Monthly Archives

August 2007

DESIGN and style LIVING

Celebrating Blog Day 2007

Blog Day 2007

Today is Blog Day. This is perfect for me since it falls the same day I usually feature the best posts of the week from the blogosphere. This edition will be slightly altered to fit their spirit of the celebrations.

Basically to celebrate I need to introduce 5 new blogs to my readers, ideally from around the world. I must notify first the 5 bloggers that I recommended as part of BlogDay 2007 so they can continue the celebrations.

Paper Skirt for invitations and greetings

Paper Skirt is the biggest (and best!) creative undertaking of multimedia graphic designer Lana Stewart from Ottawa. I follow Lana Stewart for a while now on her own blog. Now with the opening of a workshop boutique, Paper Skirt has its own blog.

I invite you to take a look at Lana’s greeting card collections. The Needs More Tuna recipe cards are original. Buy several sets, they made a great hostess gift for people that like to cook. Her cat Orville is a friend of my cats on Facebook.

Bargainista for her shopping advice

Bargainista is a blog of a busy, working young mother from Toronto. She tells us about sales and shares her customer experience with us. I enjoyed her blog even though I do not live in Toronto. I met her because she also competes in The 1% Army Canadian Blogging Tournament. She is energetic and fun.

Unclutterer for a neater living environment

Unclutterer is the blog about getting and staying organized. They give practical tips on how to find a place for everything, and everything in its place. I gather some useful information. The less you need to unclutter your house before a party, the more you will enjoy it.

Popgadget showcases innovative gadgets for women

Popgadget is a lifestyle magazine that embraces technology as a regular and essential part of women’s lives. Popgadget is written by women for women. You find unusual, something tacky gadget items but you also discover cool innovative objects. That is where I discovered my trendy clip-on MOOPocket sold on etsy.

The MOOPocket classic costs $11 USD. The clip-on model is $15. The fabric selection is great. They are a must if you have MOO cards. Even my husband thinks they are cool. Some fabrics are neutral gender.

Olivese for amazing French fabric pattern

The bad news for most of my readers is this is Olivese blog written in French produced by Creations Olivese. I found it very inspiring to look at their textile and sewing creations for babies and young children. I do not even have children. Located in France, this small design studio is working on a fabulous collection and the opening of a boutique. I love the colors and motifs. You do not need to read French; their blog is a pleasure for the eyes.

Happy Blog Day! If you did not post your 5 new blogs, there is still time to participate.

Sourcing:
Learn more: BlogDay web site
Buy online: Home of the MOOPocket Splatgirl Creates on etsy 

ALL occasions GIFT IDEAS

A stylish teacher note pad by Bonnie’s StylePress

Teachers are special note pad by Bonnie's StylePress

It is back to school time again. Parents of young children often give a little something to the new teacher of their child. It is a wonderful idea.

You can send homemade cookies. But I think you will make an even better impression by sending this remarkable Teachers are Special note pad. It will take you no time since the pad is already wrapped in a cello bag with a red grosgrain bow. You just need to slip in your mom & dad calling card under the bow.

An interview with Bonnie Marcus done by All the Best reminded me of this fabulous stationery. I always like the design of Bonnie’s StylePress, dba Bonnie Marcus & Co. And it seems that I am not alone since you can found her stationery in over 1,000 retailers around the world, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Barneys New York and Kate’s Paperie.

Bonnie Marcus won American Express 2006 “Make Mine a Million Business” contest for women entrepreneurs. She regularly mentors other women looking to start their own business while having time to be a mother. Bravo Bonnie!

Introducing a stylish blog

The blog All the Best was founded in January 2007 as an online guide to stylish living. The editor is a native Texan woman now living in the United Kingdom. Daily posts range from design, wine, shopping, travel, fashion and art. Take a look; this is a blog you will probably enjoy.

Sourcing:
Learn more: Web site of Bonnie Marcus & Co. StylePress
Via: Interview: Bonnie Marcus published on All the Best blog

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Socialize with ease at cocktail parties with one free hand plates

mingling plates : wine & dine plates : cocktail plates : one free hand

We all experienced the juggling act of holding a plate and a wine glass while trying to interact with others at a party. It can even lead to messy moments.

Some called them mingle plates, cocktail plates, wine & dine plates or one free hand plates; but the name does not really matter. Once you use it, you do not want to go back. This a plate with a slot to hold your wine glass for you to have one free hand.

This gadget makes a difference. If you like hosting cocktail parties, you must stock a dozen or more in your party pantry. But be warned that you may transform you into the hostess queen around your circles of guests.

