A Homemade Christmas : Holiday Home Tour

It's true the holidays are a magical time. Spending time with loved ones, entertaining, decorating and gift giving. It's also true that they can be a stressful time too. I love going all out to decorate every year, but don't love the overwhelmed feeling I've often ended up with when I drive all over trying to find key elements. This sometimes delays other tasks too, like gift purchases.
This year I decided I would be far more thoughtful in my holiday prep. I had recently partnered with Southcentre Mall to share some fun ideas for Halloween and came to love this mall as a destination to shop at.
So rather than making multiple trips to various spots all over the city, I made one list and tackled the majority of it at Southcentre all in one stop.
I came up with a theme this year, that I'm calling a homemade Christmas largely from things that are made with love... if not by me than by someone else. I wanted a more simple, maybe slightly less formal feel, that welcomed family near and far to truly relax and make themselves at home.
I left out the white tree in favour of this amazing natural looking green fir I happened to find. From there I layered in these great cable knit pieces and raw wood trivets (from Crate and Barrel). The gold candles I used throughout the space added a sense of sparkle and glam elevating the rustic feel of the knits and wood (Restoration Hardware). I love the combo of the three.
Making the holidays less stressful is also easy when you're able to pick up many of your gifts in one spot as well. I was fortunate to have Luke along with me and we tackled everything in one afternoon.
It made the whole decorating process a little more light hearted to know in the back of my mind that most of my shopping list was tackled too.
For my other needs I emailed ahead of time and placed orders at both Crave Cupcakes for the season's baking goods and Amborella Floral for my garlands and holiday arrangements. These items also have a homemade feel but the expertise and hard work was done by someone else. Both destinations are within a relatively small loop of the mall too, so my driving was limited. (of note however, they both deliver!)
I started with set up and was able to finish everything in one day.

The cable knit table runner adds a nice touch and my friend Lexie from Amborella Floral Studio did the lettering on these slate place card markers. (they make me SOOO happy) I love the acacia wood slice trivets underneath each plate as well. The great thing is that they can be used throughout the year and not necessarily feel holiday-ish. 

Thanks as always for popping by to read. I will have more of this tour up in the next few days so keep and eye out. xo e


Holiday Gift Guide : Charming Finds For $20 Or Less

I often set out to take care of the little gifts on my list first every year. I think I developed this habit one year when I overlooked people whom I should've remembered, and felt so bad last minute when I had nothing for them. Ever since I keep a small cache of gifts that are easy to give to anyone.
This year I'm also rounding up items that might encourage a little quiet, or pause in our busy rushed world.

First on the list. The gift of tea. I love teapigs.ca, it's easy to order and their teas are truly the very best I've ever had. Send it directly to the recipients home or order several packages to have on hand. Either way it's such a thoughtful gift. Enter the promo code 'Ericateapigs" you'll receive a 10% discount on your order.
At $20 this mug and tea combo is a cute option too.
teapigs tea in but first tea mug stack of books and ollie quinn glasses
I've purchased a few of these Illume candles to keep on hand. The candle itself is pretty and smells amazing, but the box is also such a nice touch with a reusable white and gold tassel topper. No one would guess it's only $14.

Illume scented candle in gift box with white cotton tassel topper

Fresh came out with their Zodiac Soap Collection again. I think these are such a thoughtful gift... likely because it also means you have to know when the recipients birthday is. Each bar comes wrapped in thick bright paper with a wire and gemstone in the centre. No need to wrap even. Every sign smells divine, so no one single sign is getting a more desirable scent. 

Fresh Beautifully scented Zodiac Soaps in brightly coloured thick gift wrap with wire tied gemstone
Lot's of us commute or maybe spend more time in our cars than we'd like to. I love how this sweet little Saje diffuser is specially made for those longer rides and provides a little relaxation when traffic might not be. This gift is sure to make anyone smile. 

