Excuse me while I trash my blog…

Please note that I am performing some pretty major updates to the look and content of Modern Rags. During this time I may actually break the site….please come back later when things are looking a little more in order. It shouldn’t be too long presuming my little one keeps to a regular napping schedule. If not, it may take a little longer than planned.

Thanks for your patience!

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Minted & Julep

I’ve been dreaming about making the little one’s birth announcements for…oh…nearing 5 months now. As it’s obviously not happening, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to seriously look at alternatives where I can (very) easily use a template and have done with it before the child can announce his own birth.

Which is how I recently ended up on Minted where I almost immediately got distracted, and never actually ordered any birth announcements. Seriously. All it takes is a shiny object or new content that I can peruse while feeding my voraciously hungry little one for the umpteenth time, and you can consider me distracted.

Enter Julep – Minted’s blog – which describes itself as providing design and DIY inspiration for home, weddings and parties. Which immediately got me interested because, of course, I’m always in the mood for some design and DIY inspiration (even if I have zero time to do anything about it because I have a small human attached to me half of the time).

What I found interesting about Julep was that, even though there are some plugs for Minted’s products scattered in here and there, they don’t hit you over the head with them. The emphasis of the posts is on the inspiration and ideas, and not on the sales pitch. For example, in a recent post on Nursery Inspiration they created a mood board inspired by one of their art prints:

Nikkols-Nursery-Picks-For-Minted-good-day-for-a-walk-print

The post is short and sweet: find some little thing that inspires you (like a cute print), and then pull colours, patterns, and themes from it to design the rest of the room (which, of course, isn’t what I did when decorating Boo’s nursery, but whatever). There’s no “buy now” – just a discreet link to the print, and its inclusion in the list of items pictured.

Of course, once I clicked through to the print, I got started looking at their art print offerings (the next “shiny object”) and, much to my surprise, my work brain kicked in…I really like how user-friendly their art selection process is.

Though not all pieces have the same features, many of them – just like Minted’s stationery – are available in multiple colour schemes:

Minted-Art1

To help get your head around each sizing option available, they provide this handy dandy comparison (and can I just mention I love that the model is mostly invisible in the 44″x44″ shot?):

Minted-Art2

And then, if the print has been included in an art wall inspiration board – showing what other pieces of art go well with it – well then, that’s there too, providing inspiration for your very own art wall:

Minted-Art3

All of which is just generally helpful, and a pretty cool way to integrate their inspiration boards into the shopping experience.

Well done Minted.

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Type Tuesdays: Typolocate

Is there a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with chocolate? Yes. Yes, there absolutely is. With Typocolate, courtesy of local Montreal design firm Dynamo and chocolatiers Suite88:

Now you can get both your chocolate fix *and* your type fix all in one. Available for a limited time in dark and milk chocolate, emblazoned with positive mantras in both English and French in their shop.

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How I resemble my dad (or why customer service is important)

Last week was the first time in our new house that we had several major and consecutive snowfalls. There was so much snow that we were a bit at a loss where to put it all. I quickly discovered that my boots just weren’t cutting it…my feet were warm, but my ankles were freezing (and my pants soaked) as the tall snow drifts just drifted right in. My mission was clear: get taller boots.

I did some research, narrowed it down to a few brands, and found a store that carried them all. At my first opportunity, I made my way there….only to wait. And wait. And wait for someone to serve me. When I finally did get served, the service was lousy. Of the two pairs of boots I’d asked to try on, the salesgirl brought me one completely random pair, and the other I wanted, well…the colours didn’t match…I tried them on anyway. I liked the fit, and if she’d have just come to see how I was doing, I was ready to buy them…provided she got me a matching pair.

So I put my own boots back on, and waited…Where was my salesgirl? She’d completely disappeared. After a few minutes of wondering and looking for her, I said “f**k it” and walked out of the store.

And right there is how I resemble my dad: not only by concluding that my time is important and that I deserve to be well-served as a customer, but by insisting on it….and (this is key) by walking out when the store didn’t deliver.

