New York City and #BlogTour…Here I Come!

By the time this is posted, I will have been in NYC attending #BlogTour for exactly 17 hrs. To say that I’m excited and honoured is a huge understatement. Lisa was invited last year to attend #BlogTourNYC 2013 and I can now relate to her “over the moon with delight” . I won’t go into detail in this post, as my bags are now packed and I’m waiting for my ride to the airport.  To read more about what I’m going to be doing at #BlogTourNYC please click on the link to my own MODECOR blog . I hope to post more design NYC style posts on  the TBB blog upon my return.

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Friday Night Wine Pick: Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc 2011

Vinum Africa

This white wine is a bit of a divergence for me, but it was rated so highly(92 points by Robert Parker), at such a good price point($15.95) that I had to give it a try. I can tell you I was not disappointed!

Chenin Blanc is a grape most commonly grown in France and South Africa, but the wines from the two different countries taste quite different because of the variation in climates. This one is from the Western Cape in South Africa and thus is a zesty, dry style. It has flavours of lemon, with hints of orange blossom, vanilla and walnut in the finish.  The French Chenin Blanc tends to be sweeter because of the cooler weather. Chenin Blanc can be quite similar to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris which makes it very versatile when pairing with food. Lighter foods like seafood, creamy pasta dishes, chicken and turkey, and anything with a sweet and sour component play nicely with this wine.

An interesting fact is that Chenin Blanc is the primary grape in many bubbly wines! Who knew? Cheers!



Mary Anne thumbnail

 Mary Anne

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Graffiti and Interior Design

I LOVE GRAFFITI! Don’t get me wrong now. I don’t condone street artists vandalizing private property. But done in the right places and used the right way, graffiti is a very fresh and revitalizing art form.

melbourne grafetti

On a recent visit to Melbourne, Australia we came across Hosier Lane, an entire alleyway encouraging graffiti artists to showcase their talents. It has become a popular place for tourists and is used for a backdrop for wedding and fashion photography.  Street code says graffiti artists respect each others work,  so they will never deface someone else’s graffiti. Interesting that by encouraging good graffiti you are preventing the bad!

wellington graffeti

In Wellington, New Zealand we were impressed by these very detailed works on the sides of two different buildings. Judging by the volume and quality of graffiti we saw, I think they are much more tolerant of graffiti as an art form down under! In Ottawa, we have a couple of sanctioned graffiti sites: the Tech Wall on Slater St., and under the Dunbar Bridge between Bronson Ave. and Brewer Park, but I think there is room for a lot more.  You can explore more about the graffiti scene in Ottawa at the House of Paint.

skateboard collage

When I was at  the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York last May, I was blown away by these cool products from Art of Board, a design company based in Hannover, PA. They save used skateboards from the landfill and provide dynamic and unique creative designs for the home. As you can see from above, they make tiles actually cut from old skateboards, ceramic tiles with photo real imagery of actual recycled skateboard decks, small furniture and accessories. What a great way to add some cool to your decor!


When we downsized to an urban loft condo almost two years ago, I knew I wanted to instill my decor with a cool vibe. What better way than to use products modelled on graffiti? My area rug by Henzel is based on an original design by  Calle Henzel. Because I don’t have a lot of walls for artwork due to two walls of floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows, I used my floor as a fifth wall. The area rug became both a focal point and a work of art! It was a bit of a risky move, but I love it more and more everyday. It is fun and energizing and I am always seeing something different in it. I made sure that it was mostly neutral and that there were a few spots of different colours so that I could pull out these if I want to change up my decor going forward. Right now my accessories are teal and magenta, with a couple of bits of yellow thrown in. The rest of my room is neutral with white walls and a light grey sectional.


After making a bold decision for my area rug, I wasn’t going to wimp out in the rest of the condo. I fell in love with these Peronda tiles based on the street art of Banksy.  Just covering the back wall of the shower with these large tiles was enough to add a huge WOW to an otherwise neutral bathroom. The other two walls are white subway tiles and the floor is a large grey porcelain tile that looks like concrete. Everyone loves them, and again, there is always something new to discover in each tile!

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  Mary Anne






Lisa Border Lisa says: “Graffiti certainly is a bold choice, but more and more it is becoming mainstream. You were just ahead of the curve, Mary Anne.”

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3 Favourite Recipe Websites

Since I’ve been involved with the TBBs here on Wine Dine & Design, I’ve taken a renewed interest in putting delicious, prepared from scratch food on the table.  And the appreciation from the other side of the table is genuine and appreciative!

