Monthly Archives

April 2009


Affordable Tabletop Items as Hostess Gifts

recycled bamboo fruit bowls :: recycled tea holders :: printed dolly gothic melamine plates

Everyone is looking for gift ideas that are unique and affordable. You are sure to get invited another time if you show up at the door with any of three hostess gifts:

+ Bryan Parks of Kwytza Kraft decided to give a second life to an everyday object that is commonly throw away after a single use. The Chopstick Bowls are made of post-consumer bamboo chopsticks. Do not worry, they are cleaned and sanitized before getting their warm brown hue using a natural dye made from tea leaves. A handy feature is that can be folded flat when not in use.  Medium $20 USD, large $26

+ Made from recycled bicycle freewheels and cogs, these tea light holders are ready to use since the candle is included. $12.99 USD

+ Thomas Paul drew on by lace dollies when he created his melamine Gothic Dinner Plate Set. The dolly is flush and cream. The 11-inch plates are perfect for serving cookies, cakes and pies. $36 USD for 4


The Exceptional Smushies at Café Royal in Copenhagen for my Gastronomic Wednesday

rud christiansen owner of cafe royal

A 300-year old tradition got a makeover at the Café Royal in Copenhagen. The Danish smørrebrød was invented in Denmark when poor people could not afford two pieces of bread. Later, as people get more money the smørrebrød became more complex. It is a popular lunch dish. Do not be surprised of you do not see the bread anymore on the traditional smørrebrød.

Basically, the smørrebrød is an open-faced sandwich. It is often made with dark rye bread and the condiments are nicely assembled in layers. Although there are a wide variety of smørrebrød, tradition in Denmark dictates was goes with what and in which order. They took their smørrebrød seriously. There is a 3 years and a half school program to master the art of making smørrebrøds.

smushies open-faced sandwiches at cafe royal

But Rud Christiansen, the owner and founder of the Royal Café in Copenhagen, wanted to broke the rules and played with the dish. He decided to reduce the size of the smørrebrød and to explore new ingredient pairing. He called his finger-sized open-faced sandwiches Smushi; in reference to sushi.

The presentation at the smushi at Café Royal is sublime. I would love to smushies at my next tea party. Plus the interior design of the Café Royal is a treat by itself. I marked Café Royal as a must-see place.

+ Listing of traditional smørrebrød restaurants
+ Told & Snaps
+ Café Royal in Copenhagen


Green Living Toys for my Eco-Friendly Tuesday

green toys

We are never too young to learn to principles of green living. Pretend games were part of my favorites as a kid. These days, we can find green doll houses and city life accessories. The toys also have to walk the talk and be made of organic or eco-friendly materials. If you have an upcoming kid birthday, here a few suggestions from two brands that specialize in green toys.

City Life Toys

+ Your kids will become familiar with the ecological ways to heat, cool and supply energy to a house. The Green Dollhouse by Plan Toys features a wind turbine and a solar cell panel with electrical inverter for generating electricity, a rain barrel for collecting rain plus a green facade which helps control the appropriate temperature of the house. A shade canopy that can be pulled down in order to block or allow the wind and sunlight into the house. Recycling bins are integrated to the house. $190 USD green house alone, $234.95 house with green furniture

+ They will learn the value of local farming with the Doll House Vegetable Garden by Plan Toys $19.94 USD

+ The new Eco Street Accessories include 4 solar street lights, 3 signs, a recycle bin, and 2 street flower beds. On the Website of Plan Toys, they say street benches but from the pictures, it looks like flower beds.

For Playing Outside

These making of these toys is more environmentally. They are made recycled plastic that were collected from curbside milk containers. The plastic is safe for kids. It contains no phthalates or BPA.

+ Sand Play Set $19.99 USD
+ Green Toys Gardening Kit $20 USD

+ Plan Toys
+ Green Toys


The Most Adorable DIY Ideas for my Organizing Monday

repurpose things for gardening and as storage solutions

This post explores how you can repurpose things to get your home better organized. The wonderful Fiona of Cafe Cartolina made my story easy when she discovered a wonderful site filled with practical and cute DIY projects. There are ideas from the Do It Yourself magazine. There were so many great ideas that I did not need to look elsewhere. In fact, I could not present them all.

An inexpensive way to get better organizer and decorate your home is to add a personal touch to everyday items. Paint in a bright hue small metal buckets with exterior enamel paint. Then, fill them with potting mix and plant small plants, cooking herbs or green leaves.

The most adorable idea is to reclaim a birdcage as a mail sorter. Who can resist the vintage small suitcase, which provides enough space to neatly store your gift-wrapping supplies?

tidy home desk that uses a small floor space

Plus do not miss the Storage Zone Solutions. It will help you keep your desk tidy in a compact space.

+ Do It Yourself
+ Via Cafe Cartolina


Edward Wohl’s Sandwich Boards and Wooden Spread Knife for Mother’s Day

wooden breakfast board and butter knife by Edward Wohl

Thanks to my resourceful mother, I will get my own DIY sandwich boards; I opted for an 8 x 12-inch board since I want enough space to put a small bowl of soup and a sandwich. A wooden board absorbs the condensation out of toasted bread, which is part of the appeal.

