May, 2010

Summer Essentials

May 19th, 2010

The long weekend is upon us, the veritable gateway to summer sun and fun, so we thought we’d put together a little essentials guide to get you started off on the right foot.

At the mjölk shop, we have a really great selection of small items for the backyard, summer house or for those of you who are lucky enough, hostess gift ideas for jaunts to a friend’s cottage.

From left, clockwise (some of these items are so new they aren’t even on our website yet!):

1. DIY bird house from Finland.
2. Oma ceramic citrus squeezer: psst, I used it during the shoot, and used the lemon juice for my salad at lunch. It’s a keeper!
3. Sakurasaku glasses: don’t you hate condensation rings in the summer? Well at least this glass leaves a sakura (cherry blossom) ring instead.
4. Linen coasters from Fog Linen: I wish I always knew this, but fabric coasters are the best.
5. “Frame” brass bottle opener by Oji Masanori: showstoppers at a party.
6. Crushed white ceramic bowl by JDS Architects: perfect for summer salads!
7. Wooden Salad servers $75.
8. Handmade Swedish table brush set.
9. Senovinis crochet cotton blanket: a traditional style blanket.
10. Glow oil lantern by Thomas Sandell
11. DLM (don’t leave me) powder coated side table: perfect for inside and out, with a little handle to take it with you.
12. SIWA paper sunglass pouch by Naoto Fukasawa $28
13. I’m Boo glass carafe by Norway Says: stay quenched with a carafe full of water.
14. Rubber washing up bowl & brush: this item is synonymous with the statement “this would be perfect for the cottage”, and we don’t disagree.
15. Sill Swedish tea towel: fish tea towel!
16. Gingham linen tray: love love love these trays.
17. Nokka oil and vinegar cruets: a pretty set for the perfect salad.

Juli’s summer essentials:

1. Swedish Hasbeen clogs: this year is the year of the sandal for me. Never before have my toesies been exposed, mostly because I’ve always assumed that sandals are not comfortable. This year I grow up.
2. Built by Wendy dress: from my favourite Toronto clothing store, Robber.
3. Vintage Coach purse: it’s time to soften my look by moving away from the black purse. From House of Vintage.
4. Gingham scarf: seems that gingham is all the rage this summer, but in my world, it’s all the rage all the time. by Isabelle Marant, from last year.
5. Lomo camera: Anabela and Celine have inspired me to dust off my film camera collection. This summer I will throw control and premeditation to the wind. So far I am having fun toting this lomo around (I have owned it for about 4 years and have taken one roll).
6. Oliver Goldsmith Sunglasses in Kolus: John and I are notoriously bad at buying sunglasses. Something about our faces. A few weeks ago we finally took the plunge, and picked up a pair each from Spectacle on Queen. They have so much selection and the salespeople are very helpful and patient. Usually when I get home I end up hating my choice, but so far so good with this pair!
7. Summer reading: Any suggestions? Honestly, I can’t seem to get enough of coming of age novels. I have no idea what that means, but it’s what I gravitate towards. Right now I am trying to get into The History of Danish Dreams by Peter Hoeg. I am sure you can surmise why I bought the book. But I am not sure if it’s my thing. I guess I need to give it more of a chance…

John’s summer essentials:

1. Navy Sperry Top-siders: Yay! Finally John has a pair of practical summer shoes. No more tying up leather boots at the cottage. Boat shoes are so classic. Trends come and go, but boat shoes will always be. From B2.
2. Vintage hat: We stopped in to Cabaret to say hello and John found this amazing piece. p.s. and a bit off topic, but they also sell vintage-inspired wedding dresses. A friend got married this weekend in the tulip style dress and it looked fab.
3. Gingham shirt: John’s favourite clothing store in Toronto is Sydney’s
on Queen West. Right now he has a new collection of short sleeve dress shirts that are made in-house.
4. Oliver Goldsmith Sunglasses in Renzo: John’s peepers are also being protected by these fab new sunglasses. Also still lookin’ good.
5. Eko Guitar: Acoustic guitars are always good for the cottage life. From Paul’s Boutique.
6. Tachibera Shoehorn: You know, no one ever has a nice shoehorn these days. Honestly, the experience is completely different between a 50 cent plastic one and this gorgeous wooden one designed by Oji Masanori.
7. Pipe: John has decided to start smoking a pipe while up at the cottage. I think it’s a slippery slope. He thinks he’s Danish.
8. Summer reading: Scandinavian Country of course! Or Norwegian Wood. Both are inspirational for when you are rethinking summer house interiors.

