{live} local
{love} handmade

Local Etsy Finds: My Wandering Heart

Lately my thoughts and dreams are dominated by ideas of getting away.  Not to a resort or a cruise, but just hoping in a car and going.  The destination matters not.  I just want a reason to wander, to roll the windows down and watch the miles fly aimlessly by, to wake up everyday with new places to see, not to stay in any one place or be any one person.  A wanderer with no sense of time.  

Here are some local Etsy finds that add fuel to my wanderlust fire:

1. Arizona Open Road Print by Charlene Precious

2. Hand-painted Rustic Sign “Detour” by Simon Says Signs

3. Gold Migration Bracelet by Sam Handmade Jewellery

4. The Winding Road Home by Urban Dream Photos

5. South American Cut Bandeau Bikini by Bijou Vintage Couture

6. Kid’s Backpack by Augustine Leather

7. Endless Summer Tote by Fieldguided

Comment below and let me know what type of vacation you are dreaming of or planning for this summer!

Also, please be sure to share this post with your friends to let them know about our talented local Etsy artisans.  

Wedding Company Spring Show (Part Two)

The Wedding Company Spring Show made me so happy I started this blog.  When I started out I knew Toronto had talent and I wanted to share that but, honestly, I didn’t know it had this much talent!  Every new local boutique, designer, artisan or vendor I discover gets me excited all over again and reminds me why The Block exists — to celebrate our local creatives and help you discover, support and enjoy them.  

Here, my friends, are more lovely local sources for your wedding-planning needs:

All photos except top right via Cabaret Collection website.

Meeting Tao, proprietor of Cabaret (672 Queen Street West), was like meeting an old friend.  He’s warm and friendly and passionate about fashion.  And the dresses — oh, the dresses!  Every piece in the Cabaret Collection is handmade in Toronto.  The collection oozes vintage-inspired glamour.  Their styles are made to flatter and most feature shorter hem lines than more traditional wedding gowns.  The Cabaret Collection is for the bride with a sophisticated and unique style.  

Click here to see the entire collection and order online!

Top left, bottom right and bottom far right photos via Paper & Poste online gallery.  

I get seriously excited about stationery.  It’s actually kind of embarrassing.  The Paper & Poste display table at the show had me feeling all jittery and jumpy.  So.much.pretty.paper.  Some how I didn’t know that Heather and Beckee, owners of The Paper Place (887 Queen Street West) also design wedding invitations from an appointment-only studio around the corner (198 Walnut Avenue).  These gals are crazy paper lovers.  They specialize in letterpress printing and offer a wide range of styles, from modern to traditional, fancy to minimal.  

Visit the Paper & Poste website to check out their collections and custom work and set up your appointment.  

Top right photo via The Little Letter Papery website

Bika designs beautiful invitations.  Her designs, sold online at The Little Letter Papery, are bold and graphic yet minimal and understated.  They feature striking typography and sweet details like pretty twine, patterned envelope liners and vintage stamps.  What’s even more beautiful is that Bika strives to be kind to the environment.  She recognizes three or four piece invitations for one hundred guests means a lot of paper and ink.  Her invitations are printed in Toronto by Pixel Print (1319 Dundas St West) using eco-friendly ink.  All her designs are customizable and she also does completely custom invitations.  

Visit The Little Letter Papery and see more of Bika’s designs!

*One correction: Bika actually uses eco-friendly paper from Pixel Print, not ink.   Thanks, Bika!

Top and bottom right photos via Pomp & Plumage Etsy store

Husband and wife teams get me every time!  Collaborating together has served designers Denise and Ian well.  Pomp & Plumage has been featured in magazines, wedding blogs and even in Anthropologie’s wedding line BHLDN.  What captures me is the details and textures of their pieces.  Every design is handcrafted-to-order using high quality materials including vintage rhinestones, antique brass and only the finest plumes.  A headpiece, boutonniere or bracelet may be only a tiny part of your wedding day but, if you ask me, it’s the small things that makes a wedding unique.   

