Yearly Archives



Easy to Made Muslin and Burlap Gift Bags

gift wrapping bags made of burlap and muslin by maya made

How you wrapped your gifts makes a statement. People are exploring new ways than the predictable paper gift bags. For small items, I really like what Maya Made did with her rustic gift bags. Maya Donenfeld likes to recycle materials for gift wrapping, whenever it is possible. Her gift bags take literally 2 minutes to make with a sewing machine. She continued with the natural look by printing her own gift tags on kraft paper. Get the instructions on Maya Made. Lovely!

+ photo: Maya Made
+ via Julie_adore on Twitter

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Vertical Wooden Tennis Complex in Sweden

vertical tennis complex designed by David Tajchman

Wow! It is beautiful! This building was designed by the Paris-based architecture studio David Tajchman for a tennis complex in Vaxjo, Sweden. I wish our buildings were as impressive on this side of the ocean. We have a lot to learn in Canada and the United States from this project. Especially that they can not say that it is to cold to design something like that.

They opted for a vertical space, instead of the traditional horizontal deployment of the tennis complex, as an effort to preserve more of the natural landscape. The proposed locally sourced lumber structure would take up only 10% of the site. The wood would be responsibly harvested.

I went to see Avatar in 3D yesterday. Therefore, it is normal that I am more protective of nature this morning. Their magical forest on Avatar is a breathtaking view. Sadly, the trailer does not show the beautiful part of the film. I recommend that you go see the movie.

+ via Inhabitat


Jamie Oliver is the 2010 TEDPrize Winner

2010 ted prize winner :: jamie oliver

This is a great honor for the English chef we love. TED comes from Technology, Entertainment, Design. It is a small nonprofit community devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out as a conference in 1984. If you never watched the talks at the TED conferences, find a few moments to do watch some videos during the holiday. It is worth exploring.

Jamie Oliver won the 2010 TEDPrize for being an health activist. TED recognized the value of Jamie’s initiatives to teach adults and kids how to cook home meals instead of eating junk food. Eating right is the first step against obesity. I believe in the adage that says that we are what we eat. It is a fact that eating food that is good for us increases our chances to stay healthy. Being active is another part of the equation.

The TED Prize comes with a $100,000 grant but most importantly, it granted him “One Wish to Change the World” that the the TED community will seek to make come true. Jamie Oliver will announce in February 2010 what will be his wish. Congratulations Jamie!

+ 2010 TEDPrize Winner
+ photo: Jamie Oliver


Crown & Crumpet Adds Fun to the Tearoom

crown and crumpet tearoom in san francisco

Having tea at Crown & Crumpet is on my agenda for my next trip to San Francisco.  This place inspires me from the whimsical decor to the menu. They served 4 menus: breakfast, lunch, an afternoon tea and the evening menu. They all look delicious. Plus, you can select from 38 types of tea.

Two tea lovers, the couple Amy and Christopher Dean started Crown & Crumpet in September 2008. The tearoom is located in the Ghirardelli Square in old San Francisco. The English architect and designer Roland Courtenay Bishop imagined a decor that is fun, modern and refined. They reinvented the English tea service.

If you live in the San Francisco, they can host a party with up to 20 guests. It would an ideal spot for a baby shower. Otherwise, you could borrow the spirit of their design concept for your own tea party.

Holiday Decorations

They carried their modern Victorian style even in their holiday decorations. I agree with Darling Darleen when she said that they have an Alice in Wonderland vibe.

+ Crown & Crumpet
+ holiday decoration photos: Darling Darleen


The Cutest Christmas Tree Cupcakes

candy cane christmas tree cupcakes designed by bakerella

Bakerella made those eye-catching Christmas Tree Cupcakes.  She used sugar cones to form the base of the tree, candy melts, white and pink sugar crystals,  candy canes, fondant, icing colors, sprinkles (snowflake and confetti) plus the cupcakes.

Her hard works totally worth it. They are superbly done. She pushed her concept by making the little presents. Bravo!

+ Get the instructions on Bakerella


Exploring the Magazine of the Future

Mag+ project from Bonnier R&D

At first impressions, I really like this digital magazine version and its device. As a blogger, we can learn from how people digest and browse the articles. A digital magazine saves paper and is handy to carry around with us. I am looking forward to the day it will become an everyday object.

In the meantime, I invite you to watch the video to fully grasp the concept developed by Bonnier R&D.  Grab a cup of coffee and get a glimpse at the future of the print industry.

+ via: BERG blog
+ photo from the video from Bouvier on Vimeo


Carefully Read the Food Labels Before Buying

food labels 101

Yesterday, I shopped at another supermarket than my usual one. All natural, preferably organic, peanut butter was on my grocery list. I want 100% peanuts, that’s all! No added sugar, no added salt, no molasses, and no added oil.

Since that grocery store carries many organic brands that I did not, I started to read the ingredient list. I was shocked to see how many organic peanut butters contain other ingredients than peanuts. Do not be fool by the front label. Do not assume when you see organic that the final product is healthy or healthier.

Reading the nutrition facts is one half of the equation. You also need to look at the ingredients to know what is inside. In winter, we often replace fresh tomatoes by a can of tomatoes since the canned tomatoes bring more taste to our recipes. It is not a problem since tomatoes need salt anyway. But you need to know to adjust your recipe.


