Monthly Archives

January 2008

GIFT IDEAS HOUSEWARMING gifts

Six amazing housewarming gift ideas

cookbook stand : glass domes : napkin rings : condiment set : home accessoriesI suggest housewarming gifts, but you could tag those suggestions for Valentine’s Day or any occasions of the year. In fact, I suspected you may go and buy those for yourself.

Cookbook Stand

Once you used a well-designed cookbook stand, you wonder how you lived so long without one. Besides its look, I am craving for the weighted chains to keep the pages in place. From experience I can tell you that with a thick cookbook, the bar at the bottom are not enough.

The Architectural Cookbook Stand is more suitable for a larger kitchen. If the style harmonizes well with the recipient’s kitchen, I am telling you that you cannot find a better gift for $29.

Glass Domes

Right now, any stylish entertaining scheme involves a few glass domes. We see more and more affordable options. The top right picture shows the 3 models available at Wisteria. They all come with a thin natural stone plate.

I shown you before Christmas how a glass dome keeps your miniature vignette free of dust. Glass domes are suitable for outdoor and indoor entertaining. The most common uses are for keeping cheese, canapés, pastries or cakes fresh and bug free.

Sold without a platter, the model at the bottom gives you freedom to harmonize the tray / plate to your tablescape.

Conversation Pieces

Displaying stylish decorative accessories with a one-of-a-kind look gives personality to a space. I am particularly fond of those vintage Chinese Cake Molds on iron stand. Because these are antiques, sizes and shapes will vary.

The designs on the mooncake molds symbolize longevity, prosperity, or wealth. Mooncakes are a Chinese pastry traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. But you can still bring those decorative molds to the host of a Chinese New Year party on February 7, 2008.

Table Accessories

You can never have too many sets of elegant napkin rings. For practical reasons, it is best to buy 8 to 12 rings. The Maxfield silver-plated brass napkins rings can be monogrammed.

And the Barona condiment set will announce the style of your cocktail and dinner parties. The tray and four bowls are made of a food-safe aluminum alloy. The surface is hand polished to better reflect candlelight.

Sourcing:
Buy online: Architectural Cookbook Stand at Wisteria – price: $29 USD
Buy online: Square Glass Cloche at Wisteria – price: $79 USD
Buy online: Bell Glass Cloche at Wisteria – price: $79 USD
Buy online: Tall Glass Cloche at Wisteria – price: $99 USD
Buy online: Glass Dome at Bodie and Fou – price: £32.50
Buy online: Vintage Chinese Cake Molds at Wisteria – price: $29 USD
Buy online: Maxfield Napkin Rings Set at Pottery Barn – price: $30 USD for 6 rings
Buy online: Barona Square Condiment Set at Pottery Barn – price: $49 USD

DESIGN and style LIVING

A sad story

My husband’s aunt C. is at the hospital after an operation to fight cancer. The operation went well and she is in recovery. Yesterday, the weather was terrible in Montreal. Incredibly strong winds and icy rain fell in the morning.

As I was walking to the office around noon, I asked myself why the sidewalks of sloped streets did not get priority. I took tiny steps like if I was wearing a kimono. I was afraid of falling.

And I was right to be afraid. It happened to her older sister A. fell while on her way to visit C. at the hospital. She fell on an icy sloped sidewalk. She became unconscious and by the time she reached the hospital, nothing can be done. The sad thing is that they told her to take a cab but she preferred walking. We cannot anticipated the worst.

The two sisters were pretty close and I met A. several times in family reunions. I liked her a lot so I will miss her conversation. I hope this will not affect C.’s recovery.

So please be careful as you are doing your daily stuff. Accident happens so easily. Take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

BABY showers ENTERTAINING

Cute and stylish baby shower ideas

blue and red apron : flip flops : cocktail napkin holder : baby shower gift ideas

Instead of a design mood board, I composed one around potential gift ideas. I will tell you all about why these items have baby shower written all over them.

Aprons

You probably know by now that I adore aprons. And with a new baby, the mother needs more than one for years to come. It is not because you have a baby that you should stop being fashionable. Since you have less time for yourself, it is better to protect your clothes while you are running your daily errands in the house. For example, when you start to give solid food to your baby, the apron protects your clothes up to a certain point.

