Our Q&A with Xenia Taler

Our Q&A with Xenia Taler

  Xenia Taler and Steven Kablinky work together to create beautiful coasters and tiles that are truly modern heirlooms.  Xenia designs the images while Steven crafts the tiles in their Toronto studio. Each tile is handcrafted and all glazes are mixed from scratch.  Their designs are a BRIKA bestseller online and in our shop! We sent one of our favorite photogs, Kayla Chobotiuk out to interview…

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House & Home

Llewellyn’s Witches’ Calendar January 1998.

Spirits of the corners,
Winds of the quarters,
You who stand watching,
And you who hear my voice,
Guard well my home tonight.

Dwelling places have always been seen as possessing magical potential. To enter a home, one must first pass over the threshold, considered a sacred place in many cultures. Doors archetypally represent the portal between worlds. To stand between them automatically puts you in the magical space known as the place “in between.” To the ancient Celts, any place that was not clearly in one world or another possessed inherent magical power. In your doorway you are neither in nor out–you are in between–making your threshold an ideal place to chant blessings or cast magical spells for the protection of your home.

Many Witches like to place magical objects that offer their homes protection on or near their doors. Small, decorative brooms are often used for this purpose. The broom, called a besom in the Craft, is usually shown with its bristles up to symbolize the unity of the divine and the blessing of the gods upon the dwelling. The handle represents the phallus of the God, and the bristles are reminiscent of the mound of Venus on the female body, the entrance to the womb of the Goddess.

Many common threshold decorations, like door harps or wind chimes, were originally devices of magical home protection. In both cases the intent is to use musical sounds to scare away negativity or evil spirits.

To use a door harp or wind chimes to protect the entrance to your home, project into it your intent through visualization, then hang it, sealing the act with words of power, such as:

“Chimes with lovely magical sound
Spread your protection all around
Guard the opening of my door
Send harm away forever more.”

Another magical opening to the house is the chimney. The word hearth contains the word heart, underscoring its place as the center of the home. Many Pagans keep their ancestor shrines near the hearth. They may also leave food and drink for household faeries near it, or decorate it with protective symbols.

The modern hearth is the kitchen, and in China there still exists an annual festival to honor their most personal deity, the Kitchen God of the household. Exactly one week prior to the start of the Chinese New Year, families remove the picture of him that hangs over the stove and burn it over a sweet-smelling incense, amidst offerings of candy and cakes. The Kitchen God flies on the incense up to his celestial home to report to the other deities about the behavior of the family during the year, especially how they treated one another. After this family ritual is complete, a new picture of the Kitchen God is put over the stove.

In many Pagan cultures it was believed that homes possessed guardian spirits. The most well-known of these are the Lares and the Penates of ancient Rome, who were celebrated in a special festival that took place each January 8. The Lares lived in subterranean sancturaries underneath the homes they chose to look after. They slept by day, and at night came out to care for the exterior of the home. The Penates lived above the house, usually in “attics” or in the trees that shaded the dwelling. They awoke with the sunrise, and spent their days taking care of the household tasks and looking after the welfare of the home’s inhabitants. On festival day, every member of the household would gather around the home altar to make an offering of thanks, usually in the form of food, wine and fresh straw for bedding.

Modern Witches like to see to it that their homes are protected, or “warded,” from both astral and physical intruders. One popular method of this is to mentally visualize the home being surrounded with protective symbols, like the pentagram. Another is making a wash made from purified water and boiled protective herbs. On each window and door in the home a finger damp with the warding wash is used to draw a large pentagram while words of power are spoken to seal the spell. Any leftover wash is sprinkled outside around the perimeters of the property. To make a warding wash, simply boil distilled water into which you have placed a tea ball or cheesecloth full of dried herbs such as basil, rue, cinnamon, or bay, which are known to have protective energies. As the mixture heats, be sure to clearly visualize your intent.

You can also bless your home using an old custom involving bread and salt. Bread is offered to the household guardians as a libation, and the salt is kept in the heart of the home to ground any evil that might enter. After you do this, burn a purifying or protecting incense, such as frankincense, cinnamon, or pepper, moving it from room to room while you visualize any negativity fleeing from your home. As you go, chant over and over your words of power:

“Smoke of air and fire and earth
Cleanse and bless this home and hearth
Only good may dwell in here.”

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

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Daily Stamp: No-boil, No-drain Pasta Pot

If you thought pasta couldn’t get simpler, try the Alessi Pot, which cuts steps for streamlined cooking. What’s your fave pasta dish?

This specially designed pot uses an age-old cooking method for more flavorful pasta. Boiling and draining washes away tasty starches, but this technique keeps ‘em all in there. Throw the pasta in the pot, sautee, add sauce, and pour the water in. That’s it! Tantalizingly good pasta, no extra pot or colander needed.

So, get your chef’s hat out 'cause your spaghetti just got a gourmet upgrade. Buon appetito!


Exhibition Explores Meanings of House and Home

The National Building Museum analyzes the residential built environment and how people connect to their dwellings in a seven-gallery, five-year exhibition.

On April 28 the National Building Museum (NBM) will open House & Home, a long-term exhibition with multiple educational events devoted to exploring the evolution and meaning of house—what NBM curators consider the architectural and construction techniques involved in creating a residence—versus home, or the people, activities, and objects that generate an emotional connection to the building. Museum curators first proposed the idea of this mega-exhibition exploring the built environment in 1997.

“This idea of an all-encompassing exhibition on our built environment was being planned long before I came to the museum,” says NBM curator Sarah Leavitt, “but they decided to make residential buildings the focus because it’s something that everyone can relate to, plus almost everyone can share a story about why they live where and how they do.” Leavitt goes on to explain that this exhibition is organized differently than most. “It’s not a chronological presentation, but instead we looked at creating visual interpretations of the meanings that the words ‘house’ and ‘home’ conjure.”

Occupying seven galleries—more than a quarter of the museum’s second floor—House & Home explores the design, objects, techniques, history, activities, influences, and emotions that go into creating these personal spaces. The first three galleries are combined into one immense space divided into house on one side and home on the other. “They are very connected ideas, but we tried to separate the words out to make visitors think about what it means when they say ‘house’ versus ‘home,’” Leavitt says. “Is one more architectural and one more emotional for homeowners, like we assumed for this exhibition?”

The centerpiece of this main gallery reflects the exhibit’s version of what house means. The NBM commissioned 14 scale models of iconic American residences and placed them down the center of the space. Famous houses were chosen for their architectural significance as well as the stylistic influence they provided and perhaps still hold for future residential design. Mount Vernon, Monticello, the John Hancock Center, Fallingwater, Philip Johnson’s Glass House, and Frank Gehry’s Santa Monica residence are just some of the models built for this exhibition.


I was recently perusing the blog of one of my favourite mags, House & Home, and I saw this amazing idea for what to do after your open up your Christmas cards. While my usual habit of piling them onto the table or table them variously across the wall seems to do the trick, I think this option is far superior. I mean, most cards are swathed in beautiful pictures and designs, so why not put them on display? You can even keep the beautiful board up year-round and use it for sticky-notes, calendars, and other such reminders. As long as you keep it neat and tidy, that is. Because no one likes a mess, especially not Santa. And you wouldn’t want to be on the naughty list, would you?

Photo courtesy of House & Home, Suzanne Dimma’s blog.