Monthly Archives

July 2009


Rustic Decor Ideas from Starbucks 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea

Starbucks New Stealth Store

Many people, including couples who are getting married, opt for a rustic party theme. These are good reasons for that. It is style that is inviting, that feels warm and cozy.

You may have heard that Starbucks opened a new store concept, the 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea. Despite the design controversy, there are decor ideas that you can reclaim for your next rustic decor party. What caught my attention are in details. As you know, details are what transform an ordinary party into an extraordinary adventure.

The first item that I noticed is the old style teakettle. I think it is gorgeous. Setting an area outside for guest dogs to drink water is a nice touch when you are having a barbecue at the cottage or a long drive from home.

Mercantile Counter at Starbucks 15th Ave. Coffee and Tea

Another design idea that is worth recycling for a big party is the self-served counter. It has the charm of the general stores. Think how you could use that concept to serve food instead of setting a predictable buffet table. It is simple to reproduce the look. Visit flea markets to get your hands on vintage wood boxes. Secure them at an angle.

+ Via PSFK – they took the photos with a phone
+ Press Release of 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea


Fabulous Cakes by The Caketress

wedding cakes and cupcakes by The Caketress - photography by Erika and Ryan of Rowell Photography

Everyone loves the sight of a gorgeous cakes. There are so much a part of any celebration. Thanks to #followfriday on Twitter, I discovered one more talented cake designer today. Lori Hutchinson is a Canadian who bakes from Collingwood, Ontario.

Besides her cake design, it is the styling of her cake photos that caught my attention. These were taken at a photo shoot with Erika and Ryan of Rowell Photography. Since her cake shop is called The Caketress, I feel the shots captured that essence.

cake decorations gallery of the caketress Lori Hutchinson from Collingwood, ontario

Cupcake wraps add elegance. There are almost a must for a chic party. I also like when Lori puts her cupcakes inside traditional tea cups. These stitches are hand painted. She created that red and blue cake for an event organized by the Blue Mountain Foundation of the Arts.

+ The Caketress
+ Photo credits: Rowell Photography – some shots may be from other photographers.
+ Follow me on Twitter


More Adorable Cupcake Towers by Blue Cupcake

fabulous cupcake tower creations by blue cupcake

It is not the first time I featured the work of Julie Desmeules of Blue Cupcake. What can I say, she never stopped to amazed me. I wish I was a guest at those parties. For grown ups, have a look at one of her Cupcake Wedding Tower and the Bon Voyage! cupcake she did for herself before going to vacation.

For Kids Birthdays

Julie excelled at sculpting animals in fondant. This Noah’s Ark Cupcake Tower was designed for the first birthday of a little boy called Noah. Two by two go the hippos, elephants, turtles, lions, and many more! For each specie, she crafted a male and female version.  This is an easy theme on which to build a birthday kid party.

A 3-year old girl has her Cinderella princess party. She requested a glittery coach on the cake. You have to be close to see the glittery powder on the coach.

Now Available Daily at Lot 44 Coffee

Since last Monday, July 20, 2009,  her daily baked classic flavor cupcakes such as red velvet, chocolate, coconut and vanilla are sold at Lot 44 Coffee in downtown Los Angeles. There will be many seasonal flavors as well. She served the very popular strawberry cupcakes at the event. I wish her all the best with this new venture.

+ Blue Cupcake


Fun Stuff from Three Potato Four

fun stuff three potato four

It is no secret that I love the vintage items at Three Potato Four.  Here are my three fab from what is online this week. These would feel at home in any family with young children. You could also build a baby shower theme around on item.

+ If you are planning a baby shower on your backyard, go for the Vintage Ice Bucket with a Sandpiper motif. It is playful and sophisticated. I want it. $40 USD
+ I am fond of vintage wood toys. It adds charms to a nursery and a kid playroom. This set of antique Scandinavian building blocks inspires me. $24 USD
+ For your young kids to have a place to put their keys and hang a membership card, I like the Little Red Riding Key Hook $12


Wedding Gift Ideas for my Etsy Finds

wedding gift ideas found on etsy :: picnic set and blankets :: couple silhouette print

Giving something handmade or crafted feels more special. Picnics are about taking the time to sit, eat and talk. It is about making time for yourself and your loved ones. It feels right the perfect gift for newlyweds or a bride-to-be.

