Monthly Archives

March 2011


Kitchen Tool | Microplane Herb Mill from Williams-Sonoma

herb grinder kitchen tool williams sonoma

herb grinder kitchen tool williams sonoma

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, we have at least a few more months until farmer’s markets start filling up with locally-grown, full-of-flavour produce. But the first few sunny days of spring always seem to stir cravings for lighter, fresher meals after a winter’s worth of rich comfort food.

Adding fresh herbs to your dishes – either as a garnish or as ingredients – can help bridge the gap while we wait for vegetable gardens to come to life. They’ll provide the burst of flavour at an affordable price point.

If you tend to steer clear of fresh herbs on account of all that chopping, this microplane herb mill from Williams-Sonoma will substitute nicely for a sous chef. Fill the mill with herbs then let the stainless steel scissoring blades mince herbs with just a twist of your wrist. Best of all, clean up is a (fresh, spring) breeze since the blades can be tossed in the dishwasher. After all, you likely have other spring cleaning to get to.

+ Microplane Herb Mill from Williams-Sonoma, $19.99 USD


Small Space Living: Staircase Storage

staircase bedroom drawers

staircase bedroom drawers

If you have a set of stairs in your home, chances are your small space isn’t as small as you think it is. That said, when you think about the “footprint” of a staircase, it’s easy to see wasted storage potential – particularly underneath.

Here are a few innovative ways that homeowners have re-claimed this typically underused space.

This staircase-bedroom combination shown on Home-Designing helps max out vertical space in a small New York apartment. The home owners created a guest bedroom and lounge area with an elevated sleeping area. The stairs themselves are actually drawers in disguise, providing plenty of storage for clothes and other essentials.

staircase shelves drawers storage

Likewise, this ladder/staircase hybrid crafted by Københavns Møbelsnedkeri / Copenhagen Joinery leads to a raised sleeping area in a child’s room. It’s a modern twist on bunkbeds, only here the stairs do double duty as shelves for toys and books, with even more storage in the build-in wardrobe.

Floating staircases may look contemporary, but they can also showcase contemporary clutter. Since they’re on wheels, these DIY storage units would be a great option for a finished basement/family room, providing easy access place to stash toys or seasonal items. Check out the complete builder’s plans from Workbench Magazine.


Cool Tools: Anthropologie’s Tabletop Design Tool

anthropologie tabletop design tool

anthropologie tabletop design tool

If you’ve ever struggled to pull together a colourful and cohesive tabletop, there’s a new online tool that can help you think beyond basic bowls and chargers to create a layered look with texture and pattern.

You likely already know Anthropologie for their amazing store displays (truly, no two stores are alike) and ever-changing collection of clothing and accessories. This charm extends to a unique collection of hand-crafted housewares.

anthropologie tabletop design app

Their online tabletop design tool showcases the colourful glassware and dishes the store is known for, and encourages creativity when it comes to designing table settings – whether for everyday use or pretty parties. It’s a great way to experiment with colour and texture to find your unique style. You can choose from a variety of “backgrounds” in neutral linen shades, then layer on the pieces that catch your eye. You can also save your designs for future reference or share them via social networking sites.

anthropologie tabletop design app tool

While every one needs a good set of basic white dishes to serve as a blank canvas, this app will have you clamouring for a few colourful pieces to add to your collection.

+ Tabletop Design Tool on Anthropolgie


Hide Away your Kitchen Tools with Trim by Dada

There is more to kitchen cabinet design than the standard 12-inch and 24-inch deep cabinets. To achieve a certain look or for function, you might have to consider a custom made depth. For example, I designed a 6-inch deep kitchen cabinet over my sink to achieve a continuous flow of cabinets of the same height. It is very useful despite its small space. I am simply more selective about what I can put there.

Trim Kitchens by Dada

narrow storage details of Trim kitchen by dade

But what about the need to hide away the food products, tools and tableware that we either hang on the backsplash or rest on the countertop. Dante Bonuccelli came up with a cool solution when he designed the Trim kitchen system for Dada. He designed a narrower cabinet system that fits between the countertop and the upper cabinets. The crystal doors disappear beneath the work top when you cook. The rest of the time, they hide the contents.

dada trim kitchen system

It also hides the electrical plugs and illuminates your work surfaces. The end result is a neater space that is very efficient. I love it!

