World Pancreatic Cancer Day

“Assumptions Can Be Deadly.” Today is World Pancreatic Cancer Day. Please take time to learn the symptoms of this cancer that is often found when the disease has already metastasized. Thinking of my Junior League of Toronto friends Bryna and Shelley who recently lost their husband and brother Kevin. Kevin was committed to helping provide a greater awareness of pancreatic cancer and its symptoms – as well as increased research funding. A wonderful legacy to leave this world. Please take time to read this article – http://www.cp24.com/mobile/lifestyle/health/partnership-hopes-to-make-progress-on-pancreatic-cancer-with-research-network-1.3680012 – and share with those you love.

100 Years of Finnish Design 

In 2017, Finland celebrates 100 years of independence and last Thursday evening we were lucky to explore 100 years of Finnish Design at home in Toronto. The University of Toronto Finnish Studies program along with the Embassy of Finland in Canada hosted leading Finnish Design expert Professor Pekka Korvenmaa from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. The evening was an enlightening and entertaining insight into Finnish Design that I was privileged to attend.

Finnish design dates back to the 1870’s Industrial Revolution and Paris World Fair of 1900 when design was simply known as crafts including simple birch wood, plywood, textiles, rugs and ceramics. As Finland became an independent nation in 1917, their design was impacted by economic factors as well as the decisions of the middle class housewives and available talent. To this day, Finland has a great number of women at the forefront of their design. 

Marimekko has featured many female designers including Armi Ratia and Maija Isola since its inception in 1951 and remains a staple in Finnish design until this day. Their colourful prints are well known throughout the world. Their stripped Jokapoika shirts are still made today and the Unikko Poppy print is now seen in a multitude of colours. Even First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore a Marimekko dress for its simplicity as her fashion choices had been seen as excessive to the American people. This fashion statement made the brand an immediate hit in the United States. 


Stockmann‘s department store – also known as Harrods of the north – became a paradise of consumption and Finnish design. On my first holiday to Helsinki in the late the 1980’s, I remember visiting it with my Mummi and returning home to Canada with a skirt and sweater purchased from there. It has continued to be a stop on my two subsequent trips to Helsinki. A beautiful store filled with many beautiful things as well as a beautiful building too. 



To this day Alvar Aalto is Finland’s most famous Architect and Designer. One of his most famous furniture pieces was turning a piece of plywood into a stunning and aesthetically pleasing chair to sit as well as admire.

Aalto used textiles, glass and ceramics and made them into functional pieces at an affordable price. They were intimately tied to social democracy in Finland and made design accessible to all. One such piece of Aalto’s was his well known Savoy vase by iittala. Symbolic of the Finnish middle class, it brought beauty to enhance everyday life. Most households owned one. I am lucky to own two yet still hope to own a big Savoy vase one day. Definitely one of my favourite pieces as it reminds me of the nature and lakes of Finland. 

Finnish design is all about practicality and functionality and how modern design can serve the family. From stackable dishes by Arabia Finland to maximize space to the dish drying rack to simplify household duties. All my Finnish family have one in their homes. Truly smart Finnish design.

Arabia Finland was a leader in dishware and China and people flocked to Helsinki for it. Designer Kaj Franck tried to introduce melamine dishware but the interest was not there. People had strong emotions about how they wanted to eat and drink and they simply desired to use china, ceramics and glassware. I now am lucky to have my parent’s Arabia Finland wedding china – a discontinued pattern called Valencia – which I cherish dearly. In 2015, I travelled to Finland and stayed in an area called Arabianranta – just steps from the original Arabia factory. A fun fact I learned from Professor Korvenmaa was that Arabia Finland gained its name from the name of the lot it sits on – Villa Arabia. While I have visited the retail store, the Iittala and Arabia Design Centre is definitely top of my list on my next holiday to Helsinki. 


 
In the 1960’s, plastics became a material of choice. Many people know the company Fiskars but very few likely know it was a Finnish company. They took the heavy and expensive tailor scissors and used a less expensive material to make them an incredible piece of technology and design. The Fiskars scissors are used in many households throughout the world and are the iconic household scissors that sold by the billion according to CNN Style. 

Finnish design always focused on the need for domestic items. A place to eat, somewhere to sleep and something to wear. Finnish nature has also played a backdrop for much of its design. Comparisons are often made between Japanese and Finnish Design. Japanese design was all about minimalism and asthethics. Finnish design was about being functional. Incredible how that goal of being functional has led to incredible aesthetically pleasing and beautiful design.

When Professor Korvenmaa was asked about comparing design to other Nordic countries and beyond, he used this insightful quote – “When you are a fish in the water, you don’t contemplate the water.” While Sweden and Denmark focused on beauty and Great Britain and France focused on design for the elite, Finnish design was for everyone. 

Intrigued to learn about Finnish Design, you may wish to read his book: Finnish Design: A Concise History. Kiitos Professor Korvenmaa for all the incredible new insights into Finnish Design. I am excited to return to Finland again soon to explore more about the design I have grown up with and still absolutely love today. 