SewnNatural produced the retro style picnic blankets at the top. I am partial to the red gingham quilted picnic blanket. She always used a denim back for easy maintenance.

Then, fortyducks creates an updated version of the picnic basket. Since they are made to order, you can specify which colors you want it. Her Patricia Picnic set comes with a reversible tote, a picnic blanket with water resistant backing and coordinating storage sleeve, 4 plastic plates and 4 Place setting roll ups with utensils and cloth napkins.

I love the custom couple silhouette print by Nella Designs. You select the silhouettes from the template – 6 girls, 4 guys. For a little extra, she will produce the print with your own silhouette. I think it is cute and fun.

+ Picnic Blanket / Retro and Roomy in Red by SewnNatural $75 USD
+ Eco Picnic Blanket / Reclaimed Vintage Madras by SewnNatural $75 USD
+ Custom Couple Silhouette Print with date by Nelly Designs $20 USD, from your own photos $26 USD
+ The Patricia Picnic Set by fortyducks $150 USD


Save Time with the Frozen Gourmet Food at Gastronomia

gastronomia frozen gourmet French food :: croissant and gratin dauphinois

I was invited for a tasting at Gastronomia that are located here in Montreal. Since 1998, they sell to upscale hotels, restaurants, bars and caterers across the United States and Canada.. What’s best is that they now operate a warehouse store open to the public.

Most of their products are imported from France. This is high end stuff that will save you a lot of time in the kitchen. The frozen aisles of the grocery stores are filled with finger food and pastry based appetizers. What I am talking about tastes way way better. If you stock a few packages, you could entertain at last minute without stress any day of the week.

From the Freezer to Oven

One side dish that I adore is the Gratin Dauphinois available in individual portions. They make a fancy potato side dish. Making your own gratin dauphinois is time consuming. Not anymore! Simply reheat the number you need on the oven for 30 minutes and voilà! Gratin Dauphinois goes well with any meat.

Making myself a French breakfast was easy with the freezer to oven butter mini-croissants or chocolatine. Both pastries were tasty and exhibit the right texture. I like the fact that I did not have to step out of the house to get them. Plus the house smells great afterward. All their pastries are made with real butter. For me, butter pastry is a must.

Small Desserts

gastronomia dessert treats

While I was there, I tasted plenty of dessert. I like some better than others. The mini-verrines are a must buy. They even carry the small plastic spoons that you see on my picture. The pistachio are awesome. I also enjoyed the exotic fruits with its passion fruit mousse, exotic fruit coulis and flambéed meringue.

I have been told that the mirlitons, which are small buttery cakes, pair well with sweeter Champagne and ice cider. The 8 varieties come on a golden tray. Serve those on a dessert table or at a tea party. I enjoyed the most the rhubarb mirliton and the hazelnut and raspberry mirliton. It is just for your knowledge since you cannot select the variety.

Their macarons were delicious. It is a good idea to keep a few boxes of the mini-macarons on your freezer for when you need a hostess gift.

Boiron Fruit Purees And Coulis

Chefs and mixologists used those around the world. All the Boiron’s fruit purees and coulis are 100% natural with no added preservatives. Some flavors have a little amount of sugar to produce the right texture. The squeeze bottle is a charm to work with. Boiron makes sure that you get the right texture and color for each fruit. I will share my tricks as we make cocktail recipes over the upcoming months.

gastronomia warehouse boutique open to the public

Still More to Taste

Gastronomia also carries trendy appetizers, frozen vegetables, mushrooms and herbs. You take the quantity of herbs that you need and put it back on the freezer. They are more tasteful that the dried herbs. I received more samples of stuffed appetizers that I may review once I tasted them. We will see.

Based on what I tasted so far, I will be going back to their warehouse boutique. It is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm. See for yourself if you like it.

+ Gastronomiaget directions (514) 281-6400
333 Richmond Street, Montreal, QC, Canada, H3J 1T9


New Placemats and Table Runners by Chilewich

brocade :: pressed vinyl :: tuxedo stripes :: new table mats and runners by chilewich

The latest table mats and table runners by Chilewich are getting more sophisticated. For a fall and winter table, opt for the elegance of the Brocade series. The Pressed Vinyl collection reproduces the look of lace without the maintenance requirements. Tuxedo Stripes is the most formal pattern. I imagined it well with the Linea Ice Oro Flatware Collection by Mepra.