Stool 60 by Alvar Aalto, $275

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Spaces: Juliana Neufeld, version 2.0

May 18th, 2010

Hey Everyone, we hope all of you had a great weekend!

Ours ended with a very nice email from one of our first Kitka submitters, Juliana Neufeld (click to be sure to check out her old space, to see how things have evolved!).

She’s got a new place and sent some photos to share! BTW, we love the idea of using a black board wall as a large mural canvas, to be changed up once and awhile. If only we weren’t so graphically challenged here at Kitka!


Me, Juliana Neufeld, illustrator and painter and Sammy Rawal, music video director and photographer both lived in a basement prior to our current apartment and were craving hardwood and light when we started our search for a new dwelling. We found a lovely 3rd floor Apartment at College and Gladstone with skylights in the kitchen and bathroom and a nice sized patio. Sammy and I have similar graphic sensibilities so we were both so excited to decorate the place, combining our love of thrift and antique store finds with bold textiles, graphic lines and colour.

We knew when we moved into a larger space that we wanted to do a blackboard wall. Right now we have a Keith Haring-esque drawing going on, but we like to change it up every month, to give the whole kitchen/living room area a totally different vibe. I’ve got plans to draw a giant owl mural next.

Everything displayed on these shelves are gifts from friends and loved ones over the years. The combination of sentimental value and good design make these items pretty priceless to both of us.

The table was a good find at Cindiloowhoo on Ossington.We have plans to paint the chairs a glossy white but haven’t found the time yet. A good summer project, I guess. The image above the table is a beautiful photograph of a silver toy sail boat by  friend and fellow Ryerson photo graduate Chris Boyne.

We had a little wall space snuggled in between the hall dividing our bedrooms, so we decided to throw up some of our old favorite books. We have more globes than we know what to do with, so the floating shelf was a perfect space to balance one of them.

My bedroom is still a work in progress..I get so excited about textiles and can’t help picking them up wherever I travel. It’s always a fun challenge trying to balance and layer them in ways that still project a sense of calm.

The chair was a $15 Roncesvalles find and the framed poster I found (and fell head over heels for) at The Public Butter in Parkdale.

I found this adorable old ketchup squeeze bottle at the downstairs of 69 Vintage on Bloor, which is now a perfect dispenser for dishwashing soap.

The living room is an eclectic mix of our finds over the years. The apartment is by no means big, but we’ve managed to get lots of “stuff” in here. The newest find was a vintage film poster advertising the sixties films “Seven Thieves” and “Tall Story” that I picked up at Queen West Antiques in Roncesvalles.

A major work in progress…We have plans to let greenery take over the space. Would love to get vines, some potted trees and plants scattered around the patio. And of course a BBQ!

This pup is one half of a salt and pepper duo that I found at a friend’s garage sale. I kind of like him better all by himself.

Sammy painted this awesome Keith Haring  mural on his wall. And the the poster above the bed is Artist John Todd’s adaptation of the Keep Calm Carry On poster from Function 13 in Kensington market.

Thanks so much for sharing!

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Aukarky by Studio Formfantasma

May 13th, 2010

“Autarky” by Studio Formafantasma is a line of objects made from flour. Well mostly flour… The composition of the collection is 70% flour, 20% agricultural waste, and 10% natural limestone. “Autarky” promotes a self-sufficient way of producing goods and “outlines a hypothetical scenario where a community is embracing a serene and self inflicted embargo where nature is personally cultivated, harvested and processed, to feed and make tools to serve human necessities.”

The differences in colour are obtained by the selection of distinct vegetables, spices, and roots that are dried, boiled or filtered for their natural dyes. Egg yolk is then used to add a bright detail to the dry surface of the bowls. Studio Formafantasma even worked in cooperation with a chemist studio to rediscover old natural techniques used in the Renaissance to lacquer and make the surface of the objects waterproof.

What a beautiful and inspiring collection.

Via Yatzer

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May 12th, 2010

Saturday was the Junction’s opening party for the contact photo festival. There were dozens of little impromptu galleries on our street and we were excited to be one of them. Especially considering we were showing a wonderful series by Per Kristiansen.

The store was looking beautifully minimalist with everything off the shelves.

We had the Golightly Jazz Band perform some great jazz standards during the public and private reception.

A sea of heads. And in true party fashion, everyone crammed themselves into the proverbial kitchen.

Brad from Rodney’s Oyster House came to shuck up something delicious.

I easily had over a dozen oysters just for myself, but I lost count.

We also had beer from Warsteiner, Rekorderlig cider, and Organized Crime Wine! We told the bar tender to use all of the Oji Masanori brass bottle openers to open beer.

Foggy windows!