What to look for in a mingle plate?

The plate must be strong but not heavy. That is why I usually tested plastic or acrylic plates with a good wine glass filled with water before buying. You also want to see how well you can handle the plate.

Plates with a rim help to keep the food in when you circulate. So it is a must-have feature. Finally this is for finger food, so there is no need to go bigger than the size of salad plates (7 to 8 inches maximum).

Selection of wood wine & dine plates

I enjoy the look of exotic wood plates. They are lighter than ceramic and nearly unbreakable. They add a little je ne sais quoi. Wood plates require more care as they must be hand washed.

The Turned Wood Mingling Plates is a new model at Pottery Barn. It is part of a serving ware series with a 3-Tier Stand and a duo of pastry pedestals amongst other pieces.

Crate & Barrel sells a cool looking rectangular cocktail plate. On the plus side is unexpected and has nice rims. I have never tried a rectangular mingling plate so I can say if it is comfortable or not. If some of you have tried a rectangular wine & dine plate before, I will like to hear your comments.

Frontgate sells a set of six Acadia wood Party Plates for $79.50. The plate diameter is 10 inches. As you can see from the marketing picture, the woman used both hands to hold the plate. That defies the intent. So I suggest staying away for this model.

The Tapas plates from Sur La Table are the winner for party goers. It is big enough to hold comfortably a couple of hors d’oeuvres at a time. The etiquette suggests that you serve yourself 2-3 pieces at a time. In a cocktail, you take a few hors d’oeuvres, socialize a little bit before you go back for more pieces. You often do not need more space than these small plates.

With the stemless wine glasses, the tapas plates look sharp. If you cannot afford the O Riedel glasses, remember that Crate & Barrel sells two models at $1.95 USD each. Make sure to select the higher one, the 17 ounces stemless wine glasses.

Color coded mingling plates

After the drink tags, now comes color coded cocktail plate set. I found two models at Wrappables that are perfect for our cocktail parties. The first one is a set of 4 different colors plates. Made in melamine, each set contains a soft blue, a poppy red, a taupe and a soft white plate.

The second model is more subtle; they have a color coded rims. Unfortunately they are 10 inch diameter. The weight is not the issue since they are made of acrylic. My concern is that it takes too much space when you are moving around and socializing. On the other, you will be able to use them at barbecue and picnic. Overall it is a great versatile buy.

SOURCING:
+ Turned Wood Mingling Plates at Pottery Barn – price: $10 USD each
Rectangular Wine and Dine plate at Crate & Barrel – price: $7.95 USD each
+ Set of 6 Acadia wood Party Plates at Frontgate -price: $79.50
+ Set of 4 Tapas plates at Sur La Table – price: $19.95 USD
+ Set of 4 melamine Wine and Dine plates at Wrappables – price: $17.95 USD
+ Set of 6 acrylic Wine ‘n Dine plates is at Wrappables – price: $30.95 USD

RELATED POSTS:
+ Glass tapas plates called d’glas
+ Handful of plate

ENTERTAINING FOOD + DRINK FOOD presentation HOLIDAY entertaining

Start making plans for Halloween

Halloween Party Picks by Martha Stewart

For the past two weeks, I am seeing wonderful Halloween decorations on the Web. I started gathering amazing stuff for several Halloween boards that I cannot wait to show you.

My initial thoughts were to start posting Halloween tips around the second week of September. I got this principle that you do not talk about Halloween before the back to school season is over. It is only me or do you already making plans for Halloween right now?

Crafting decorations take time

If you want to send printed invitations for a Halloween party, it is not too early to start now. You will be able to get your hands on the best Halloween decorations. And if you make your own decorations to complete the look, it is best to not wait until the last minute. You spot an exceptional party in the details. As we all know details take time.

Halloween Party Picks by Martha Stewart

While you wait for my first inspiration board, I am leaving you with a nice craft project on Martha Stewart‘s Web site. These decorated Halloween party picks are not just for a children party. Halloween is a whimsical celebration. So go ahead and fell free to use them for adult parties.

On Martha Stewart’s Web site, you get the written instructions and an average TV segment video. You will learn how to make a Black Cat, a Bat, a green Witch, a Skull and a Jack-o’-Lantern party picks.

Do you plan to host a Halloween party? Is it an adult only, a kid only or a friends and family party?

Sourcing:
Craft project: Halloween party picks by Martha Stewart

ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR entertaining

The best looking and most practical picnic bags

picnic bags baskets bento lunch box picnic table

We still have a few weeks in front of us for plenty of fun picnics. I made a compilation of my favorite picnic bags. These products are not new but I taught it would be fun to see them side by side.

