Monthly Archives

December 2007


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2008 with La Grande Dame Vintage champagne

Dear Readers,

I hope that all your dreams come true in 2008. In any event, I wish you Health, Joy and Happiness.
Happy New Year!


1998 Vintage of La Grande Dame

I spot this gorgeous Couture Gift Box of La Grande Dame. If you are looking for a splurge for the hostess, this gift set is a sure way to get invited again next year.

To celebrate the launch of the 1998 vintage, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin created a brand new Haute Couture packaging.

Buy online: 1998 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame at – price: $155.99 for 750 ml
Buy online: 1998 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rose at – price: $294.89 for 750 ml



Hip New Year Party Inspiration

trendy Restaurante Mercat : new year eve party idea

For my second board, I wanted to do something for the hipper crowd. I came over this eye catching restaurant in Santiago, Chile while browsing the blogosphere. Wow! Imagine hosting a New Year party in a place like this.

I cannot tell you all the details about this restaurant because I spot it on Plateforma Arquitectura, a Spanish-speaking blog. Simply looking at the pictures is already a treat.

The boutique hotel movement responded to our desire to bring our home to the hotel. Then people got inspired by the interior design of these hotels and bring the best into their home. The same happens between restaurants and home cooking. But when you look at Restaurante Mercat, the modern fashionable decor has a homey atmosphere.

For a party like this, I needed an invitation card that dares to be different for your New Year’s Eve Party. The New Year Soiree (NTC) invite, designed by Bonnie’s StylePress, has more to offer than your average New Year card.

What is next for 2008?

I am living you with this testimony of good design. I hope 2008 will be full of brilliant design, stylish entertaining and fine living.

For my part, I am starting the year with 8 week end of vacations. I will bring you more stories from my trips. Right now the cities in our radar seem to be: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, Boston, Seattle and Toronto (for its PodCamp conference in February).

Buy online: New Year Soiree (NTC) by Bonnie’s StylePress – price: $50 for 25 cards with envelops
Via: Restaurante Mercat | 01-arquitectos published on Plateforma Arquitectura


Glamorous New Year Party Inspiration

new year\'s eve glamorous party

For us, Christmas is a family celebration while New Year is a time to have fun with your friends. I concocted some design and menu ideas for the glamorous girl who invited her friends at home.

I always savor a tasty dinner at New Year’s Eve but I always plan for lots of time for dancing and having fun. It should feel like a party, not a dinner event.

My Source of Inspiration

Although it is too late to send your printed invitations, the Bonnie’s StylePress invite that I am showing you sets the tone of the event I designed. If you send something like that, your friends will know what to expect.

Monogrammed table linens add a classic touch. Monogram napkins are available in cloths and paper. Both the invites and the Caspari paper napkins can be found at Fine Stationery.

The Welcoming Cocktail

Think about the parties that Hollywood stars were hosting in the 1950’s. So put your latest cocktail dress, wear your high heels and greet your guests with a glass of Kir Royale. Drop a dash of Creme de Cassis in a flute and topped with Champagne. Crème de Cassis is a French liquor made of black currants.

Or you can make the oldest, the classic Champagne cocktail. In fact, it was very popular with the 1950’s Hollywood stars. In a flute, drizzle a couple of drops of Angostura on a sugar cube and top with Champagne. Both the Kir Royale and the classic Champagne cocktail are made with the real thing. But make sure you keep the vintage Champagne bottles for the New Year Countdown.

Do not forget to serve one or two types of finger foods during the cocktail. If you are short on time, simply spread a few pates on fine crackers. Serve them on a platter with cocktail napkins.

The Dinner Menu

I composed a simple but elegant dinner that will leave you plenty of time for dancing and drinking responsibly. These recipes were featured on Tastespotting.

For the first course, go for a soup since you can make it in advance. Pay attention to your plating, you can go fancier than parsley for garnishes with a pinch of a freshly cut chives with some homemade croutons. And serve an array of bread.

For the main course, repeat with the same concept of simple food that is well plated. Here is an example.

