Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Holiday entertaining - Celebrate the holidays with a vintage inspired holiday coffee klatsch

Gather your friends for some holiday treats and coffee. It's a holiday coffee klatsch!

You might be wondering what I'm talking about - a coffee klatsch? It's your grandma's (or perhaps older depending on your age) idea of a coffee date and it's fitting since I decided to pull out my Mom's teacups for the occasion. P.S. Klatsch also means gossip in German but we won't be doing any of that at our party...right?

pull out the pretty teacups for a holiday coffee party

We'll also have some chocolate dipped spoons because the holidays and chocolate are made for each other. You can dip them in your coffee to add something sweet. They are super easy to make and pretty too, especially with vintage teaspoons. Scroll down for the details.

I served everything on this beautiful hand-painted tole enamel tray that I found at a thrift store a while ago. I love this tray and rarely use it, but since it's a special occasion I pulled it out. The pretty white stonewashed linen cocktail napkins are from a company called Lip Service Napkins.
They would make a great hostess gift.

If you don't have your own heirloom teacup collection, vintage tea cups and spoons can be picked up at antique malls, thrift stores and consignment shops. 

chocolate dipped spoons
When it comes to making coffee we love Nespresso. We've thought about investing in a pricey new espresso machine but honestly I love the coffee. I've found the quality of coffee we get from Nespresso to be exceptional.  I can create all kinds of cafe worthy coffees.  I can consistently make great coffee for guests. Nespresso makes entertaining easy.

Recently I had the privilege of visiting Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ontario where I learned about Nespresso's two bespoke coffees designed for two or three Michelin-starred chefs. We were treated to an incredible meal prepared by Executive Chef Jason Bangerter who talked about Langdon Hall's partnership with Nespresso. They are one of two Canadian restaurants chosen to offer Nespresso's Exclusive Selection Grand Crus.  The other restaurant is Toqué! located in Montreal. Anyways, I was surprised to find out that Nespresso was being served in many Michelin starred restaurants where they have been embraced by chefs. It is often the last thing you are served at a restaurant or in someones home so having a consistent and exceptional coffee experience is important in leaving a good last impression.

Our coffee hub includes our Nespresso machine. It's not fancy, just a basic machine but it consistently delivers great coffee.

Nespresso sent over a selection of their limited edition Variations Confetto for our OriginalLine machine. I tested the Festive Assortment which includes Orangette, Snowball and Liquorice. I was a little apprehensive as typically I don't enjoy flavoured coffee but the flavours are very subtle. Just a hint, in fact most of the flavour is in the aroma of the coffee when it's brewing. I enjoyed them, especially the liquorice.

The fun candy inspired packaging for the Nespresso Variations Confetto Collection was designed by artists Craig & Karl.
The Confetto collection coffee pairs well with holiday baking!

To make the chocolate dipped spoons you'll need melting chocolate and a selection of toppings. I used Callebaut milk chocolate callets from The Bulk Barn and added mini white chocolate chips, mini M&M's, sprinkles and a mix of gold baking glitter and turbinado sugar.

Add water to the base of a double boiler and bring water to a simmer. If you don't have a double boiler just place a heat proof glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water or the chocolate may burn or seize. Add chocolate and let it slowly melt. It's important that it melts slowly so it doesn't burn. When the chocolate has melted dip a spoon into the chocolate and set on a sheet of parchment paper. Let set for a couple of minutes before adding toppings. Place in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to set completely.

Decorations can be simple, a bowl of vintage ornaments and some fresh greenery is just right. I used a rustic buffalo check tablecloth which I picked up at Linen Chest. I like mixing the relaxed but bold pattern with the fancy china and black tole tray.

vintage ornaments

I added a few festive touches to my coffee nook switching out some of my usual coffee glasses for pretty vintage teacups. Drinking coffee in teacups is a treat for the holidays. I don't want a lot of holiday decor in the kitchen but a few bottle brush trees look great and don't take up a lot of space. Adding in seasonal colours hints at the holidays.

