Monthly Archives

March 2007

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Family oriented tabletop – Easter’s Inspiration Board Part 1

Pastel color schemes are often used to set up the Easter brunch table. But this year, bold patterns are all the rage in fashion and home décor. This trend was my inspiration. I started by seeking out a bold pattern tablecloth. I used the colors from the textile to bring the rest together.

This scheme is suitable for a casual event where they are kids around. The tulips, the colorful glasses and the nest made of the green grass are the elements that make it an Easter theme. This family oriented scheme is a little literal but it is OK when you want to please kids.

With a bold pattern tablecloth, the central corridor must carry sufficient visual weight to hold against the pattern. You do this so the centerpieces are not lost visually. A solid color runner is the easiest way to achieve it.

I select the twig runner because it has enough weight for the nests and the bouquets to stand out. And the solid brown adds elegance to the design. I suggest creating a few nests of different sizes. Mix and match the eggs and take into consideration the nest size. The eggs on my picture could be a little larger but remember the eggs must not stand out too much. It is a balancing act. Do not forget to use some wrapped chocolate eggs.

The nests and the bouquets can be alternated in a row. Another way is to have the flowers in the center and to put on each side some nests. Try out your composition to see which look better on your table.

The Bunny ear napkin fold from Martha Stewart that I wrote about earlier this month is perfect for this table. Cream, light green, light blue or turquoise textile napkins will work with this scheme. The idea is to use colors from the tablecloth. One way is to alternate the colors on your place settings.

The bold flowery tabletop is for Maison Simons. Designed by renowned New York ceramist Barbara Eigen, the Belvedere dinnerware has a timeless appeal. The Dijon Belvedere dinnerware is available at Williams Sonoma. The DuraClear Colored Iced Tea Glasses also come from Williams Sonoma. The Twig Runner and the decorative bright green grass are sold at Plum Party. Tulips and the square vase are widely available.

Link: Table Fashions at Maison Simons
Link: DuraClear Colored Iced Tea Glasses at Williams Sonoma
Link: Twig Runner at Plum Party
Link: Bunny shaped napkins at your Easter brunch published here

ENTERTAINING PAPER goods

Vancouver-based Haute Note brings a fresh sense of style to cards

Haunte Note - Dine in the Live  Tools collection

In this age of Internet, the art of printed invitations seems to lose ground when we are dealing with inviting a few guests for dinner or to make an announcement. Sending social stationery relays the message that you really looking for the presence of the invitees. Your guests will feel that you put time and effort in planning the event. Cards are simply more special. Some card designers offer you the possibility to personalize the cards.

This is exactly what Haute Note, a small card maker from Vancouver, Canada offers you.  You can put your own message on the front or the back of the card. Different options are possible and it is easy to do it online.

I share with the two women that launched Haute Note in spring 2006 a special love for cards in unusual formats. Several models in my custom made funeral thank you card collections have one side shorter than the other.

Haute Note successfully uses the same idea with their Signature Card line. The front of the card is a long rectangular and the back is about 50% shorter. You can personalize the message on the entire Haute Note Signature line. A set of 8 Signature Cards starts at $24, with price reduction if you buy more than 48 cards.

Modern, charming and elegant are the best adjectives for their design. I show you the entertaining based design to go with my blog but more themes, styles and occasions are shown on their Web site.

Petite Notes are sold with envelopes in themed sets of four, featuring one card of each design within a chosen series. Not customizable, a set of 4 Petite Notes is sold for $8.50 CAD.

Haute Note ships in Canada, Unites states and internationally to a number of countries.

Link: Web site of Haute Note stationery

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

A Podcast with Deborah Madison, author of Vegetables Soups

Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen

I should have proclaimed March my Soup Month. I just found another great post about soups on Pinch My Salt blog. This post has something that none of my posts had before. It is the podcast of an engaging interview with Deborah Madison about her cookbook on vegetable soups.

The podcast was also a premiere for Pinch My Salt. It was the first time Nicole uses this technology on her blog. It is a success!

From the podcast, I learned that numerous contemporary ceramic bowls are showcased in Vegetables Soups. I adore dinnerware and cookbooks like most women love shoes.

This excerpt from the Publisher of Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen may convince you:

Featuring fifty stunning full-color photographs by Laurie Smith, serving suggestions, wine notes, and a host of ideas for creative finishing touches including caramelized pear “croutons” and souffléd cheese toasts, this friendly soup lover’s guide gives the reader a hundred delicious ways to enjoy the benefits and flavors of vegetables by the bowlful throughout the seasons.

Deborah Madison’s cookbooks are available online at Indigo.ca and Amazon.com (.ca). This podcast made me a believer; I just ordered mine with a copy of Jamie’s Italy. What a girl can do, you have to save on shipping fee.

