Yearly Archives

2011

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Simple (and Not So Simple) Christmas Cookie Ideas

melting snowman cookies by the decorated cookie blog

melting snowman cookie by the decorated cookie blog

I love the tradition of making your own Christmas cookies and bring to as hostess gifts. With a little imagination, some practice and the right supplies, you could arrive with the best decorated cookies this Christmas. I visited The Decorated Cookie blog in search of tutorials and inspirations. What I found was several Wow! factors on the blog of Meaghan Mountford.

Melting Snowman cookies

melting snowman cookies by the decorated cookie blog

Look at her Melting Snowman cookies. Meaghan even depicted emotions when she drew the snowman’s faces. I love the various ways she decorated them.

If you are new to cookie decoration, you may wish to read Meaghan’s tutorial on how to write on food. Her preferred tools are edible markers, which are different from candy markers. The ones she uses the most are the Americolor Gourmet Writers. They deliver a fine line, which is what you would need most of the time. The FoodWriter collection by Wilton is a good option to write bold characters or to draw thicker lines.

Awesome, Yet Simple Christmas Cookies

christmas tree cookie by the decorated cookie blog

You can also find on her blog simpler cookie version. Have a look at her Christmas tree cookie pops or her simple Christmas wreath cookies. Both are super cute.

christmas wreath cookie by the decorated cookie blog

SOURCING:
+ Melting snowman cookies by The Decorated Cookies
+ More versions of the melting snowman cookies
+ Christmas tree cookie pops

 

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

Spruce Outdoor Centerpiece

spruce outdoor centerpiece bhg

spruce outdoor centerpiece bhg

Delightful outdoor decorations greet your guests with style and character. I got tired of the big lit house decorations. It might be because we pass the Holiday at the cottage that I am more inspired by this birdbath evergreen tree centerpiece. The idea behind this project is to set up a welcoming woodsy vignette at the bottom of your stairs or next to the walkway.

spruce outdoor centerpiece details

I suggest that you use LED outdoor lights that are battery-operated. Look for snowflake lights of 5 to 6 inches. We want to see them from a distance.

SOURCING:
+ project: Better Homes and Gardens
+ Set of 2 Blue/White LED 6″ Snowflake Outdoor Ornaments $19.99 USD on sale at Mr. Light

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Kyle Bunting’s Stylish Cowhide Rugs

alhambra rug

alhambra rug

These luxurious rugs from Kyle Bunting freshen up the rustic of cowhide rugs. The modern and geometric design brings a modern feel that I appreciate. His creations will look great in a modern or a contemporary interior.

glamorous carpet

You can specify any design, color, and size for rug, wall covering and upholstery applications. The dye catalogue is huge and includes bold colors. I love it!

jet stream hide rug

SOURCING:
+ Alhambra and other cowhide rugs by Kyle Bunting

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

DIY Christmas Wreaths

DIY flowery wreath

yarn wreath

It is hard to beat the unique character of handmade Christmas wreaths. It is fun to see how people are still able to reinvent a Holiday decoration that have been around for ages. Have a look at three DIY wreaths that are beautifully rustic.

First, here an cosy idea from The Farm Chicks‘ Serena Thompson. It is one of the projects from her Christmas book, The Farm Chicks Christmas. This is a simple project that you can make a Saturday afternoon with your kids. And it might be a way for you to use leftover yarns.

recycled newspaper Laurel Leaf Wreath

Renate created a beautiful laurel leaf wreaths out of overdyed newspapers for the Rit blog. Visitors could read partial news or ads while they are waiting at the door.

DIY flowery wreath

Finally, have a look at the stylish silver and cream flowery wreath that I saw at Style at Home.

SOURCING:
+ For Americans: The Farm Chicks Christmas book $18.45 USD at Amazon.com
+ For Canadians: The Farm Chicks Christmas book $21.28 CAD at Amazon.ca
+ Eco Laurel Leaf Wreath at The Rit Blog – via Li’l Magoolie
+ DIY Flowery Wreath at Style at Home

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

La Chaise Étiquette: a foldable chair inspired by a shipping tag

label chair :: chaise etiquette

label chair :: chaise etiquette

Félix Guyon for Montreal-based La Firme designed a foldable chair that you would not mind to hand on your wall. When the chair is folded, nobody will suspect that it is a chair. Even if some of the customized graphic design elements may be lost when the chair is open, I admire the concept of the Chaise Étiquette (meaning Label or Tag chair).

playful kid storage furniture

La Firme seems to enjoy designing furniture with unusual shapes. This kid storage unit provides surfaces to play and space to store toys. It was a special order.