Find your perfect wedding-day details on the Pomp & Plumage website or Etsy shop

Top, middle and bottom right images via Pomp and Ceremony Etsy shop

Pomp and Ceremony was born out of designer Andrea’s love of Liberty of London fabric.  Bow ties, neck ties, hats, headbands — you name it, she makes it in Liberty!  Lovers of paisleys and sweet floral patterns will feel like a kid in a candy shop at Pomp and Ceremony’s Etsy shop.  Andrea is also another one of Toronto’s artisans representing Canada over at BHLDN, Anthropologie’s wedding line. 

There’s even more! Andrea also creates bib necklaces (like the one she’s wearing), ‘UrbanTurbans’ and collars.  Stop by Pomp and Ceremony’s website or these Toronto retailers and check them out.  

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you how you can enter to win a pair of roundtrip tickets to ITALY!  The first twenty couples that book a wedding planning package with Devoted to You between now and December 31, 2012 are entered to win.  Click here for more details about the contest or here to find out about Devoted to You’s packages.

Let’s help each other shop local and handmade!  Are you working with any local artisans or vendors to make your wedding day special?  To share your discoveries with other brides, leave a comment below.  

All photos by Rachel Headley unless otherwise stated. 

Wedding Company Spring Show (Part One)

Hello lovely Toronto brides!  

Did you make it to the The Wedding Company Spring Show last Saturday at The Drake? I had loads of fun meeting brilliant local vendors, designers, artisans, photographers and wedding service providers.  Inspiration was everywhere and everyone I met was excited to share their work.  

If you missed it, not to worry!  Here are some highlights from the show. 

(I apologize for my generally awful photographs, the lighting was difficult and my photography skills (and camera) are less than stellar — I’m attending a photography workshop this weekend in hopes of improving!)

It was a pleasure to meet Lisa and Kelsey of Neon Amazon!  Combining 10 years event planning experience with 15 years of floral styling they make the perfect pair to provide all the help you need in making you wedding magical.  Their warm smiles, friendly conversation and excitement about their business made it clear to me that these two just loveto make their clients happy.  My absolute favorite part about Neon Amazon is their use of local, seasonal and handpicked.  The flowers they use in their arrangements and styling are all grown on a family farm near London, Ontario.  Kelsey explained she enjoys being a part of the entire process, from growing to picking to creating beautiful arrangements for clients.  That’s a lot of time, love and care!

Be sure to stop by the Neon Amazon website and discover their wide-range of wedding and floral services.  

Top left and upper right photos via The Loved One Facebook page, bottom row photos via The Loved One website.

The Loved One's online collection is, in a word, stunning.  Much of their elegant and luxurious accessories are designed by Toronto artisans, including the necklaces I instantly fell in love with (lower right photo) by local designer Lissa Brunet.  Owner and curator Antonia explained how the one-of-a-kind shrugs, wraps, caplets and scarves are individually hand woven by Toronto designer Lorena Santin Andrade through a meticulous and sustainable process called wool felting.   For the bride who is looking for unique and timeless pieces to complete their wedding day look The Loved One is a must.  

Visit the website to see more and set up a personalized consultation.  

p.s. Antonia was joined by interior designer and stylist Paul Semkuley of Toronto-based re:source lifestyles. The two made a fabulous team and I had a great time chatting with them!

Amy of Curtsey Bridal is passionate about everything wedding-related.  We connected over a mutual love for wedding blogs and all things pretty.  I love her story: unable to find the perfect bouquet for her wedding she decided to create one herself and loved the result.  Recently, she started sharing her work on Etsy and doing custom orders.  Her creations are on-trend and inspired by nature.  I can see them working beautifully for a backyard reception or a downtown-affair. Her boutonnieres, bouquets, centerpieces and favors are all handcrafted at home in Guelph, Ontario.  

Check out all of her creations at her Etsy store

Photo credits: all bottom row images from Sweetere website.

I did not get an oppurtunity to actually meet Eunmi of Sweetere but I just had to let you all catch a glimpse of her talent for creating spectacular cakes and confections.  Anyone who is looking for an unforgettable cake must stop by her website to see her menu and place an order.  

Photo credits - Bottom Left: Studio West Photography (Tara West). Top Right: Gregor Moss. Styling, make-up hair etc. can be found here and here

I was simply dazzled by Blair Nadeau’s collection of modern vintage hats and fascinators!  Each piece is made exclusively by Blair in Toronto using the highest quality materials.  Any bride looking for both drama and elegance will be pleased-pink by her creations!