I can also put the blame on Gluten-Free Girl for buying Jamie’s Italy. Reading her Oh, the Honeymoon post, I felt terrible to not have in my kitchen Jamie Oliver‘s Italian recipes.

Link: Web site of cookbook author Deborah Madison
Link: Oh, the Honeymoon on Gluten-Free Girl blog
Via: Super Soups Podcast on Pinch My Salt blog

Sourcing:
Buy online: Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen

MEDIA buzz REVIEWS

Support for the Stop the Net campaign by WWF Canada

WWF Launches Campaign against Bycatch

Everybody has a cause; mine is the wildlife and nature. I am taking about it on my blog because what I have to say concern food.

I am against some green organizations that only want to make headlines but do not have a coherent track record. That is why I opt to support the WWF Canada organization. They protect endangered species (tigers and polar bears for example), make genuine gestures to protect nature and they do take into account the needs of the human population.

WWF Canada sets a small number of annual goals, based on the overall impact of these initiatives on the environment and the wildlife. Since I started supporting them, WWF Canada had an impressive track record.

Stop the Net campaign by WWF Canada

WWF Canada just launches a new marketing campaign for something that is dear to my heart. We are taking about the commercial fishing practices. The problem is how many fish, turtles, mammals and birds get killed when the net is thrown out to get your choice for dinner. This is called bycatch. We know that some level of bycatch is unavoidable but the current practices are far further up.

You have to understand that the commercial fishing practices for ground fish species have not really evolved over the last 400 years. The number of boats and the size of the population have grown exponentially over that period.

Overfishing, poor stock management plus the bycatch have depleted the stock level of many ocean fish species. WWF Canada wants to rectify the situation by increasing regulations in Canada and with our NATO partners. They also want better tools to insure the stocks of fish for all species are at acceptable levels.

To know more, I invite you to go visit the Stop the Net campaign Web site. You can watch TV ads, radio ads and print ads. To help you make your opinion, you get access to many reports on this important matter. WWF Canada cleverly set its messages in tasteful advertising materials. Go take a look, the upcoming generations will thank you.

Link: Stop the Net campaign from WWF Canada Web site
Via: WWF Launches Campaign against Bycatch on TreeHugger blog

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

More soup recipes from a Swedish blogger

Creamy Mushroom Soup recipe on Anne's Food blog

When I saw this picture of spring tulips with a mushroom soup, I was hooked. Two of my favorite things put together in a photo. Anne lives in Sweden, a country that I would love to visit someday.

I discover Anne’s Food blog by luck. After examining the recipes on Anne’s Food blog, I am confident that this food lover presents interesting recipes for finer everyday cooking.

I love soups and I have been scouring the Web for more recipes. Anne’s creamy mushroom soup recipe fits the bill. It looks delicious and it is simple to prepare. My preference is to go with a mix of oysters and shiitake mushrooms.

Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds recipe by Chef Michael SmithRoasted cauliflowers are all over me these past weeks. Cauliflower generally lacks taste. It is not the most very exciting ingredient. Caramelized cauliflower adds lots of desirable flavor to this plain vegetable.

The Chef at Home Michael Smith has a great recipe of roasted cauliflower with almonds. Start by drizzling one-quarter cup of olive oil over the cauliflower cut in florets. For seasoning, pour some sea salt, freshly ground pepper, a cup of almonds. Toss well and roast in a preheated oven (375 degrees F) for about 25 minutes.

 Roasted Cauliflower Soup recipe on Anne's Food blogAnne posted a Roasted cauliflower soup. Roasting the cauliflower add a nice flavor to this simple soup recipe. To keep with the cooking philosophy behind the Chef at Home TV show, why not plan an entire menu around roasted cauliflower tonight? Bon appétit!

Link: Creamy Mushroom Soup recipe on Anne’s Food blog
Link: Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds recipe on Chef Michael Smith Web site
Link: Roasted Cauliflower Soup recipe on Anne’s Food blog

MEDIA buzz REVIEWS

Welcome to My World, O My Beloved. Don’t Bring Your Stuff

Illustration by Juliette Borda

The illustration by the award-winning gouache painter Juliette Borda captures the feeling. The title says it all. Henry Alford publishes today on The New York Times a humoristic article on the reality of a grown up couple moving in together.

I am proud of my home décor. I like to be the one in charge. So I can relate to this funny story portraying the challenge of inviting your lover to live in your apartment. Past memories have surfaced. The best situation is to move to a new dwelling where both partners can put a little of themselves into the place.

Take a moment; relieve the stress of your day by getting a few laughs with this story. You are invited if you bring nothing.