This Cherry Tart Chef Apron is from an etsy’s seller called BellaBeeDesigns. A hostess version was also available; I just bought it. Every Bella Bee’s apron is handmade with designer fabrics that are 100% pre-washed cotton fabrics. She used designers like Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry. These aprons are created to withstand many years (even generations) of use and washings.

One special attention of Bella Bee is the recipe that comes with her beautifully packaged apron. Matching potholders, tea towels, totes, handbags and a few baby bibs complete her collection.

Cocktail Napkin Holder

For a dash of retro, go for this Brown Pineapple Cocktail Napkin Holder available at To Bee Named. When you do not have a party, you can put inside hand towels or use as a tray for small baby items.

Flip Flops

Because you want an uncomplicated, comfortable shoe to walk around the house, get the Expecting in Style Flip Flops by Bonnie’s StylePress to the mother-to-be. Theses flip flops have a sculpted arch for added support. Other illustrations are available.

Invitations

Because no baby showers should be held with a proper invitation, I went shopping at Tiny Prints. I selected a new addition to their line, the gender neutral yellow Teddy Shower. Cute and cheerful!

Anything can be the inspiration for a party décor. One way to assure that the gifts go together is to consult each other or to give a wide enough theme to everyone.

Sourcing:
Buy online: Cherry Tart Chef Apron by Bella Bee Designs – price: $45 USD
Buy online: Brown Pineapple Cocktail Napkin Holder – price: $21 USD
Buy online: Blue Expecting in Style Flip Flops by Bonnie’s StylePress – price: $29.95 USD
Buy online: Yellow Teddy Shower at Tiny Prints – price: $31.25 USD for 25 invites

ENTERTAINING FOOD + DRINK HOLIDAY entertaining RECIPES + menus

Dish cooking classes lead to a romantic Valentine’s Day menu

dish cooking studio : valentine's day menu

Something we need a little help for inspirations to prepare our menu. In February, the team at Dish Cooking Studio can help you solve your Valentine’s Day meal dilemma. These are activities you and your lover can enjoy together.

Get Ready for Valentine’s Day

On February 8, Brooke Neveu and her fiancé Jesse, who is an Executive Sous-Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto will prepare a romantic meal that you can replicate at home for the big night. This is your chance to learn new cooking tricks and recipes.

There is a 2 for 1 promotion of Get Ready for Valentine’s Day, call to book your seats. Go with a girlfriend. This way, you can help each other if you encounter a problem duplicating the menu.

Couples in the Kitchen

Instead of going to a crowded restaurant this year, why not do something different? You will still enjoy great food and wine during the evening. It is just that it would be a more intimate atmosphere with no work required. This event will be on February 14, 2008 from 6:30 PM to 9 PM at Dish Cooking Studio. It leaves you plenty of time for romance thereafter.

Valentine’s Day recipes

No time for a class or you still need a little of encouragement, I found on Dish Cooking Studio Web site a Valentine’s Day menu for a previous event. Check out the February 13, 2006 – Valentine’s Experience with Joshna. I suggest you try the Spiced Beef Tenderloin with a Cocoa Crust.

Founded by Trish Magwood, Dish Cooking Studio is located in Toronto. 

Sourcing:
Learn more: Get Ready for Valentine’s Day at Dish Cooking Studio – price: $135 CAD
Learn more: Couples in the Kitchen at Dish Cooking Studio – price: $135 CAD

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

How to Host a Stress Free Gourmet Dinner?

gourmet meal december 2007Unless you hire a chef at home, hosting a gourmet dinner involves a lot of work. Every year before Christmas, we gather one group of friends for a gourmet meal.

The formula

On last Christmas, we tried something new. Seven couples were participating to the event.

Each couple was responsible for cooking, plating, serving and cleaning up a full course. This includes selecting and buying the accompanying alcohol drink. A random draw determines which course was assigned to us.

