Friday, June 29, 2018

Theme Parties: Pink Patio Party

Third Annual Pink Patio Party

When I was in University, I met a professor who would host these annual parties. Once a year a huge crowd of individuals would get all dressed up and come to share food and beverages at her home and because it was an annual event, the momentum of the event grew over the years to become something that everyone looked forward to and had marked on their calendars for months in advance. It was considered prestigious to be invited and the buzz around the event made it all the more enticing.

Inspired by this, I began to imagine hosting my own annual event. I wanted to create a theme and a format that would set a solid foundation for creating a magical night to remember with great food and beverages, and an excellent, eclectic mix of individuals as company - an annual event that I could build on, year after year.

The First Annual Pink Patio Party

I'd heard of something known as a "white party" and saw photos of long tables dressed in white table cloths and all party participants dressed in white attire. I liked this idea but I wanted my own twist, and so I created my Annual Pink Patio Party.

In addition to being one of my all-time favourite colours, to me pink represents the heart chakra and Christ Consciousness, a vibration of the unconditional Divine Love that heals all wounds and rights all wrongs. So it seemed a worthy mission to bring the colour pink more in to the forefront of people's awareness by immersing them in it. I asked my guests to stretch towards the colour pink by wearing it and embodying it's vibration.

From the First Annual Pink Patio Party

I was especially excited about the prospect of challenging my male friends to dress in pink, a colour which has traditionally not been associated with masculinity. I posted pictures such as Mr. Pink on my event page:
Mr. Pink from OppoSuits
People were also encouraged to bring pink-themed foods to share and the spreads were amazing...

Wild Salmon
Beet Pasta

Flower Imprinted Goat Cheese with Red Rice Crackers
Vegan Beet Dip
Pink Turnip Rounds
Purple Cabbage and Beet Coleslaw
Pink Layer Cake

We always enjoy sampling from an assortment of beverages such as rose wines, unique craft beers like Crabbies Raspberry Ginger Beer, as well as a punch that I make and other non-alcoholic pink beverages like rosehip kombucha and rose lemonade.



It's almost time for the 4th Annual Pink Patio Party. Some of my favourite parts of hosting this theme party are decorating my patio and choosing my pink attire! Some years, I even went so far as to colour my hair pink just for the occasion.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bonniebrook Renovation: Waterfront fishing cabin turned She-shed Extraordinaire

During the completion of my Certificate of Interior Design at BCIT, I was recruited to consult on a waterfront cabin renovation project on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of BC, Canada. My client, Sandi, had inherited the family cabin her father had built when she was a small child. 

The cabin was originally built to host family and friends during summer vacations. It had 3 small bedrooms, one bathroom, a small kitchen open to the living room and a wood stove. There was no laundry facility on site. Sandi, a retired teacher, was interested in recreating the former family cabin into her own personal beachfront sanctuary, a "she-shed" as she called it. 

Working in collaboration with Sunshine Coast artist and builder, Cody Chancellor (, we designed a new modern layout for the cabin. We added a Mudroom/Laundry Room with washer and dryer, designed a Mistress Suite with walk-through closet and ensuite bathroom and opened up the Living Room area by removing a section of the central wall and putting in driftwood posts. We put heated ceramic tile flooring in the bathroom and kitchen and rearranged the kitchen appliances for better flow, resulting in a large central kitchen peninsula.

The project is being executed in phases, with Phase I completed Fall 2015 and Phase II in progress currently. As the project is still a "work-in-progress", the images here are a bit rough and unpolished, a construction zone essentially, but hopefully they will still give an adequate picture of the transformation and design direction. (I plan to update with photos once completion gets nearer)

In Phase I, we opened up the space by taking out a section of the central partition and replacing it with driftwood posts harvested from the beach.  

A section of the central wall was removed and driftwood posts put in place for load-bearing
Another shot of the above post from a different angle with a view to the kitchen beyond

We changed the circulation of the cottage to facilitate the creation of a large “Mistress Suite” with walk-through closet and a completely renovated dual function ensuite/main bathroom. The original small bathroom had a bathtub/shower insert. Sandi wanted to get rid of that and put in a custom, walk-in shower. We expanded the space in the bathroom by pushing the West partition 18" into an adjacent tiny bedroom (which became the Master walk-through closet) and created a corner vanity.

 Corner vanity with custom corner medicine cabinet, custom window with frosted glazing, and wall sconce lighting
With the additional space in the bathroom, Cody was able to add a small bench between the main door of the bathroom and the pocket door leading to the walk-through closet
Custom walk-in shower with flooring and design accents made of beach stones gathered by Sandi 
The kitchen was refurbished with in-floor heating under ceramic tiles, rearranging of appliances and work zones for better efficiency, and the refinishing of the peninsula with the addition of a large cedar slab counter top (also harvested from the immediate environment surrounding the cabin).