The beauty and practicality of multiple bags

Here you see the trendy Gourmet Gateway Lunch Tote by Built NY inside an orange Reisenthel’s CarryAll bag. A beautiful shot captured by Bea of La Tartine Gourmande, one of my top 10 blogs.

Using multiple bags is pretty practical for a picnic. Initially, you have lots of stuff. But as you eat some food, you can use the free space on the Carrybag to carry everything. Having two bags enables you to spread the load.

I already own a collapsible Reisenthel’s Carry All bag, so I am half ready. I adored the superior construction of the CarryAll for grocery shopping. And I got compliments all the time.

A cheaper copycat option to Reisenthel is the Metro Basket. Designed for picnic in mind, Metro collapsible basket features waterproof interior and expandable drawstring top.

The same company does the Metro Kart on wheel. It is supposed to easy glide across all terrains. I never tried it. The cooler can be removed for cleaning and storage, while the trolley can collapse for compact storage. The Metro Kart is not really what I am suggesting you to do. I find it big to carry around.

Think about individual bags

Instead of the usual communal bags, why not pack everything in individual meals? If you go at a big picnic, people may not eat all at the same time because of the various activities. So it is easier and healthier for your family to separate the food in individual portions at home.

If you go for the individual method, lunch boxes offer the best solutions. Everyone can carry its own lunch. You can also insert the lunch boxes in a larger bag if you are too many or if the kids are too young.

The Bento lunch boxes are great because you get three containers with well-taught separators to neatly store your food. So the food stays in place and everything will look good at the picnic. I suggest you get a different color for each member of the family.

A touch of nostalgia

The Malibu Rose shoulder bag is a nice take on an old-fashioned pattern. This bag for two can hold a good quality of food and drinks.

A friend of mine has a foldable aluminium picnic just like that that used to belong to his parents. It is a must-have accessory with kids when you go camping or to the beach. He was telling me that the table is now a family treasure that is passed along between brothers and sisters. So I was thrilled to find one at Picnic Fun.

The wooden portable picnic is on sale at $110 right now at Picnic Fun. For less, you can get a blue high strength aluminum alloy frame and polyethylene resin at only $70. Did I mention that once you fold the picnic table with 4 seats it fits in that lean carry case. A marvelous idea for family and tent campers.

Stay in touch because later this week, I will publish my menu suggestions for picnic.

Sourcing:
Buy online: Gourmet Gateway Lunch Tote by Built NY
For Americans: Reisenthel Collapsible European Market Tote available at SurLaTable.com
For Canadians: Reisenthel CarryAll bags available at GoneShopping.ca
Buy online: Metro Basket available at Picnic Fun
Buy online: Metro Kart Insulated Cooler available at Picnic Fun
Buy online: Bento Box available at Plastica Shop
Buy online: Foldable Picnic Tables available at Picnic Fun
Learn more: Malibu Rose shoulder bag by Picnic Time
Photo credit: Orange Reisenthel market tote on the beach is a picture taken by Bea of La Tartine Gourmande – rights protected picture

ENTERTAINING PARTY ideas + decor

Time to vote: Wedding inspiration board contest at Style Me Pretty

Style Me Pretty Blog : Wedding inspiration blog contest

An interesting contest is going on right now. Style Me Pretty‘s readers were asked to submit their vision of the best weddings. You can now vote for your favorite inspiration board. Hurry up; you have until Friday, August 31, 2007 to express your opinion. 

I like looking at what people produce to get a pool of their tastes. While looking at these wedding boards a few grabbed my eyes as perfect candidates for a birthday or anniversary party. I made a few changes to make them more suitable for a birthday party. Since I do not want to influence the voting process I will show them to you next week.

Until them, I invite you to take a look at all the boards in competition. The quality is impressive. Remember you have until August 31 to cast your vote.

Sourcing:
Learn more: Inspiration Board Contest II, Voting! published on Style Me Pretty blog

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Add glamour to your table with pastry domes

Decorative pastry stands with glass domes

Nothing can beat the traditional glass pastry domes for creating the ultimate dessert serving ware. I always have a fascination for these tall structures. They add more drama than the typical cake pedestals.

Pastry domes bring a touch of nostalgia to your dinner party. Most people associate them with formal dining settings but the rustic charm of many models make them suitable for casual dinner events. Think about it like the little black dress in your wardrobe, you can always dress it up or down.

Slick glassware models are popular but I prefer the mix of materials and finishes. Pastry domes with a wood base or a metallic base look very European. I guess that is one of the appeals for me. I found you three retailers on the Web at different price ranges and styles.