The menu started with a welcome cocktail and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a cold first course, a warm first course, the entrée, the “trou normand” (granite with a dash of alcohol) before the cheese platter and concluded with the dessert. As you can see, the plates were well-presented. Everything tasted delicious.

No one knew in advance the menu except that it should feel like Christmas. We informed the host of our planned menu who was in charge of coordinating the event program.

My opinion

This formula works pretty well. The hosts gave us clear instructions in advance. The hosts planned for a 15-minute delay between each service. Searching my memory, I estimate the waiting time between services to be closer to 30 minutes on average. But giving us a shorter delay assured that the amount of cooking left was minimal. So it was a good move by the hosts.

This dinner was a team effort. Both men and women worked on this. For my part, my husband and I selected our recipes together. He cooked with me. For a stylish casual gathering, I encourage you to try out this formula. Everyone had the time to enjoy the evening, including the hosts.

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Living in style with a cat

modern cat condo_midcentury modern cat bed

Caring for a pet is fun. But often their toys destroy our home decor. At least, more and more brands come to our rescue by offering modern design cat and dog accessories.

Typically the solutions were expensive. Thank to MoCo LoCo, I discovered two affordable solutions for design conscious dwellers.

The TALL Modern Cat Condo by Two Tree International Co. provides a space where your cats can play and rest, perch and pounce. Since there are two spots, my cats would not fight for a space of their own.

In case your cat is a hard core scratcher, it is good to know that you can replace the foam scratching pads. The pads are available in chocolate or beige.

A blog on Modern designs for living with cats

If you are looking for more solutions, read the Moderncat blog. With no connection to the maker of the Modern Cat Condo, this blog is a resource for cat owners with a modern style edited by a dedicated cat owner with a design background.

When reading Moderncat, I came across this mid-century modern pet lounge by Like Kittysville. Check their small inventory on ebay. If you do find a fabric you like, visit often as they add new listings every few days.

Like Kittysville is a new line of cat-oriented featuring a mod boomerang shape and one-of-a-kind vintage fabrics. Each bed is molded of industrial steel mesh that’s padded, upholstered, and connected to a sleek wood base. Each bed is dog-friendly.

Monthly Giveaways at Moderncat

Sign up for having a chance to win one of the fabulous modern pet products featured on the blog.

Sourcing:
Buy online: TALL Modern Cat Condo by Two Tree International Company – price: $199.95 USD for the two-storey, $89.95 for one storey
Buy online: Retro Modern Pet Lounge by Like Kittysville – current bid: $39.99 USD
Via: Moderncat
Via: MoCo LoCo

RELATED STORY:
+ Day Beds and Furniture for cats all set for design conscious owners

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Bring natural harmony to your home

ligting by Nicolette Brunklaus :: tableware at the conran shopAn enduring trend is the chic natural look. This style mixes modern design with icon of the wildlife.

The Shady Tree Lights designed by Nicolette Brunklaus from Amsterdam certainly portrays this style. Offer in six colors and three formats, you will find you to fit your space. You can achieve an overall rustic look by mixing the Log Hanging lamps with the Log Standing set. Folded Secret neatly catches your post and hides your keys.

February 6th, 2008 Update: I saw the Nicolette Brunklaus Lights at Lekker when I visited the store last week-end. The ceiling lamps are even more adorable in reality.

In the foyer, let your guests hang their coats on another Dutch design. Perfect for the urban crowd, the Rack Deer Park displays 3 über hip solid cast aluminum deer antlers.

The lesson here is that nature can be brought to a home while still infusing a designer look into the room.

Stylish tableware

Passing from the hall to the table, I went shopping at The Conran Shop for stylish modern tableware ideas.

The Blue Butterfly collection is particularly interesting due to big illustrations. The drawings vary from chargers, to the dinner plates up to the side plates. And you have a classic on your hands with the blue and white color scheme.

Bold and Gold

Gold accessories are a hot ticket right now. Made of porcelain with gold glaze, the Golden Teapot will prompt some compliments for sure. For a modern stylish cup, I would opt for the affordable Copper Inka Mug. I do not feel it would not look out of place at tea time, unless it is a formal event.

Continuing on the same theme, you could get the Gold Balance scale designed by Hannes Mayer for Mayerunthiele that I shown you last July.

