Instead of serving a glass of Champagne, you can serve Champagne cocktails. You can either use real Champagne or a sparkling wine. We found that the Roederer Estate Brut NV from California is a wonderful substitute to the real thing. A versatile Champagne is the Veuve Clicquot.
The Kitchn shared three bubbly cocktails. Their Pear-Cranberry Champagne calls for an optional dash of orange bitters. For next time, I found two online sources; one in Canada and in the United States.
+ Champagne Bar for New Year’s Eve: Three Bubbly Cocktails on The Kitchn
+ For Canadians: Fee Brothers Orange Bitters $ 7.99 CAD
+ For Americans: Fee Brothers Orange Bitters $6.99 USD
If you are looking for a no-fuss appetizer to prepare that will be a crowd pleaser, check out this recipe by Matt Bittman. No need of cooking skills to prepare his Broiled Sardines With Lemon and Thyme.
photo: Evan Sung for The New York Times
Here are three simple Holiday recipes from Ricardo Larrivée, that many of you know from his cooking show Ricardo and Friends at Food Network Canada. For party favors or hostess gifts, you can make several jars of Creamy Fudge Spread. It will also come handy if you host a brunch.
No need of having any baking skills to bring a Cookie Kit in the jar to the hostess. Simply write the step-by-step instructions on a nice piece of paper or a gift tag.
You can bring at a party a bottle of your own Clementine-Flavored Vodka. It is made with freshly squeezed clementine juice, lemon juice, sliced clementines, sliced lemon, sugar and your favorite vodka.
I already introduced the awesome Kidz Box by Modern-twist last summer. They collaborated with Dwell Studio to bring three more illustrations to their collection. These ones are more tailored for the little ones. I want to get the Garden Bird for my niece because she loves pink.
The Animal Blocks will be good for a toddler. While the Car Transportation will occupy boys and girls at the restaurant. You can even bring a couple of Hot Wheels cars to drive on the road. I had a huge collection of Hot Wheels as a kid. I passed many hours designing roads and towns on the sand just to be able to drive my cars around my creation.
If you buy the new DwellStudio Kidz Box, know that Modern-twist is running a contest right now. Upload a photo of the finished masterpiece to the Modern-twist Facebook Fan Page wall before January 31st, 2011. By participating, you’ll be entered to win a $150 credit on Modern-twist.com.
+ Modern-twist Kidz Gift/Storage Box: DwellStudio $30 USD
Christmas Eve is a big day in Quebec. Tonight, we will be celebrating with the family. Before I wrap my last presents, I want to wish you and your family a Wonderful and Merry Christmas time.
I will publish a little during the Holiday season but I will mostly rest and plan what is coming next year for At Home with Kim Vallee. This Christmas will mark the end of an era. Next year, we will be celebrating with our baby boy.
Enjoy this time of the year!
+ Christmas Deer Wrapping Paper £12 at Cox and Cox
+ Personalised Christmas Ribbon £16 at Cox and Cox
This is post by my friend Nathalie, who is a true foodie and the blogger behind Foodies Emporium. Check out her post about the cutest Bento boxes in Montreal. You can follow her on Twitter as Indigonat.
I visited “Saveurs & Tentations” trade-show recently in Montreal and I was mesmerized by Mia Bureau’s food carving creations. She really brings table decoration to a brand new level. Mia’s business, Éphémère is specialized in food carving installations for events, but she also gives workshops at her studio and at other venues.
I was so enthralled by what I saw that I started gathering information about this traditional Asian skill. Did you know that fruit and vegetable carving originated in Thailand during the floating lantern festival about 700 years ago? During that festival which happens every year during the full moon of December they thank the soul of water by decorating floating lanterns. The fruits and vegetable carved lanterns were so popular that it started a trend in the country.
We now find stunning fruits and vegetable carvings at high end hotels throughout Asia. You can even hire a fruit carver, like Mia, to create unique table ornaments for special events or weddings, even in North America, but be prepared to splurge because carving takes a lot of time. For example, to carve a watermelon, it can take up to 80 hours of work. You can see Mia in action by watching a few videos (the CTV interview is in English and the other ones are in French). Mia’s skills are recognized around the world as she won some international awards.