For dessert, go for the presentation in Mason jars that is trendy with chefs. Just recall the Pot au Chocolat from Laloux Restaurant that was presented on a similar style. And you can never go wrong with a chocolate dessert, as least if you wish to please me. This dessert from Tartelette will leave nice memories in the heart of your guests.

That is it for the meal. It is now the time to power the music, dance and make a toast to the New Year. Have fun preparing your own New Year Party.

Buy online: Bonnie’s StylePress invitation cards at Fine Stationery – price: $120.25 for 25 custom printed cards with envelops
Buy online: Caspari monogrammed paper napkins at Fine Stationery – price: $ 48 for 100
Photo credits: Each meal picture belongs to the blogger who posted the recipe


The Making of My Christmas Tabletops – part 2 | DIY

christmas pink and red baroque country

My second tabletop is easier and faster to assemble. For that reason, I will explain my design choices in this post.

Baubles in a glass vase were popular this year. I could have used a taller vase but I like that we see the top ornaments without interference.

I bought several large uniquely shaped baubles in pink, burgundy and moss green. I gathered them inside a glass vase on a bed of tiny gold and copper baubles. I also placed the remaining of my Acrylic ornaments by FERM Living around the vase. They were baroque leaves and motifs in red, pink, lilac and bright green.

Because we were at the cottage, I opted for artificial silver and black branches instead of a floral arrangement. Honestly, it was too high when we were sitting at the table. So I replaced it with a trio of large decorative baubles that unfortunately we did not photograph.

Bead garlands unite the vignette and add glitters to the tabletop. I am a huge fan of bead garlands. The snowman tree ornament was a last minute addition from the Dollar store. I got compliments for my snowman. From my experience, you can incorporate one or two well chosen items from the Dollar store if you splurged on the rest of your table. It is a matter of proportions, the light level and the time that the people will look at them.

For this scheme, I departed from Christmas theme napkins. The artichoke pattern linked everything to the darker green hue of the holly rimmed plates. The shape similarity between an artichoke and the pink pine cone bauble was another key factor in my decision.

This post concludes my Christmas 2007 reports.


The Making of My Christmas Tabletops – part 1 | DIY


As I told you earlier, I designed two tablescapes for Christmas. The first one was for our Christmas Eve party (réveillon) and the other was for our Christmas dinner.

Each year, we celebrated at the ski cottage. My mother in law has a white Christmas dinnerware set with a holly rim. So I need to consider that fact as I devised my themes.

I reused the beige table cloth from last year. For a more festive look, I put a burgundy patterned voile textile on top. You usually need to make your own. Here a trick if you are short on time. Simply visit the already made curtain section of a fabric or home decoration store and select a tab top curtain panel. You cut the tabs and no one will know that it was a curtain.

My centerpiece vignette

The inspiration for my centerpiece was these cute squirrel acrylic ornaments by FERM Living. The blue acrylic box was recycled from a Davidoff’s Cool Water gift box that I bought for my husband last year. I kept it because I knew it can be handy for a DIY project.

The supplies for my do-it-yourself centerpiece
  • 1 light blue acrylic rectangular box – about 2 inches high
  • 1 box of Acrylic Ornaments by FERM Living
  • 1 bag of soft gray decorative sand FLORERA at IKEA
  • 1 bag of red decorative sand FLORERA at IKEA
  • 1/2 bag of snowflakes
  • 4 artificial trees – 2 small covered in snow and 2 medium (large would have been best)
  • 1 tall white pillar candle inside a birch stump cachepot
  • 2 silver deer candle holders ($20 each at Benix)
  • Gold bauble place cards – bought at Zone Maison last year ($10 for 6 baubles)


I first covered the acrylic box with the sand; red at the bottom, gray at the top. Then, I positioned the couples of squirrels, a small tree in one corner and simulate a fence with two pink baroque motif acrylic ornaments. I carefully dropped snowflakes all over. Voilà! I am quite happy by my simple vignette.