SOURCING:
+ Chaise Étiquette by La Firme
+ Mobilier Puel
+ via MoCo Loco

LIVING URBAN Living

Urban Living: How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

cycle path in the Netherlands

cycle path in the Netherlands

This video starts with: The Netherlands has the world’s largest number of cyclists, but it is also the safest place to cycling. It says a lot about what is possible when you want to. Even if it is just to see how another nation solved an universal problem, I invite you to watch the video (below).

The suburban lifestyle is not for me. I like too much the proximity to great shops, restaurants, and museums and the creative energy  that you get in the city to settle for less. But as a new mom, I also want to live in a safe environment for my kid. I sometimes wonder how we can raise a child in the city. I was raised in a small town. Riding a bike is part of my childhood memories. I know that my son won’t be able to enjoy the same freedom than I did. Still, most North American and Canadian cities could be more family friendly.

This short documentary called “How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths?” is the perfect example that we can make our cities more pedestrian and cyclist friendly with will, proper government support and imaginative city planners. Amongst the main reasons that triggered the huge city planning change in the Netherlands was a public outrage caused by the high number of kids under 14 who died due to a bicycle accident. The protesters wanted to stop the killing of those children. And they did!

It takes a lot of courage to limit the number of parking spaces available in a city centre or to restrict the car lanes on our road. But it can be done successfully. The transition, like any transition, would be hard and painful for some. But if the people have the gut to give it a chance, they could see that new habits will take shape. In the end, I believe that it would benefit the majority. In the Netherlands, only 14 kids died from a bicycle accident in 2010. This is the best reason to change the way we design our roads. I would welcome a system that prioritizes even more the pedestrians and cyclists over cars.

SOURCING:
+ How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths video

 

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

5-Minute Martha: Greet Your Guests with Tasty Grazing Boards

grazing board pate de foie

grazing board pate de foie

There is no need to rush or to prepare several types of appetizers when you are having guests over at the cocktail hour or for dinner. Instead go with a crowd-pleaser and put on your coffee table a grazing board. Since you are certain to find all the ingredients that you need at a good delicatessen near you, you can pull it off even at the last minute. You save more time since no individual bite assembly is required. When you shop, assume that one board will feed 4 to 6 persons as appetizers.

Chantelle Grady of the blog Little Things proposed in the Montreal issue of Relish three killer compositions. Relish is her food digital magazine.

The first option is a classic. You can serve pâté de foie with caramelized onions and toasted bread. For a non-fuss version, check out the caramelized onions recipe by Chuck Hughes that he puts in his grilled cheese sandwich.

grazing board baked camembert

You can’t go wrong with serving baked Camembert or Brie. It is so good that I suggest that you keep one ready to bake in your freezer all the time. Jamie Oliver bakes his directly on the wooden cheese box. Other chefs line a baking dish with parchment paper. I use a Brie baker because it is easier to serve the warm wheel of Camembert or Brie in a dish. Chantelle served her version with Serrano ham and toasted bread.

grazing board pork terrine

The third board displays pork terrine, mustard (you can serve a few), gherkins again on toasted bread. You can go a step further by offering a mustard selection. For the cornichons, I adore the Maille Tarragon & Vinegar gherkins. If you prefer sweet cornichons to the sour ones, try Maille Mini & Crunchy gherkins.

SOURCING:
+ Montreal issue of Relish produced and photographed by Chantelle Grady from the blog Little Things
+ Beautiful baked Camembert recipe by Jamie Oliver
+ Baked Camembert and Herb Oil by Roger Mooking

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

Wow for the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Observatory Designed by Snohetta

Norwegian Reindeer Pavilion Centre

Norwegian Reindeer Pavilion Centre

The Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion shows a wood construction like I have never seen before. I like how the benches are organically shaped to provide the visitors a stunning view of the wilderness. Wood pegs were used as fasteners for the wood section of the building. The rest is made of raw steel resembling the iron found in the local bedrock.

Norwegian Reindeer Pavilion Centre

The visitors could sit at the south facing exterior wall and enjoy the warmth of the interior space. The organic nature of the building is stunning and unusual. I dream to see a similar design at a ski resort.