SOURCING:
+ Nicolette Brunklaus
+ Blue Butterfly dinnerware at The Conran Shop – starting at £22 for a side plate
+ Ceiling lamp – Shady Tree Collection by Nicolette Brunklaus at Lekker – starting at $450 USD
+ Rack Deer Park at Lekker – price: $88
+ Golden Teapot at The Conran Shop – price: £35
+ Inka Mug Copper at The Conran Shop – price: £9.95

FAMILY FOOD + DRINK HOME + GARDEN KIDS party OUTDOOR space TABLEWARE

Colorful Picnic Tableware for Moms Get Together

colorful melamine by Rice :: Reisenthel babybag and picnic tool

By listening to my friends who are new mothers, I noticed how much fun they appreciate a picnic in the park with young children. So I compiled a list of stylish colorful accessories.

A punch of colors stimulates babies. Reading Syrliga karameller on Purple Area this morning led me to a whimsical Danish brand called Rice.

What is new at Rice?

The Spring / Summer 2008 catalogue of Rice is full of sweet candy colors. You will discover a vast collection of melamine bowls, plates, lunch boxes, glasses, trays and utensils. Several formats and colors caught my attention. 

The ice cream cupcake bowls with their orange spoon are so cute. Use them to serve fruit salads, puddings and baby food at the park. I am a fan of the Bento lunch box. The food stays well separated and you can prepare the servings in advance.

After the meal, moms can use the leftover Green Animal Print Napkins for storytelling in the park.

Gift ideas for a baby shower

Why not give colorful melamine dish ware? From my experience, new parents will use them often.

The same is true for the picnic stool by Reisenthel. Offer in four colors, the foldable stool make an instant table or seat. It comes in a matching color carry-on bag.

A classic baby shower gift is a baby travel bag. One of my favorite, the red Babybag with orange accents by Reisenthel comes with all sorts of equipments and compartments. It hangs easily on the stroller handles. Unfortunately, it seems that retailers are still too old-fashioned. I only found the feminine Polka Dots online. If you can find the red, tell me because it looks so much better.

Sourcing:
Learn more: Party Time Paper Napkin with Green Animal Print
Learn more: Colorful Melamine at Rice
Buy online: Picnic stool by Reisenthel at Singulier.com – price: 9.50 ?
For Americans: Dots Babybag by Reisenthel at Amazon.com – price: $49.99 USD
For Canadians: Reisenthel Baby Bag in Dots at GoneShopping.ca – price: $45 CAD

FAMILY KIDS rooms

Alphabet Photography Art

word art by alphabet photographyI received an email from Jennifer of Alphabet Photography to inform me of a new art product. I look at it because it intrigued me. What I discovered is a unique concept.

Starting from black and white photographs taken around the Niagara Region during the summer of 2007, you can custom your own word art. Their Web site has a pretty simple to use Create a word interface. You can adjust each photograph individually and see the result automatically. I did it for the name of my husband and my name.

Each photograph is a 4 x 6, so the art work does not take too much space. Depending on the number of letters, you can find an integrated photo frame or align several frames in a row. Look at Umbra; they are my favorite brand for cool and stylish photo frames.

An excellent gift idea

For the upcoming Valentine’s Day, Alphabet Photography proposes a personalized gift solution. Make sure to make a good lasting impression and select a series of upscale photo frames that match the decor.

Parents could enjoy the name of their newborn on a subtle way in the house. Make a note for future baby showers. You can get the name of every members of the family for their anniversary. And make a neat arrangement by mixing some pictures of the family as separator and space filler.

Alphabet Photography delivers in Canada and the United States for a small fee. International shipping is available.If you live close by, the letter photos are available at Sips and Suds Laundromat Cafe in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Sourcing:
Buy online: Alphabet Photography – price: $4 per letter

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Odorless hands on Valentine’s Day

stainless steel odor less soap bar and garlic crusher

I have to admit that I am not a fan of dining out on Valentine’s Day. The restaurants are too busy. I prefer a romantic, more intimate dinner at home sitting on the cushions near the fire place.

