Archive for December, 2010

Wow, has this week flown by! My ambitious plans to purge and organize, were cut short by indecision. I always do this to myself. My plans are too big for my energy and time; kinda like going food shopping on an empty stomach. Not a good thing to do.

Purging and organizing for the new year is a great idea, but you have to take it in small steps. I know this. But I also know how emotional getting rid of things can be. It’s been revealed that the three most emotionally stressful times in our lives is a family death, a divorce and a move. Well I’ve been through 2 of these already and this year I’m anticipating a difficult move.

My rule has always been that “if I haven’t used the thing in 2 years, then it gets tossed”. I’ve been teaching my sons this same rule and I hope it sticks. Hoarding runs in the family. My saving grace is that I’m really organized, so everything has it’s place and if there isn’t a place it gets tossed.

But it’s really amazing how stuff accumulates. I didn’t even buy anything this year. Honestly!

So I’ve  just decided to give myself a break today and focus on the future. And I want to share 2 things that struck a cord with me this week.

I’m a very open minded person and believe in anything that helps motivate you. And I’ve been getting Notes from the Universe for a couple of years now, thanks to my friend Patty. The notes I get every morning don’t always resonate with me, but when they do, it shifts my whole perspective on how my day will go.

So I want to share today’s Notes – I’m sure Mike Dooley won’t mind.

…, soon the new year starts, so now’s a great time to:

1. Wipe the slate clean.
2. Focus upon what you really want.
3. Chart your course.


Well… only if you want to risk having to repeat these steps for the same wishes next year! Maybe this is splitting hairs, but here’s an adventurous alternative:

1. Give thanks that life is… just as it is (and that it’s been… just as it’s been). Because of it, you’re now “READY.”

2. Define what you want in terms of the end result. Don’t worry about the hows, or even the course. KNOW that what you want is ALREADY yours in spirit, by divine LAW, just focus on the certainty of this ownership, understand it, claim it, and “it will be on earth, as it is in heaven (spirit).”

3. LET THE UNIVERSE show you the way via your impulses and instincts that appear as you take inspired action. Don’t worry that your first steps seem silly or futile. And if you don’t know what to do, do anything! Go! Get busy! Do not insist on intermediary successes, only upon the end result.

2011 is going to be your year (it already is),
The Universe

If you do one thing for yourself today, sign up to receive your own Note everyday.

Also, I was sent a TED video from a friend on Facebook. I’ve watched it 4 times this week. This video helped me refocus my attention on what I know to be true. Amazing and provocative. Watch it here.

Next year will be an exciting one for sure and there will be new things happening on FLOHAUS, So stay tuned.

I hope all your wishes come true and you reach your Nirvana!


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In this week of reassessment and reflection, I think about my clients over the years and put them into two categories:

  • Colour Lovers – People who pick colours based on their emotional responses and who aren’t afraid to use colour whenever they can.
  • Colour Hesitants – People who are afraid to make the wrong choices with colour and therefore stick to the neutrals and rarely change their colours.

Although there are alot of Colour Hesitants in Toronto, I believe this is changing and people are becoming more courageous. Hurrah!

If you are a Colour Hesitant and want to become a Colour Lover in the new year, take these first steps:

1. Look at the colour themes for 2011 below. Take your time and look at each one carefully. Pick the theme that you absolutely love – that you say, “Ooh! I like that one.”

2. You have my permission to pull the picture from the site and print out only the theme that you love.

3. Hang it on your fridge, wall, on your closet, wherever, so that you can see it in your environment.  You will be able to see which colours you can pick out as accents (usually the more vibrant ones).

4. Slowly incorporate that colour into your decor by purchasing throw pillows, hand towels, bedding, vases etc. Be courageous!

5. If and when you are comfortable with this or these new colours, take the next big step and repaint.  For example, take the accent colour and paint your headboard wall.  Or go for it and do the whole room.

6.  From this point on you can take that printed colour theme whenever you shop for home decor items and use it as a guide to pick colours that work with your theme.

Congratulations, you are now a Colour Lover!


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When I say “Worst”, I really mean least viewed.  Because the topic and content weren’t the worst thing you could’ve possibly read in 2010.  There are many other topics that just didn’t make the final cuts that were way more boring.

I believe this was the least read because I just introduced a new category “Blue Sky”, which isn’t strictly related to interior design or making your home more beautiful.  The idea came from wanting to seek out organizations that were using design to create extraordinary objects, dwellings,etc. that would improve how we live and more importantly improve the world in some way.  This was the time I decided to give back and volunteer at the Furniture Bank, so I was inspired. Maybe if I had tagged it “teabagging” I might have had more readers. ;)


Blue Sky – The Tea Bag solution


We here in North America and especially Canada are very lucky to have the largest amount of fresh water on the planet at our disposal. We take it for granted so much so that what seems to be occupying us is not whether our water is clean but whether it is laden with vitamins or energy boosting chemicals or will it make us “smart”.  But for more than a billion people, there is no easily accessible clean drinking water.