Norwegian Reindeer Pavilion Centre

You can admire more photos on Arch Daily.

SOURCING:
+ photos: Ketil Jacobsen and diephotodesigner.de
+ via Core 77 and Arch Daily

FOOD + DRINK

Windowfarms Let’s You Grow Food Inside Your Home

windowfarms

If you have a sunny window in your kitchen, this upcoming product might be for you. I like the idea to grow fresh vegetables and herbs all year round. For most of us, it means to do it inside. That’s where Windowfarms can help you. Brita Riley, a Brooklyn resident, founded Windowfarms in 2008. She wants to bring the system to a new level with this prototype. And to do it, she needs the help of potential customers. Continue Reading

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Cooking with Kids: Pear Galette

pear galette

pear galette

Galettes, which are freeform rustic pies, are not meant to look perfect. This makes galettes the ideal tarts to bake with your kids. I even prefer their rustic look to the more polished pies; this is probably due to the cozy warm feeling that I get at their sight.

The best thing about the Pear Galette of Lisa Homa is that you won’t need pie plates, just parchment paper. Once it is cooked, serve the galette on a wooden cutting. Depending on how it looks when it is out of oven, you may wish to replace the parchment paper with a fresher sheet. No one can refuse a stylish food presentation that cut on cleaning at a party.

Why not introduce your kids to the joy of baking while you are cooking for your Thanksgiving or Christmas party? They will be proud to share that they did the fruit or savory galettes themselves.

You will find Lisa Homa’s Pear Galette in the Fall 2011 issue of Sweet Paul magazine on pages 40 and 41.

SOURCING:
+  photos: Alexandra Grablewski – Fall 2011 issue of Sweet Paul magazine

FAMILY LIVING with kids

Happy Baby: Will It Be Day Care or a Babysitter?

babysitter daycare

babysitter daycare

Many questions came to my mind before I took my decision. What would be the best for my baby? What about the development of his social skills? Where can he interact with other kids if he doesn’t go to day care? How much schedule flexibility do I really need? What are the costs associated with each option? Can I find a vacancy at a good day care close to my home?

I experienced the typical guilt and worries of working moms when it’s time to return to work. Ideally, I would like to spend time with my son in the morning and to send him to day care in the afternoon. On the other end, I wonder if kids under 2 years old are not too young to go to day care. I worry that he will not get enough attention from the caregivers if he goes to day care. Many parents that I know sent their kids to daycare around 1 year old. Their kids enjoy it and they are well-adjusted. Maybe that my fear comes from the fact that I never went to day care. I couldn’t decide what to do.

As it turned out, the final decision came from medical reasons. My son’s neonatal pediatrician suggested to delay day care until next spring, if we can. This is a precautionary measure to avoid the flu season. So what would I do? I want to return to work this winter. Babies and toddlers that go at day care benefit from being with other kids and from being outside the house without their parents. And I read that kids who do not attend day care could be more shy around kids. Can he catch up later? To find the answer, I investigated the impact for a baby of not having daily social interactions with kids of his ages.

I wanted a professional opinion. So I asked the occupation therapist who followed my son when he was at the hospital. She reassured me when she told me that developing proper parents-baby relations are what really count up to 1 year old. If he needs to stay away from day care for a little bit longer, say until 2 years old, he should be able to catch up later.

I do not know yet when I will be ready to send him to day care. I just know that he will at some point. In the meantime, I am looking for baby and toddler activities where he can socialize with kids of his age. Who knows, it might be him that tells me when he’ll want to go to day care?

My Conclusion

A part-time babysitter will take care of him for now. After considering all factors, this is what I am the most comfortable with at this point. It’s a smooth transition that addresses his and my needs. The babysitter will allow me to work for a set numbers of hours per week, without baby distractions. I will be able to attend meetings and events, like I used to do.

There are still many unanswered questions. How do I set the boundaries between my work and my family life? Is it feasible to maintain those boundaries while working mostly from home? Time will tell if and how long I can manage being a mom and running my business from home with the help of an in-house childcare provider.

I am curious to know how you did it? Which childcare arrangement worked best for you and your baby/toddler: a babysitter, a nanny or day care?

SOURCING:
+ photo: Zoo Packs by Ship Hop $20 USD