Link: Web site of illustrator Juliette Borda
Link: Welcome to My World, O My Beloved. Don’t Bring Your Stuff on The New York Times
Via: House & Home Roundup: 03.22.07 on Apartment Therapy NYC blog

FOOD + DRINK FOOD presentation

How to dish up a sandwich

Daily bread by Pryor & Williams

Sandwiches are the most basic comfort food. It takes little effort to dress them up. Out of ordinary sandwiches start with an artisan, a specialty or organic bread on which you lay down the freshness ingredients you can find. You can add all the flavors you want. A sandwich is still a common deli food unless you play around with innovative ways to serve it.

Chop chop tray by Vessel

Exotic wood tray gives some grandeur to that simple food. They make something ordinary extraordinary by adding this je ne sais quoi (I do not know) touch.

I got two beautiful models that are great presentation pieces. The first one is called Daily Bread. Pryor & Williams translates in a Nordic inspiration into a plantation-grown teak surface and a Corian cutting surface with storage underneath. Daily Bread gives rise to an authentic gift for many occasions. A section can hold the utensils and the four serving boards are stored side up. Practical and beautiful!

The other wood tray is from a company named Vessel. The Chop chop tray is two detachable rectangular bamboo trays placed over a metal support. The Chop chop tray is a cutting board, two serving dishes plus two lunch surfaces all in one. The price of the Chop chop tray is 80 dollars at Vessel online store.

STRATUM Nest tables by Pryor & Williams

Anytime you serve sandwiches on a tray, eating at a dinner table is optional. To build on the laid-back approach, you can set up the food as a buffet on a couple of side tables or nested tables.

For the collectors, Pryor & Williams produced the limited edition STRATUM Nest tables. These one of a kind nested tables are all signed. Only 30 sets were fabricated. If these tables do not dress up your sandwiches, I do not know what will.

Link: Daily bread in plantation-teak by Pryor & Williams
Link: chop chop tray in bamboo by Vessel
Via: Arch Digest Show 2007: Pryor and Williams & ART:asap on Apartment Therapy NYC blog

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Layer your table with Rosanna

La Fleur dishware by Rosanna

Some party events call for special dinnerware, something out of the ordinary. Most of the time they are not milestone events but they are something important to do something special. It can be having over your girlfriends for a tea party or a periodic gathering. Creating the right mood often call for a whimsical touch.

That is where the dishware from a little shop in Seattle called Rosanna comes to the rescue. Over the past twenty years, Rosanna manages to stay on top of fashion, translating popular trends into whimsical accessories for the home with her independent shop. I see eye to eye with her on that topic. Whether it’s a birthday party for the kids or the grown ups, a glamorous soirée or simply dining at home, fashionable dishes turn any day into a special occasion.

Marie Antoinette dessert plates

Her dish collections are made of whimsical patterns that are sophisticated. Her tableware is fun but classy. This year, Rosanna suggests layering the dishes the same way as we will dress ourselves. If you read some magazines lately, you saw that graphical, bold designs are all over the place.

She tells us how to achieve her layering approach in these words:

Begin with a dinner plate (like chocolate brown or pale blue from our new Dinner Service collection), then add a patterned salad plate stacked with a solid soup bowl, topped off with a napkin tied with a satin ribbon and a single blossom. The effect is eclectic, interesting and thoroughly modern.

Rosanna Play date collection for little girls

La Fleur collection, that depicts four Victorian floral species, is wonderful for a tea party event. The green background looks crisp with the black and white Victorian style drawing. The Marie Antoinette dessert plates popped up when they are placed over the brown solid color scalloped-edged dinner plates.

The pastel hues of the Playing House collection, one of my favorites, look gorgeous at Easter and any day of the year. The Little Black Dress or Les femmes are adorable to celebrate a female birthday, a bridal shower, motherhood or any woman get-together. Little girls will be amused by the Play Date collection. I wish I got it when I was young. There is so much to choose for that I invite you to take a look at their entire collection on their Web site.

All the plates come in a fabulous gift box. These plates make a lovely hostess gift. You can shop online on Rosanna Web site with shipping limited to the USA. Many retailers sell the Rosanna collections. Unfortunately, there is no store listing on the Rosanna Web site.

Link: Web site of Rosanna dishware

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Bunny shaped napkins at your Easter brunch

Bunny napkins by Martha Stewart

I just discovered a new blog with a fun suggestion to dress up your table for Easter. Based on the project from Martha Stewart, Shak in Style explains to us how to make a cute bunny ear napkin. It does not seem hard to do and it looks good.

Easter Basket Favors by Martha Stewart

On a picture, you see a yellow rim plate. A more current look is to use a green edge plate or a light fruit pattern plate. Green is the color of the year. From Villeroy and Boch, I spot the same plate as suggested by Shak in Style but in green. For Easter and all summer long, the Bloom dinner plate will look great if you can afford to buy an extra fantasy plate. The Wildberries collection by Villeroy & Boch displays deep berry purples and rich fertile greens. A punch of color in a nice classic pattern

If you prefer a country look, the Casa Azul Limon is cute for a more casual Easter brunch. Instead of the bunny napkins, I would suggest you opt for the Easter Basket Favors. This is another MarthaStewart.com craft project.