I was supposed to buy 3 sizes of trees. The huge snowfalls and my TV interview broke my schedule. I only found those trees. But afterwards, I prefer the color mix of the green trees next to snow covered trees even if it does not look like a realistic scene. With the size of the deer, I did not go for realism anyway.

Since we usually assign places at the last minute, I put a satin ribbon instead of the name tags. Merry Christmas handmade tags would have been nice too.

I made a breach with table manners by using paper napkins instead of linens. But the patterns of those napkins complement so well my theme that I got to use them. The beautiful red and white print reminded me of a knitted quilt. The print highlights the key elements of my décor.

And you can see my cute Christmas dress on the background while I gave instructions drinking a glass of red wine during the apéro.

A must in the French culture, an apéro happens before dinner. It lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. An apéro is a time where you relax before a huge meal, mingle, sip an aperitif and eat finger foods, canapés, chips, nuts or olives. My mother in law cooked us a delicious meal. We had a great time.

Learn more: Acrylic ornaments by FERM Living – price: $27 for a box of 12 ornaments
Learn more: Clever Spaces, the blog of FERM Living


Konstantin Slawinski satisfies all appetites with its S-XL cake

SL14 cake mold by konstantin slawinskiIt is simpler to separate a cake into identical pieces, but the fact of the matter is that everyone wants a different size. When it comes to desserts, the host needs to please the dieters, the large appetites and the ones in the middle.

You can cut the pieces at different sizes yourself but these pre-shaped pieces look better. And you will always have enough portions with this neat invention by Konstantin Slawinski.

How it works?

Designed by DING3000, S-XL Cake SL14 is a silicone cake mold that produces 15 portions from small to extra large. The pieces vary in widths and heights. In my opinion, S-XL Cake would not be ideal as a birthday cake but it becomes handy on the dessert buffet table. Decorate each piece individually while creating a unique overall design. You can put some berries over a little coat of frosting or whipped cream.

If you are planning a baby shower, you can bring a coffee cake done in it. Test the cake mold by baking a Chocolate Cake a la Vera Slawinski. The recipe is published on the back of the SL14 postcard available online via the Download button.

If you are interested, you will need to wait because the S-XL Cake Mold is out of stock at Vessel right now. Or you can preorder now and pay less at Charles & Marie. Canadians will be happy to know that you can order at Vessel with no duty charges.

Buy online: S-XL Cake Form at Vessel – price: $49 USD
Buy online: S-XL Cake Mold – Presale Feb. 2008 at Charles & Marie – price: $33 USD
Learn more: Web site of Konstantin Slawinski


Event Decoration Trends at Christmasworld 2008/2009

christmasworld 2008 trends and 2007 highlightsWe just celebrated Christmas but retailers are already looking at next year styles. As a true fashionable crowd, you want to be in the know.

One great source of inspirations is the European fair in festive decorations that will be presented in Frankfurt from January 23 to 27, 2008. The left column pictures are from last year event.

Over 30 000 trade visitors will assist and admire a spectrum of Christmas decorations ranging from handmade Italian cribs and ‘smokers’ from the Ore Mountains (‘Erzgebirge’) to beautiful porcelain for your dining table.

Exhibitors include suppliers for candles, floral art, fireworks, party and festive articles. Not just about Christmas, the show covers Easter and other festive celebrations.

We can read on Christmasworld’s Web site:

Since 2007, Christmasworld has been paying tribute to the diversity of the world’s festivals by presenting some of the festivities celebrated in guest countries. The launch event, this year, featured the “Las Fallas” spring festival held in the city of Valencia. In 2008, Sweden’s “Midsommar” and “Sankta Lucia” festivals will move into the Galleria of the Frankfurt Fairground.

What will be the 4 festive trends for 2008?

Gunna  Frank

The creative mind behind Christmasworld since 1998 is Gunnar Frank.  He is a trend researcher living in Amsterdam. Gunnar Frank predicted four trends for next season. See the above illustrations.

Banzai East takes its roots in the orchids, Zen blossoms and exotic Japan. Orange-gold, linden green and sky blue take the center stage in this Far Eastern style.