Monday morning House and Home stylist Kimberly Brown and photographer Janet Kimber came by to shoot the store for the H&H September issue! That same day Studio Junction came by to take some images while the place was looking so clean and nice.

Since our store faces the south we don’t start getting natural light until the end of the day. I took the opportunity to take some shots of the space with all the lights off.

Everything on the black floating bookcase really pops.

These bell lights by Alvar Aalto are just beautiful.

We installed leather pulls for the cabinetry, which are a pleasure to pull and something that we’d like to explore using in other places in our home.

The shop is feeling really good these days! We’ve sold off some furniture and are ready for a new crop of pieces!

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And the winners are…

May 10th, 2010

THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE!!! It was so nice to read during such a dramatic time last week!

We were so overwhelmed with all of your lovely comments that we couldn’t just make one person happy, we had to choose four (and all 94 of you, if we could have). We used the “True random number generator” to come up with the winning results.

Drum roll please…

And the winners are:

#25 Karol!!!!!!!!

#33 Jeanne!!!!!!!!!

#13 Brittany!!!!!!!!!

Stephanie #86!!!!!!!!!

That was exciting for us.

Congrats to all the winners! Please send us an email at:


with your address so we can mail them out to you!

If you didn’t win don’t worry, there will be more contests!

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One more spoon post!

May 6th, 2010

I wanted to do one big post dedicated to spoons so I can get it out of my system. There was some great natural light this morning so I tried to work my breakfast around using our wooden spoons. Plus it’s a great segue to share some of the books I got while on our trip!

“Never,” says Andreani’s French guide to etiquette, “leave your coffee spoon in your cup when you lift it to your lips.”

Walnut coffee spoon & Kaj Franck mug and saucer (above)

My Mom makes homemade jam for us and there’s no better way to start your day than jam, butter, and toast! It tastes even better from the Arabia jam jar, and Masanori Oji’s Kakudo plate, which has raised edges to keep toast crumbs in.

I got two jam spoons, one in cherry (for marmalade and gooseberry jams) and one in walnut (for darker jams like raspberry and elderberry).

Peter from Studio Junction was raving about a little Italian shop that makes fresh Ricotta cheese daily. The next day he showed up with a big cup full of still warm ricotta cheese for us! It’s fantastic just on it’s own, but if you add some blueberries and a little maple syrup it makes a delicious treat.

I just wanted to take a detail shot just to show off all the spoon’s hand tooled shaping.

Alright not a breakfast photo, but I love this little spice spoon. This isn’t the best photograph to show how small it is, but it’s teeny tiny.

A few weeks ago Allison, the owner of the Spice Trader (on Queen St.) came to visit. We really love specialty shops and that day Juli paid her a visit to get some herbes de provence, and some Chinese five spice. We’ve been putting the 5 spice on everything lately!

As I mentioned on a previous post, I came to Japan in search of handwork by Ryuji Mitani. I found the spoons, but I also found a beautiful book about his work. It’s all in Japanese, but the photographs are fantastic.

We recently got a visit from Nikole Herriott from online shop HerriottGrace, and wonderful blog forty-sixth at grace. She came by to share some of her father’s handmade spoons with us and to pick up a beautiful Finnish reindeer hide and handmade glass jar brush.

There was one spoon in particular that really caught my eye. The teak coffee spoon. I just had to have it!

A single spoon can take anywhere from 10 hours to 14 hours to make, it’s really a labor of love.

I’m going to be lurking on her online shop in case any teak flour scoops or ice cream scoops turn up.

A book of Spoons, by Jasper Morrison.

“…Spoons can inspire affection as knives and forks cannot; they are unthreatening nurturing objects. Superstitions about them show that they are subconsciously regarded as little persons: two on one saucer means an imminent wedding; dropping one on a table means a visitor is coming; and so on.”

Let the madness continue.

Wooden stirring spoons, 300mm

egg/salt spoon, 140mm

Lufthansa airline spoon, 126mm

one more quote from the book:

“The English in the eighteenth century, so Le Grand Duc d’Aussy tells us, were given to using the knife like a sort of flat spoon, even for eating peas. It was an anonymous Englishman who expressed the frustration of many by imagining a heroic situation:

I eat my peas with honey –
I’ve done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on my knife.”

During our dinner at Masanori Oji’s home I took my book on Mitani and collection of spoons to share. When Masanori went to get his spoons he also came back with an amazing book on Japanese handcraft cutlery. He was ridiculously kind and gave me the book, and it’s been on our coffee table ever since, so I can thumb through all the wonderful images.

8 easy steps!

I really love the cutlery sets that come with nice fabric cases you can wrap up and take with you on picnics.


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