As I put my eyes on the 9 inches by 7 inches Sandwich boards by master woodworker and designer Edward Wohl, I have my doubts over my extra-long board. Mine are already done so we will see if I was right or not. The bird eye’s maple cutting boards produced by Edward Wohl are truly elegant; that is why you pay more. I bought 2 of his wooden spreaders/butter knives when I visited Heath.

It also works the other way around: you could give them to our mother for Mother’s Day. I will probably get my hands on my set on Mother’s Day since I do not think we will meet before that – we live 100 kms apart. I also asked if she finds someone to make me beech wood slice tray; I like the silver bark that is more stylish than the rustic maple bark. You will get a chance to admire them on my table this summer.

+ Sandwich boards by Edward Wohl $29 USD at Linda Ferrol Studio – also available at Heath Ceramics
+ Wooden Knife by Edward Wohl $12.50 USD at Linda Ferrol Studio


Chickpea and Mango Salad Recipe Followed by a Grilled Red Snapper with a Fresca Salsa

chickpea and mango salad

Both recipes are from the Chef at Spa Eastman, a spa who won several awards. The latest is the Eastern Townships’ Final of the Grands Prix du tourisme québécois in the “Sustainable Tourism” category. Cooking is a part of their spa experience. They grow their own vegetables, berries, fine herbs and edible flowers during the summer. I am glad that the Chef shared with me one of his recipes.

Chickpea and Mango Salad Recipe

I love the way they dish the chickpea and mango salad. Using a coconut shelf as a bowl makes a statement. Remember it for your next beach party.

Soaking: 12 hrs
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hr 30 minutes
Serve 8

Main Ingredients:

  • 375 ml (1 ½ cups) chickpeas, soaked 12 hours
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
  • half a red onion (150 g / 5 oz) cubed
  • 1 small red bell pepper (150 g / 5 oz), diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) old-fashioned grain mustard (moutarde de meaux)
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 very ripe mango, peeled, de-pitted and diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 22 ml (1 1/2 tablespoon) dried grated coconut or unsweetened flakes


  • 1 very ripe mango, peeled, de-pitted and diced
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) apple vinegar
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) water
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) olive oil
  • A touch of Cayenne pepper
  • A touch of ground turmeric (curcumin)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a casserole, pour cold water and add the chickpeas. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the peas are tender. Drain and refrigerate.
  2. In the meanwhile, in a pan, heat 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of olive oil and sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
  3. Mix the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a blender until smooth.
  4. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas, onion, bell pepper, garlic, dressing, grain mustard, coriander and diced mango. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place in a service bowl (or coconut shell) and sprinkle with mint and coconut.
  6. Serve cold.

Eating Well: More recipes from Spa Eastman

grilled red snapper with fresca salsa

Eating healthy means that we eat less meat. Fish provides an excellent source of nutriments and it delivers less calories on average than meat. A good think to fit nicely in our bathing suit at the beach party. Spa Eastman published tasty and healthy recipes:

+ Grilled Red Snapper Filet, Salsa Fresca
+ Swordfish with ginger and lemon sauce
+ Vegetable Miso Soup

If you wish to spoil your mother for Mother’s Day, you can get 10 % off the package of your choice when you book a package with accommodation. This offer is valid only for overnight stays that occur until May 31st 2009.

+ Images and recipe courtesy of Spa Eastman


Restaurant La Montée is a Treat

la montee fish dishes

A few weeks ago, we were invited by a couple to eat at La Montée. I am delighted that L. & S. selected this restaurant because the food at La Montée is exquisite. The service is courteously friendly. The cuisine is North American. Their modern dishes are influenced by our French cooking background.

The menu at La Montée does not include the concept of appetizers and main courses. All the courses, except the dessert, are of the same size. The menu proposes a 4-course dinner and a 7-course tasting menu chosen by the chef. The 4-course option for $55 is plenty.

Basically, you take either 3 salty dishes and a dessert, 3 salty dishes and a cheese plate or 2 salty dishes, 1 cheese plate and a dessert. I recommend that you go for the wine pairing. The salty dishes provide a good mix of vegetable dishes, fish plates and meats.

The menu changes often so if you are interested by a dish, go for it. To show you how I like the place, I registered to their newsletter, a rare thing for me since I prefer RSS feeds. On top of being notice of upcoming events at the restaurant, the Chef sometimes shares his recipes.

la montee dessert plus a photo of jerome paradis and kim vallee

Our friends took a picture of my husband and I. For this occasion, I wore the dress I bought last January at The Drove in Los Angeles.