If you are into craft and would like to learn fruit carving, some cooking schools and some carving artists are giving classes. You can also learn by watching videos on You Tube or by buying books specialized in Fruit and vegetables carvings starting with these two books:
+ Food carving books for beginners: The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving: Elegant Garnishes for All Occasions $16.47 USD at Amazon.com [affiliate link]
+ Complete Step by Step Vegetable and Fruit Carving $39.95 USD
+ Food carving lessons UK
+ Éphémère, Mia Bureau’s school and food carving business
+ first photo: @indigonat
+ CTV programming launch photo: Éphémère
Holiday party season is in full swing. Whether you’re hosting family and friends for dinner, neighbours during an afternoon open house or a glamorous New Year’s Eve gathering, consider upgrading your existing bar accessories or invest in these essentials pre-party. A well-appointed bar with all the tools of the trade will help you quench all of your guest’s drink requests.
Even if you’re well-stocked with a variety of glassware styles, these fun and festive options will have your guests lining up to claim their cup. Check department stores for other seasonal options that are likely already on sale.
A cocktail shaker is essential for creating martinis and other mixed drinks. You can find inexpensive, basic shakers at most kitchen and department stores. Personalize this vintage-inspired shaker from Pottery Barn with a frosted glass monogram. For a statement shaker you’ll want to leave on display, consider this gorgeous, but pricey, stainless steel Bauhaus design by Alessi.
Large Tray or Bar Cart
Use a tray, or bar cart to create a serving station and keep bar tools and glassware corralled. You can also re-purpose an existing console table or your dining table for the occasion.
Style at Home proposed an airy, modern take on the drink station that would be perfect for New Year’s Eve.
Sticks and Picks
Cocktail picks are great for garnishes and do double-duty as stir sticks. My “pick” for a holiday party? This stainless steel set topped with jingle bells from Crate and Barrel.
Coasters are a must to protect furniture and other valuables from glassware. There are sets to fit every party theme and decor, from glass to ceramic to pretty letterpressed paper.
+ Winter Tree Stemless Glassware $25 USD at West Elm
+ Mr. and Mrs. Highball Glasses by Furbish Studio $18 USD (set of 2)
+ Bauhaus Cocktail Shaker by Alessi $388 USD at Unica Home
+ Hotel Cocktail Shaker $29 USD at Pottery Barn
+ Drink Station by Lulu Powers for Lonny magazine – December 2010 issue – photo by Patrick Cline
+ Small Space Cocktail Party Planner by Style at Home – photo by Michael Graydon
+ Jingle Bell Picks $10.95 USD (set of 6) at Crate & Barrel
+ Letterpress Coasters by Red Bird Ink $10 USD (set of 4) on Etsy
These two Christmas treats are eye candies. These recipes from Annabel Karmel, a UK’s best-selling author of seventeen books on baby and children’s food and nutrition. They will make awesome party favors.
Kids will be in awe when they see her Snowman Cupcakes. But they will be happier to learn that they can decorate their own. All you need for decorating the snowman cupcakes are
- Red Fizzy Laces for the scarves
- Tubes of colored Writing Icing (available in supermarkets)
- Sugar baubles (for cake decoration) or silver baubles
Christmas Pudding Truffles
The Mini Christmas Pudding are in fact truffles that are dressed up to look like mini Christmas pudding. It requires more skills to transform these truffles. The results are worth it. You will need:
- ready to use fondant icing
- icing sugar
- meringue powder or dried egg white powder
Cookbook for Parents
If you like her work, you may want to grab your copy of Annabel Karmel’s Complete Party Planner Annabel Karmel’s Complete Party Planner.
