Spotlight on Christopher Solar Studio

The ladies and I were sitting around at Lisa’s lovely cottage a few weeks ago and I was finally getting a chance to flip through some of my neglected decor magazines.  Spring had been very busy for me and this was a huge treat!  As I flipped through the Style at Home magazine I came across a picture that caught my eye.  It was of a stunning bench made of wood and a woven material on top.  A closer look showed me that the maker of this fine piece was from Ottawa.  Wanting to learn more about this fine artist, I checked out his website, contacted him and asked if we could get a TBB sneak peek at his work.  So here’s what I found out about Christopher Solar as I checked out his Glebe studio.

Firstly, Christopher is trained as an engineer, and then took an interest in fine art and print making.  From his work, you can see his attention to detail and his fascination with materials. When I arrived, he had a strap bench in progress.  A closer look revealed the source of the strapping…seat belt material!  Because the strapping is available in 30 different colours, this is a super versatile piece that can be ordered in any colour combination, with or without arms and at custom heights and lengths.  He uses CAD to design the pattern of the strapping to get both the perfect colour combination and layering of the straps.  The bench he was working on is actually going to be at the new Alteriors on Bank Street, so if you are from our fine city (or are visiting!) you too can see and test out this lovely piece.

Strap Bench

The next piece that had me drooling was his Danish Lounge Chair.  The arms have this beautiful curve that meet at a 90 degree mitred joint.  The joint is then splined to create this seamless curve that is both durable and beautiful, without the joinery being too flashy.  The seat is woven in a traditional pattern with Danish Cord.  It is as stunning from the front as it is from the back.

Danish Lounge Chair

For something a little different, there was a standing screen in the corner.  This piece can be used as either a divider or as a screen or simply as an art piece in the corner of a room.  It consists of steam bent pieces of wood that are alternated so that the curves don’t line up.  The back of the pieces are painted with milk paint to give a pop of colour and allow the wood to stand out a bit.  A concrete base stabilizes the piece.  I picture this piece with a light shining from behind to cast shadows around the room.

Standing Screen

In a similar fashion, Christopher came up with the concept for his Stave Table.  It is veneered pieces of steam bent wood with a concrete base and a glass top.  The difference of materials and the texture of the wood grain and the slats of wood really make this piece stand out.

Stave Table

Lastly, the Bento Cabinet requires a mention.  It is an ebonized wood piece that has a glass top, and has several pieces of steam bent wood that alternate top to bottom.  By painting the edges of these smaller pieces with milk paint, this piece has just a hint of dare I say, sex appeal…but then maybe it’s the red that’s caught my attention.

Bento Cabinet

After meeting with Christopher, I realized I had actually spoken to him once before at the Interior Design Show in Toronto.  He says he’s already signed up for next years show.  He’s still deciding what he’ll bring with him to showcase his work, perhaps a light fixture.  We should be so lucky!

If you want to learn more about Christopher Solar Studio, check out his website at  All photos for this post are courtesy of Christopher Solar Studio.


Donna says: “His work is so beautifully unique!  I especially love the Bento Cabinet, what an amazing statement piece in any room!”



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Jenn - July 5, 2013 - 2:05 pm

I love the unique lines of all of his designs. He stays away from boring straight lines! Great pieces!

Inspire Me Heather - July 6, 2013 - 8:11 am

Gorgeous furniture, thanks!

Anne@DesignDreams - July 6, 2013 - 9:20 am

what fabulous designs! Thanks for sharing!

In a Pinch Desserts


What to serve for dessert? A very familiar refrain in my house. Consideration of the ingredients, guest’s diet restrictions, availability, amount of time to prepare and complimentary to the meal must all be taken into account.  My go to dessert for years was homemade low fat coffee cake, no matter the occasion. They were a huge hit, but leftovers always hit my waistline with a vengeance the following day. After a time, I decided that fresh, in season fruit was a wise choice for many reasons. But how to serve without making the traditional fruit salad? I decided to plate thinly sliced wedges or circles of fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon, a dollop of yogurt with a fine drizzle of agave syrup. The plate could then be garnished with fresh berries or in the case above, pomegranate seeds. Cinnamon enhances the natural flavours of the sliced fruit. Elegant, low fat, nutritious and yummy for almost all palates.

