Monthly Archives

September 2007


3 blogs and a mood board – 2007.09.29 edition, part 1

Hostess with the Mostess : Shelterrific : Housemartin

This week I made two boards. The first one celebrates autumn at the cottage. It reminds me of the spectacular views delivered by the Canadian forests at this time of the year.

1 | Hostess with the Mostess for New stuff at Zanisa

These natural slate boards available at Zanisa become markers. Little wooden pegs let them stand vertically or horizontally. Use a chalk to identify dishes at a buffet or use them as nameplates at your table. Pretty cool accessories for the party celebrating the end of the cottage season. These markers are from the new collection at Zanisa featured by Hostess with the Mostess this week.

2 | Shelterrific for on the table: flowers, fabric and more

I am a proud owner of similar birch tubes from Small Stump. Naturally, I am a fan. The On the table: flowers, fabric and more post displayed them all dressed up with a ribbon next to a wooden birdhouse as a table marker.

A charming setting that was realized by Angela M., the founder and editor of Shelterrific. The flowers reveal the typical Fall color palette of our forests.

3 | Housemartin for Willy Wonka’s bathtub

Some great modern vases are styled against vintage, rusty tools. I like the textured wooden vases filled with wild flowers. These pictures are from the Autumn Winter 2007 / 2008 catalogue of Zara Home in Europe.

About Willy Wonka’s bathtub, it is quite industrial. Not really what I have in mind when it came to a bathroom design.

I should publish my second weekly mood board featuring posts from other bloggers tomorrow Monday.

Buy online: Slate markers at Zanisa – price: $16 USD for 10
Buy online: genuine birch bark tube mini-set tubes from Small Stump – sold out
Buy online: Autumn Winter 2007-08 Catalogue at Zara Home


Hosting a party for a cause with the Sprinkles Pink Ribbon strawberry cupcakes

sprinkles cupcakes : pink ribbon strawberry cupcake

If you wish to create awareness for a cause, throwing a party around your cause is a great idea.

For the fight against Breast Cancer, you can plan a dessert buffet or a tea party in the afternoon with your girlfriends.

I fell in love with the cute cupcakes by Sprinkles Cupcakes a few months ago. From October 1 to 14, they will donate the proceeds of the sales of their Pink Ribbon strawberry cupcakes to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund. During that period, the strawberry flavor will be available every day.

Modern decor, refined style and strong packaging

Frankly, the retro look so typical of cupcake bakeries look tired; we need more varieties. Here come Sprinkles Cupcakes that opened its first shop in Beverly Hills in 2005. At last, a fresh and modern architecture boutique décor.

Sprinkles developed two signature looks; each one is fabulous for any party. Who can resist the cool fondant dot on a flavored buttercream frosting? And pouring monochromatic French chocolate sprinkles adds sophistication to the small cake. Unusual flavors like chai latte and ginger lemon coexist with the classic mocha, carrot and vanilla. There is something for everyone taste.

How Sprinkles Cupcakes add even more elegance to your party?

1 | An array of special decorations for custom made cupcakes

Your cupcakes can be decorated with any of the 24 cutout shapes representing vegetation, animals, emotions, items or occasions.

For a 70’s party theme, the Peace and Love sign is so a propos. And with all the violence in our world, why not host a party to embrace peace at every level of our life? The Peace sign is perfect for a New Year’s Eve party. The Tree can symbolize the environment or simply be a Christmas ornament. The custom made cupcakes have a low minimum order of a dozen per decoration.

2 | The party tray and the cupcake tower

Sprinkles sells a custom made cupcake tray with so much flair that it can replace a birthday cake. Send or bring the Sprinkles cupcake tray filled with a dozen cupcakes firmly in place in the cute gift box. The tray can be recycled as a votive candle holder or stored until your next batch of cupcakes.

You can serve 2 to 3 dozens of cupcakes with a three-tiered cupcake tower. Buy the tower with the ribbon kit for $15 USD or add your own ribbon and buy the cupcake tower at $10.

3 | The favor box

At the end of the event, it is nice to thank your friends that made a donation. Nothing is more efficient than a little incentive. Let them bring home a cupcake in a favor box.

