Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Laidback California Cool: Swimwear designer Marysia Reeves at home

With Labour Day just around the corner, it's officially the last full week of summer. With a brand new baby in the house, it's flown by faster than ever. While there's a part of me that's kind of looking forward to the coziness of Fall and breaking out the boots and jackets, I already know I'm going to miss that carefree, laid back feeling of summer. Of windows wide open, and slipping on a pair of sandals before running out the door. This 'California-cool' house captures that laid-back feeling of summer for me. 

I'd discovered the Marysia swimwear line a little while back through the instagram accounts of some of my favourite bloggers and soon began to notice their signature scalloped edges more often on celebrities like Gwyneth and Lupita. It seems quite natural that the home of the designer, Marysia Reeves, would have that laid back feeling of summer and big dose of style.

Soft textures like the mongolian lamb pillows and the plush Moroccan rug make the space seem cozy and inviting. 

Lots of natural materials are used throughout the home - jute, wood and cane - and mixed with lucite or glass for a light and airy feeling.

A piece of beachy coral is perched on a brass and walnut Helix table (one of my all-time favourite coffee / accent table styles). The hanging cane chair is a fun addition to the children's bedroom - and behind it a whole gallery wall of Sharon Montrose's baby animal portraits.

The salmon pink floor lamp and vintage lucite console in the bedroom add a pop of colour and personality to the space. As tempting as they can be to use everywhere, all neutral can start to feel a bit monotonous and impersonal - this subtle colour definitely makes the space a bit more special and memorable.

From top:
Papa Bear chair look-a-like (a steal at just $312 here!) or get the original by Hans Wegner at Modernica
Moroccan Wedding Blanket - Calypso St Barth or some great Moroccan shops on Etsy like this one
Fiddle Leaf Fig tree - find a full sized one at your favourite florist

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Maman Toronto

Oh what a difference beautiful, thoughtful design makes! For the past few weeks my husband has been bringing me home delicious little treats from a new cafe that opened around the corner from his office - Maman. Intrigued by their beautiful floral label and branding, I'd looked them up and on seeing the images of their space, became in instant fan. I finally got to visit their downtown Toronto location yesterday and was completely charmed. 

Right in the middle of a busy office lunch space, you are transported to a quaint kitchen in Southern France. The aesthetics are thoughtfully and beautifully put together - all white with a theme of rustic wood combined with blue and white patterns flows throughout - from a wall covered in a blue and white ikat style paper as you walk in, to the blue and white patterned tiles and chinaware used to serve their dishes, to their patterned paper cups - probably the prettiest I've ever seen (I couldn't bring myself to chuck it out in the bin and brought mine home with me.) Pots of ivy and small wild floral arrangements housed in white bunny vases only serve to increase the charm factor. Maman transforms a simple coffee stop into a delicious and aesthetic experience, with no detail overlooked.

Maman also carries Sloane teas - another favourite Toronto brand of mine - to put in your very pretty blue and white cup.

1, 2, 4, 6, 8 - Maman Toronto, 3, 5, 7 my own

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Imire: Wildlife and Rhino Conservation

Over the past few weeks the news of Cecil the Lion's death at the hands of an American hunter has swept the newsreels worldwide. Together with so many others, I shared the outrage on the taking of this beautiful creature, especially under such circumstances. But as the fervour dies down I feel it's especially important to reflect on the bigger issue at hand - the circumstances that led this to happen, and a way forward to help prevent it happening in the future. 

Wildlife conservation has always been something I've been quite passionate about. As a young teenager while other kids had pictures of pop stars up on their bedroom walls, I had pictures of animals. I was lucky enough to grow up in Zimbabwe during one of its most idyllic periods, during the 80s and 90s and frequently spent weekends going out on game drives in the parks surrounding Harare, and visiting Hwange National Park (where Cecil lived) during school holidays. Being able to see these magnificent creatures first hand gave me an unshakable awe and respect for both them and their natural habitat. 

Over the past few decades, both big game trophy hunting as well as illegal poaching have become rampant across Africa, and Zimbabwe has been affected particularly so. Increasingly difficult economic circumstances have led to a greater desperation, and the vast wealth that is Africa's natural wildlife is systematically being stripped for parts and sold off to the highest foreign bidders. Sadly, there is no real purpose or benefit in these hunts, whether they are wealthy big game hunters looking for a trophy for their mantle, or poor local poachers lured in by the hefty paycheque from a foreign market hungry for useless trinkets or ineffectual cures, the core driving factor behind them is simply human ego and narcissism. 

While the economic architecture surrounding this issue is an ongoing struggle, there is still something that can be done right away to help to pave a better way forward. Much support is needed by local organizations who are making tremendous efforts to conserve and safeguard these treasures. I'd like to highlight the work of one of them in Zimbabwe here. Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation has been run by the Travers family for over 30 years. They boast a large collection of animals including lions, elephants and rhinos. Nestled within the game park is Sable Lodge, a beautiful accommodation comprising of seven lodges and offering horseback safaris as well as special walks with rhinos or elephants. I have very fond memories of staying here and going on a horseback safari with my mum and siblings right before I left Zimbabwe. 
In addition to traditional safaris they also offer volunteer experiences to work with rhinos first handThe work they do is so important and while there are enormous challenges, they've had many successes - just this past December Shanu, a female black rhino (who are notoriously slow breeders), gave birth to a calf named Tafika. If anyone is planning an African safari  or thinking about volunteering with wildlife, I highly recommend Imire

Majestic Mambo the Lion

Duck-face rhinos :)

Hands-on with elephants

Shanu with baby Tafika

Sweet baby giraffe

If you shared in the outrage about Cecil the lion, and would like to make a donation to positive conservation efforts in Zimbabwe for lions and other treasured wildlife, I would strongly encourage you to do so here. With World Lion Day yesterday and World Elephant Day tomorrow, any contribution would be a fitting tribute.

All images from Imire