Bridal shower table by Colin Cowie

In both cases, you can set up your tabletop in white dinnerware with color table linens as accents. If your plates are solid white, green or orange napkins will bring more visual impacts. Orange is another hot color this year; very hot in Europe.

To add to the design of your Easter tabletop, you can mix some carrots in a green vase with some light orange tulips to create a striking centerpiece. I am sorry that my leg injury makes it hard for me to provide you with pictures of my design ideas. For inspiration, think of the green fabric vase with orange ribbons that you can see on the Bridal shower table by Colin Cowie featured on Oprah TV show. This is a cheap and easy to do alternative. I discover it when reading an interesting blog about entertaining called Hostess with the Mostess.

Do you have tips on creating a stylish tabletop for the Easter brunch? If so, tell us about it.

+ Bunny Fold for Napkins Instructions on MarthaStewart.com
+ Easter Basket Favors Instructions on MarthaStewart.com
+ Villeroy and Boch Tableware collections
fabulous, yes – but really “not a fortune”? on Hostess with the Mostess blog
Bunny Napkins on Shak in Style blog

HOME + GARDEN OUTDOOR space

Getting ready for summer with stylish pool and patio party zones

Pool and Patio Party ZonesHaving a pool, a large cooking area and dining area is the ideal setting for having a party. People love outdoor parties. In a cleverly designed, out of ordinary backyard space, you have more fun.

I am not keen on the look that we see commonly in magazines and TV shows. My passion is for modern, European style architecture. It starts at a young age and it keeps growing and growing. With the advent of boutique hotel and the materialization of innovative design, fantastic modern projects emerged all over Canada.

dedon obelisk furniture

This week episode of Designer Guys was a spectacular example of the crème of the crop in backyard entertaining spaces. A definite boutique hotel feeling and the love of grown up entertain was the center of attention. This project was for two successful bar owners. Knowing that, I expect something extraordinary. And the Designer Guys deliver it.

Designer Guys on HGTV.ca

The owners have already plan a fabulous infinity pool with three waterfalls. The Designer Guys surrounded the large pool with distinctive entertaining areas and top notch contemporary outdoor furniture. And it was expected; the principals of the Toronto-based design firm Precipice Studios has accustomed us to great work in their TV series.

The furniture is by the German manufacturer DEDON. I feel in love with DEDON furniture at first sight. Innovation, unique shapes and quality craftsmanship come to my mind when I think about DEDON furniture. At the last SIDIM show in 2006, a friend took my picture while I was lounging on the LEAF sunbathing chair shown on this episode. Enjoy the view.

The OBELISK project is a good representation of the innovative furniture by DEDON. The Obelisk is two things in one. It is a sculpture formed with 4 lounge chairs and a cocktail table. You stack the chairs on top of the table to form an obelisk when you do not use the furniture. Ingenious!

I guest they selected the DEDON Barcelona collection to furnish the outdoor living room and the dinning rooms. But this is an educated guess. Your ideas are welcome. Watch the rerun on Saturday March 17th at 16:30 on HGTV Canada and tell me if I you agree with my views.

SOURCING:
+ episode Pool and Patio Party Zones – Designer Guys on HGTV.ca
+ The DEDON Furniture collection – Obelisk photos from DEDON
+ Designer Guys Web site – project photos come from their Web site

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Egg hatched plants make a cute take-home present for your Easter Brunch

Eggling crack and grow egg

Chocolate is a delicious treat. I feel in heaven when I eat fine dark chocolate. But let’s face it; we often eat too much chocolate at Easter. I find you a greener Easter gift idea that will be fun for the kids and the grown ups.

I first learned about Eggling a while ago when planting in crackable egg shaped pots became popular in Japan. I forgot about it. A post from design*sponge spreads the words about three new varieties of egglings, just in time for spring: spicy red pepper, lavender and wild strawberries. Great addition to their current plant variety. My heart goes to the herb varieties: basil, Italian parsley, mint, thyme. Four more flowers are also available.

Eggling looks and feels like an extra large egg, you just crack its top and you discover a garden ready to grow! Plants grow for up to five months in the Eggling, after which transplant it directly in soil or a pot. Egglink is sold for $9.95 USD or $11 CAD.

I cultivate my own cooking herbs on my terrace. When fall temperature is mild, I got fresh herbs until November. Nothing taste better than freshly cut herbs in salads or when you cooking a recipe. Even if you do not get the Eggling, go to your local market or your local garden center to buy herb plants this year.

Link: where to buy listing from Eggling Web site
Via: 14.3.07 – egglings on design*sponge blog