And in South Africa, the Stellenbosch University Water Institute’s Hope Project was established in 2010 to address this issue. Professor Eugene Cloete, microbiologist and dean of the Faculty of Science at the university with his brilliant staff have found a solution.  By developing a technology that includes carbon and anti-microbial nanofibres, the team created a teabag filter, which is placed in the lid of a specially designed water bottle. Once the water is filtered through this “tea bag” the water becomes potable.  The population simply has to replace this inexpensive “tea bag”.  Brilliant!


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Happy  Monday Everyone!

This is the last week of 2010 and although many are relieved to see it end, I see this week as a time for reflection.  Reflection for me means to review the highs and lows, (especially the lows) and learn how to do things differently.  So this week, I’ve dedicated to reviewing the best and worst posts, starting with the best.

As a blogger, I never know the exact combination of information that will interest you, the reader.  As my readership grows, I can only hope that what I write is interesting and useful.  But the best post for example, I literally wrote in 10 minutes with very little research and just a yearning to say what needed to be said.  And I seem to have struck a “recliner” nerve.  With over 1000 hits within a few hours who would’ve known.  Here it is again:

Ode to the Recliner

The television show GLEE has become by far my most favourite show of all time.  Yes, aside from “Twin Peaks”, this is the show that I stop my world for every Tuesday night. Did anyone see last night’s episode where the theme revolved around creating home?  That show beautifully portrayed the feelings and family situations that are au courant.  And how they used the recliner (Finn’s father’s) to symbolize comfort, familiarity and foundation of a family.  Brilliant!

My father has, to this day, his recliner strategically positioned closest to the television.  I remember years ago visiting distant family members in West Virginia, where the highest honour was bestowed my husband when he was allowed to sit in the “Grand Recliner” and control the remote.  My father-in-law even bought a sectional with flanking recliners on each end!  My sons (of which there are 3 of) would fight over who would get to sit in them.  Who can forget one of the earlier Fraser episodes where Fraser tries to get rid of his father’s only familiar possession; his beat-up recliner.  And Joey and Chandler’s matching black leather recliners became the topic of many Friends episodes.  This fascinates me.

Although Wikipedia says that cousins Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker created the first recliner in 1928 as a novelty in Monroe Michigan and later patented it in 1931 (then they renamed their company “La–Z-boy”), there is information that it was invented years before.  In 1780 there is evidence of a recliner existing in the court of Louis XV!  And apparently Napoleon had a version.  I’m not surprised.

So, if you want to buy a recliner where do you go?  Well there is La-Z-boy of course. I find them most unattractive, but I guess they wouldn’t be recliners if they weren’t.

If you take your recliner shopping seriously, you must  check out this checklist How to Buy a Recliner.  They rate the difficulty of this process as EASY. Too funny!

Ok, ok. If I really had to pick I think I would go with the Riley!


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My girlfriend, Laura Bombier, came over for a Christmas lunch/gift exchange and she started talking about this new cool product – The Pomegranate Tool.  She was going on about how she found it in a little specialty shop for around $20, but when she went to pick one up, they were all out.  We stopped lunch then and there and went online to see if she could order it and we stumbled upon Mom Who Runs.  MWR gave it a raving review and told us to go to our local Superstore.  So we made a few calls and off we went.

As soon as I got home I gave it a try.  And it does work very nicely.

I cut the crown of the pomegranate and then cut it in half.

Placed it as per the instructions and started whacking it with my soup ladle.  And voila!  All seeds were out in no time at all.

One thing to note:  You must use a very healthy pomegranate or else the yucky ones get in with the good ones and you have to pick them out like I did.  No biggy!

It’s still one of the coolest new products that I’ve come across in a long time.

So if you’re stuck trying to figure out that one last gift, get this.  We got them at the Superstore on Eglinton and Don Mills.  Oh yeh, and they’re only $5.99!  Even better.


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Right now I’m listening to Diana Krall Christmas Songs featuring Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.  And although it’s my mainstay fave, I have to admit that the classics from Nat King Cole to Bing Crosby are my all time favourites.  Does anyone remember “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”?  I grew up watching White Christmas and The Bells of St. Mary and I secretly long to be swept up in Fred Astaire’s arms and flung around the dance floor while he sings to me.  Big Sigh!

