The TBB’s are still alive…really!

Well hello out there! We realize that we have been missing in action since we signed off for summer vacation way back in June. But don’t worry, we are still a rogue band of six designing friends. However, we have all found ourselves consumed with other things and priorities. You know, life sometimes gets in the way! Check down below to read what we all have been up to individually.

TBB half birthday

After much deliberation of what direction to take with this blog (over wine, of course), we have decided to make posting much less formal. Rather than regularly posting three times a week about wine, food, and design, we will post when, and if, we can. As we all have our own blogs, we may also share links to relevant postings there. We promise to keep up the fun tone and stay in touch as much as possible.

Mary Anne BorderMary Anne says:  “I am fortunate to be enjoying a great work/life balance. I keep up my design business on a part-time basis, with 2-3 clients on the go at any one time. The rest of the time I spend with family and friends, at the cottage, working through my travel bucket list, and enjoying this beautiful city in which we live. I have also renewed my interest in yoga and clean eating. My husband is inching towards retirement by working 4 days/week, the kids are launched and we want to be free to enjoy life while we are able.”

Lisa BorderLisa says: “Much like Mary Anne I have found a great work/life balance.  Dividing up my time working on my clients’ projects, my own cottage renovations, travelling and keeping up with friends and my large extended family.  I’m so fortunate and thankful to be able to do all of this and hope to keep this wonderful pace of life going for a long time.”


Donna Border

Donna says; “Busy.  That would describe life for this TBB. With a full time day job that is taking up more and more of my time, I’m dividing the rest of my time between family (including my darling little grandsons), my increasing travel portfolio and starting a new blog.  ~deep breath~  With all of this activity, spending time on the design side of my life has been limited to our own home, which will have to satisfy me until other areas of my life slow down.”

Maureen border Maureen says: “My life has taken a huge direction change.  My husband is now headquartered in the Big Apple for up to 3 years and we decided we had had enough of his commuting (for the past 20 years) so I am along for the Manhattan ride. While I’m here I plan to absorb any DESIGN in any form that NYC has to offer. I will also endeavour to use this time to expand my design /computer skills. As much as I’m looking forward to family and friends visiting us, I’m super excited for a NYC  TBB reunion.”

Sonya Border

Sonya says:” I don’t even have time to think about how busy I am! I’ve spent the last year working on several design projects, the largest being seven – yes SEVEN – Tamarack model homes in Kanata with fellow TBB Maureen. Between the design work, a contractor hubby and 3 busy kids, there is sometimes just enough time to relax with a glass of vino at the end of day … and then we start all over again!”

Nicole BorderNicole says:”Busy? Did someone say busy? I’m working full time making windows pretty and functional in Ottawa, specializing in Hunter Douglas blinds. On the side, I do a little colour consulting and room design as well. When I’m not measuring rooms or windows, I’ve got two little people in my life that still require a fair amount of hands on care. I also commit many (MANY!) hours volunteering and fundraising for my children’s school. Movie nights, logowear, Spring Fling…you name it, I’ve done it! After that, I train for half-marathons. 10 completed so far! I cherish my TBB outings and      getaways to unwind and disconnect. Come on NYC!”

Well, that about sums it all up. We are still committed to Wine, Dine and Design, just in a more informal way. Believe us, we still have lots to share with you, our wonderful followers. Thanks for listening and we will be in touch soon!

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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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