If you do not have time to throw a party, you can still make our friends aware of your support to the fight against Breast Cancer. You could send one Pink Ribbon strawberry cupcake with a donation form and a note card to a list of friends. This unexpected gesture is sure to get their attention.

Locations of Sprinkles Cupcakes

Right now, there are 4 locations in the United States with 15 more scheduled boutiques. These cupcakes are popular amongst celebrities. Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Dallas and Phoenix-Scottsdale are the lucky residents that can enjoy Sprinkles Cupcakes at the moment.

If you live to far, you can buy online neatly packaged cupcake mixes for $14. Stock a few cylinders in any of the 6 flavors since the cupcake mix makes a remarkable hostess gift.

Learn more: Web site of Sprinkles Cupcakes – price: $3.25 each or $36 for a dozen
Buy online: Gift items available at Sprinkles Cupcakes

+ More cupcake designs
+ Cupcake desk cards


Doing the dishes: a simple pleasure at a dinner party

doing the dishes with Dawn Simple Pleasures

A mingling ritual at casual parties is certainly doing the dishes.

Cleaning the dishes comes in play before and after a party. So it works best when the host is prepared. I compiled my top three tips to best distribute the work load.

1 | Do not accumulate before the party

Clean all the dishes you used to prepare your meals. I suggest you do the dishes by hand at this stage. The idea is to always start your event with an empty dishwasher and uncluttered counter space.

After the first course, simply put everything in the dishwasher and your counter will stay spotless. If you own an ultra quiet dishwasher, run a washing cycle as soon as the dishwasher reached the 75% full mark. Then you will be ready to start a full cycle with the main course dishes at the end of the event.

2 | Let your friends help you if they offered

If you host a casual event with 8 or more friends, usually 1 or 2 friends will instinctively start to do the dishes while you are cooking and plating the meals. Etiquette wise, it is best to not ask for help unless you are in trouble. If there is no dishwasher, guests should definitely share the cleaning chores.

When you are with good friends, they will start before you even noticed, so leave the dish liquid soap near the sink. Prepare a basket with your best tea towels. Store the basket under neat the sink until someone started doing the dishes. This way your guests do not feel obligated to clean up.

If you own a dishwasher, make sure to tell your friends that they do not have to wash everything by hand. I usually told my guests to simply rinse the plates. I found out that two runs of dishwasher are plenty to clean all the dinnerware and serving ware for a twelve-guest dinner party. You start one before you go to bed, the other before breakfast and no one could tell you hosted a big party the night before.

3 | Getting rid of the cooking smells

Open the window to change the air before your guests arrive. Make sure to cook with the fan on at the appropriate level.

Scented candles, potpourris, diffusers and air fresheners come handy. Try to avoid sweet scents before a dinner party. I found out that fruits and vegetables scents do miracles in the kitchen. Just like perfume on you, scented candles and air fresheners should not overpower the room. And now, the air refresher is coupled with the dish soap bottle.

Introducing the new Dawn Simple Pleasures

The dish soap industry is competitive and they market innovative features to sell more of their brand. Procter & Gamble just introduced Dawn Simple Pleasures, a Dawn dish liquid bottle with an air freshener. For over a decade, I trust Dawn to wash my dishes because I think it delivers the best cleaning power on the market. I am curious to see how good are their air fresheners?

A two in one product is handy because it does not overcrowd your counter. You just peel off the seal to enjoy the air freshener. There is need to plug it in, to refill it or to put some oil on it. Dawn Simple Pleasures can become your affordable aromatherapy solution while you are doing the dishes. I still need to smell it to make up my mind about the benefits of this feature.

Dawn Simple Pleasures is only available in the United Stated for the moment. I expect the fruity scents, Lemon & Tangerine or Apple & Pear, to be the best buys. The third scent is Water Lilly & Jasmine. Smells are a personal experience, so trust your nose. And if you are happy with the smell after a while, know that the air freshener section is removable.

If you tried Dawn Simple Pleasures, I am interested to hear your views about this new product.