IMG_8287Another quick and oh so tasty nibble, or dessert if you stretch it out with cheese and crackers, is fresh pitted dates or figs and fresh whole pecans. If I told you this is tantamount to a piece of pecan pie, would you believe me? Well it is! Just ask my friends who have braved the oddness of the combination.


Please excuse the photo and messy presentation, but if I had known this was going to be so fabulous, I would have staged this shot.  My new favourite….freshly made Espresso, pieces of Toblerone chocolate and vanilla ice cream served in a sorbet glass. (I was at the cottage and had to resort to juice glasses)  I served this two weeks ago and the table was silent except for the exclamations of sinfully delicious sighs. Next time, I’m going to use dark chocolate, and chopped pistachios to garnish the ice cream.. Remember, espresso has less caffeine than regular coffee as caffeine is water soluble, so no probs serving this after dinner.

The right dessert can be the fine end to a divine meal!

 Maureen thumbnailMaureen





Lisa Border Lisa says: “Well, now I’m hungry. These all sound delicious and I know for a fact that the first one is delicious and I’m just waiting to try the other two, Maureen.”

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Friday Night Wine Pick: Real Sangria

I came across this pre-made sangria last summer and was amazed at how good it was, and at such a good price ($8.25). I used to make sangria from scratch, but not anymore. This stuff is not too sweet, so it goes down really easy on a hot summers day (some might say too easy). It is a mix of red wine and citrus. As the LCBO site says: “It has a ruby red colour; red berry, plum and orange aromas; off-dry fruit flavours, light body”.

Real Sangria is from Spain, which is where I think all sangrias should be from! To serve, all I do, beside chill, open and pour into a pitcher, is add some fresh berries, maybe some orange and lemon slices, ice and, if I am in a special frame of mind, a splash of Grand Marnier. If you want a lighter alcoholic drink, you could add some club soda and/or some orange juice. It is great with appetizers and lighter meat dishes.

 Cheers!  Mary Anne

Donna says: “Well, you gotta love how easy this is! I’m stocking the bar fridge with these babies this weekend!”

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Patricia - June 29, 2013 - 1:00 pm

Now this is a blog I could really stay interested in!!
Do you have a “followers” section… or am I missing it totally?

Patricia, Sugar & Spice & All Things ? Nice

Kyla@Mommy's Weird - June 29, 2013 - 5:01 pm

Lately, I am soooo lazy. This is totally my speed.

Jennifer Van Huss - July 2, 2013 - 6:59 pm

Excellent. The perfect summer drink

MaryAnne - July 9, 2013 - 10:14 pm

I keep adding different things to change it up. Last weekend was pineapple juice. Very yummy!

MaryAnne - July 9, 2013 - 10:14 pm

It couldn’t be easier:)

MaryAnne - July 9, 2013 - 10:16 pm

Thanks Patricia. You can sign up for an email subscription on the left side of the page when you scroll down. You wouldn’t want to miss a post:)

Adirondack style

A few weeks ago, my hubby and I ventured out to Lake Placid, New York for the weekend.  While there, I couldn’t help but notice the Adirondack style of homes and decorating.

I took photos of some of the homes that caught my attention.


This one had such an unusual colour scheme it caught my attention right away.  Still not sure if I could live with it.


The insets on the garage doors are made from birch bark, which we saw used extensively in the entire area.


Lots of natural cedar with dark green as an accent colour.


This front door caught my husband’s attention right away.


 Natural wood with black accents is also a favourite.

A stunning yard and dock along Mirror Lake with of course, some Adirondack chairs!


This charming church was near our hotel and I just fell in love with it. Here it is from a distance.


And a close up, it actually has slate tiles on its’ roof, you can see them on the steeple.  I wonder how long they last and how they are installed?  And I adore the red door.


Our hotel, the Crowne Plaza had a beautiful lobby area with a huge stone fireplace.