I like the hues of the aqua and kiwi woven lattice placemats but I found that the woven is too open. If you are looking for bright hues, check the Pressed Vinyl Dots in citron (lemon), green, orange and hot pink.

+ Chilewich’s Tabletop


Knoll’s Generation Chair Seems More Comfy

Generation Chair designed by Formway Design for Knoll

I sit in an Herman Miller’s Aeron chair at home. It feels great as long as you sit properly. The problem is that I don’t. After you can if you have to sit for hours on a chair. I may cross my legs. I often bend on my left side. I like to move around on my chair.

In fact, I am not alone. That is to address these issues that Knoll launched two weeks ago a new chair called Generation. The flex back top that follows your body movement is one of many innovations that makes this chair different. The URL of the Web site of the Generation chair, Sit How you Want illustrates their concept. I still have to try one but their concept grabbed my attention. The Generation chair is currently available in stores. But you have to wait until Friday if you wish to buy it online.

Other office chair manufacturers are trying to build the ultimate task chair. Check out this video report done last June by Fast Company. They reviewed three chairs including the Generation by Knoll. They seem to like it.

+ Generation by Knoll


Heather and Ivan Morison: I am so sorry. Goodbye Tea House

Heather and Ivan Morison I am so sorry. Goodbye double-domed pavilion at Barbican Art Gallery

This is a beautiful organic shape art installation. With their I am so sorry. Goodbye double-domed pavilion, Heather and Ivan Morison explored the relationship between the built environment and nature. The interior has a few chairs and tables and a service bar where you can have a tea.

Heather and Ivan Morison\'s Balsa Wood Dome Tea House on Display at Barbican Waterside in London

If you are passing by London, UK until October 18th, 2009, pass by the Barbican Waterside to see this amazing Balsa wood structure. Looking inside the doom is supposed to bring a futuristic feeling. Another reason to go in, they are serving hibiscus tea inside. The admission is free.

Heather and Ivan Morison: I am so sorry. Goodbye at Barbican Art Gallery
+ Via Trendir


What’s Hot in Tea kettles: Color and Water Temperature Gauge

colorful teakettles :: Cuisinart PerfecTemp :: Oxo Uplift :: Le Creuset Whistling :: Round Teakettle by Staub

When it comes to kettles, you first have to decide if you are looking for a stove model or an electric model.

My preference goes to a classic teakettle that you put on the stove. I own a beautiful Italian design stainless steel whistling kettle. Many  friends told me over the years that my kettle looks great. Unfortunately, my husband does not like a stove kettle. Therefore, we stopped using it. I stored it just in case.

But the latest innovation in teakettle, water temperature gauge may change my mind. The bright color of the porcelain enameled teakettle made me wish for a red Cuisinart PerfecTemp Porcelain Enameled Teakettle.

Breville Variable Temperature Electric Kettle

The ultimate feature I have seen is the variable temperature electric kettle. Since we drink several types of teas at home, this will be heaven. It will ensure that I get the right temperature for his morning tea and my French-press coffee. The Breville Variable-Temperature Kettle beeps when water reaches the selected temperature and can maintain that temperature for up to 20 minutes.

+ Cuisinart PerfecTemp Porcelain Enameled Teakettles $99.95 USD
+ Oxo Uplift Teakettle $49.95 USD
+ Dijon Whistling Teakettle $69.95 USD
+ Grenadine Round Teakettle by Staub $131.95 USD
+ Breville Variable-Temperature Kettle $149.95 USD


Etcetera Hanging Garden by Vincent Vandenbrouck for Edition Compagnie

etcetera hanging garden designed by vincent van for edition compagnie

One cool space saving garden accessory featured on the August 2009 issue of Living etc is Etcetera Hanging Garden designed by Vincent Vandenbrouck for Edition Compagnie. It holds vertically 3 rows of 3 terracotta pots. Perfect for plants or fresh herbs.

This design is a few years old. I like the concept behind Etcetera. It is also available as a pot holder set of 3 pots. The innovation resides in the opening that allows the pots to be hanged on sticks.

+ Etcetera Hanging Garden £199 at Lifestyle Bazaar