Raise your spirits with a gallery wall


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I agree with London interior designer Abigail Ahern when she says, “The worst thing in my book is to enter a room and feel nothing. No joy, no raising of spirits – nothing”

Do you have a room in your home with a whole lotta nothin’ goin’ on? Want to make a big visual impact yet can’t afford to buy a stunning new piece of furniture, renovate or even repaint?

I suggest you create a gallery wall. Our gallery wall sparks my joy every time I walk by it. Continue reading

Grab a sharp knife and get chopping; wood board love


I have fun in the kitchen. I’m not someone who struggles with food preparation or stresses about nutrition. I love good food, I love to eat and, on most days, I feel inspired to feed our family nourishing stuff. Nonetheless, I got excited and inspired when I read this post.

The author asks a simple question: “Why do we think it’s so hard to nourish our families and ourselves?”

Her advice is both wonderful and simple; gather like you’re having a party. Grab a knife, look in your cupboards and fridge and chop up whatever is on hand and display it on a cutting board (you can get creative with this part). Don’t call out and ask if anyone is hungry. That’s key. Just call for them to come.

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon with just me and the boys at home and I decided to test drive her idea (see photo above). Suddenly we were standing around chatting, chewing, connecting, like it was a little impromptu party for the three.

She calls the idea wood board love and I think it’s marvelous. Maybe you will too.

Have a wonderful weekend



Until then I keep busy decluttering and rearranging rooms. I’m enjoying the process, too. What a great opportunity to take a look at what you want to keep or not keep, and arrange rooms to support your current day-to-day living.

It’s like Marie Kondo says: “Tidying is a dialogue with oneself.” Continue reading

Goodbye marigolds, welcome eucalyptus


Tiny stirrings but there’s definitely a budding enthusiasm accompanied by thoughts of evergreens, pine cones and twinkling lights. Maybe even some mulled wine.

Before I even consider reintroducing Christmas decorations into our home, some major de cluttering is in order. Continue reading

Spirit animals as home decor

One widespread and growing decorating trend revolves around all things animal. Although accenting interiors with animals is nothing new.

Neanderthals decorated caves with animal drawings. Egyptians decorated with camels, jackals and cats. Asian inspired home decorators opt for displaying tigers or dragons.

Consider the tradition of decorating with hunting trophies, still alive today. +-AKA-If you’re not a fan of the hunting-lodge look there are kinder and gentler ways to add animal inspiration, from artwork to textiles and ceramics.

There’s even faux taxidermy, which takes the old-world tradition of hunting trophies to a very fun place.

Paper Mache Animal Heads From West Elm (left) and Anthropologie (right)

Paper Mache Animal Heads From West Elm (left) and Anthropologie (right)

You can find pretty much any animal represented in home decor but some are more popular than others. Last time I checked Etsy, the on-line market place for handmade design, offered up to 198,650 items with owl in the description. The count for foxes is 57,668 and 18,173 for squirrels.

Birds have always been “in” but none is so popular these days as the owl; owls printed on pillows, on coffee mugs and blankets, owls as lamps, vases and salt & pepper shakers. Some speculate owls are popular in the design world because they figure strongly in the magical world of Harry Potter.

Interior designer Abigail Ahern uses all kinds of animals in her designs but she especially loves using dogs. One of her inspirations is her miniature schnauzer Mungo. For Ahern, the reason to decorate with animals is simple: to cheer up a room. “Interiors can be a snooty old business,” says Ahern. “Plonk an animal on a table and you’ve lifted the spirits and made yourself smile at the same time.”

Robyn Waffle and Yvan Semenowycz modeled their Toronto design studio Totem around the emotional connections people develop with animals, not only pets but animals from the wild, too. “We care about this truth and invite people to custom design rugs and tapestries inspired by their beliefs, their interests and their heritage.”

For their own designs they take inspiration from “spirit” animals. In pagan religions and systems a spirit animal or totem is an animal that represents the traits and skills you have or wish to embody, and connecting with your spirit animal is a quest undertaken by countless people for thousands of years.

There are websites here and here to help you figure out what your spirit animal might be. One of the biggest clues is the animal you are continuously drawn to or one that starts unexpectedly showing up in your life.

I’m a cat lover but these are the only cats you will find in our home’s decor (other than the real ones):

Lucky cat and Balinese cat

Lucky cat and Balinese cat

The Asian elephant, on the other hand, is featured in more than a few rooms around here. Simon brought the first elephant into our home.


Leather piggy from India.

The second was a house warming present from a friend.

Ganesh, the hindu god god of luck, fortune, protection and is a blessing upon all new projects. Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and a spiritual force for intellect and wisdom. It is one of the most worshiped deities in Hindu culture.

Ganesha, the hindu god of luck, fortune and protection. It’s one of the most worshiped deities in Hindu culture.

I purchased this cotton throw and only noticed the elephants once I had it home and spread out on a bed.

Cotton blanket bought at Camden Market in London.

Cotton blanket bought at Camden Market in London.

Then I began purposely buying things with an Asian elephant motif.


Dish towel, turned into a cushion covers.


Elephant as soap dish: from Dillards’ Department Store in Tennessee

The latest elephant arrived unannounced on this wine bag from a dinner guest.


Once you determine your spirit animal the next step is to learn about its symbolic wisdom, and then harness this new knowledge to help make big decisions, confront difficult situations and to help reach goals.

The elephant offers a wealth of symbolic wisdom. One such bit of wisdom is gathered from watching it in nature. Specifically, the female elephant is seen as a symbol of responsibility because she takes great care of her offspring AND elders.

I decided to ditch the idea to do a blog post about spirit animals in home decor and my small curious collection of Asian elephants. Moments later something made me change my mind.

While cleaning out an old suitcase my son discovered something inside. In his hand was a tiny stone elephant. We’d never seen it before.

Then I remembered what I read: you don’t choose your spirit animal, it chooses you. I was beginning to believe it!

Thanks to elephant wisdom I just booked a ticket home to visit my almost 86 year-old father, who lives on his own.