Since typically a home cooked meal requires minced garlic or onions, what do you do with the smell on your hands? Stainless steel bar soap is the solution.

Rub-A-Way Bar

I have to admit that I was skeptical. But I tried the Rub-A-Way Bar at my brother’s house last Christmas. It really works! Do not be afraid to make your own sushi or cook fish that night; just rub your hands on a stainless steel bar.

I have been told that Canadian shoppers can find from time to time the Rub-A-Way Bar at Winner or Home Sense (I am not sure which) for about $5.

How does it work?

These gadgets use oxido-reduction, a natural property of steel, to effectively remove strong odors. You can get rid of onion, garlic, fish, even nicotine scent in minutes.

Orka DEOS soap

Being displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art is a sign that Orka DEOS is out of the ordinary. DEOS provides the added benefits of a nail cleaner located at the tip of the teardrop-shaped steel soap. As I wrote this, Amazon.com is temporarily out of stock of DEOS. 

Royal VKB Garlic Crusher

If you are short on time, go for the stainless steel Garlic Crusher by Royal VKB. The crushing action enhances the garlic flavor. Rinse immediately the garlic crusher and rub your hand on it. You clean up the kitchen tool and your hands in the same operation. Voilà!

The Garlic Crusher was designed by Ineke Hans in 2005 and won the prestigious Red dot design award that year.

Last words of advice

My brother’s girlfriend told me that rubbing your hands on a stainless steel sink works too. Since I do not own a bar yet, I gave it a try the other night. It might not be as stylish and practical than those bars but my hands were odorless after a few cycles. Now you have no excuses for lingering scent on your hands.

Sourcing :
Buy online: Amco 8402 Rub Away Bar at Amazon.com – price: $6.95
Buy online: Orka Deos Stainless Steel Soap at Amazon.com – price: $9.95
Buy online: Garlic Crusher by Royal VKB at A+R – price: $24

LIVING TRAVEL

Dancing under the stars at Igloofest 2008

igloofest 2008 : kim vallee with jerome paradis and katheline jean-pierre

If you live in a Northern country, you know that winter does not stop us from having fun outside. Why not tame the cold with a huge chilly dancing party?

For two week-ends in a row, Piknic Electronik organized a Wild Winter Piknic Fun at the Quays of the Old Port of Montreal. A large crowd danced to the beats of DJs from Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Germany.

Ice sculptures, igloos, tree silhouettes and multimedia effects bring vibes to a beautiful location. Suitable clothing, fire pits, dancing and bar stations with mulled wine, caribou and fortified coffee keep us warm.

A Bad Taste Contest

When you will watch the video, you will see bright one piece ski suits and weird clothes. Do not worry; Montreal is still a fashionable city. It is just that Igloofest run a contest.

We were all invited to wear our tackiest, wackiest clothes. Let say that some used sport equipment stores in the city were able to sell their ugliest ski suits. But you have to admit that in a chill party like this, the costumed participants look pretty cool.

The Music

Igloofest played electronic music from 6 p.m. to midnight. Exceptionally, yesterday it was until 1 a.m. We arrived after 9 o’clock and danced to the rhythms of Mateo Murphy from Canada. He was followed by a German DJ. Frankly, Thomas Schumacher was electrifying.

Having an Accomplice

I am glad we stayed in Montreal this week-end for the finale because the party was amazing. But more importantly, it gave me the occasion to see several friends all in once.

In an ambiance like this,I did not feel being alone in the video. Apart from the crowd, my friend Katheline Jean-Pierre joined me as I explored the several locations of Igloofest. A Product Lead for Flickr at YAHOO! Canada, Katheline is used to be in the spotlight. In fact, Katheline was recently voted the Sexiest Geek in Montreal. Congratulations Katz!

As you watch the video, you will notice that we did not take ourselves seriously. We have fun at the end playing girlie roles. To see more photos, visit the official Igloofest 2008 Flickr group.

Lastly, I want to thank my husband Jerome for being such a great cameraman. Watch the video of the January 26, 2008 Igloofest event as I experienced it.

Sourcing:
Learn more: Piknic Electronik