Airy and modern clear glassware

The top row is about clear glassware. For this reason, they look airy and modern. The 9 inches tall Domed Pastry Stand is sold for only $18 USD at The Gardener. The 13 inches costs $20. At these prices, they are no reason to not hide one or two in your party cupboard. You can fit one small cake or 3 to 5 pantries in each stand.

Gold glass pastry domes

The most stylish dessert stands are from Horchow. This is a store with amazing products. I am presenting you a collection made of pale gold glass with gold-leaf finished stems.

There is just enough gold glows to be stylish and make the pieces look special. This is a luxury you can afford. The price is only $30 for a 12 inches tall pastry dome, $35 for the 16 inches and $40 for the 20 inches.

Having a trio makes the best presentation. Use them to nicely display mouth-watering desserts and fruits on a dessert station or on a console next by the dinner table. Seeing them all nights will tease your guests. You will need to be a little patient since two dimensions are back ordered until October 1st, 2007.

Exquisite adjustable nickel plated brass stands

Perfect as a wedding gift, the next two domed stands are an indulgence that any chic hostess will die for. Made of nickel-plated brass stands with adjustable heights, these fine etched glass pastry domes are magnificent. The diameter sizes are just right at 8.25 and 11 inches. They start at $145 USD for the small Adjustable Dessert Stand. Since they fit with my home décor, they are destined to be mine. This last comment is a clue to my immediate family :).

Decorative wood stands with glass domes

At Giani’s, I found a set of three Decorative Dome Pastry Stands with black wooden stems for $52.95 USD. They look great. Since the plate diameter is only 7 inches, they work best for cheeses, fruits, cupcakes, small cakes and individual pastries. This set is cool because you can divide it in three presents. So next time you bring the dessert to a casual dinner party, slip in a pastry dome for an outstanding hostess gift. You are sure to be invited again.

The last two vintage domes display a cleaner classical look that the dome pastry stands at Giani’s. If you want to own two stylish domed stands and you do not want to spend too much money, these ones are your best buy. Like I said before having two diameter sizes is a plus. Horchow sells the Short Cake Stand for $40 USD and the Tall Cake Stand for $65.

When you serve your dessert in a domed pastry stand, your table is almost done. If you are in a hurry, just by themselves they create an interesting table setting. So they are the perfect equipment for easy entertaining.

Sourcing:
Buy online: Domed Pastry Stand available at The Gardener
Buy online: Gold glass Pastry Domes available at Horchow
Buy online: Nickel-plated Dessert Stands available at Horchow
Buy online: Set of three Decorative Dome Pastry Stands available at Giani’s
Buy online: Vintage Style Cake Stands available at Horchow

ALL occasions GIFT IDEAS

Another source for expandable flower vases at a Los Angeles retailer

Expandable Flower Vases available at Plastica

For my readers in the United States I got a good and a bad news. The good news is that I dig up a source in the United States for a flat pack flower vase similar to the Vazu vases I spoke about last week.

The patterns are cool and lively. These nicely shaped vases are made in Japan. They seem to be as strong and durable as Vazu.

Plastica is a hip boutique filled with unique items from around the world as well as products by local designers. You can get these expandable flower vases at their boutique located in Silverlake, Los Angeles or buy it online.

The bad news is the price. This brand is twice as expensive as Vazu. Being made in Japan partially explains why it costs more. But at $26, it is still affordable; you just have to spend less on flowers for your housewarming gift.

Sourcing:
Buy online: Expandable Flower Vases available at Plastica

RELATED POST:
+ Digging up a North American source for Vazu

ENTERTAINING PARTY ideas + decor

Weekly column: As seen on other blogs – 2007.08.24 edition

Social Design :: Seven Spoons :: The Kitchen Apartment Therapy

Technically the first post is from last week but since I discovered the chic orange tone marriage this week, it made this week blogosphere compilation.

Social Design for Love it so much!!

This post showcased a real wedding. What you see in Love it so much!! is amazing in every way. There are a lot of details done in a clean design. It shows that you do not need to pack your décor to make it amazing and substantial.

You get inspired by the daring use of an orange drape for the ceremony, the retro look of the birdcage veil with a starlet nightgown wedding dress up to the modern square table settings. This wedding was featured on Social Design blog, the brain-child of Lyndsi Joy and Amanda Domergue, two young event designers and coordinators from Philadelphia.

Seven spoons for Dear Mr. Truant Officer

I am waiting for my husband to make chocolate molten lava cakes. We updated an absolutely amazing chocolate torte we often do to create our recipe. I wait for him to share it with you because he is the king of desserts in our home.