Tiling in progress in the kitchen and large cedar slab counter top
Another view of the cedar slab peninsula counter top sliced from a stump harvested on site - the gorgeous nature of the cedar grain adds rich colour and visual texture to the kitchen 

With the commencement of Phase II in Summer 2016, we are working towards completing the installation of engineered hardwood flooring throughout the remainder of the cabin and the removal of additional partitions to be replaced with simple custom sliding shoji screens (by Ryan McMillan of River Bank Design, to add versatility and functionality to the newly expanded Living Room/Guest Room. (pictures to follow)

For Phase III, beginning in Fall 2016, I will be creating a completely new lighting plan for the She-shed, as well as replacing window treatments and completing the Mudroom.

I'm so excited about this project because I love working with creative, dynamic individuals (such as my client and collaborator) and witnessing stunning transformations of space and form.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Selcuk Gurisik - Contemporary Designer Employing Traditional Craft

Interior design products of Selcuk Gurisik

One of the most ancient textiles known to humankind, felted wool has been getting a lot of attention among designers around the world in recent years. Those with an interest in exploring traditional craft and a concern for sustainability have found felted wool to be one of the most versatile, durable and remarkable textiles due to its unique properties: fire-retardant, self-extinguishing, dampens vibration and absorbs sound, can hold large amounts of fluids without feeling wet, can be molded into a multitude of forms, resilient - returns to original dimensions after compression and homogenous structure - won't fray.

One of the designers I have found particularly inspiring who is working with this remarkable medium is Selcuk Gurisik of Turkey. After studying architecture in the early 1970's, he went on to study textiles and fashion as well as art and design, gaining a PhD in art and design with a focus on Anatolian Felt-making. During his work on the PhD, he participated in a number of international interior design projects. In the early 1990's, he set up a design studio and today he is active in both design work and lecturing and teaching workshops on traditional Turkish felt-making in both Turkey and the UK. 

I am particularly intrigued by Gurisik's use of bold colours and patterns in his work. I am strongly drawn to and inspired by felted wool and its limitless applications,  so when I saw the immense array of his designs, ranging from clothing, to floor and wall coverings to furniture, I was so excited.

Here are a few of his pieces that really stand out to me. You can find more information on Selcuk Gurisik and his designs at


Hand felted Ottoman couch

Felted wool upholstery with gold-leaf paint

Silk and felted wool with hand painted gold leaf

Undyed felted wool chair with gold leaf paint


Beeswax Candles to Ignite Your Inner Light....and Purify Your Air

(image courtesy of

I love lighting candles in my home this time of year. In addition to a warm glow, candles bring a sense of magic. We light candles when we are about to share a meal (sometimes even at breakfast when we rise before the dawning day) or when we are about to share a story or play a family game. The candle seems to bring us closer in to each other as we cluster in its glow. My children love the small ritual of making a wish each time we blow out a candle (we do this whether or not the candle happens to be on a birthday cake!).

In Waldorf schools around the world, children celebrate St. Martin's Day in early November with a Lantern Walk. Each child makes their own lantern. Just as dusk sets in, they light the lanterns and walk in a procession singing "This Little Light of Mine". They do this as a demonstration of how we can get through the darkest season by bringing the light close and focusing on our inner light. We are reminded that even when the world around us is dark, our inner light, that which connects us with the Divine, can always shine bright.

There's a reason why, in many spiritual traditions, we light candles as the Earth tilts us farther from the sun and we experience the season of shorter days and longer nights. The darkness of this season represents a time for introspection and staying close to the hearth fire. The world outside lies dormant, seeds and bulbs are nestled into the Earth awaiting their time to awaken. The air is chilled and we pull inwards to a kind of hibernation. Lighting candles in our homes brings the waning light of the sun closer to us and reminds us to cultivate our inner light. We light candles when we pray and it makes us feel closer to God somehow to be next to this sacred light.

However, not all candles are created equal! Many candles actually contain poisonous chemicals and leave toxic residues in the air. Paraffin, a component in most commercial candles, is a by-product of the petroleum industry.  "According to the American EPA, paraffin candles are known to release carcinogens like benzene and toluene." (

Beeswax candles are a natural, non-toxic and sustainable alternative to paraffin candles. I am especially fond of 100% pure beeswax candles for a number of reasons. Not only do they emit a beautiful golden glow and a naturally sweet honey scent when they burn, they also clean the air. Beeswax candles create negative ions which actually pull odours, pollens, dust, viruses and allergens out of the air we breathe. Negative ions are also known to promote a host of other health benefits from improved sleep to balancing hormones and a sense of wellbeing (see the above link for more details).