Saje essential oil blend liquid sunshine and car diffuser
Last but not least, I love keeping a few boxes of chocolates set aside. This particular box from Purdy's is delicious (I won't say how, but I know first hand). Worst case scenario, you don't gift them and you eat them yourself over the holidays. Otherwise these assorted boxes are just so nice to have on hand for a last minute gift. 
Purdys Milk chocolate assortment gift box
These are just a few of the items I'll have extras of. The best part is that it's one less thing I'll stress about. Do you have a gift that you like to keep extras of? 


Holiday Home Tour : A White Christmas

Hi and welcome! I'm delighted to be on this fun Christmas home tour with such a great group of bloggers. If you're following along on the loop you've likely just come over from Ashley's blog, Curls and Cashmere. Wasn't her tour lovely? So much inspiration. The next one after me, with Modern Glam is amazing too, but more on that below.
I'm so glad you're here today and I get to share our holiday home and traditions with you. Family is so very important to me, but I'm also a designer... so decor with sentiments in mind are at the top of my list.
When I first picked out holiday decor, my goal was to get something I'd love year after year knowing I'd make slight tweaks. I felt it was important to invest once in good quality elements that last and become treasures you pull out of storage every year.
For this reason I love my velvet quilt collection. The stockings and tree skirt are so well made.
I also have a base collection of white satin glass ornaments. I reuse these every year too and then sprinkle in whatever other palette I've decided to mix in. This year it was a mix of soft muted metals, and some glittery elements, as well as some florals and greenery. I like how fresh and bright it all feels.
Fluffy white flocked Christmas tree next to a marble fireplace with white velvet pottery barn stockings
Silver Grey Velvet chair beside fluffy white flocked Christmas tree with glitter jingle balls and pottery barn ornaments
Living room marble fireplace with juju hat and white velvet stockings grey velvet chairs fluffy white flocked Christmas tree
I'm fortunate enough to have the best local bakery here, Crave Cupcakes, founded by sisters and all about family. Grazing on their cupcakes and other holiday treats has become an annual tradition for us when setting up our Christmas tree, and we wouldn't dream of getting started without them. We make trimming the tree into quite the party around here... because any excuse to eat cupcakes, right?!
Dining room table staggered with moser glass cake stands  Crave Cupcakes and layer cake decorated with pottery barn holiday decor and Amborella floral studio flowers
crave cupcakes and baked goods assortment mercury glass candle and sparkle garland
Dining room table staggered with moser glass cake stands  Crave Cupcakes and layer cake decorated with pottery barn holiday decor and Amborella floral studio flowers
Quite possibly my favourite addition are the St. Jude lidded glass candles - these ones are from last year but they have a new collection this year too. They smell so lovely, look beautiful with my other accessories, and a portion of the proceeds go back to your local Children's Hospital. That just feels good whether you keep them or give them as a thoughtful gift. This year's Children's Hospital collection here.
white lacquer tray with mercury glass lidded candle and marble coasters
Mixing ornaments with some fresh flowers adds a festive touch amidst the accessories that normally reside on the coffee table. 
floral arrangement on a stack of books marble coasters and lidded mercury glass candle
I can never get enough pillar candles. Setting up multiple vignettes of flameless flicker candles; all of which are on a timer, means that the living room has an ambiance and glow that I can depend on at the same time every day. They're amazing to come home to on a cold winter night and the boys enjoyed decorating the candle holders with fake snow and german glitter snowflakes.
flicker candles with German glitter snowflakes and fake snow displayed in glass hurricanes with lidded mercury glass candle
I thought it might be a slightly different approach to stack logs end to end in the hearth and stagger a collection of simple glass votives over the wood ends that jutted out. I like that the flame is enclosed in the glass cup and therefore I needn't worry about them setting fire to the wood.
White juju hat on marble fireplace with white velvet pottery barn stockings
Marble fireplace hearth with split wood and votive candles Pottery Barn White velvet stockings
I couldn't overlook the kitchen and dressed it with a simple wreath of real evergreens, and a simple arrangement that will last weeks if you clean the water every few days. 
live evergreen wreath on kitchen stainless hood vent fan with marble backsplash