Learn more: Web site of Dawn Simple Pleasures by Procter & Gamble
Photo credit: Just a little thing by wardi on Flickr


How to plan a Victorian Gothic feast for Halloween?

dutch floral arrangement technique

Halloween is a celebration for kids but grownups can have their fun too. Instead of a typical party costume party, why not organize a Victorian Gothic bash this year?

Everyone can dress up nicely. You can host a formal dinner or opt for the food station formula. The 2007 October issue of Martha Stewart’s Living proposes wonderful ideas for decorating your space.

To not be stressed out, you can start planning your Halloween event soon. At least, send a Save the Date note to your friends.

Making our own floral arrangement

Going Dutch teaches you how to reproduce a floral display reminiscent of the seventeenth-century master gardener.

I am aware that it is before the Victorian era, but I think both styles complement each other. Since Halloween party is about the paranormal, there is no harm done in mixing periods.

One trick to save money and space if you put the floral arrangement against the wall is to leave the back bare.

How to create a sideboard Victorian Gothic tableau for Halloween?

The sideboard vignette clearly stated that it is an adult event. Luminous carved and etched pumpkins, traditional wine decanters, pewter serving ware, stands with fresh fruits and nuts are the key elements.

carved and etched pumpkins Victorian gothic partycarved and etched pumpkins Victorian gothic vignette

You can visit antiquaries, countryside markets and specialized boutiques to find pewter and other metal serving ware. Otherwise, you can rent them. But displaying several large pieces is crucial to achieve this look. If the style of your sideboard does not fit, get a neutral damask or vintage linen tablecloth to camouflage your sideboard.

+ From the Garden: Dutch Floral Displays published on Martha Stewart’s Web site
+ Denizens of the Dark published on Martha Stewart’s Web site

+ Carving pumpkins stencils
+ Creepy Halloween treats and cocktails
+ Halloween makeups


A small boutique in Montreal carries the chandeliers by Incidence

incidence chandeliers

With the popularity of my post about the Plexiglas chandeliers by Incidence, the search for retailers goes on. My search was in vain until now.

I have to thank my husband Jerome for this discovery. An avid gamer, he wanted to go to an event for the launch of Halo 3 in Montreal. On our way over there, we passed a small retailer on Mont-Royal Avenue East. I looked at the window where I saw a multitude of chandeliers and lamps hanging from the ceiling like colorful stars.

I immediately recognized the collection of Incidence chandeliers spread around the small shop. Eureka! Boutique artisanale Un monde is often referred to as an Ali Baba’s cave because the shop is full of treasures and silky materials that make you dream. That fits the bill.

Boutique artisanale Un monde
1317 Mont-Royal Avenue East
Montreal, QC  H2J 1Y6
P 514.521.2664

The search for retailers in the USA and EU is still going on. If you know one retailer (brick-and-mortar or online), please pass on the information.


Let the art of Paula Scaletta set the tone of your party

Paula Scaletta's coasters and paper napkins

The eco-friendly girl in me relies most of the time on linen napkins at dinner party. But I still stock some paper napkins because their drawings add an instant impact to the table.

Develop your theme from the paper napkins

If you do not know what theme to use for an event, a simple trick is to get your inspiration from the illustrations on paper napkins. From there, develop your theme by accentuating key elements.

The best way to reduce the stress of impromptu entertaining is to be prepared. Opt for motifs that create an instant mood. The jewels of paper napkins are usually found at your local specialized boutiques or the Web.

When you see one motif that really grabs your attention, think how it can fit with your dinnerware. If you can imagine a look, buy right away a pack or two. This way, you can quickly design a stunning table all the time. Build also a reserve of cocktail napkins.

A charming French baker theme

I feel romantic and definitely French these days. Yesterday, I bought Petits fours when I was in Sutton. I also felt in love with the utensils on Dinner at Eight.

Paula Scaletta is the artist behind Petits fours. I dig for more of her creations on the Web. I found that you can get affordable art prints, coasters and paper napkins with her drawings.

A stunning collection of Botticino decorative tile coasters designed by artist Paula Scaletta are available via Studio Vertu. I did not find a specific retailer.

