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Holiday Gift Guide: Children

christmas gift ideas for kids :: stacking blocks :: crayons :: felt crown

christmas gift ideas for kids :: stacking blocks :: crayons :: felt crown

With 10 children on my Christmas shopping list, I’ve been scouring the Web looking for unique gifts that won’t get tossed aside the instant they’re opened. Here are ten finds that have me re-thinking my own wish list.

Maple and Walnut Stacking Set

Stacking toys are perfect for infants and toddlers, and this well-designed set from Little Saplings Toys won’t look out of place in your decor. What’s more, for every toy sold, Little Saplings plants a tree through Trees for the Future.

Kitty Egg Crayons

Crayons are a classic Christmas gift, whether tucked in a stocking or as a gift topper. These non-toxic Kitty Egg Crayons are ideal for small toddler hands. Handmade to be long-lasting and durable, these non-toxic crayons are free of paper wrappers for non-stop creativity. Choose from 20 shades to create a customized pack of 6.

Wool Felt Crown

Perfect for pretending, little princesses will love these soft and sweet felt crowns. Check out the options for little princes too.

Wooden Fruits & Vegetables Deli Tray Set

Discoveroo Wooden Fruits & Vegetables Deli Tray Set

Budding foodies can hone their kitchen skills with this 12-piece deli set painted with non-toxic water-based paints. Kids can chop and slice the fruits and vegetables; velcro tabs put them back together.

Animal Softies:: wooden pram :: Rhinocerous

Bookhou Animal Softies

Known for their beautiful handprinted textiles, Bookhou’s sweet animal softies feature original drawings of animals in vibrant colors.

Wooden Pram

Handcrafted from alderwood and cotton-linen fabric, this charming wooden pram features a carved moon and cloud on the side and is sure to become a treasured family heirloom. For ages 3 and up.

Bubynoa-Best Friend – Rhinoceros

Made from upcycled vintage wool and felt, this Rhinocerous is just one option in a menagerie of animal choices. Toys can also be embroidered with a child’s name for a personalized touch.

Stacking Construction Vehicles :: sophie and lili fabric dolls

Stacking Construction Vehicles

Melissa and Doug toys are my go-to for the little ones in my life. The wooden toys in particular have a vintage feel, but are also educational and interactive. A few little boys on my list will be receiving these stacking construction vehicles.

Sophie and Lili Dolls

Colourful, customizable and washable Sophie and Lili dolls are made to order, so you can choose each doll’s hair colour, fabrics and specify their name when ordering.

Sirch Olga Rocking Horse

Sirch Olga Rocking Horse

Design-purist parents and their little ones will adore this gorgeous ergonomic rocking horse with a comfortable red saddle. For 2 to 5 years old.

+ Maple and Walnut Stacking Set from Little Saplings Toys $30 USD
+ Kitty Egg Crayons from Kitty Baby Love $18 USD
+ Wool Felt Crown from Dream Child Studio $18 USD
+ Discoveroo Wooden Fruits & Vegetables Deli Tray Set $29.95
+ Animal Softies from Bookhou $20
+ Rhinoceros from bubynoa $100 USD
+ Wooden Pram from Dreward $299 AUD
+ Stacking Construction Vehicles from Melissa and Doug $19.99
+ Selma doll from Sophie and Lili $25 USD
+ Sirch Olga Rocking House 132 €


New Amy Butler’s Solstice Travel Bag Collection

solstice traveler bag collection by amy butler

solstice traveler bag collection by amy butler

Amy Butler launched Solstice, her third collection of fashion handbags and luggage from Kalencom. The Solstice collection is available in a softer palette. Amy took her inspirations from the graceful silver engravings on decorative doors and archways, elaborate stone carvings, fanciful scrollwork and drops of rain on lotus ponds that she saw while visiting India and Bali.

solstice collection :: honeysuckle tote by amy butler

I featured the Take Flight traveler bag (top left) and the Honeysuckle tote (bottom left). They could be just what you need to travel in style this Holiday season.

+  Solstice Travel Bags and Handbags by Amy Butler for Kalencom.

FOOD + DRINK FOOD presentation

Frosted Rosemary Sprigs for your Holiday Table

frosted rosemary sprig

frosted rosemary sprig

I love this idea from Josée Di Stasio, a very popular cookbook author, television host and chef in Quebec. She explained in the French edition of Chatelaine how to make your own frosted rosemary sprigs. You can use the frosted rosemary in your centerpiece or to decorate a serving plate.