Visit her website to see more gorgeous photographs and find a retailer near you.

Photo credits: top right Peter Mckinnon Photography, middle right by Laura Jane Photography, bottom right Lemon Fresh Designs Photography. 

The main reason I still read wedding blogs long after my wedding has passed is all the lovely floral inspiration.  I am crazy about flowers!  Which meant I was instantly in love with Sweet Woodruff.  Lisa’s table showcased her floral design chops in a big way.  She is super approachable and friendly, I’m sure she would be a pleasure to work with.  

I was excited to learn that she has a storefront location opening this weekend near Dundas and Ossington — more details on that to come this week. 

For now, visit the Sweet Woodruff website to learn more about the variety of floral and event design services offered and to feast your eyes on her lovely portfolio. 

I have much more to share, including how brides can enter to win a pair of round trip tickets to Italy, so be sure to check back later today for part two!

All photos by Rachel Headley unless otherwise stated. 

Local Etsy Finds: Gifts for Her

My favourite gifts are the ones that come out of the blue.  They are not related to any occasion, they are not expected or required and they always come straight from the heart.  

Is there a lovely lady in your life who is in need of a surprise?  

Enjoy this round-up of local, handmade treats that will warm her heart and give her some pamper-time: 

1. Wine Tote by Melanie Saucier a la Maison / 2. Mineral Lipstick Duo by Key Botanicals /  3. Vegan Seaweed Soap by Pure Naturalis / 4. Cheeky panties by Ohhh Lulu 

How do you pamper the special people in your life?  Let me know!

Toronto’s Urban Gardening Resources (Part Two)

I know, I know!  I promised this post on Monday and it’s now Thursday!  Please forgive my tardiness and please believe me when I say I’ve been working on some very exciting things (including a blog redesign — I bought the domain!).  

Here is Part Two:

YOU GROW GIRL information resource / Etsy shop / online community

Gayla Trail has created a thriving online community for gardeners, aspiring gardeners and everyone with a passion for homegrown food.  She focuses on helping gardeners with ‘black thumbs’, small budgets and / or limited space. 

Her website has been around since 2000 and it is a mecca of gardening related information including: recipes and projects to use what you grow, guidelines on how to grow and tend to all types of plants and flowers, how to design and start a garden, composting information and much, much more!  

Visit the You Grow Girl Etsy shop to discover rare and organic seeds grown by her.  

Gayla is also the author of three gardening books:

Easy Growing: Organic Herbs and Edible Flowers from Small Spaces

You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardeners

and Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces

MATCHBOX GARDEN & SEED CO. online seed shop 

Since 2006 Matchbox Garden has been providing seeds to customers at farmers markets and Seedy Saturdays.  Now you can find ’over 100 varieties of open pollinated, heirloom and rare vegetable seeds and seedlings’ in their new online shop.  It’s a one-stop-shop for all your seed needs, from beans and tomatoes to melons and hot peppers.  

CUBIT’S ORGANIC gardening blog / online shop / Etsy shop

Cubit’s is a family-run business with a lot of love for gardening, food and the environment.  

The Cubit’s Etsy shop features a wide-selection of organic, rare and heirloom seeds.  You can buy their seeds in cost-effective collections or, for $45 a year, you can subscribe to their Organic Seed of the Month Club and receive a different package of seasonally appropriate seeds at the beginning of each month of the year.

I love that every bit of their packaging, down to the glue that holds the envelopes together, is environmentally-friendly and non-toxic.  I also love that their shipping is free in North America. 

Also, be sure to bookmark their blog which is a great resource for gardening and D.I.Y. projects and recipes. 

Thank you to all the wonderful people promoting organic and home gardening in our city!  

If you have a urban garden resource you enjoy please share it with me!

Toronto’s Urban Gardening Resources - PART ONE

In the spirit of Earth Day, (and to counteract the rather discouraging weather this weekend), here are some of the best urban gardening resources, organizations and communities to give you the tools, know-how, support and motivation to get growing!


Gorgeous made-in-Ontario magazine full of inspiration, D.I.Y.’s and tips on living ‘green’.  Featuring loads of eye-candy and info for the local gardener and a column written by Parkdale’s own Coriander GirlClick here for a sneak peek of the current issue (Volume 2) all about urban gardening!