The family room also got a simple update of two boxwood wreaths on the windows, some florals and paper white bulbs. This room gets a lot of traffic so thus far I've left it at that.
boxwood wreath on window paper white bulbs and Christmas decor in wooden tray

I love adding a touch of greenery to the bedroom as well. It's festive and smells amazing. My friends at Amborella made me this Eucalyptus and Evergreen garland. I added some of the left over pieces to a bud vase for Luke's bedside table. It just so happened that he had brought home some Juliet roses a few days before and I added them to some greenery for a vase on my side.

Last but not least (bottom image) I couldn't leave out the front porch. I put together this very simple yet lovely planter. I bought long birch branches and we cut them in half to double their numbers. I love how the irregular heights turned out. Paired with some evergreens and a lantern with a flicker candle on a timer, it creates a welcoming glow in the evenings.
white juju hat over vintage white cane headboard with evergreen and eucalyptus garland and pottery barn velvet pillows
white juju hat over vintage white cane headboard with evergreen and eucalyptus garland, garden roses and pottery barn velvet pillows

vintage white cane headboard with evergreen and eucalyptus garland copper bud vase byredo pulp perfumecb2 copper bud vase with white lacquer tray and byredo pulp perfume

Thanks so much for joining me and if you're new to my blog I do hope you'll visit again. Next up on the list is my sweet friend Ashley from Modern Glam, but I've included the whole tour in the list below as well. Make sure to visit them all, they each have such great style and beautiful homes. I hope you love visiting them as much as I do. Happy touring my friends. Enjoy!! xo e

photography by Jamie Anholt / floral arrangements by Amborella Floral Studio /
 treats by Crave / holiday accessories and decor by Pottery Barn

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Cyber Monday : Best Finds

The holidays truly are a magical time, but they can also be busy and a little stressful, especially when we put pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect for our loved ones. Last year was the first time I really took advantage of Cyber Monday and the mass sales and I really appreciated how peaceful ticking items off my list can actually be. I used the opportunity to buy gifts but also to fix up areas of my home for the holidays and the guests I'd have visiting.
Shopping from home has made things so much easier in the sense that there's no time restrictions, no fussing over which store's have stock and/or are sold out... and you can shop in your pyjamas if you like. That's a win. 
Erica Cook Cyber Monday Shopping
I took a moment to gather up some of my must have's and to include links (in title) to what I think are the best sales. Happy Shopping sweet friends!! xo

1. J.CREW     (I can find something for everyone here)

40% off, + an extra 10% off + free shipping. Use Code: SHOPFAST

2. WAITING ON MARTHA    (I adore her matches, candle selection + pretty much everything else)

30% off site wide. Use Code: CYBER30

3. THE LAND OF NOD    (the cutest goods and toys for the little people in your life) 

20% off site wide + free shipping. Prices Listed

4. INDIGO    (the BEST because they wrap, personalize and will keep your gift addresses on file)

Up to 50% on select goods + free shipping over $25 

5. ANTHROPOLOGIE    (unique and thoughtful gifts)

20% off site wide + 30% off sale + free shipping on orders over $100


Up to 80% off + free shipping on orders over $49. Prices Listed 

30% off site wide + free shipping. Use Code: CYBER30



Life At Home : The Art of Lounging

I read an interesting passage lately about the way we lounge, or unwind in the privacy of our homes. It was in the book called, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" (here). I had come across it while researching for my Hygge post (here). Much like dressing for our busy days is an expression of ourselves, the way we dress for relaxation is revealing too.
Do you wear old clothes that likely should have been thrown out? Are they even comfortable? I have gone through stages in the past where I indulge in cute comfy things, but I've also worn items that were as uncomfortable as they were ugly. Maybe you've done the same? Wearing the shirt that you got for free at something, that's 3 sizes too big and has a scratchy tag in the collar.

This is the paragraph that resonated with me:
"To me it doesn't seem right to keep clothes we don't enjoy for relaxing around the house. This time at home is still a precious part of living. Its value should not change just because nobody sees us. So, starting today, break the habit of downgrading clothes that don't thrill you to loungewear. The real waste is not discarding clothes you don't like but wearing them even though you are striving to create the ideal space for your ideal lifestyle. Precisely because no one is there to see you, it makes far more sense to reinforce a positive self-image by wearing clothes you love. 
The same goes for pajamas. What you wear in the house does impact your self image."
- Marie Kondo 

After reading this I set out to simplify the items I lounge in as well. As an extension to my hygge post, and pursuing that comfort in real life, I felt that it was important. There is truth to that passage that our time IS precious no matter where we are. At the same time finding comfy loungewear shouldn't break the bank, but at some point it does feel good to invest a little to ensure comfort and ease when grabbing those items quickly to change into. In that sense, it's making it easy for ourselves to make those transitions... and that just feels good.
Here are some of the things I've rounded up and own myself. To me items needed to be incredibly comfortable, soft, warm, practical, pretty and yet cost effective. Not a tiny list. But I found things that do fulfill those requirements.
Woman wearing sexy and comfortable top and shorts
These are the exact pieces I have in black. Top above (here) and pants below (here). They're so incredibly soft and wash well.  
Woman's legs in comfortable stylish pants
I've paired these pieces with this barefoot dreams topper (here) and I can''t believe how long it took me to buy it for myself. It's the softest thing on the planet too. 
woman in comfortable leggings and ombre cardigan
These slippers (here) completed my at home get up. Next up I'm ordering all the same items in a soft grey with ivory accents. I can't wait. 
Knitted rubber sole comfortable beige ivory slippers shearling stitched
I hope this might encourage you as well. There's something so celebratory about putting on truly excellent pieces at the end of the day. Happy lounging! xo e


Palm Springs : The Ace Hotel & Swim Club

From the moment we pulled up in front of The Ace we knew we were in for something very different than anywhere we'd been before.... in a decidedly good way. 
Originally a dilapidated Howard Johnson and Denny's, the space was apparently very run down, and neglected before a complete renovation breathed new life into this location. My first impression is that rather than bulldozing and starting fresh I love that this hotel line reimagined the existing buildings and revamped the existing bones. 
The Ace a chain originating in the Pacific Northwest has a very distinct feel, however a separate cali vibe resonates in their Palm Springs location. The crisp white breeze block walls against the bright green vegetation and stark grey mountains created a colour palate so pleasing to the eye. 

I have to emphatically say that what was most impressive about the Ace wasn't the design, or the bed, or the stark boutique feel so many chains resonate- it's that the team who created the Ace truly created an experience rather than a look. The vibe is exactly what you would want when escaping the realities of home life. It's not about putting a stamp on each identical room. Rooms in the ace all have sourced vintage pieces and a relaxed informal feel. Indulgence and luxury are apparent in the comfortable bed, snacks and beverages that you actually want to eat or drink, and enjoyable soaps and textiles- like the signature striped robes on hooks beside the beds (it's the little things). People throw around the word hipster a lot in reference to the Ace and perhaps there's some truth to that, but I chose to see it rather as relaxed and inviting, if not a totally homey destination where one can be themselves
To take things one step further, if you're at all nostalgic like I am you'll appreciate that in the main lobby you can purchase your own striped robe to take home. Or if you don't have room in your luggage many of the items within the rooms are available for order online. Such a nice touch to take a bit of your stay home with you. 
While on site we had breakfast at the King's Highway Diner (inhabiting the previous Denny's on location). We were so impressed by every aspect of our time there. From the server who treated us like old friends to the comfy banquette seating, the homey vibe and the delicious food. Breakfast was beyond and if you happen to stumble upon this little gem in the city, I suggest you try their homemade jam. It's unreal. 
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club Patio Wooden Doors 
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club Gardens
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club wooden direction signs
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club suite private patio
Erica Cook The Ace Hotel & Swim Club Room Vintage Record Player Ollie Quinn Glasses Club Manhattan Jewelry
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club Vintage Record player
Erica Cook Travel City Guide Palm Springs Ace Hotel & Swim Club
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club Patio pool area towels
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club lobby Photo Booth
The King's Highway Diner at The Ace Hotel and Swim Club banquet seating
If you ever find yourself in Palm Springs be sure to keep The Ace in mind. I know we'll look forward to the day when we're able to return and enjoy some downtime poolside. xo e


On Trend : How To Hygge

Hygge. How do we Hygge? Why would we Hygge? This buzz term, pronounced "Hue-Guh", is a danish word that means to indulge in little pleasures and all things cozy. An ideology extremely relevant in this age of rushed and overbooked lives. There's no english equivalent, so it's no surprise we're not familiar with the term or way of life. From what I've read, the Danish are some of the happiest people in the world so they must be doing something right. I figured the best way to explain Hygge was to understand it myself. I didn't really know where to begin, so I started with booking an hour one evening to think about it and read up on the practise. I then came up with a list of ways to force myself to slow down and unplug.

I often work on my computer until I turn out the lights for bed, and I wonder why I feel burnt out. I typically have my laptop in front of me with Netflix going in the background. I work away while keeping track of whatever is happening on the series we're watching at the time. It had never occurred to me what an absurd amount of stimulation this is. It took curiosity about this word to be able to see this clearly. I knew immediately I had to make some changes and they fell into place so easily. To summarize Hygge is all about creating a haven or sanctuary in your own home in order to enjoy a slower lifestyle and savour precious moments. It's about being kind to yourself and your loved ones while indulging in fulfilling cozy activities.

I've started putting on soft clothes, sipping tea, snuggling under a giant blanket against plush cushions and reading; it feels so nice and quiet. It's funny how it seems luxurious to slow things down. I've also started listening to my record player. There's something about the fuzzy sound of the needle set to soft vocals that's just so nice. I leave my phone face down on my bedside table in the evenings making a conscious effort to give myself a break from mindless scrolling.
I also discovered that a lot of the time the work I did in the evening was so divided that I didn't accomplish as much as I could. Forcing myself to slow down and indulge has also meant that my work has had to become more focused. I'm using my time more efficiently and generally feeling refreshed.

How to Hygge:
  1. Set aside time to unwind and enjoy life's pleasures (book it in your calendar if you must) and ditch your technology for this hour or two. 
  2. Treat yourself to some new slippers, a robe, or other cozy soft wear that encourages relaxation. 
  3. Make yourself a cup of tea and savour as you sip. Enter code "ericateapigs" (here) for 10% off my favourite teas.
  4. Light a candle, maybe even one with a wooden wick that flickers and cracks like a fire would. 
  5. Run a bath and indulge in the ritualistic aspects of soaking in the tub. Use a bath bomb or Epsom salts
  6. Read a good book. Make picking the book out a ceremonious act as well and maybe stick to something happy. 
  7. Update your space with soft pillowscozy throws and warm white indirect lighting. 
  8. Allow yourself a special treat, like a tart from the local bakery or your favourite candy. 
  9. Bring nature inside: a plant cut branch or floral arrangements, or planted bulbs. 
  10. Take time for self care: use a face mask, apply a rich body lotion, or do an at home mani/pedi.
  11. Listen to soothing music. If you have a record player pick out an album that puts you in a good mood. Otherwise make a play list that combines your favourite mellow music. 
  12. Diffusers give your space a fresh feel and ionize the air, add essential oils and breathe deeply. 

I hope this helps. I'd love to hear how you hygge. xo e
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