Candy West brings back the kitsch style with elements of Pop Art. But the retro candy store has been updated with modern cool furniture. My husband and I both received an Andy Warhol watch this Christmas; I guess we will be able to wear them next year.

Dressed in a pink, sky blue and leaf green palette, the simplicity of the decorative elements is stretched further with Lagom North. This Swedish merry décor is composed with handmade accessories, naïve floral patterns and natural wreathes.

The baroque elegance lives on by mixing them with contemporary design with Baroque South. Think of opulence with a modern touch. We already see the emergence of this trend in 2007. I am happy because I really enjoy this design. Baroque South suits my home decor. Therefore add gold accents, large candlesticks, floral patterns and damask. Prefer tablescapes done in theatrical magenta, aquamarine and ruby red.

If you cannot assist, know that a Christmasworld trend book is available for ?20.

Learn more: Christmasworld 2008 at International Frankfurter Messe
Photo credits : all rights reserved by Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH /Petra Welzel


Merry Christmas!

christmas tree with a bear reveillon2007

In Quebec, the big event for Christmas occurs on Christmas Eve. Traditionally after the Midnight Mass in France, Canada and several Roman Catholic countries, the entire family reunites for the Réveillon.

How it used to be?

I recalled when I was a child I would go to bed around 7 pm the night of the réveillon. My parents awakened me around 10 pm so I can celebrate all night. In our family, this celebration took place from 11-11:30 pm to about 5 am.

It was and it still is a huge thing. What changed for most of us is the number of guests. When I was a child, we were often 60 to 75 persons. I know families that were over a hundred people for the New Year réveillon.

The Midnight Mass was always special. Each year, you discovered a new crèche (manger) often with a real baby and a couple acting as Mary and Joseph. Listening to the sounds of a live choral society singing joyful classical Christmas carols brings me pleasures. Even today, I am still a fan. After all, it is once a year. Unfortunately, the lust of the masses of my childhood has been lost.

What is a réveillon in French-speaking Canada?

Our Christmas réveillon is a family gathering with a late feast followed by the gift exchange.

The appetizers vary a lot. In the 1970’s, coquilles Saint-Jacques, a French scallop recipe, whole fish next to a buffet table were typical. Yesterday, my mother in law served a nice vegetable platter and canapés for the cocktail. Many families have a toast with Champagne before starting the meal. While for the first course, we ate smoked salmon, with red onions, olive oil and capers. Simple yet delicious.

A huge turkey served with a cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and buttered boiled small carrots plus a meat pie called tourtière represent the traditional main course. Every region adds their specialties.

We savored a cheese platter before the dessert. I am betting that many families ate a Lambert’s ice cream log cake last night in Quebec. When I was young, the dessert table was huge. My aunts brought homemade maple fudge, fruit pies, maple pies and other sweets. And you cannot forget several recipes of fruit cakes.

Nowadays, we start earlier like most people. But even if the family members are more spread out we had fun celebrating last night.

By the way, I received a cherry red Le Creuset cheese fondue set for Christmas. I will share my best fondue tips and tricks with you in 2008.

I wish you and your loved ones Merry Christmas if you are Christians. Otherwise, Happy Holidays!

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining PARTY ideas + decor

The art of taking pictures at a party

photography tips at a party

Just in time for the big Christmas party, I taught it would be handy to give you tips on how to take better pictures at the party. After all, photos are memories that we will cherish for years to come.

Natural poses

Beautiful photography is about capturing expressions. The best pictures display peoples as they are. So try not to ask people to pose for the camera.

Instead take tons of shots “au natural”, take several shots of a scene as it occurs and you will dig afterwards the best photos. I learned this trick from my wedding photographer who used to work as a fashion photographer.

Forgo the flash

Using a flash creates shadows, can overexpose the colors and people with sensible eyes look weird. For that reason, I try to take pictures without a flash. For an indoor party, you probably need to adjust your ISO to 400 or 800. If the room is really dark and you do not mind the grainy look, set the ISO at 1600. You can always finish them as black and white.

Photography is a trial and error activity. My advice is that you experiment in the room first to determine which ISO level produces the best results. When in doubts, repeat the same shot at different ISO levels.