EDIBLE TORONTO information

Quarterly magazine available in print and online that is “dedicated to showcasing and promoting our local food shed”.  Primary focus is on local farms, growers, food artisans and retailers but issues always include gardening articles.  Spring 2012 issue's feature is growing fava beans.  

YOUNG URBAN FARMERS gardening service / information 

YUF provides as much or as little help you want to get your backyard / balcony garden up and running.  Services include garden set-up, maintenance and one-on-one coaching.  

Their online shop offers various garden accessories and tools like pre-made raised bed gardens, collapsible rain barrels,  planters and trellis’s and even kits to set-up a backyard honey bee hive.  The YUF website is also a great information resource, offering tips and answering questions like ‘What are biennials?’.  

CULTIVATE TO urban community shared agriculture

Have a yard but don’t know where to start?  Cultivate TO is a non-profit organization that uses shared yards and land to grow organic produce that is sold to local shareholders.  The benefits of sharing your outdoor space include getting a hands-on education in vegetable gardening and reducing the time it takes you to care for your yard.  

For those of us without a yard to share, Cultivate TO offers volunteer positions and internship programs where you can learn all about growing your own food while getting to know your neighbours.  

FRESH CITY FARMS community supported agriculture

Becoming a Member Farmer, intern, volunteer or participating in workshops with Fresh City Farms is a great way to get involved in the local agriculture scene and learn about gardening and growing your own produce.  

URBAN HARVEST buy organic and heirloom seeds

Certified organic vegetable, herb, wildflower and flower seeds for sale online, at these locations and at Coriander Girl.  (I admit it, I’m a little obsessed with Coriander Girl — she’s just awesome and if you’ve met her you probably are too!) 

What’s your favourite local gardening resource?  

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Comment and be sure to come back tomorrow for part two to discover more seed sources and much more!

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Around The Block This Weekend

Happy weekend, Toronto!! It’s been a crazy week for me.  Actually, the entire month of April so far has been crazy.  I was hoping to post more this week but I’ve been working on the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of running a blog and learning quite a bit.  I have so much planned for my little blog.  I can’t wait to share it all with you!

For now, here are some really great events going on around Toronto this weekend.  So much to get excited about!

*Mutts & Co. Travelling Market 

Local unisex clothing design company, Muttonhead, has been hosting a travelling market all week.  If you haven’t made it over yet you won’t want to miss the final two days of the market.  Discover and support local artisans and designers and take advantage of Maverick Studio’s 50% men’s shaves and cuts while you’re there!

via Eat Live Shop

*Miracle Thieves:  High Tea

Tax season got you wound tight?  Scrumptious petit fours and Tealish-ious beverages are the perfect antidote to filing and number crunching. Be sure to RSVP if you plan to go!

Photo by Mariam Matti via Blog TO

*New Shop:  Coal Miner’s Daughter 744 Queen Street West  Sat 12-8pm Sun 12-6pm

If you’re looking to do some girly shopping on Queen West this weekend be sure to check out CMD’s newly opened second location.  The shop features local and Canadian fashion and jewellery designers.  I am dying to visit the Pretty beauty counter with all-natural cosmetics, fragrances and even nail polish.  But my favourite thing about the shop is that every time I see it I have Loretta Lynn’s song stuck in my head for the rest of the day (brilliant marketing if you ask me)!  

Also, don’t miss the Shared Pop Up shop by the Drake General Store and Mini Mioche

What are you doing this weekend?  I’m sure I’ve missed some other great events so be sure to comment and let me know your plans!

p.s. If you have a free minute this weekend and feel like making a blogger supremely happy, answer my poll. 

The Block Spotlight:

Have you tried loose-leaf tea?  If you think tea is limited to the bags you buy at the supermarket, you are missing out!  I have seen many “tea-haters” converted by a whiff and a sip of a loose-leaf tea.  

My husband and I keep things fairly simple in the kitchen, except when it comes to tea.  We are serious about our tea.  We start and finish most days with a cup of hot brew or, in the summer, a refreshing glass of iced tea.  And not just any tea will do!  That’s why we were so excited to meet Warren and Kara, the creators of the Toronto-based online business tea dot, at the One of a Kind Spring Show this year.   

