AGO: A Taste of India

If you're in Toronto and looking for something to do this week I highly recommend checking out the bedazzling Maharaja Exhibit at the AGO.  "Maharaja, The Splendor of India's Royal Courts" is showing until April 3rd.  Touring this exhibit you'll enjoy the colourful sights, sounds and smells of India while viewing the spectacular showcase of jewels and costumes worn by India's crown Princes.  You can even see a carriage made out of silver and one of the world's most expensive cars, the Star of India, a 1934 saffron coloured Rolls-Royce Phantom II.

Earlier this month I visited the exhibit with a friend and to fully complete this exotic experience of the senses we enjoyed a delicious indian meal afterwards at the AGO's Frank restaurant.  Such a treat! During this exhibit the restaurant is featuring a special indian inspired menu, including a long list of Maharaja themed cocktails - what a perfect way to satisfy your craving for Indian flavours after soaking in all the spicy colours of the show.

I love the ambience at Frank restaurant, designed by architect Frank Gehry, its understated and chic with its danish modern furniture.  The tables are centred around a dramatic metal sculpture that soars up the centre of the space and all surrounded by stunning backlit walls of wine bottles.

There's a strict no photography policy at the AGO including the restaurant (no photographing artwork allowed!!) so I don't have many photos to show you.  I did get permission from the restaurant manager for the photos here as they weren't of the artwork (scultputre).

The bar at Frank Restaurant.

Just as I found this was a perfect way to kick-off the holiday season,,,,I think its an equally perfect way to celebrate some leisurely time off during the holidays.  

If you'll be spending some time lounging at home and catching up on some of your favorite blogs, you should definitely check out Rambling Renovator's blog for her Great Reads of 2010 Blog Tour series. Its a wonderful round-up of her favorite blog reads and those blogger's favorite posts of the year.  A huge thank you to Jennifer for including CREED in this series,,,honestly, I'm so flattered to be included in such great company!!

All Photos:  Carol Reed

That's A Wrap

This week I hope that everyone is celebrating the holidays by spending time with friends and family and just relaxing after all the craziness of the pre-holiday prepping.

I barely managed to get my gifts wrapped and under the tree in time for our family celebrations.  I've been wrapping my gifts this same way for over 25 years,,,,,but each year they look a bit different because I embellish them with whatever I have on hand so every year it varies.  Even when I was a kid, instead of buying the fancy (and expensive!) Christmas gift wrap I used to pick up rolls of plain brown paper at the post office or office supply store,,,,this was years before it was trendy.

I always have large rolls of black paper and brown kraft paper on hand for my gift wrapping needs year round.  On top of this I use plain twine, raffia or wired ribbon. During the holidays, I add fresh pine or cedar (whatever I have on hand) and then top it off with ball ornaments or pine cones, again, I just grab whatever I have.  Using a hot glue gun instead of tape keeps the branches and pine cones in place and there's no tape visible on the paper seams.

Every year during boxing week I buy a large package of ball ornaments to use on gifts the following year,,,last year they were all silver, this year I used these dark chocolate brown balls.  You can find them in practically every colour imaginable and if you buy them on sale they cost next to nothing - I think they're prettier than bows.

My other favorite gift adornment is pine cones.  I collect them throughout the year so I'll have a large bag handy when I'm wrapping. This one was sprayed with a little bit of fake snow.  A silver paint pen is perfect when you don't have any gift tags - you can write your message directly on the package.  Normally I use metal rimmed round white price tags from the office supply store but my large stash of them finally ran out this year.....

I pick-up bulk rolls of wired ribbon at Costco or a gift wholesaler in a few different colours, this year I used silver one and bronze (I've had the same rolls for 2 years and there's still lots left).  The wired edges on the ribbon are a fail safe way to make super easy bows and twists.

My family used to think it was weird, wrapping gifts in plain brown kraft paper,,,,and now,,,,many of them do the same thing.  These days you can find rolls of kraft or black paper just about anywhere but what I love about them is that the fresh greenery and pine cones (your topping of choice) become the feature. You can pretty much add anything you want to embellish this basic wrap, in the past I've used gingerbread cookies, candy canes, fresh flowers and even dried fruit - you can't go wrong.  But I think the best part is the hand crafted look of the package.  I'm not the type who plans out my gift wrap ahead of time - this method of always having basic plain wrap on hand allows me to embellish with whatever I have in the house (or from outside) even at the last minute.

Despite all the simple beauty of these gift wraps,,,,I was outdone by a sibling this year.  Under the tree at my moms was a gift box addressed to me that looked like it had been shipped from around the world.  It was sooo mysterious, I can't tell you how exciting it was to open it up.  I needed a flat head screw driver thought because it was a wooden box with stapled edges.

My brother made then entire box which had labels on it from all over the world....(this pic is from after I destroyed most of the packaging to open it)...

And the gift inside was handmade too......a solid walnut serving board made for me by my brother.  Aren't these the best gifts ever!  We don't even exchange gifts among my siblings but he made this for me anyway - so it was a complete and total surprise.  I love it, thank you no.2!

Now that this Christmas is a wrap, I'm going to find the time to relax by the fire this week and enjoy a couple of new design books Santa left under the tree for me.

Happy Holidays, from my house to yours!

All Photos:  Carol Reed