But when it comes to Christmas songs, did you know that according to About.com, the top 10 pop Christmas Albums of all time are:

  1. Various Artists – A Christmas Gift for you from Phil Spector – 1963
  2. Various Artists – A Very Special Christmas – 1987
  3. Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas – 1965
  4. Josh Groban – Noel – 2007
  5. Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas – 1994
  6. Mannheim Steamroller – Mannheim Steamroller Christmas – 1984
  7. Elvis Presley – Elvis’ Christmas Album – 1957
  8. Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song – 1963
  9. Bing Crosby – White Christmas – 1945
  10. The Carpenters – Christmas Portrait – 1978

And the top 5 Hip Hop/Rap Albums are: http://rap.about.com/od/toppicks/tp/ChristmasAlbums.htm

  1. Christmas Rap – 1987
  2. Christmas on Death Row – 1996
  3. Jim Jones – A Dipset Christmas – 2006
  4. Gift Rap – 2004
  5. A Very Special Christmas – 1987

What are your favourite Christmas Songs of all time?


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Happy Winter everyone!

It’s finally here and what a beautiful day we have here in Toronto.  Did anyone see the lunar eclipse last night?  It was too cloudy up here in Canada when I checked the satellite images around midnight, so I decided to skip the event that will only happen again in over 500 years. Oh well.

But I feel the shift.  Don’t you?  Or is it just the low hum of consumer chaos that’s happening around me.

Besides all the baking and wrapping of presents (yes, I’m all finished) I love to style my home.  This year and every year frankly, my philosophy is to decorate with live, natural items that I’ve purchased or found.  So my garlands are always fresh pine bows (because they last the longest) wrapped with ribbon.  I place fresh pine bows in vases with fresh water, all over the house.  And I love poinsettias.

But my most favourite thing to do is to put out my favourite Christmas books. They’re a little dog-eared and some pages are taped,which makes them even better. I’m a sucker for great illustration and pop-ups!

My favourites are:

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore

The Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett

The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett

The Little Crooked Christmas Tree by Michael Cutting & Ron Broda

And my latest addition is the very funny, tongue-in-cheek, The History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein.

What are your favourite Christmas Stories?


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Flower Power – Amaryllis

If you are a person that likes to watch plants grow from a bulb then this is the perfect gift to receive. It is easy and very low maintenance. I tend to give these to my friends as either hostess gifts or just a lovely addition to a house plant. When I see them appear in the stores I start buying them at different stages, so that way I can enjoy them blooming from November through January so I always have one on the go.

You can either buy them as a loose bulb from a garden centre, planted up from a florist in a lovely pot with moss and sticks or a kit from the grocery store. Buying from a reputable store will make for a healthier bulb that you will be able to regrow year after year. To keep your amaryllis looking as nice as possible, cut off the individual faded flowers. When all the flowers on the stem have bloomed, cut off the stem. A healthy bulb will have two flower stems. Your blooms will last longer if the room is on the cool side and keep the soil moist.  Also protect it from hot or cold drafts.

A lot of people just throw the bulb away after they bloom, but if you decide to keep it growing for next Christmas this is how to do it:

  • Treat it like a house plant. It takes about five good leaves to energize the bulb to rebloom.
  • Make sure it is in a good quality soil not peat moss and make sure the planter has drainage holes.
  • Keep the soil slightly damp, fertilize regularly and give it as much direct sun as possible in a nice bright window.
  • Put it outside in the summer in dappled sunlight; continue watering and fertilizing. Mid September stop watering completely and rest the bulb for two months.
  • Store in a dry, dark and cool place and turn pot on its side. When the leaves turn yellow and die back, cut them off. After 8 to 10 weeks of dormancy it is time to restart the bulb.
  • Use a good quality potting soil and a pot with drainage.
  • Set in a warm and sunny place and water thoroughly once. Thereafter keep the soil barely damp. Once the foliage begins to grow, water it more generously but not too wet.
  • Turn the pot a quarter turn every day, and wait for it to grow and bloom again.

If you’re looking for a nice centre-piece for your Christmas table, simply buy some cut amaryllis from your flower store a few days ahead if the bulbs are still closed. Mix them with some Christmas greens and berries. Cut amaryllis generally come in red or white, but you can also find striped pink and white, and just pink. They also look lovely displayed with their full stems in a long vase too.

I have about four different ones going on in my house right now.

Remember to buy them before they disappear off the shelves until next year.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday.

Nicola Bishop



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Here in Toronto you will see the hardiest most weather-proof people in the world.  People will go out in their shorts in minus Celsius weather and ride their bikes in a snowstorm.  Crazy or courageous you can be the judge. With the introduction of bike lanes all over the city, I guess citizens feel an obligation to use them in all types of weather. I say crazy, but to each his/her own.

What isn’t crazy is the growing trend to design products that are multi-functional.  I say brilliant to this.  And the Bikoff is one of them.

Designed by Marcos Madia, an Argentinean industrial designer, the Bikoff is the perfect solution for eco-minded executives.  It’s a small foldable bike that incorporates a briefcase in the frame.  Once the briefcase is removed, the light-weight carbon fibre frame can be folded and carried into the office.

Very clever!

I’m not sure the small wheels of Bikoff will work on Toronto’s streetcar tracked roadways, but maybe our new mayor Ford will get rid of those too!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!  Happy Christmas Shopping!

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