The Santa Fe Beeswax Candle Company refers to beeswax as "Solid Sunlight" because it is "made from flowers by honeybees". How fitting to have some "Solid Sunlight" in our homes while we weather the cold and dark of winter and bring the sun closer to reflect to us our inner light as we breathe deep of our pure air.

(credit: Scott Bauer, USDA/Agricultural Research Services)

Recycled Textile Designs by Jana

A hooded tunic made with recycled silk and leathers.
I was given an old sewing machine when I was in my late 20's and since then, I have been nurturing a passion to create with textiles. I am completely enthralled with the process of taking a 2 dimensional piece of fabric and engineering it into a 3 dimensional garment. Combined with my love of colour and texture, sewing became a natural fit for me.

This meandering path into expressing myself creatively with sewing lead to an interest in hobby crafting specifically with recycled materials. As a virtually untrained seamstress (unless you can count junior high home economics classes), I found I was much too timid to cut into new, virgin fabrics - petrified at the prospect of wrecking an expensive piece of fabric.

Eventually, I discovered great joy in treasure-hunting in thrift and consignment stores, yard sales and clothing swaps: finding interesting items, taking them home to my sewing machine and customizing them into one-of-a-kind garments. There is a lot of freedom to explore in this modality because I can easily try new things and make mistakes without too much financial risk. I found all kinds of textiles and garments to work with, most at an average price of about $5 - $10 each.

The possibilities are limitless and I am endlessly inspired by things I find when I am treasure-hunting and dreaming up new shapes, dimensions and incarnations for them.

I took this brocade Asian vest and tailored it by adding the eyelets and lacing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Studio of One's Own

A photo I took of myself in my new sewing studio

I was so thrilled when I moved to a home 3 years ago that had a little abandoned out-building in the back yard. The space was full of junk, cold, damp, moldy and leaky, but I saw great potential for finally creating my very own sewing studio.

My little studio before it was rescued from obscurity

I set about clearing and cleaning the space. Although small in square footage, it had large heavy sliding glass doors and several electrical outlets at counter height on the walls all the way around the room. This, I felt sure, was intended to be a workshop or studio of some kind. I removed approximately 20 garbage bags of moldy stuff that had been stored there over the years.

After MOST of the random junk had been removed...

When I finally completed the clean up, hired a friend to fix the leaky roof and another to build my work table which included a number of "guest workstations" and brought in a dehumidifier, I was ready to launch my studio with a great party!

I created an event which consisted of an all-day open studio (open house) and clothing swap. All the guests were invited to bring gently used clothing that they were no longer interested in wearing. They were welcomed to choose items that others had brought to take home in exchange for the clothing they were leaving behind. We had a huge pile of clothes on the living room floor. I served mimosas as a daytime aperitif cocktail and finger-food appies. The guests rummaged through the pile of clothes, finding treasures and then we spent time in the studio altering and customizing our selections.

Clothing swap!

Try it on!

Customizing our clothing at guest workstations

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Turkey Casserole by Jana

Many people are left wondering after the big Thanksgiving dinner: what in the world do I do with all this leftover turkey? Yesterday, I dreamed up a turkey casserole dinner for my family and it actually passed the Kids' Taste-Test (and they can sometimes be chef mom's worst critics!!).

This is a dairy-free and gluten-free casserole that's pretty simple to assemble. I used a slow-cooker to make the sauce ahead of time, but it can also be done using a regular saucepan.


1 Tblspn olive oil
1 1/2 cups turkey broth
1/2 medium zucchini, cubed*
1 medium onion, chopped small
3-4 large basil leaves, whole
2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 medium potatoes, cubed*
1 - 1 1/2 cups turkey, tear into bite-sized pieces or chop
1/3 cup brown rice flour
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

*the neat thing about this recipe is you can also use some or any of your leftover vegetables from Thanksgiving dinner too (ie. any roast potatoes or yams, carrots, etc)

Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker croque pot, stirring well. Set slow cooker on low heat for 5 hours or high heat for 3 hours.

Casserole Assembly:

340g gluten-free penne or macaroni (I used brown rice pasta but the Go-go Quinoa brand is also nice)
3/4 cup Daiya dairy-free shredded cheese substitute

Towards the end of the sauce cooking time, prepare the pasta by cooking it in salted boiling water until just al dente (usually about 8-10 minutes for the brown rice pasta). Combine the pasta, the sauce and the Daiya shredded cheese substitute in a large bowl until well mixed. Pour into a 9x9" casserole baking dish. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes, or until top is just golden. Serve with salad or steamed veggies.