A quick tip of how to mix and match

The coasters and the two napkins I selected complement each other. When you try to mix and match decorative items, start with items that share a common atmosphere. Look at commonalities between the epoch and the art techniques. Target a harmonizing color palette since it often looks more refined.

Learn more: The Paula Scaletta Coaster Collection by Studio Vertu
Buy online: Ruban Fleuris Linen Lunch Napkins at Plates and Napkins – price: $5.95 USD for 20
Buy online: Dinner at Eight Lunch Napkins at Plates and Napkins – price: $5.95 USD for 20


3 blogs and a mood board – 2007.09.23 edition

Peoples Paper : Oh Happy Day : Better Living Through DesignWho said literacy has not place in party? This week’s mood board is about throwing Read & Write parties. You can host a book reading, a short story writing session, a book review tea party or a Haiku party.

Or books can simply be the gifts of honor. Books and Brunch is an amazing party concept. It is original and yet so simple to implement as a parent baby shower. Here, the new parents will be surprised with their baby’s library full on the best children classic.

The concept can be applied to any occasion. A teenager may want to grow his graphic novel collection for his birthday while cooking or home decorating books fit into the bridal shower spirit.

1 | Peoples Paper for DIY + Snow and Graham = Utterly Stylish!

Any party starts with the invites. Alphabet imprints from Snow & Graham make outstanding invitations at a fraction of the price of a custom job. All you need is a laser or inkjet printer to print your message. Thanks to Peoples Paper for publishing DIY + Snow and Graham = Utterly Stylish!, a post that highlighted this wonderful collection.

Ramillette imprint is shown here for a sleep over birthday party. Why not mix it with a Haiku party?

2 | Oh Happy Day for Party Ideas

A Haiku party would be a hit if you have friends that enjoy writing. This form of Japanese poetry was developed around a 5, 7, 5 structure.

According to Wikipedia, some of the more common practices in English are:

  • Use of three (or fewer) lines of no more than 17 total syllables;
  • Use of a season word;
  • Use of a cut (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to contrast and compare, implicitly, two events, images, or situations.

Poetry is not my cup of tea. I first heard of a Haiku party when reading a post about Party Ideas on Oh Happy Day blog. In all fairness, Black Eiffel introduced the Haiku party idea on her post Parties I have known and loved by Kim Screen.

To duplicate this cool Haiku party, you need a typewriter, a cork bulletin board with pins and lots of white cards. The proposed formula is simply to type 3 lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Then, post your haiku on the cork board. If you cannot get your hand on a typewriter, a few pens or a calligraphy kit will work fine.

3 | Better Living Through Design for HANG Wall Hooks

Whether it is to hang purses or coats, the Hang Wall Hooks fit so well into our read and write party themes that I had no choice but to include it. I noticed them on Better Living Through Design.

The rules of my weekly column: 3 blogs and a mood board

Each Saturday, I selected three blog posts. The challenge for me is that I must create a mood board with pictures that other bloggers have posted in the last 7 days. The mood board must stay within the scope of my blog.

+ Snow & Graham Alphabet imprints at Luxe Paperie – price: $14 USD
+ Haiku on wikipedia
+ Hang Wall Hooks on Lekker – price: $68 USD


Fit your kitchen to your entertaining style

bulthaup kitchen and dining room layout :: seating and table communications series by bulthaup

How do you do it? Simple, you start with the layout. Before you think about finishes and esthetic framework, it is best to have a clear answer to How you like to cook and entertain within your kitchen?

Even if the shape of the room is a key factor, the layout of your kitchen must first be tailored to suit your lifestyle. After a few months, the love affair with your kitchen will flourish only if you enjoy cooking meals in it.

Meeting with your kitchen designer

By far, casual entertaining is the most popular form of dining party. But easy entertaining means different things to people. So make sure you portray well the way you like to entertain when you meet your kitchen designer.

When you are renovating or designing a house, you need to be prepared to be flexible. Your space may be able to accommodate only your second best kitchen layout. If you express well your priorities, an excellent kitchen designer will be able to create a kitchen that meets your wish list.