Scroll down for sources to get the look.

coffee nook shelfie

coffee nook

tole tray / buffalo check tablecloth/ vintage tea cup / espresso confetto orangette / Nespresso Expert Bundle / Cocktail Napkin

Paper Parade Co. has received product from Nespresso in exchange for a review and post. However, all opinions are my own and I only promote products I love.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Vintage Industrial style - with Matthew Mead + a Giveaway

If you love spending weekends exploring antique markets, thrift stores and estate sales then you must meet my friend Matthew Mead.  He is hands down one of the most talented people I know.

A jack of all trades - Matthew is a stylist, photographer, creative director and editor who has published numerous magazines and books over his 20+ year career.

Wooden factory cart upcycled to hold kitchen essentials from Upstyled Home Industrial.

Matthew's newest magazine launched just recently and I wanted to share a few sneak peek images from it. The great thing about his magazines is that they are timeless. I still refer back to old issues for inspiration.

Matthew has a 8000 square foot warehouse in New Hampshire full of props he has collected over his career. That's right, 8000 square feet!

Matthew Mead's 8000 square foot warehouse

Today, my heart aches because Matthew is having an estate sale this weekend and I won't be there.  He is downsizing to a smaller warehouse so he is letting go of thousands of props, mostly vintage.

I can tell you that it is an amazing place. I visited it several years ago to "shop" for a photoshoot with Matthew and it was a dream. It's a 9-hour drive to Concord, New Hampshire from Toronto and as much as I want to be there, it just wasn't in the cards this week. The sale starts Friday October 20th (tomorrow!) and runs on Saturday too. Here is the link to the sale details if you are up for a road trip and a link to images of the goods, even if you just want to oogle them.

Upstyled Home Industrial Magazine

If you can't make it, you can satisfy your vintage-loving heart by getting a sneak peek at Matthew's new magazine Upstyled Home Industrial. I think this might be one of my favourites.

Industrial pieces can be found at antique markets but they can be pricey because they are in demand. I wanted to know where Matthew finds such great pieces.

"You can find industrial pieces in unexpected places. Institutional sales, hotels and restaurant closings... old schools offer little competition and excellent prices," says Mead.

The magazine is available on newstands now in Canada and the US. I spotted them at local Loblaws and Sobeys stores.

The Giveaway!

I'm giving away a copy of Matthew's new magazine Upstyled Home Industrial PLUS a little gift of vintage finds that I have picked up on my travels - what that will be is a surprise. To enter follow me @debra_norton on Instagram and tell me what you collect. Giveawy closes midnight October 24th.

A tour of Tricia Foley's studio

Shop tour of White Flower Farmhouse in Southold NY

Steel industrial factory cart upcycled as an entertaining trolley.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Interesting local businesses ... Antique Crates

I love antique crates. The combination of graphics, rustic wood and of course the history gets me every time.

Antique Colman's Mustard crate from Antique Crates

I was lucky to inherit one of two antique Eaton's grocery crates that sat in my grandmother's cellar for decades. My dad cleaned it up years ago and its uses are almost endless. When we first got married it was a makeshift coffee table while we saved up to buy furniture for our new home. Today, I use it to store patio essentials such as candles, melamine dishes and wine glasses for summer entertaining (grab & go) and in the winter it corrals wool blankets.

an Eaton's Grocery Box inherited from my Grandma

Awhile ago I discovered a guy on Instagram who collects and sells antique crates. His feed is filled with crates and boxes and he has a warehouse with space dedicated solely to his collection, which he sells!

Antique Crates in Etobicoke

His name is Joe and he owns Antique Crates. I had the chance to visit in August after I reached out to see if he was interested in donating a crate to the Habitat for Humanity project I was working on for The Toronto Fall Home Show. He said yes. Such a nice guy! I ended up choosing an antique berry tray which I stained and tattooed to match my table.