+ Snowman Cupcakes
+ Mini Christmas Pudding Recipe
+ Annabel Karmel’s Complete Party Planner $20.75 CAD at Amazon.ca [affiliate link]
Whether you choose to add rum or not, eggnog is a classic beverage best accompanied with a fire, a blanket and a holiday movie. Heat it up to greet guests as they come in from the cold or serve it with brunch on Christmas day.
To ensure even those with dietary restrictions can enjoy this once-a-year rich and creamy treat, pass on the carton you’ll find at the corner store and try this dairy and sugar-free version, adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe by Domestifluff.
Inspired by Domestifluff’s recipe, I collected a few other egg nog alternatives. Check them out in the sourcing section. The common substitute for heavy cream, milk and eggs seems to be coconut and almond milks. They add flavor, but reduce the calories – so you can still enjoy a Christmas cookie alongside your cup.
+ Dairy and Sugar Free Eggnog recipe from Domestifluff
+ Eggnog recipe from Alton Brown
+ Vegan Eggnog recipe from Post Punk Kitchen
+ Almond Milk Eggnog recipe from All Day I Dream About Food
I conclude this series on baby shower gift ideas with items that you will cherish for a long time.
Elegant Baby Coin Banks
If you wish to contribute to the baby’s future with a monetary gift, a piggy bank is a unique, tangible presentation idea that will be cherished in the years to come. These contemporary coin banks from Elegant Baby are available in a ceramic elephant, bear, giraffe and turtle.
Mozartkugel Music Box
A music box is a calming addition to a nursery for sleepless nights. This elegant version mixes contemporary design with classical music. Available in a dark oak or light beech finish, the ball plays music from Mozart with one turn of the key.
Petit Souris Bonnet
This bonnet has enough vintage charm for generations of hand-me-downs. Made by Canadian designer Patouche, it’s sewn from grey wool and lined with soft flannel to keep baby’s ears warm.
For more ideas, take a look at my suggestions for baby basics (part 1), decorative accessories (part 2) and what to give to a stylish dad (part 3).
+ Coin Banks from Elegant Baby $26 each
+ Music Box from Mozartkugel $160 AUD
+ Baby bonnet from Patouche $36
We are in the middle of a facelift of what used to be the cat bathroom to make it prettier for my upcoming son. I updated the tiles on the walls and the floor. Plus, I bought a new bath sink and a new toilet. What I found is that safety and practicality limit your options to the standard bath fixtures.
At first, I selected a toilet with an elongated bowl. They are prettier. But after talking to a baby supply store, they recommend that I get the classic round bowl because it will be easier to find a toilet training seat. Even though I know that more brands are planning to launch models for an elongated bowl and chances are that by the time he will need it the market will have evolved, I prefer to be safe.
More Standards to Consider
As a future parent, I believe that we must consider proportions and select bathroom fixtures that are adapted to a little child’s scale. Let’s start with the toilet height. Opt for the standard 15-inch high instead of what they call ideal height.
I kept our old bathtub which looks brand new for the same reason. I tried to find a nicer tub but all the new models are at least 17 inch high; most are 20 inches high or more. We have a 20-inch high bathtub in our master bathroom. I find it hard to reach the bottom when I wash it. There is no way that I will be able to safely and comfortably bathe my toddler son with a high bathtub.
Nonetheless, his bathroom will look great. I was creative with my choice of sink, faucet and ceramic tiles. I will show you the results once it is finished. In a few months, I will start to look at bath toys to learn skills and stimulate his imagination.
As it turned out, I made a last design change that reduced the space between my finished wall and the C/L of outlet. I had to buy a 10″ rough-in toilet, instead of the standard 12 inches rough-in toilet. The store only carries it with an elongated bowl. I then discovered that the Baby Björn Toilet Trainer has a dial adjustor which allows you to customize the seat for the precise size and shape of your toilet seat opening. Therefore, problem solved.
+ Boon Bath Toy Combo Pack Splat and Water Bugs $12 USD at Amazon.com [affiliate link]
+ Baby Björn Toilet Trainer $27.43 USD at Amazon.com [affiliate link]