I’ve never been one to plan my week’s meals in one shot, being much more of the daily 4pm “what’s for dinner?” type.  Of course that is not always met with a smile from hubby, but after 31 years of marriage, I’m sure he’s almost used to it by now.  But since this website has been live, I’ve been exposed to so many more delicious recipes (a huge thanks to my gal pals for this), and that has fueled my interest in preparing tasty dishes!

As I’ve mentioned in several of my recipe posts, I often turn to my iPad for recipe inspiration, and as a result have come to love a few special websites that never fail to disappoint!


Food 52 – I stumbled across this website while searching for a recipe and bookmarked it immediately!  Not only is it a great site for recipes, it also has an associated web store called “Provision” where you can pick up nifty kitchen gadgets and pantry stuff!  Excellent recipes!  Now all they need is a smartphone app and my life will be complete :)!

allrecipes – whenever I google a dish or ingredient invariably a hit on AllRecipes comes up.  I also use their iPad app frequently as you can search by ingredient, method and time (among others).  The content is entered by readers and allows you to add reviews if you find a recipe exceptionally good (or not).  I pulled a delicious garlic prime rib recipe from this site for our Christmas Eve dinner this year!  It was one of the best meals I’ve made!


Food & Drink Mag – a favourite with many, this glossy mouth-watering magazine published by the LCBO is paired with an equally tempting website.  Featuring recipes for Food, Drink and Mocktails which you can search by ingredient, there are also sections on decor and entertaining, with some awesome ideas for both!  This is a favourite of mine – if only for the amazing pictures!  I often pull drink recipes from this site when planning our summer BBQ!

I know there are many, many more sites out there, so let’s have them folks …. what are yours?

Donna ThumbnailHappy cooking….Donna

Mary Anne Border

Mary Anne says:“I will be checking out these sites Donna, especially All Recipes where you can search by ingredient. Another great, and surprising, source of recipes online is Pinterest.”


Maureen borderMaureen says: “these sights are so handy. When we downsize, i’m going to be saying good bye to some of my cookbooks”


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Susan - March 10, 2014 - 8:42 am

Mel’s Kitchen Café never lets me down!

Friday Night Wine Pick: Wine Appreciation Tips From Down Under

On our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand I made sure we had a few days set aside to explore some of the many wine regions and taste a few  lot of local wines. We visited some beautiful vineyards, met many passionate winemakers and immensely enjoyed the fruits of their labours! We were fortunate to be there in the middle of harvest time thus we were able to see firsthand the winemaking process.

Wahekie Island

 The day we spent in the Hunter Valley region of Australia was by far the most educational. Four of us were guided by Richard Everett, the only Oenologist (winemaker) in Australia hosting wine tours & personally conducting the tasting. We got to taste in-depth a range of wines, with particular focus on what the Hunter Valley specializes in; white wines such as Semillon, Chardonnay & Verdelho, with reds such as Shiraz & Pinot Noir.  Half of this private tasting was at Tyrrells ‘the best winery in Australia’ in 2010 according to James Halliday, the Australian equivalent of Robert Parker. The remainder of the testing was at Hungerford Hill Cellars. They are the only winery in the Hunter Valley making ‘cool climate’ style wines, so there was a great contrast in styles between the two wineries.

Hunter valley

To properly appreciate wine, Richard walked us through five steps. Firstly, you prepare the glass by rinsing it with a bit of the wine you will be drinking (and yes, you then discard the wine used for the rinsing). Secondly, after pouring a fresh glass, you look at the colour. Does it look like it should for the variety of grape? Thirdly, you smell the wine. When reviewers sample wines, many wines don’t even make it past this step to the mouth. That’s how important smell is to appreciating wine. Next, you sip the wine, rinsing your mouth with it for 10 seconds before swallowing. This allows all the taste buds to be exposed and allows all the flavours to be discovered. Finally, you want to come up with descriptors for the wine such as tropical, lively,earthy or persistent. Better yet, try to come up with one with special meaning like “turn off the phone” for a really special wine that you don’t want to be interrupted while enjoying!

Tyrell wines

We were also able to appreciate the difference the age of the vine makes to the depth of the wine. We sampled the same vintage, same variety of wine (Chardonnay) made from grapes grown on 30 year old vines vs. 115 year old vines. The younger vines produced a wine that was vibrant and tangy while the Chardonnay from the older vines had a longer finish and the flavours went in waves because of the complexity. The difference was incredible! I will now pay greater attention to old vines vs. new whenever I can get that information.

grape harvest

Here we are enjoying just picked Semillon grapes before they go to the big stainless vat to get squeezed. I would love to taste the wine these grapes made. Guess that will give me a reason to return, as if I needed one! Cheers!


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   Mary Anne

Donna BorderDonna says: “Fantastic info Mary Anne! What you had to go through in the name of research – what a trooper!”

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