Recipe of an Egg Baked in Cream

Camino\'s Egg Baked in Cream by seven spoons

I talked last month about the easiest of serving an egg in a ramekin if you host a brunch for a big crowd. Since we always need more recipes, I am glad to share the Camino’s Egg Baked in Cream that I found on Seven Spoons. This is delicious recipe that would not break the bank.

If you are out of ramekins, you can always use a small bowl that goes into the oven. I also like the look of cast-iron mini cocottes. The mini cocottes become an option when you host a brunch for a small group. You can see the result of the Camino’s Egg Baked in Cream when served in a ramekin on The Wednesday Chef.

+ photo: Seven Spoons


Gift Wrapping Ideas from Martha

typewritten gift tags and photo gift toppers as seen on martha stewart

This is a great idea if you do not have a beautiful handwriting. Start with one of the small address label templates available on Microsoft Word to create your own custom-made typewritten gift tags. Mixing font sizes and styles produces a chic tag. But make sure to select a serif font if you wish to write in capital letters. You can also find a print your typed gift tag template on Martha Stewart.

Another idea is to affix a festive photo of the giver instead of putting the typical bow or gift ornaments. You write on the bottom of the gift the recipient on a stock card that is narrower than the ribbon.

+ Typewritten Gift Tags on Martha Stewart
+ Photo Gift Toppers on Martha Stewart


Gingerbread Houses Fitted for the Edge of a Mug

gingerbread house that perches on edge of a mug

Wow! I declare it the most holiday baking I have seen this year. Megan of Not Martha did it. If you can resist the urge to make your own tiny gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of your mug, hurry to Not Martha for the instructions. I like how Megan decorated each gingerbread house. Decorating the roof is enough to make a statement. I may try it with my favorite cranberry shortbread recipe.

+ photo: Not Martha


Stylish Christmas Crackers

Gold Berry Crackers at Cox and Cox

A tradition in my family is to put Christmas crackers on the dinner table. But lately, the challenge has been to find ones with gifts that will not be thrown away immediately after the dinner. It seems that even the upscale North-American stores gave up on producing worthwhile versions. I am sad about that fact. We inherited this tradition from Britain.

Therefore, I looked across the Atlantic to see if we can still find chic and wonderful Christmas crackers in UK. I found lots of options down there. Maybe next year, I would see if I can order online mine from UK. Let’s look at my favorites.

Cox and Cox

musical crackers at cox and cox

This UK catalog store continues to impress me. Their Christmas crackers concentrate on providing entertaining for your guests. Cox and Cox sells 3 models of Christmas crackers this year, including the Musical Crackers. Each handmade Gold Berry Cracker contains a chocolate and charade to be played as a party game.

Fortnum & Mason

luxury christmas crackers by fortnum and mason

Founded in 1707, this upscale retailer is the specialist of luxury Christmas crackers. At £100 for a pack of 6, their Classic Christmas Crackers package contains the traditional paper hat, an entertaining scroll, a satisfying snap and silver-plated gifts such as a coffee scoop, wine pourer, wine stopper, salt & pepper shakers, magnifier with chain and mirror compact.

It is not only for the rich and famous. You can find more affordable options at Fortnum & Mason, like the Saucer Crackers at £8.50 for a box of 6.


christmas crackers by highgrove

This a shop of the Prince’s Charities of which The Prince of Wales is President. Profits goes to the foundation. They sell individual luxury Christmas crackers presented in a nice gift box. Each luxury Christmas cracker contains 10 Organic Champagne Truffles, a joke, an inspiring comment and a traditional Christmas hat. For a party, opt for the 6-pack where each cracker  contains a hand embroidered mini decoration, one Organic Champagne Truffle, a joke, an inspiring comment and a traditional Christmas hat. This is what I call a treat. Unfortunately, they will not ship outside the EU.

Fill Your Own Christmas Crackers

fill your own christmas crackers by classic crackers

The most sensible idea is definitively the Fill your Own Crackers from Classic Crackers. They handmade the crackers for you. All you need to do is to buy gifts that fits in to the tube. They leave one end open for you to drop in your gifts. Close the end with the ribbon that comes with the Fill Your Own Christmas cracker.

Know that if you wish to make your own crackers from scratch, you need cracker snaps to get the bang. Classic Crackers sell them but at this time, they are out of stock.

A Montreal Maker

christmas crackers by walpert industries

Jane Van der Voort, who set up the live chat that I gave yesterday on The Toronto Star, wrote an excellent article on Christmas crackers. From her, I discovered that Walpert Industries, here in Montreal has been making Christmas crackers since the 1960s. You will find the 2009 collection on Walpert’s Web site. But sadly, their site does not elaborate on what is inside their Christmas crackers and it fails to give us a list of retailers. At least, thanks to Jane’s article, I discovered that the Rudolph their Red-Nosed Reindeer Crackers (not shown) are available at Walmart.

+ Musical Crackers £12 for pack of 8
+ Gold Berry Crackers £12 for pack of 6
+ Christmas Crackers at Fortnum & Mason £8.50 to £500
+ Luxury Silver Cracker by Highgrove on sale at £14.95
+ Luxury Christmas Crackers on sale at £39.95 for pack of 6
+ Fill Your Own Christmas Cracker £2 each
+ Walpert Industries