Autumn Wedding Makeup


It is not too often I get to glam up so it was very lovely to have a wedding to go to this evening. Makeup is from my Bobbi Brown Cosmetics collection. For a base – light bisque corrector, light sand instant Full Cover corrector, sand stick foundation, bare nude illuminating powder, stonestreet bronzer to add a bit of warmth to my skin, nude pink blusher and pink glow for highlighting. On my eyes, ivory is swept across the lid, black plum long wear eye liner along the waterline and lash line and a combination of eggplant, star beam and mica eye shadows on my lid followed by smokey eye mascara. To finish lip balm and crushed lipstick in Cali Rose. Crystal earrings from Swarovski. Autumn wedding glamour. Thank you to @glowbytamara and @bbpro_hannahmartin for teaching me many amazing makeup tips. 💗

Forty-something Fatigue 

For any ladies struggling with crushing fatigue, you may wish to read this article – The ‘fatigued 40’s’ are real. Here’s how to tackle them. I can relate. This photograph represents how I function everyday. At a minimum I need a venti black coffee to tackle my day.  Happy to read I am not alone. Anyone found any strategies that work for them? 

A Evening with Finnish Studies – 100 Years of Finnish Design

I absolutely love my University of Toronto Finnish Studies class on Finnish Architecture and Design. This week we get to explore more about one of my favourite things – Finnish Design. If you live in Toronto and love Finnish design or would just like to learn more, join us this Thursday evening to listen to special guest Pekka Korvenmaa – author of Finnish Design: A Concise History – from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Coffee and pulla will be served after the lecture. Everyone welcome. Tervetuloa! 

Back to School – FIN 270 Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design at the University of Toronto 


I love to learn. While I may have left formal post-secondary education more than two decades ago, I have continued to be a lifelong learner both formally and informally. The University of Toronto’s Finnish Studies elective courses have always been on my learning wish list since both my parents emigrated from Finland to Canada as well as most of my family were born and continue to live in Finland. When I read about the Finnish Studies and the Embassy of Finland to Canada’s brand new course in Modern and Contemporary Finnish Architecture and Design, I knew I had to enroll. I grew up surrounded by Finnish design and on a construction site too. I believe both inspired my love of architecture, design and photography. I work professionally full time, I decided to audit the course by creatively using three vacation days to attend this class to learn more. My first class completed and I am very excited about the lectures and guest speakers including a few who will travel from Finland for this course that celebrates Finland’s 100th anniversary of Independence. Finland is a young nation but it has made an amazing impact through its architecture and design in both Finland and around the world. Look forward to all my learnings and sharing my insights in the weeks ahead. Join me on the journey. Tervetuloa.

Remembering Princess Diana 


Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana 

It is hard to believe twenty years have passed since the news of Princess Diana’s death. I grew up with Princess Diana from the moment the press found out she was dating Prince Charles. I still remember waking in the wee hours of July 29, 1981 on summer holidays in Sudbury to watch the Royal Wedding and essentially fell in love with everything British and Royal. How incredibly lucky I would be that I was in Ottawa on a school trip when Charles and Diana would make their first trip to Canada in 1983. I waited on a hot and humid June day with a few public school friends and likely a teacher given our young age to just get a glimpse of Princess Diana from her car as it entered the Rideau Hall Gates. It was a dream come true. I followed Princess Diana in the newspapers, magazines and television. I loved her style and elegance but more importantly I was inspired about how she made it her mission to help others, advocate and shed light to causes that were not considered glamorous. Diana had this warmth which was evident in her interactions with others.

In June 1997, my university friend and a fellow Princess Diana fan and I planned a trip to London. The trip was originally planned for around the time of Princess Diana’s death but at some point we decided to moved it up to June. What a different trip it would have been from the one we experienced. I was up north in cottage country when I heard the news of Princess Diana with one fuzzy television channel and a radio. As the days passed, I would watch the coverage from London and once again woke in the wee hours of September 6, 1997 to say goodbye to the People’s Princess. 

Since the world lost Princess Diana, I have been lucky to see her dresses twice in Toronto, travel to her resting place Althorp with my mother on her birthday in 2002 and then onto Paris to where she lost her life that fateful day. I hope to travel to London to see the Diana: Her Fashion Story at Kensington Palace before it closes in early 2018. 

In a world that celebrates and worships all things celebrity, it is Princess Diana who continues to inspire me. Princess Diana embodied love, kindness, compassion and inclusion. I aim to embrace these values as I go about my own travels on this earth. I love seeing her boys William and Harry along with Catherine carry on her legacy and continue to champion causes that were important to her while also charting their own course of what is important to them. Diana would be so incredibly proud. As a life-long volunteer, they all inspire me to continue to contribute to my own community and helping others. 

“I think the biggest disease the world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved. I know that I can give love for a minute, for half an hour, for a day, for a month, but I can give. I am very happy to do that, I want to do that.” – Princess Diana

Diana – forever remembered and missed. 💗