Add a few drops of water to an egg white. Lightly whip it. Cover the rosemary sprig with the egg white mixture using your hands or a brush. Turn each sprig on a plate filled with sugar until it is fully covered. Let it dry on a cookie pan. To prolong their shelf life, put them on the fridge before usage.

More Recipes from Josée Di Stasio

a la di stasio cookbook

You can find 5 recipes of savory holiday treats on the English Web site of Chatelaine. Lastly, if you are looking for a cookbook filled with recipes that you will do over and over, grab a copy of her A la Di Stasio cookbook. This is from that cookbook that I adapted my 2-Minute Smoked Salmon Mousse Recipe.

+ A la Di Stasio cookbook $18.77 CAD at [affiliate link]
+ photo:  Louise Savoie for Chatelaine, Édition spéciale Décembre 2010

BABY products FAMILY

Baby Shower Gift Ideas – Part 3: Stylish Dad

bugaboo black canvas bag

bugaboo black canvas bag

Baby showers aren’t just for moms anymore. More and more, Dads-to-be and their guy friends are being invited to join in the celebration of their baby. Of course, dads probably won’t get excited about blankets and bottles, so you’ll have to get creative with your gift. Here are a few ideas that can help them make the transition to fatherhood.


Guys need just as much guidance as moms-to-be, so check out the parenting section of your local bookstore for titles to help him on the journey.

Bugaboo Canvas Bag

Can you blame dads for not wanting to tote typical diaper bags? In recent years, diaper bags have come a long way in the style department. A perfect example: the sleek design of this guy-friendly diaper bag from Bugaboo is practical enough to stash baby gear and stylish enough for a new dad’s day-to-day activities. It comes in black canvas, brown canvas and black leather.

Rockabye Baby Music

On the hundredth listen, even lullabies can be less-than-soothing. Rockabye Baby specializes in lullaby remixes of popular music from bands like The Rolling Stones, U2 and The Ramones. The music will delight both Dad and baby.

And make sure to have a look at our baby basics and decor gift ideas.

+ For Canadians: Bugaboo Black Canvas Bag $164 CAD at Ella + Elliot
+ For Americans:  Bugaboo Black Canvas Bag $129.99 USD at Bugaboo
+ Rockabye Baby Music $16.98 USD


In Season: Persimmons



Oblong and orange, a persimmon is one of those rare fruits (yes, it’s a fruit) that – unlike apples and oranges – hasn’t made it to top billing in lunchboxes or kitchens. Their bright colour always catches my eye in the produce aisle, but I’ve never been brazen enough to buy one. In season during the late fall and winter, I did a bit of recipe research to learn more about the flavour and uses for this exotic-looking fruit.

green salad with pomegranates and persimmons

Like most fruit, there are several varieties of persimmon, but the most popular are fuyu and hachiya. Versatile persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried or cooked, but unless perfectly ripe the flavour can be bitter with a chalky texture. To ensure it’s ripe and sweet, a persimmon should feel like it’s about to burst in your hand – like an overfilled water balloon.

quinoa with persimmon, pomegranate and walnuts

You can bite into a persimmon just like an apple, but check out the recipes below for a few more options to treat your tastebuds.

For inspiring recipes, look at:

Green Salad with Pomegranates and Persimmons from Brooklyn Supper
Persimmon Oat Crumble with Coconut Sorbet from Desserts for Breakfast
Persimmon Martini from Lisa Is Cooking
Persimmon Bread at David Lebovitz
Quinoa with persimmon, pomegranate and walnuts from Kosher Camembert

+ Photos: Top left and the persimmon oat crumble by Stephanie Shih Photography
+ Photo: Hachiya persimmons from Pham Fatale
+ Photo: Persimmons for breakfast from Big Flavors From A Tiny Kitchen

Holiday Baking Tip: Lining Pans with Parchment

Parchment Paper Lining Tip

Parchment Paper Lining Tip

Started your holiday baking yet? Me either. Though in between choosing my recipes and preparing my ingredient shopping list, I’m on the hunt for tips to help make the baking process a little sweeter.

If you’re not already using parchment paper to bake, let this be the season you start. Parchment paper is similar to wax paper – minus the wax, so it’s oven-safe. Use it to line cookie sheets and baking pans to eliminate the need for greased pans (and, ahem, a few extra calories too). Parchment paper also helps to make clean-up easier.

To ensure your pans are perfectly lined, try these simple tricks from goodLife {eats}. Place your pan on the parchment paper to ensure the correct size, then snip the corners of the paper. How sweet is that?