I went two doors down to another store, walked in and was immediately served by a friendly, smiling and attentive salesgirl. She was helpful, full of suggestions on fit, comfort and function…and (you know where this is going) I bought my boots from her!

Here’s what I got:

Sorel’s Cate the Great

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Friday I’m in Love: Tea

I have had a *wonderful* two weeks off over the holidays during which time I’ve accomplished very very little. But that’s ok. I wanted this time to rest, relax, catch up on some much needed sleep, and to properly distance myself from work (you know…to stop the constant hum of work-related crap constantly circling the back of my mind).

In these respects, my vacation was a grand success. A large part of which is due to the time I took to just sit, read, watch old movies, or play World of Goo, Contre Jour or Machinarium on my new iPad (thank you Stuart!). Regardless what I was doing, though, I did it with a cup mug of tea…and with homemade cookies (thank you Aunt Paige!).

Since I’ve been so tea-focused of late, here are few tea-related items I’m currently loving:

Pinned by Kaitlyn Titus via Beauty and Grace

hairbrainedschemes’ A Cup of Tea and a Long Book print

Pinned by Emma Edkins via Marley.and.Me

Skinny laMinx’s Everyone Came to Tea tea towel

Pinned by lorentsia via source

Teresa Doyle performing “You’re My Cup of Tea” (skip to about 1m 45sec to go immediately to the song).

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Chair Challenge

Of all the household items I need to purchase for my house, I never thought that dining/kitchen chairs would be the most difficult. Without exaggerating, I’ve been searching for months. Why is it so very complicated? Here’s why:

1. The chairs must be aesthetically pleasing to me.
If this were the only criteria, I’d be done. But, alas, many of the chairs I think look beautiful, don’t necessarily feel beautiful once you actually sit on them. Or else they send shivers up my boys’ spine, making him feel like he’s been thrown back in time and is sitting in high school detention. I’m looking at YOU fiberglass shell chairs.

(I should note at this moment that I LOVE these chairs. As in, I abso-freaking-lutely ADORE them, and still harbour the hope that we’ll end up buying a mix of chairs for our dining room table, these included…though as a purist, I insist they be made of fiberglass and not plastic.)

2. The chairs must be well-constructed and sturdy.
We’ve sat in a lot of chairs over the last few months. And every single one of them has been subjected to the “wiggle test”…as in, sit down, and wiggle about. Does the chair feel solid? Does it feel like you might topple off it? Or that it might bust?

Alas, one of my most budget-friendly picks from IKEA failed the wiggle test.

(IKEA’s transparent Tobias chair was too wobbly and, according to the boy, too prone to scratches.)

It also means that the chair needs to look like it’s well-made. If we’re going to spend $300+ on a chair, it’s gotta look like it’s worth it. Though it was comfortable (and passed the wiggle test), the Calligaris Flair chair did not pass the “it looks like it’s worth it” test.

(Surprisingly, the Flair Chair‘s seat upholstery was rather cheap looking once we really examined it.)

3. The chairs must “fit” us.
In other words they need to be comfortable for both a 6-footer and a 5-footer…the length of our respective legs and bodies play a big role in how each chair “fits”. Unfortunately, what is comfortable for one of us can be pretty uncomfortable for the other. A chair back that reaches my shoulder can jab my boy in the middle of his back…or one that is deep enough to sit comfortably and support his thighs leaves my feet dangling like a kid.

(These vintage chairs from Antiquités Curiosités on Montreal’s Amherst street were beautiful….but just didn’t fit my boy’s long legs.)

Add all of these criteria up, and suddenly you’re rejecting chairs left, right, and centre….but not all of them. Our current front-runner is sohoConcept’s Patara chair:

It looks great; doesn’t look like a detention/school chair; passes the wiggle test; looks well-made; and mostly fits us both…it’s a touch tall for me, but as a shrimp I’m used to it and can totally live with it.

We’ve yet to pull the trigger, though, as they carry a pretty hefty price tag…here’s where my “mix and match” idea may come into play!

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