What stood out the most to me about these two is that they were really excited about their product — even though we met them during the last few hours of a very busy four day long show.  It’s obvious that they love tea and they love creating it and sharing it with others. 

tea dot’s blends are created to showcase the “infinity of tea”.   ‘Mango Party’ and ‘Mountain Oolong’ are exotic.  ’Tiramisu’ and ‘Butter Truffle’ are luscious.  ’Gojiberry Pomegranate’ and ‘Chamomile Calmer’ are healing.  And for the adventurous there are ‘Leaves and Beans’, ‘Fruit Frost’ (with popcorn!) and ‘Drunk Irish Riser’.  

Warren and Kara from tea dot were kind enough to answer a few of my questions about their company and their tea.

What, besides your love for tea, motivated you to start a tea business?

We have always had an entrepreneurial spirit.  But we’ve always thought to really be successful with a business, you need to love what you do.  We combined our love for tea, with our entrepreneurial desire, to start tea dot!

The Block is all about living local.  Where in the world do you source your ingredients from?

We definitely are with you in living local.  We strive as much as possible to source our packaging and materials from local sources.  The one thing we are not able to source locally is our tea!  Tea is grown in very specific climates, mainly tropical climates.  So, unfortunately, it does not grow in Canada. 

How do you formulate your blends?

We work with blenders who custom blend our teas. We start off by brainstorming which ingredients would make for a unique, healthy cup of tea.  For example, one of our green teas is Gojiberry Pomegranate.  Green tea on it’s own has numerous health benefits; it’s good for the mind, digestion and the list goes on.  Gojiberries and pomegranates are both high in antioxidants, which is basically a daily defence mechanism.  They are also delicious and very much on trend!  We also added citrus to this tea, with lemongrass, for a bit of spritz.  We work with the blenders to get the taste just right.  Similar to how you would experiment with a new recipe.  

Thank you, Warren and Kara, for letting us in on your tea creating process!  

tea dot’s online shop also features two different 'Starter Packs' for those who are new to loose-leaf tea.  The kit includes everything you need to start exploring tea: 50 gram packages of six different tea flavours (which make approximately 20 cups each), one long handed tea-steeper and a package of 100 t-sac tea filters.  You can also buy the accessories separately.  

Have any of you readers tried tea dot’s teas?  I am dying to try the Lemon Basil oolong blend.  Head over to their website and let us know which one catches your eye!  

Local Etsy Collection: Wild About Pink!

I’ve never considered myself a pink girl.  Maybe it was just an attempt at small-scale rebellion but even as a first grader I refused to follow the crowd and be a lover of pink.  That bias against pink seems to have followed me into my adult years.  

However, these fabulously-pink Etsy finds have me reconsidering my anti-pink stance.  Pink never apologizes and she’s never afraid to be herself.  She’s the life of the party!  Maybe this whole time I was just a little jealous …   

1. Linocut Print by Ink Stomp / 2. Pink Lemonade Print by Raceytay / 3. So Happy 8x10 print by Pretty Light / 4. Dragonfruit Stack Bracelet by Hello Berry / 5. Bright Pink Brooch by B Studio

I hope these local Etsy finds inspire you to go wild for pink! 

Beyond The Block - Handmade Markets

There is so much to discover just outside of Toronto.  Getting away from the city is a lovely way to spend a Sunday. Here are a few upcoming events to mark on your calendar:

all photos via www.handmademarket.ca

* Spring Handmade Market - Beamsville, ON - May 12 & 13, 2012

Spend the day at Good Earth Winery in Niagara discovering what local artisans have to offer.  
Vendor highlights include:
Toronto’s own Priya Means Love (handcrafted organic botanical skincare) 
Weir’s Lane Lavender and Apiary (Ontario grown lavender products)
Wicked Shortbread (local ingredients and compostable packaging!)
The Woodlot (giving old wood from fallen trees and reclaimed lumber new life as toys and jewellery)  
All details, including directions, can be found here.  
* Made By Hand Show: Spring 2012 - Mississauga, ON - April 21, 2012

Vendor highlights include:

The Healing Muse Apothecary (locally sourced herbal products)

FlowerPot Designs (cozy hand knits)

Rebabe (accessories for baby made from recycled materials)

Got questions?  Check out the Made by Hand show website.