Monthly Archives

November 2009

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

Simplest Magnolia and Boxwood Wreaths

magnolia and fresh boxwood wreaths

A simple square wreath is ideal for a modern home. Depending of your preference, Gardens propose three holiday greenery options. First, the classic Magnolia Grandiflora with its dark green leaves on the front side contrasted with a rich velvet copper back side. You can also get and all green magnolia or a fresh boxwood.

The square wreath are available in 16 inch and 24 inch. If you need a bigger wreath, the round wreaths are available in 30, 36 and 48 inches. Gardens has a store in Austin and a store in Dallas. You can order online. Their prices included shipping within the Continental United States.

SOURCING:
+ Square wreaths 16-inch $70, 24-inch $106 USD at Gardens
+ Round wreaths $146 – $316 USD
+ via {frolic!}

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Sportive Indoor Spaces for Kids

indoor climbing activities playrooms

If you live in a colder climate, you understand the practicality of indoor park where your kids can be active. Some parents took this idea further and integrate indoor climbing ladder, a slide and even a sliding pole in their house. If more kids were having those, maybe they would play less video games. I would have love to have that as a kid.

+ photos: Slide by London archiutect Alex Michaelis, climbing ladder photographed by Louis Lemaire
+ via Moco Loco and Remodeslista

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

Holiday Greenery 101 by Martha Stewart

19 varieties of traditional holiday greenery :: martha stweart

Leave it to Martha Stewart to explain the dos and don’ts of taking care of 19 varieties of traditional green branches. You will learn that Eastern Juniper won’t survive long indoors. So it is best to use Eastern Juniper for your outdoor garlands. Or greet with guests with a winter arrangement that combines aromatic evergreens.

The general rule is to treat the cuttings with an anti-desiccant spray that is sold at nurseries. The spray seals the pores on the leaves and bark and helps the foliage retain moisture. For indoor arrangements, Martha suggests to display greenery out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. Plus, a quick mist with water daily will prolong the life of your greenery.

For more, check out the Holiday Greenery guide on Martha Stewart.

+ photos: Martha Stweart

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

Interview with Elaine Griffin: Decorating your Home for the Holiday

lowe\'s before and after foyer for the holiday

I interviewed last week interior designer and author Elaine Griffin about preparing your home for Christmas. We talked about quick fixes to enhance your home decor and trends in Holiday decorations. We also explored how to decorate without a Christmas tree, how to display the gifts if you do not have a Christmas tree, how to prepare a cozy guest room and decking your front door.

A Cheerful Foyer

As you can see from the before and after pictures, a coat of paint instantly transformed the mood of the foyer. A new rug and new drapes add warmth and sophistication. I often custom the edge of store-bought drapes with a band of fabric and an ornate ribbon. As for the Christmas decorations, you do not need tons of decorations to make an impact. A few well selected items can do the trick. Typically, you get better results when your festive decorations integrate with the style of your home.

Be Ready for a Delightful Stay

Elaine suggested that you become a guest in your guest room for one weekend. As you stay there, take the time to write down what is missing to make your stay comfortable. You may find that you are missing a reading lamp, an extension cord to recharge both your laptop and your cellphone and a few other objects here and there. If you do this before your guests arrive, you will have less things to worry about during their stay. I think it is clever idea.

Grab a cup of tea and watch our 12-minute long interview. It will pass quickly. I would be surprised if you do not find an idea or two that you wish to steal.

If you like Elaine Griffin’s idea, know that she just published a new book titled Design Rules: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming Your Own Decorator.

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

Home-cooked Chicken Noodle Soup, please

countryhome recipes for hearty soups

This sight brings me comfort. I got a flu or a cold since the beginning of the week. The classic chicken noodle soup brought comfort to my sore throat at more than one occasions. I am looking for a less noddle more meat recipe for this weekend. I found this Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup on Country Home. I might make a batch tomorrow afternoon. They also have a hearty Ham and Bean Soup that looks delicious.

photos: Country Home

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

Sunday Brunch for a Crowd

oeufs en cocotte :: eggs in ramekins for a sunday brunch

With the holiday season, we often need to cook for lots of people. This calls for easy cooking method if we want to be able to deliver a delicious meal without stress. I guarantee you, making eggs in ramekins is the easy way to prepare your eggs. In French, we called it oeufs en cocotte. The beauty of this technique is that everyone will be served at the same time. It is not more complicated if you have 8 or 25 guests.

Recipe

The most basic recipe starts by greasing the ramekin with butter, break 1 egg and pour 1 tablespoon of warm 35% cream. Season and top with cut herbs, if you like.

You can add whatever you like to the egg to make them more special. I will share the recipe of my friend Yannick (see pictures). She made those for us a few weeks ago. It was delicious. Cook at low heat minced onions and tomatoes (or mushrooms) in a pan until they were soft. Lightly grease the ramekins. Put a slice of country ham on each ramekin. Put a tablespoon of the onions and tomatoes. Break one egg. Put some grated cheese. Season. When the eggs are cooked, garnish with parsley. I may have forgot an ingredient or two but it is basically it.

Two Cooking Methods

You bake the eggs in the oven until the egg white is set but the york is still runny. You will need to keep an eye on your eggs since the time may vary.

