Media, Darling: Tara Ballantyne

Tara Ballantyne joined Style at Home last February as its resident style and food editor. Tara began her
styling career in Norway and worked for publications like Norwegian ELLE and
French ELLE along with various other European publications. She has had
numerous television appearances on the Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television
and CityLine.



photo credit: Transcontinental Media 

Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon? 
There are so many things you can do in a
lifetime, and I’m guilty of wanting to do anything to satisfy my creativity. My
schooling is in interior design and I worked in architecture for three years
before I switched to magazines. It was the best decision I have ever made and I
love what I get to do and how creative I can be each day at Style at Home.
Where
would you like to be five years from now?
In a studio with a totally inspired
photographer, great light, lots of beautiful food, great models and a hundred
baby bunnies shooting some wild Tim Walker-inspired images.
Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t be afraid to sweep floors, pour endless
amounts of coffee, or even pick up someone else’s dry cleaning (seriously I had
to do this once). I’ve had to learn countless coffee orders by heart and had
design proposals ripped up right in front of my face. It can be a long road of
being humble, but you watch and learn and in the end, it’s completely worth it.
What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Having spent so much time in Norway, I really
developed an affection for swedish RUM magazine, ELLE Norway and Sweden, and I
love emmas designblogg –
design and style from a scandinavian perspective
. I also adore Canadian blog Bijou and Boheme, and spend entirely too much time selecting fashion
ensembles from the The
Sartorialist
, that my husband and I
should definitely purchase. Fortunately, he is a kind and patient person who
politely nods and says “uh huh” while I involuntarily involve him
in selecting my favourite looks to wear on a vespa, and for braving the
cobblestone streets. 
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
My interview for ELLE Norwegian… it ended up
landing me my first cover, and I was so insanely excited to be part of the
magazine in another country – it was pretty amazing. There is always something
very special about your first.
Worst?
I’ve been super lucky so far, in that I’ve only ever had great interviews. Fingers crossed this continues!
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
Avoid horizontal stripes and don’t eat a full
meal before you go swimming.
What
rule(s) do you live your life by?
If you truly love something, it’s worth
fighting for. And edit to clarity – fashion, interiors, your words…
What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Open and honest communication I guess. I’ve
worked with great PR people and I’ve always appreciated when they tell me what
I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear. Also I am always super
impressed when they remember names!
Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Being convinced that the $250 sweater I
bought for a television appearance was not a bad decision and in fact a
worthwhile investment piece for my wardrobe. Cashmere really is timeless, lol.
I
hate?
Subway delays.
I
love?
Butter tarts, and the way Instagram always
makes you instantly look amazing.
Reading?
International design books (magazines); I
love seeing what’s going on in other countries and get a lot of inspiration
from that. Right now I am also re-reading Rebecca for the second time, and am
guilty of choosing my knitting project over my half-finished copy of Infidel
Best
place on earth?
Any place where I’m surrounded by family and
friends, a great glass of wine, and good food and conversation.
Dinner
guest?
Brother and sister, Sibella Court
and Chris Court. I am so astounded with the creativity that they both exhibit
in the work they do with styling, development and photography. 
Hero?
Coco Chanel. 
Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram, and that
new Christmas app that helps you with shopping and wrapping.
Pool
or ocean?
Definitely Ocean.
Voicemail
or email?
Definitely email.

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Fave Five: Fall Reads

Know that feeling when you finish a good book and fear you may miss the characters like they were your friends? Most of us on the fourth floor are just that type of bookworm.When a lot of  reading is a big part of our job, a good book is the sweet downtime we crave to connect with our inner fantasy world, even just for an hour or two.  


Like any awesome book club, we whittled down our communal list to five (sometimes) funny, (often times) historical and (every-so-often) light reads!


1982 by Jian Ghomeshi

Not only is the man the host and co-creator of the national
radio program Q, but Ghomeshi has now added the title of author to his resume.