You can see the Adirondack style here very well, lots of natural or light coloured wood, stone, distressed leather, black rod iron, all accessorized with natural elements, ram’s head (sorry…ram), woven baskets, wood snow shoes, pumpkins and mums.  Speaking of animal heads, we did a little antiquing and there were….ahem…stuffed animal and their parts everywhere…hubby tried to convince me that our cottage needed a little something, something….and I know it is the perfect place for one, but I just can’t do it.

photo 6

This is a light fixture from Milano’s, an Italian restaurant on the main street in Lake Placid.  This recessed area has pot lights and these natural pieces of birch are hanging by hooks. Such an interesting and inexpensive way to bring some Adirondack style in.

photo 5

And above a quick snap from our shopping excursion, showing Adirondack interior styling with light wicker, baskets, and a sofa piled high with lots of rug-like pillows with rustic trims.

One last picture showing the beauty of the surrounding area.

Lisa Thumbnail


Mary Anne BorderMary Anne says: “I love Adirondack style.  It is so comfortable and cosy, and not at all fussy.  Beautiful shots Lisa, and don’t let Rick talk you into a stuffed animal part for your log home!”


Maureen borderMaureen says: “Very interesting how the landscape of a region often dictates the architecture seen there….also seen in Cape Cod as well.  Would love a tour of these homes.  BTW, we have two moose racks and a beautiful stuffed fish in our log cottage… about conversation pieces.”

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Southwest Caesar Salad with Grilled Steak

Regular followers may have figured out by now that salads are my favorite meal for the summer. This is one of my go-to recipes when I have friends coming to the cottage for the day. It is fresh, tasty, mostly make ahead and, best of all, never fails to impress! It pleases the men as much as the ladies, which can’t be said for that many salads! It sets a tex-mex theme for the day which you can carry over to appetizers and beverages. Oh, I forgot to add that Beergaritas pair really well with this salad:)Ole!


Rub for the steak:

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. each ground cumin and coriander

1/2 tsp each salt, pepper and granulated sugar

Dressing for the salad:

2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic

4 green onions, coarsely chopped

1/2 salt

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded

1/2 cup olive oil


1 head torn Romaine lettuce

1 sweet red pepper, seeded or diced

3 cobs of corn, grilled and then kernels removed

1 pound 3/4″ thick top sirloin steak

To make dressing, combine cilantro, sour cream, lime juice, Parmesan, garlic, green onions, salt, and jalapeño in a blender and process until finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil and blend until smooth. This can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Mix rub ingredients together and rub on both sides of steak. Peel back husks of corn, remove silk and then replace husks.  Soak in water for at least 15 minutes. Preheat grill to medium high. Put corn on grill (turning often) for 10 minutes before adding steak. Cook steak approx. 5 minutes per side for medium rare, or to taste. Remove steak and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Let corn cool a bit, then remove kernels with a sharp knife.

Arrange lettuce, corn and diced red pepper on 4 dinner plates. Slice steak into thin slices and arrange on salad. Drizzle dressing over salads. Garnish with nacho chips, if desired. Enjoy!

Mary Anne

Nicole says: “You had me at beergarita.  It all sounds delish, especially the dressing. And how cute is your little napkin holder?  Perfect for the cottage!”


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Tiffany @ MyDirt - July 30, 2013 - 11:59 am

Pinned this recipe. I think I pinned your last one too. I sense a theme here :)

Janelle @ Two Cups of Happy - July 30, 2013 - 4:13 pm

Another delicious looking salad recipe. Your homemade dressings are inspiring me :)

Inspire Me Heather - July 31, 2013 - 7:57 am

Your recipe looks great, perfect for a hot Summer nights supper – thanks!

Sheila @sZinteriors - July 31, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Salads are my favorite for the summer, too – especially a great caesar salad. The dressing looks amazing!! Thanks for sharing :-)

MaryAnne - July 31, 2013 - 5:16 pm

I hope you get a chance to try it Sheila!

MaryAnne - July 31, 2013 - 5:17 pm

It is one of our favorite salad meals hands down:)

MaryAnne - July 31, 2013 - 5:18 pm

Well what are you waiting for, get to the kitchen and start mixing LOL!

MaryAnne - July 31, 2013 - 5:19 pm

You certainly have spotted a theme. I love salad meals in the summer:)

Dani @ lifeovereasy - August 1, 2013 - 2:56 am

yum – i love salads that you can eat as a meal!

Karen@NourishWithKaren - August 2, 2013 - 10:39 am

YUM! Pinned this. The salad dressing and rub both look awesome. We will be trying both of these this weekend!

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