French method: You can only put the ramekins in a shallow baking pan and pour boiling water in the pan until they cover halfway of the ramekin sides. Cook at 350 degrees. Your eggs will be ready within 7 to 10 minutes.

No-fuss method: Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake between 10 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Fruit Jars as Tableware

Another good suggestion that Yannick did is to serve warm compote on fruit glass jars that she collected. It is a charming eco-friendly option instead of buying lots of bowls. I will recycle her idea. It is worth saving the small jam jars that I bought at the farmer’s market.

ENTERTAINING PAPER goods

Thank You for Dinner Card

thanks for dinner card

If you like to send thank you card after attending a dinner party, look at this simple but adorable thank you card. For casual events with good friends, you could be less formal and attach your thank you card to your hostess gift. Or for a surprise, leave the card on their mailbox on your way home.

This thank you card was designed by Tori Higa for CardStore.com. The inside can be custom printed with your own text and optional photos. You can order a single custom printed card or as many as you need.

+ Thank Hostess Mitts starts at $2.19 USD per card

DESIGN and style LIVING

My Makeup Tower

makeup tower for Color Sensational lipstick sponsored feature on ChickLit

I am part of StyleCollective, a select group of Canadian indie fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog and new-media sites that decided to join forces to attract big advertisers to our sites. We are trying different social media promotions. One initiative is the Colour Sensational Kisses series published on ChickLit. As a part of the interview, I was asked to show my makeup stash. I went a little overboard and decided to treat them as dessert.

I invite you to read my interview on ChickLit. You will learn a few things about me that I never told you before.

FAMILY KIDS party

Ladybug First Birthday Party Theme

ladybug first birthday party mood board

Angel Brave of Because Life’s Eventful contacted me a few weeks ago because she needed help in figuring out details for the first birthday of her little girl. Angel decided on a ladybug theme and she aims for a refined look. A sophisticated ladybug theme is more challenging than it seems. Doing sophisticated giraffe, owl, bird, elephant, and even monkey is easier because many modern designers have embraced those animals.

The key with any theme is to think outside the box. So instead of just looking for items with a ladybug motif, I searched for dot pattern dinnerware, I worked not only with red and black but also with green and white. The green comes from the fact that ladybugs are often used by farmers to eat insect that could destroyed their crops. I taught about a summer garden even if the party is happening during winter.

You also need to be practical for a first birthday. Therefore, I selected acrylic tumblers to not worry about the little kids breaking a glass.

+ Invitations: Printable Little Ladybug Invitation – DIY by The TomKat Studio $14 USD on etsy – the party circles are sold separately
+ Adult Dinnerware: Circle Chic Pattern by Mikasa – Black dinnerware mixed with red serving ware $39.99 USD for 4-piece plate setting
+ Glassware: Green Gingham Acrylic Tumblers on sale at $9.98 for 12 – 6 tall, 6 short

Dessert table Collage

I added more colors for the dessert table. After all, it is a kid birthday. I am sad that I did not found who made the ladybug cake. I found that Alana Hodgson made a similar cake.  I like to splurge of a memorable cake and there are awesome cake maker these days.

ladybug cake and dessert table for first birthday party

+ Kid plates: Felix salad plates by French Bull $8 for 4
+ Chocolate: John & Kira’s Ladybug & Chocolate Gift Tower $49.50 USD
+ Candy: Hammond’s Red Apple Cinnamon Lolli $14.95 USD for 4
+ Birthday Cake: photo of Ladybug Cake via Cake Central

As you can see, I elaborated a deconstructed ladybug by mixing modern patterns, colors and moods. Best of all, you will be able to reuse many items for other occasions. And if you need more inspirations, check out the Little Ladybug Birthday Party featured on the blog of The Tom Kat Studio.

LIVING URBAN Living

Volvo is Testing a Pedestrian Detection System

volvo pedestrian detection safety system

If you are a regular reader, you might remember that I believe that cities should be developed around pedestrians not cars. I walk a lot. I do own a car but I do not use it for short trips in the city. Finding a parking on busy streets generates unnecessary stress that I prefer to avoid. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I care a lot about pedestrian security on the streets. This is why I am talking about cars today.

Regardless of who is at fault, the key factor is to avoid a car-pedestrian collision. Does technology could offer us some assistance? Volvo thinks so. Volvo is working on a Pedestrian Detection system that will alert you when there is a pedestrian or a cyclist in front of you that you could hit. If you do not take proper action, emergency braking will be activated. I do not know how they factor in that there might be a car that follows you. This is complex stuff for which it is capital to see if it works in the real traffic situations. So, to refine their system, Volvo sent two safety experts on a week-long test on the roads of Copenhagen.

The fact that car makers are starting to consider pedestrian safety is a wonderful step. There are many situations were this could be useful. But as you can see from the image I selected from the video (see at the top), both pedestrians and drivers must learn to better share the roads at intersections to avoid more accidents. Technology cannot replace good judgement. Watch this video to know more about the aim behind the Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection system.

FAMILY KIDS party

DIY Cupcake Tower Topper Project

doing your own cupcake tower topper

Sara of Party Perfect shared on her blog how she built a cupcake tower topper for the second birthday of her son. She designed a clever, easy to make cake topper. I am sure that it will inspire you to adapt her ideas for any occasions. Well-done Sara!

+ photos: Party Perfect