Here's my table. It's an antique basin stand which I "tattooed" with slogans for social change in support of Habitat for Humanity. It was on display at The Toronto Fall Home Show in September.

antique basin stand and berry tray upcycled for Habitat for Humanity

antique basin stand and berry tray upcycled for Habitat for Humanity

I brought along my camera when I went to check out Joe's warehouse in the off chance that he might let me snap some photos. He did.  I thought you might be as intrigued as I was to poke around his collection. So, here are some photos from my visit. It's a treasure trove of crates that he has collected from all over. You can follow Joe on Instagram or visit his website for more info.


Antique Crates in Etobicoke - there are two rooms like this one filled with crates

stacked crates and old soda bottles from Antique Crates

Beautiful old labels and paint are intact on many of the crates

stacks of fruit trays and crates

lots of boxes + other collectibles such as old signs and bread boxes

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

See it at the Toronto Fall Home Show! An old wash basin stand gets upcycled in support of Habitat for Humanity

I'm excited to share a fun project I worked on this summer.

For the past several years The Toronto Fall Home Show has hosted an Upcycling Challenge in support of Habitat For Humanity.   When the organizers of the show invited me to participate it was an easy YES. I'm a big fan of the work of Habitat for Humanity and I love shopping at the ReStores. Have you been? 

Participants are invited to re-imagine an old piece of furniture. The theme of this year's challenge is "From Runway To Room".  
This was my fashion inspiration. I was inspired by the slogan t-shirts spotted on the fashion runways recently.

If you like my project please take a minute to vote for me.

*Please be sure to scroll down the page and fill out the form so your vote is counted. There seems to be some confusion around that...

I actually had my project piece before I had decided on the fashion element. It is an old wash basin stand. Here is what it looked like before.

antique wash basin stand - before shot

Beatty Bros. Limited Wash Basin Stand Circa 1923

So I took the old wash basin stand, it was in pretty bad shape, and tattooed it with empowering words and slogans, reflecting not only the work and empowering messages of Habitat for Humanity but also what is happening in our world today. 

I wanted it to be more than a statement piece. I wanted it to make a statement. So, I tattooed it with slogans for social change. Inspired by the political slogan t-shirts on the runways this past spring. 

Here are a few photos of the process...

First I cleaned the wood and then gave it a light sanding.  It was pretty dirty. Then I applied adhesive vinyl letters to the wood. 

 I applied the letters on the top of the stand and on the legs.

I applied a coat of Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut to the bench.

I used Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut. It worked perfectly for this project. I think if I had used a regular stain I would have had problems with it getting underneath the vinyl letters or bleeding. It was really easy to apply. PS This is not a paid endorsement. It just worked really well!

I then carefully peeled off the letters. The result is subtle and rustic. I really wanted to keep the patina of the old stand so I left the rusty wheels and hinges alone. The wood now has a richer finish. 

 Here are some after photos!

I think it would make a great table or plant stand. It would also look fantastic with a stack of wool blankets sitting on top. Perfect for a cottage or someone who appreciates a more rustic, industrial look.


It includes the antique berry tray which I also tattooed. Thank you to Antique Crates who generously donated the tray.

Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.  Supporting their empowering message, renewing something with history and purpose into something useful while making a statement for hope and change. This is why I’m participating in this challenge.

The Upcycle Challenge projects are on display at The Toronto Fall Home Show and are also available to purchase.  One of the projects will also be auctioned off at the show. You can help choose which project that will be by voting. 

If you like my basin stand please take a minute to vote for me.

Please be sure to scroll down the page and fill out the form so your vote is counted. There seems to be some confusion around that...  

The Toronto Fall Home Show Upcycle Challenge - a bench that makes a statement in support of Habitat for Humnaity

By the way, big thanks to Vicky Sanderson for including my stand in her story on the Toronto Fall Home Show in The Toronto Star last Saturday.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Late Summer Weekend Getaway at The Walper Hotel

I finally had the chance to visit The Walper Hotel a couple of weekends ago and I wanted to share some photos and thoughts on our little overnight getaway to Kitchener.