Set in one year of his life, Ghomeshi pens a coming-of-age story based on the desire of his 14-year-old self to be David Bowie: eyeliner and all. Much to the chagrin
of his Iranian parents, Ghomeshi embarked on the journey to transform himself in order to win the
heart of an older woman (she was sixteen – oh, young love) in Thornhill. Funny and
heart-warming, the story is structured around 12 songs and important
moments from 1982. The book will be released by Penguin Canada tomorrow!
The Paris
Wife
by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife captures
Chicago in the 1920s. Chronicling the story of Ernest Hemingway and his wife
Hadley, who had all but given up on love before she met the famed author at the
age of 28. Before meeting Hemingway, Hadley was a gifted musician,
taking care of her sick mother. The golden couple of that era, they had a whirlwind romance before moving to Paris. Transitioning into the Parisian
lifestyle proves difficult, as Ernest struggles to find the voice that will
make his writings famous, documenting his life in a novel that would eventually
become The Sun Also Rises. Meanwhile,
Hadley struggles to hold onto her sense of self, juggling the role of wife,
friend and muse to the budding author. As if that wasn’t enough, a deception
 involving Hadley’s friend threatens to unravel their marriage.

Major “aww” factor: it is said that Hemingway wrote “that
he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
” That is
until you realize how creepy is it to have a love triangle with your BFF, and
that Hemingway was married four times…

And the award for the longest book title goes to… Putilizer
Prize-winner Studs Terkel. Yes,
it’s not exactly the new kid on the block but still a book that we can
easily pick up during busy times because it’s written in small, easy to
digest pieces.

Dolores the waitress, with the grace of a
ballerina, the parking attendant who says ‘working people are better tippers
than Cadillac drivers’ and the cashier of thirty years who
can tell totals without looking at the screen are the subjects of the book that take us through the
lives of everyday workers, giving snippets of their triumphs, fears and (inevitable) lay-offs.



The story shows how they survived the daily grind and how they’ve been
touched by the people they encounter while on the job.  

Dotted with illustrations and photos from the 1900s, the
novel takes us through the beginnings of Gabrielle Chanel, her ascend to Coco Chanel, and the celebration of her creative genius and the only fashion
designer to be named on Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
Chanel is synomous with couture collections and the signature No.5 scent, and
much has been written about her beginnings as a seamstress and her fashionable return (at
the age of 70) to resurrect the House of Chanel. 



Hal Vaughan, in this part-suspense thriller, part-wartime narrative, tells the story of Chanel’s life
between 1941 and 1954 which has never been fully told by Chanel or by her many
biographers. Vaughan reveals Chanel’s collaboration and affair with high-ranking
Nazi officials, how she became a German intelligence operative and how she escaped an arrest in France. It’s a gripping read for fashionistas and bookworms alike.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry gives us a sneak peek into
the life of Harold Fry, a retiree living with his wife Maureen who is very
particular about the difference between jam and marmalade. 



One morning, Harold receives a post from an old co-worker, Queenie Hennessy (a name evoking images of
dollies, pink things and frolicky puppies) who writes her goodbyes from a
hospice. With a response in hand, Harold walks to the mail box to reply with well
wishes, but along the way is compelled to deliver the letter by hand, believing
that as long as he keeps walking, Queenie will live. 



This is the first novel by Rachel Joyce, incorporating a light read with bold characters that come to life- heck, Harold
could be one of our grandfathers…if they were British…

Fashion-able: Don’t stray from stripes

It started with twinsie moments, as members of our office kept showing up in outfits adorned with stripes. Then Joe Fresh hit, New York Fashion Week began and it turned out that we were right on the trendy ball. Stripes are running rampant all over Toronto and beyond.

A dress by Victoria Beckham, NYFW F/W 2012

The style is a clean segue from the colour blocking trend. It’s suitable for both men and women, and frankly, we feel the more stripes, the better. 

A jacket on the Rag & Bone runway at NYFW F/W 2012

If you are curious how to incorporate stripes into your everyday wear, we’re here to help.

1. Try a striped tee under a blazer with a mini or cigarette/skinny pants. Think leather leggings. Add an arm party ,or a ton of chunky, funky rings, and you’re set.
2. Go one step further and tuck a striped tee or sweater into a high-waisted skirt. People can be wary of stripes, especially when horizontal. Tucking the stripes in will highlight your shape.
3. For a pared-down striped look, striped flats or wedges can add pop to a neutral outfit.

They say what goes around comes around and fashion is no exception. Here is some style inspiration from some style icons. We’re not the first to love stripes of all sorts.

Coco Chanel:


Audrey Hepburn:


Edie Sedgwick:


The return of the stripes is one trend to embrace. Combine that with a marine-inspired look (stay tuned for our next trend alert post) and you’re nautical by nature.