+ La Montéeget directions p (514) 289-9921
1424 Bishop Street, Montreal, QC, Canada, H3G 2E6


Colorful Tea Accessories and Audrey Murano Glass Tea Strainer for Koziol

audrey murano glass tea strainer for koziol

Koziol did it again: I am in awe. I spot this adorable tea strainer while researching the best tea strainers. But really, Audrey Tea Strainer is too remarkable for me to wait. It is in a class by itself. I will tell you a little secret: I will give it to my mom for Mother’s Day – do not worry, she will be surprised since she rarely uses a computer.

I think that the Audrey tea strainer collection was launched last year. Every blown glass piece is unique. Plus like the Swatch watches, you can build a collection. Every year, they are updating the colors. The 2008 collection has a white vase with the bloom available in pink, orange, pink sun, red, turquoise blue and green. The 2009 collection is pink orange, pink white, red white with a green base. It is also available in all green and all white.

More Tea Accessories

fun and modern tea accessories for koziol

Koziol is well known for their fun and colorful plastic kitchenware. Their plastic collection proposes several cool items for making your tea.

+ THEKLA, a measuring spoon with a bag clip
+ BEAU-TEA ,which is a modern tea ball that is supposed to leave enough space for the leaves to fully unfold
+ LEAF-IT, a fun tea bag tidy made of transparent heat-resistant plastic
+ The popular three-tiered BABELL tray is now available in a small size to fit petits fours, chocolates and mignardises

+ Koziol for the Kitchen Catalogue
+ Audrey Murano Tea Strainer $22.95 CAD at Ochadô – they deliver internationally


The Piramide Portable Outdoor Lighting and the Sahara Planters by Gandia Blasco

lampara piramide next to tipi by gandia blasco

If you recalled the tipi by Gandia Blasco, you know that their design is unique and trendy. This Spanish family-run company mastered the art of creating atmosphere for upscale and sensual party on a beach, by the pool or in a big backyard.

Have a look at their latest lighting addition. It is spectacular! The Lampara Piramide is a portable outdoor lamp, made of polyethylene.  It delivers a sensual glow, especially next to the tipi. Sadly, it is not sometimes that most of us can afford. At $1550 a piece, we will admire them from far.

Sahara Plant Pots

sahara planters for gandia blasco

The Sahara planters all share a beautiful organic shape. They come in five formats with inner compact florescent lamp lighting and a drainage system. To add color to the white planters, simply use a colored compact fluorescent lamp. I am not sure if the colored Sahara pots can be illuminated. I have not find a store yet with the sand, terracotta, lime and black pots.

The planter can be used as an ice bucket when you have a party. The Sahara Planters are a creation of Pablo Gironés.

+ Gandia Blasco
+ Lampara Piramide $1550 USD at YLighting
+ Sahara planters $520 USD at YLighting


The Glamour behind the Ensombra Parasol

ensombra parasol by odosdesign for gandia blasco

This is not a new product but these pictures are stunning. It feels very old LA. I love the mood.

I am not certain.  The Ensombra may have been introduced in 2006 by Gandia Blasco.  This folding parasol has the base and the pole made of thermolacquered iron.  while phenolic plates are used for the slats. It sounds complicated. The important thing for me is that these parasols add fun and style to any backyard. They come in two sizes and 6 colors.

+ Gandia Blasco
+ Gandia Blasco Modern Ensombra Parasol designed by Odosdesign $2500 USD


My Dish Picks from FoodGawker | 2009.04.23

tomatoes tart :: wilm mushroom filled pasta :: green beans :: meyer lemon cake :: kim\'s picks on foodgawker

My stylish living philosophy includes beautiful, tasty and healthy choices when it comes to home cooked meal. Making one special dish may be enough to create a simple meal into something extraordinary.

+ The first recipe is from a mother of 2 who lives in New Zealand. Bron Marshall enjoys growing her own vegetables and collecting fresh produce. This a recipe she made using her latest crops of tomatoes. Cherry Tomato Onion Tart with Parmesan Crust

+ Serving pasta is a sure bet. This Wild mushroom pasta dish is served on top of a bed of fresh pea shoots, then smothered in a Crimini Alfredo. Michelle of Life, Lightly Salted made her own creamy sauce. She also used prepared Alfredo sauce but I prefer to make my own Alfredo sauce. Between cooking the pasta and making the sauce she had dinner on the table in 20 minutes. The trick is that she used pre-made fresh pasta.

This recipe was made with the new Wild Mushroom Agnolotti by Buitoni, which blends earthy mushrooms, including sweet, rustic portobellos and delicate criminis. The mushroom is paired with fresh-roasted garlic and imported Grana Padano and Parmesan cheeses. The mixture is wrapped inside thin layers of stone-ground semolina pasta. Buying fresh agnolotti at the supermarket or a local fine Italian shop is a good time-saving option when you do not have time to make your own stuffed pasta.

+ Side vegetables are essential to every meal. The Green Beans with Feta and Dill looks festive. Via Cooking on the Side.

+ Then, with the extra time, you could bake the superb dessert. Helen from Tartelette tells us how to bake individuals Lemon Poppy Seed Cakes with Meyer Lemon Mousse.

What are you cooking tonight?