In the meantime, Tara from Seven spoons published her recipe for Espresso and chocolate fondants. It seems divine. But I have an alternate motive to select this post. Look at these ramekins. The curly handles are so cute. You can find similar ones through Amazon.com. A Canadian young woman is behind the cooking blog Seven spoons since 2005.

AT:The Kitchen for Apartment Therapy Market Bag design contest

If you do not already in the know, The Kitchen franchise of Apartment Therapy launched a design contest last July for their upcoming grocery tote bag.

The 5 finalists were announced this week. It Times to Vote! for your favorite. I am hesitating between the drawings of Lisa, Raedia and Beverly. I am leaning towards Lisa (the first one) for the moment. You have until Wednesday, September 5th (5pm eastern time) to cast your vote.

Sourcing:
Buy online: Set of 4 Lyon Ramekins by BIA Cordon Bleu at Amazon.com

COOKBOOKS FOOD + DRINK

Upcoming cookbook titled Dish Entertains by Trish Magwood

Dish Entertains cookbook by Trish Magwood

I know Trish Magwood since 2005 as the host of the hit show party dish on the Food Network. Trish is known for preparing uncomplicated but delicious recipes. She explores fun and modern dishing techniques that are perfect for easy entertaining.

On September 14, her first cookbook will hit the stores in Canada. It is a cookbook about everyday simple to special occasions entertaining menu. Knowing her style, it sounds promising. So I put the book Dish entertains on my radar.

We can read from the publisher note that Dish entertains is exactly the cookbook needed by time-starved chefs who want both innovative and classic entertaining recipes – simple, beautiful and always deliciously fabulous.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of her cooking classes and a sample of the food presentation done by her catering service. Her business, dish cooking studio cover many angles of entertaining. It is a cooking school, a full service caterer, a specialized kitchen store and a gourmet café.

When you are looking for a new group activity, why not take a cooking class. They are perfect for bridal showers, a girl night out event or a corporate event. Preparing food usually brings people together; so it is the perfect activity if you want to augment the bound between your friends or your team members.

food plating of the catering service at dish cooking studio

Operating facts about the dish cooking school

Next Tuesday, August 28, there is a hands-on session inspired by recipes from Jamie Oliver. Scheduled courses cover 10 topics in September. New Way to Cook, Beginner or Intermediate Chef Essentials, Everyday Simple Dinner party, Japanese Made Simple and Make ahead Thanksgiving Feast are the ones that caught my attention.

If you are looking for private courses, it is good to know in advance that private hands-on classes can accommodate up to 16 guests. Interactive dinner party classes house up to 50 persons while the demonstration classes can host up to 24 guests. To book a private 2.5 to 3 hour class, the price starts at $160 per person.

The little extras

If you want to welcome your guests in style before class, serve a glass of wine and some delicious nibbles when the participants arrive. You can give a party favor to thank everyone for coming and participating. You see that the boundary of entertaining can always be pushed a little bit further.

SOURCING:
+ Web site of dish cooking studio
+ Scheduled cooking classes at dish cooking studio
+ Party dish tv series at Food Network Canada
+ Dish Entertains by Trish Magwood – price: $28.32 CAD

ALL occasions GIFT IDEAS

Montreal-based TOMA is another brand for expandable flower vases

Flower vases by TOMA

My friend Mélanie commented an hour ago about these vases on my blog. Her tip was so interesting that I decided to highlight this product right away.

The vases from TOMA display interesting illustrations. You can choose between a fern, blue grass, a Japanese proverb, red fish, kitchen utensils or a face with a heart (better for Valentine Day).

The comparison

They cost less than the Vazu vases that I presented yesterday; $4 CAD for a small vase, $5 for a large vase. From the pictures, these vases seem to look more plastic, a little bit less refined than Vazu. But for the price, I cannot complain. Where else can I easily carry my flowers in an original vase for an extra $4. And this product is more widely available in stores.

Several florists in Canada and the USA carry the line. You can grab everything in one stop. Check out the “Where to buy” section of TOMA’s Web site to find one near you. You can also buy directly online from TOMA.

One tip when you bring flowers as an hostess gift

It is more thoughtful and practical to bring flowers in a vase as a hostess gift or a housewarming gift. The host of an event has already many things to care of so make it easy for him / her to receive your gift.

TOMA is also an outgrowth of Thomas design+communication, which began using objects as part of its communication strategy several years ago.

Sourcing:
Buy online: Expandable flower vases by TOMA