Go manual

If you never moved away from the Auto mode before, here are my tips for beginners. I am an amateur photographer with little experience but I moved away from the Auto mode because this is how you create effects. And do not be afraid, digital photography allows you to take as many shots as you like for free.

When you go manual, you need to be aware of the Exposure triangle: ISO, shutter speed and aperture. A change in one influences the two others. Read the informative Digital Photography Tips for Beginners post by Digital Photography School to understand how they interact.

From my experience, shutter speed is critical for action shots and night shots. Beside ISO, aperture is my best friend. Large aperture (small f numbers) decreases the depth of field which results in a magical blurry background. That effect comes handy for portrait photography as all the attention is on the subject.

If you want more Tips for Shooting a Party, read this post written by Lara Ferroni for her Still Life With. blog. She showed us nice party photos with a blurry background. As a starting point, get inspired by the poses and the angles of her photographs. With practice, you will be able to develop your own style.

Crop and make adjustments

Before you send your photos to your friends and family, take the time to edit them. Crop the image, play with filters, lights, adjust the exposure and add some contrast to embellish your photos. If you did not buy Adobe’s Photoshop, I find that Picasa by Google produces great results.

Have fun at your party tonight. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Learn more: Digital Photography Tips for Beginners published on Digital Photography School
Learn more: Tips for Shooting a Party published on Still Life With.
Learn more: Picasa


My mantle Christmas decorations


For the last days before Christmas, there is still time for one or two last minute inspirations.

I made a simple vignette to decorate the mantle in our playroom at the cottage.

My inspiration was my birch cachepots from small stump. Mason jars served as vases. I selected holly branches because they are resilient and I need a flower arrangement that will still look good for a few days.

A silver tree with a 3D patterned stump base completes the scheme along with a deer from Ikea.


Last minute gift ideas at Gogoglass

witch ball and flower vase by Verre minuit :: Karine Bouchard

If you read my blog often, you already know that Gogoglass is a favorite of mine. I owned her Lemon Reamer and it works like a charm. My husband used it when he plays the barman to extract citrus juices.

When I went to their Workshop Sale on December 1, I took some pictures of their latest creations. Once again, it was a pure pleasure for the eyes.

For your home decor

Karine Bouchard of Verre Minuit makes stunning witch balls. She hangs a bunch of witch balls as a large wall structure. Several times customers asked her to take a picture of her composition and then buy the whole things. They used her picture as a template to reproduce her composition when they get home.

Karine’s witch balls come in 3 almost sizes starting at $25 CAD for the small balls. Witch balls are a popular holiday ornament that you can keep all year around.

If I am not mistaken, Karine and Annie Michaud collaborated to create these amazing flower vases. Otherwise, it is a creation of Verre Minuit. A plate with a small hole can sit on the top. This design enables you to put a single branch on a large vase. Look and versatility combine in one vase.

For your table

salt container :: mortar & pestle :: fruit vase by annie michaud

Annie Michaud creates many tableware products. The French name Main-de-sel ($52 / 62$) sounds more lovely than Salt container. Annie created a glass container with a two-sided spoon for serving sea salt at your table. When you entertain more than six persons, I suggest you place two salt containers. A ratio of 3 to 4 persons conveys a sense of refinement.

I tried out Annie’s own mortar & pestle($95 / $105), the one she used to ground her pepper at the workshop. Wow! It works as well as it looks. I put one on my Christmas wish list; we will see soon if Santa Claus selected it. Otherwise, I will get the bright orange one myself.

A new product is the fruit vase ($45 at the workshop). It is really pretty when you make a row of identical fruits. I could see that used as a centerpiece.

If you are in Montreal, know that the prices of Annie Michaud’s pieces are sold on average for $10 less at her workshop. That is why I put two prices.

385 de la Commune East (marché Bonsecours)
Montreal, QC H2Y 1H2
phone 514.397.8882

For Karine Bouchard : Web site of Verre Minuit – her latest creations are not there
Buy online: Web site of Annie Michaud