Casual entertaining kitchen design

Do you prefer to prepare the meals with 1 or 2 cooks yet you want to have your friends around? Do you want to have a separate kitchen and dining room?

If you like to throw parties like Make your own pizza night!, your kitchen needs to accommodate lots of people all at once. These are the types of questions that you must discuss before starting the project.

system b3 kitchen by bulthaupDo not worry about the mess unless you entertain small groups, 4 to 6 guests. After that, the mess may get out of control during the night. Remember that casual entertaining is about having a good time with friends, so no one will make a fuss of the mess if they are having fun. Plus, when you host a dinner party for a large group , chances are that one person in a group will offer to do the dishes while your serving the meal.

A quick look at bulthaup

With bulthaup, beauty radiates from functionality. This German manufacturer displays on its Web site attractive spaces for casual dining. These are the types of kitchen I dream of. But unless I move, this layout is impossible in my house. So I got the second best option and I am happily living after with my kitchen layout.

bulthaup is also about dining room. Casual dining can look trendy. Whether you prefer c3, korpus or duktus, the product lines in bulthaup’s communication series will enrich your space. The mix and old look is typical of casual entertaining.

+ system b3 kitchen by bulthaup
+ communication seating and table collection by bulthaup


Etsy watch | Artful recipe cards by etsy seller pinkbathtub

stovetopics recipe cards by pinkbathtub on etsy

I like collecting recipe cards. This is one of the things that you never seem to have enough. I try to find original illustrated models.

I found these on etsy. Stovetopics is the recipe card brand of pinkbathtub. You will get a baker’s dozen, 13 beautiful cards for $11 USD. What is interesting is that each card has its own drawing and short phrase.

You can find other illustrated themes like pasta, blueberry and wine & dine at her etsy shop. These collections start at $4.50 USD for a set of 5.

Like I said, we always need more recipe cards. I still preferred to write down on paper my recipes because I find it is more convenient when I am cooking.

Whether it is for you or to include in a hostess gift, take a look at these recipe cards.

Buy online: Stovetopics Recipe Card Collection – A Baker Dozen by pinkbathtub on 
Learn more: blog of pinkbathtub


A space projector and three cool candle holders by UK Mathmos Lights

space projector by Mathmos Lights

I came across Thaw by Mathmos Lights while reading The Notebook blog on Monday.

This company from United Kingdom sells unique lightning products internationally. Mathmos Lights all share a whimsical touch.

Setting the mood with Space Projector

This is a cool affordable gadget, perfect for a dance party. You get everything you need when you buy the Space Projector. The machine and a set of graphics come in the box.

A variety of young designers draw the graphic packs. You can pick the best styles for your party. Basically, you project on a wall or ceiling with interruptions a moving image up to 1.5 meter wide. Choose between 7 graphic themes and 4 oil wheels. The space projector is available in a translucent or a silver finish.

If you want to replicate a psychedelic night club atmosphere, get the oil wheel plus several Fluidium lamps. Fluidium is the update of the lava lamp. And revive the spirit of Austin Powers for a night.

Ice, water and melting process viewed in three candle lights

Thaw, Flat and Melt candlelights by Mathmos Lights

What if you decide to play with the nature elemental components? That is a little what Mathmos tried to do with three candlelight designs. They pieces will not pass unnoticed.

1 | Ice candlelight with Thaw

You freeze an ice cylinder around the tea candle. It takes 8 hours to freeze the ice structure and about three hours for it to melt.

With Christmas and the winter season coming in a few months, I suggest you buy them early.

2 | Water movement and wind simulation effects with Float

Fill the vase with water. As the candle floats in the water it castes a moving shadow patterns on the surface. I enjoy the dynamic effects.

3 | Candlelight interconnection with Melt

Melt is a wax based candle holder system. You can rotate and join together several Melt candle holders to create patterns. Use to your imagination and design flair to create your unique composition for a centerpiece. This may be the less flamboyant of the three candle lights by Mathmos but if you are clever about Melt, the resulting look can be amazing.

Buy online: Catalogue by Mathmos Lights
Via: Positively Polar! published on The Notebook