The chic lobby of The Walper Hotel in Kitchener, Ontario

It's been years since John and I have stole away together on an overnight.  We used to try to plan a trip at least once per year when the kids were younger but as they have gotten older (they are teenagers now) it's somehow become more difficult. It's easier to ferry them off to grandparents for an overnight when they are little. Life with teens is busy. Anyhow, when The Walper invited me to experience their hotel I jumped at the chance.  

The lobby is gorgeous. They have done an amazing job of restoring this historic hotel which was built in 1893 and underwent extensive renovations. I was surprised to find out that Prime Ministers, celebrities and even royalty have visited The Walper.

The lobby of The Walper Hotel.

I thought I would give you a little tour of the hotel including a snapshot of the area. In the interest of transparency... although this isn't a sponsored post I was invited as a guest of The Walper to experience the hotel which I had heard from many others was just gorgeous. It did live up to it's reputation. 

The Urban Suite at The Walper Hotel
We stayed in one of the Urban Suites, a spacious suite including a bedroom with kingsize bed, a comfortable lounge area including a coffee station and a sylish, modern bathroom.

I love the mural on the wall in this room at The Walper Hotel.

The three things I want in a hotel room are a comfortable bed, a clean, modern bathroom and stylish comfortable decor. The Walper ticked all three boxes and then some. I love the mural on the wall in the bedroom.  The bed was so comfy and the bathroom was amazing and included toiletries from Skoah and Buck Naked Soap Company. 

My one comment about the room was that I would love to see some variation of the amazing art found throughout the hotel in the lounge area of the suite. I know the room decor varies throughout the hotel but it would really help to make that part of the suite even more inviting. That said, it is so stylish and comfortable!
Really great toiletries in the bathroom at The Walper Hotel including dreamy smelling soap from Buck Naked Soap Company.

Luxurious Turkish cotton robes from Pamuk & Co.

Really lovely personal touches such as the gift bag/coffee kit for the pour over coffee station.

If you visit you won't want to miss the second floor which includes a stylish bar, lounge area, breakfast room and the ballroom where special events are held.

The second floor Lokal - lounge at The Walper Hotel

The perfect place for The Queen to reside. Appranently the Queen Mother visited the hotel. I loved this painting by the talented Karl Lohnes.

What a nice surprise to spot one of Karl Lohnes paintings at The Walper. I had heard the Queen was here but had forgotten until I spotted her hanging quite regally. Lovely reproduction paintings of the Queen are available to purchase at the hotel.

Beautiful original details ...

Black and white perfection.
We ate a delicious dinner in at TWH Social located at the hotel and then headed out to check out the blues festival whcih just happened to be going on that weekend. To be honest, I'm not really a huge fan of blues music but it was fun.

Oysters at TWH Social

Delicious lamb at TWH Social

Entrance at The Walper Hotel

Across the street is the Museum and some great little cafes and bars.

Beautiful beaux arts inspired architectural details at The Walper Hotel

We really enjoyed our getaway to Kitchener. There is lots to do in the area and is a great base for exploring the area including all the great antique markets not too far away from KW. -- Aberfoyle Antique Market on Sundays, nearby St. Jacobs, Stratford Antique Warehouse isn't too far away and Shakespeare (on route) has charming little antique shops. There is also Southworks which has relocated from it's amazing old stone buildings which are being torn down for condos (why???) to a rather dull, office building. That still makes me sad.

By the way, before we left, I connected with Jordana of White Cabana to get some suggestions on what to check out in KW. She had so many great tips. Thanks Jordana! If you are visiting the Kitchener-Waterloo area be sure to check out her city guide which you can find on her blog. 

Verdict = We loved our stay at The Walper! Next time I go I'd love to get there earlier so I can check out the Saturday farmer's market or arrive on a friday to take advantage of drinks at the The Lokal.