Body Care during Pregnancy | Getting Ready for the Baby

clarins skin spa treatments

clarins skin spa treatments

I have to confess that I spend a lot of money on beauty products. I don’t usually write about it because I am faithful to the brands I use. I learned over the years which products work best for my skin. Plus, the skin on my face does not like changes.

Body and Beauty Care

Being pregnant meant that I added a few steps to my usual routine. I started to apply a cream to prevent stretch marks at the end of my first semester. I put Stretch Mark Prevention by Elancyl twice a day on my belly and hips, plus three drops of Clarins’ Bust Beauty Firming Lotion in the morning. Both are easy to apply and, so far, I show no sign on stretch marks.

Another key element of my beauty routine is to indulge with a Future Mother treatment at Clarins Skin Spa every 3 weeks. I am either too busy or too lazy to exfoliate my body. And let’s face it, it becomes harder to do it myself with my basketball belly. Therefore, I get a body exfoliation every 3 weeks as the first step of the Future Mother treatment. I leave from my treatment with softer skin that is well hydrated with creams and toning oil. It is also a period where I can relax and rest from my busy life. I take advantage of their 3 treatments for the price of 2.


Besides that, I make sure that I eat well during my pregnancy. The best way to make sure to meet your needs for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is to eat aliments four food groups every day. I weigh myself between my monthly doctor appointments to see if I am on the right track. The hardest part was to make sure I drink 3 to 4 glasses of milk every day. But now, I am used to it. I usually keep 2 glasses of milk for just before going to sleep. This way, I am not as hungry when I woke up.


Pregnant women are encouraged to exercise. Walking and swimming remain the best activities but frankly, you can continue to practice your favorite sport as long as it is not an extreme sport. Simply be careful that your heart rate does not rise over 140, since you baby heart rate is higher than yours. I started to exercise with the Kinect for the Xbox and love it. I felt that my body works more with Your Shape Fitness Evolved than with the Wii Fit. Once our house is back to normal, I will try to make it a part of my daily routine.

Except for the last 3-4 weeks, I sleep a lot more than usual. Getting enough sleep helps you stay healthy and calm. All these elements contribute to my well-being. It is important to take care of yourself, whether you are pregnant or not. As the New Year is less than a month away, think about how you can improve your body care.

+ Clarins Skin Spa Ambiance in Montreal


Cranberry Sparkler: 5 Variations from Tokyo Terrace

Cranberry sparkler recipes

Cranberry sparkler recipes

Cranberry juice is an easy way to give a cocktail festive flavour and colour. It pairs well with vodka, gin or tequila. You can also substitute cranberry for orange juice in a brunch-standard mimosa – just top it with champagne or sparkling wine, like Prosecco. For a non-alcoholic version, try sparkling mineral water or ginger ale.

Providing simple syrups made with fresh herbs and citrus fruits to mix with the cranberry sparkler, as shown on Tokyo Terrace, is a creative way to offer several drink options, especially if your bar budget is limited. Since the cranberry sparkler is a simple combination that doesn’t require complicated techniques or additional bar tools, you could even set up a tasting station so guests can sample all of the flavors available.

To garnish the drinks, be sure to provide citrus slices, sprigs of herbs and frozen cranberries: use them in place of ice to keep drinks cool or pretty up a punch bowl.

+ Cranberry sparkler simple syrup recipes from Tokyo Terrace

DIY Kraft Paper Sketch Pad

Kraft Paper Wall

Kraft Paper Wall

Though a chalkboard wall can be extremely useful as a family message center, a revolving menu or a catchall for inspirational ideas, they can also look messy and cause a mess as a result of all that chalk dust. Not to mention that chalkboard walls are walking the fine line of being overdone.

The DIY Kraft Paper Sketch Pad is smart idea from Sarah.Wandering as an alternative. She cleverly rigged rolls of inexpensive kraft paper on a curtain rod to provide a clean canvas for ideas, schedules and sketches. Best of all, when you need to tidy the room – or your thoughts – you can tear off the paper and start anew.

Check out all the details on Sarah.Wandering.

+ DIY Kraft Paper Sketch Pad from Sarah.Wandering

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookie Recipe

Candy Cane Cookies

candy cane cookies :: chocolate peppermint crunch cookie recipe

I haven’t started my holiday baking yet, but I have been on the hunt collecting new cookie recipes for giving, sharing and, of course, eating.

Chocolate and peppermint are a classic Christmas couple – which is why these chocolate peppermint crunch cookies from Two Peas and Their Pod caught the attention of my taste buds.

This simple rolled cookie is coated in chopped candy canes before baking. The melted candies add a bit of crunch and create a sparkling effect without adding extra decorations of sugar.

+ Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookie recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod