screws were put in all around the fireback edge to help support the weight. The screws are driven into the studs and template.

5.  After a few days the GC checked the security of the fireback and screws. The screws stayed in place but were slightly tightened in so that the edge of the fireback was tucked under the edge  of the screw head.

6.  Time for the tiled back splash. The tiler tucked the Cararra marble subway style tiles and grout around the fireback edges. A tidy run of clear silicone was run around the edges of the fireback.

Richard and I love the fireback in our kitchen, it compliments the other distinct pieces we have had installed for our pantry wall. It's amazing to stand at the stove and know that the cast iron plate was once in the back of a fireplace in France {our two were} approximately 150 years ago.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Reluctantly I welcome October. I'm not a lover of fall. I listen to people get excited about the cooler weather, the change of the sun setting, the leaves falling from the trees. But me - I like the heat, the long days of summer, the rainbow of colourful flowers sprayed across the gardens. I love the waters edge and the sound of the shore, and prefer to wander there when the sun is warm on my back. I'm really not a cold weather girl.

I have decided that I need to think of all the positive things about fall and October. Warmer clothes are needed, but who doesn't like cozy sweaters and soft fabrics like corduroy. And things just taste different with the cooler weather - in a good way. Soup, apples, dark grapes, squash, it all makes the cooler season more comforting.

The fun of Halloween swirls around everything all month long. Cheerful pumpkins on doorsteps, spooky decorations everywhere, and waiting out all of October to catch a glimpse of cute little trick or treaters.

The thought of putting the garden to bed for the winter makes me sad. This year it is a bit more difficult to take the idea of the leaves turning colour and needing to be raked up..... we just put the new sod down at Cardinal House this past week. Pout!  I wish I could turn back the clock to June and have the stretch of summer in front of me to play in the new garden.

Audrey Hepburn may have said it best....

While October nudges in and leaves the door open for winter to follow, I put the garden to bed and prepare for the promise of spring.
I have purchased a few spring bulbs for Kya and I to plant. She is excited at the colours we have bought so far {purple allium, pink tulips}, and that one of the tulips is called Ice Cream Tulip.

So Welcome October. 
Bring on your hues of gold, rust and deep red, excite us with your Halloween fun. 
I can see beyond the mounds of fallen leaves to the garden design for spring. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cardinal House : A Few Before and After pictures

I have such admiration for bloggers who post on a regular basis, I just can't seem to get it together to do that. So without further delay here is an update on the renovation of Cardinal House.

For readers who are just joining in on the tour - the house is a 1960's bungalow that sits on a pretty treed property. Truthfully the tree's, the lot size and the potential to update the house is why we bought it.

new foyer

This is the new entry. What has changed? All floors were replaced with new antique hardwood flooring. The staircase railing didn't exist before - it was a wall. The hallway was where the double door entry closet is. The new hallway, entry inset {with the mirror} and powder room {behind the entry inset} are all new. There is a new longer window that allows light to pour in to the front foyer and hallway.

Before - the foyer

Somewhat the same angle of the front entry before. You can see just the top of the handrail on the staircase on the right - now it is a new banister. The closet door is gone and the new hallway to the bedroom's takes it's place. The hallway on the left is now approximately where the new closet is.

and from this.......


to this........

new entry

Notice that the front entry tile area used to be on the outside of the house - it was previously the front porch. The tile is by Tycos Tile in Toronto.

new dining room

The new dining room offers the vista of the yard through the long windows and glass doors. At the end of the original dining room there used to be a set of sliding glass doors with a wooden deck just outside.


I don't have a long shot of the dining room - but this is pretty much the volume of the room before. The opening leading into the kitchen before is now closed with the kitchen counters and stove on the other side of the wall.

New kitchen/family room

The space between the counter and island in the new kitchen is approximately where the old kitchen sink resided. This just a portion of the kitchen now, but it gives you an idea of how much it has been opened up and the view beyond the windows.

old kitchen

The new entry door is black with black side window panels. This area used to outside of the house on the porch. Richard and I wanted to have a more inviting entrance so we bumped the front of the house out and added a covered porch area.

new entry
old entry

Richard and I wanted to make the master suite a comfortable spot that also took in the view of the yard. So the room was expanded out by about 7 feet, the ceiling vaulted, large windows added and a glass door to the outside lanai. It's so nice to be able to wander out the bedroom door to the covered space that includes a wood burning fireplace.
New linen, curtains, a rug to cozy the room and some artwork are on my to-do list.

new bedroom - bed and bench via Eloquence

the opposite wall with the French Wedding Armoire.

opposite side of the room

and before.......


before - where the armoire is now

It is all the finishing details of artwork, rugs, fabrics, that need to be added. I believe that to make the house look natural it needs to happen with a layering process over time, otherwise it will look fabricated. Reviewing my pinterest boards help remind me of the essence that I want to achieve in the end for Cardinal House. I know over time it will all settle in as if it was there forever.
In the meantime we are dealing with muck and landscaping - more on that shortly.

A beautiful gift from Richard's brother for our new home.