+ Trim kitchen system by Dada


My New Cupcake Decorating Tools

cuisipro Cupcake Corer and Decorating Set

cuisipro Cupcake Corer and Decorating Set

I went shopping to Linen Chest last night. My husband and I wanted a Nespresso machine – I will tell you all about that later. I couldn’t go there and not take a look at some of their merchandises. I ended up buying a Decorating Pen and a Cupcake Corer and Decorating Set, both by Cuisipro. I will be all set for kids parties and birthdays.

cuisipro Decorating Pen

You can use the Decorating pen not just for decorating cookies and cakes. You can style your plates or put the finishing touch to a potage or a soup.

Cuisipro Cupcake Corer and Decorating Set $19.99 CAD at Linen Chest
+ Cuisipro Decorating Pen $11.99 CAD


Rock Star Birthday Party from Modern Moments

kids birthday party music theme table

kids birthday party music theme table

Have your kids had their fill of pirate, princess and superhero parties? Set the stage for a party that rocks their world with a unique yet uncomplicated theme: music.

Jessica of Modern Moments Custom Designs did just that when she created her son Jackson’s fourth birthday party. With a truly electric colour scheme of teal, hot pink, black and white, and graphic shapes and patterns, every detail captured the rock ‘n roll vibe.

kids birthday party music theme invitation cd

It started with an invitation that mimicked album liner notes starring Jackson himself, tucked inside an envelope complete with a CD of rock star tunes. Never mind being a kid: can you imagine receiving such a fun invitation as an adult? How could you say no!

kids birthday party music theme

Of course, every great party revolves around food. At the heart of the party was an amazing dessert table and candy buffet all centred around a guitar-shaped birthday cake. Empty paint cans purchased from the hardware store offered up music-themed candy (Pop Rocks, anyone?) to fill paper swag bags. To create confetti on the table, Jessica made custom guitar picks using a craft punch and photos of Jackson – a thoughtful touch and cool party souvenir.

kids birthday party drinks beverages

Even the beverages weren’t overlooked. Soda bottles with flavours in the party colours were labelled with Jackson’s rock star photo.

kids birthday party music theme loot bag

Of course, no birthday party would be complete without a loot bag. This one surely didn’t disappoint guests with all the essentials budding rock stars could need: styling shades, glow sticks and (temporary) tattoos.

birthday party music theme loot bag

Not only does this party make a statement about the guest of honour, it’s a theme that works for boys and girls of many ages. For more details on this party, including sources and how tos, don’t miss the two-part post on Modern Moments.

But you have to wonder: what could possibly be in store for Jackson’s fifth birthday?

+ Rock Star Birthday Party on Modern Moments
+ Modern Moments Custom Designs on Etsy
+ All photos from Modern Moments


Venitian Ball Sweet Table by Kréavie

Bal a Venice sweet table

carnival of venice costumes and masks

Every month, the talented team at Kréavie shared the making of a fabulous themed sweet table. For February, they designed a sweet table in honor of the Carnevale (Carnival of Venice). It is a one of a kind event that I would like to attend one day. People wear outstanding epoch costumes with the famous Venetian masks.

Bal a Venice sweet table

If you wish to make your own, you will need several props to make it works. Gold traditional elements are a must. It is the perfect occasion to use the formal crystal trays that your grandmother gave you.

crystal and macaron tree :: gold powder food painting

Attention to details, like the crystal and macaron tree or the application of gold powder on the meringues, adds opulence to the presentation.

Sweet table : Une dernière danse avant la fin du Bal at Kréavie – photos by Julia C. Vona
+ Sweet table : Bal à Venise at Kréavie – photos by Julia C. Vona
+ Carnival of Venice photos – 7th March 2011 and 8th March 2011


Bottle Vase by Dahlhaus | Etsy Find

etsy dahlhaus ceramic vase stripe

etsy dahlhaus ceramic vase stripe

Spring has officially arrived!

Though most of us are still waiting for warmer temperatures and sunny days, a little burst of colour goes a long way to freshen our spaces at this time of year. I love the muted yet modern shades on these charming handmade ceramic vases from Vancouver-based designer Dahlhaus. They’re the perfect vessel for a few spring blooms to brighten your desk or a corner of the room.

+ Modern Stripe Bottle Vase, $40, Dahlhaus


My Tips on Breast Pumping | Being a First-Time Mom

my baby son

In case you did not hear, I gave birth to my adorable son two weeks ago. He is still at the hospital where he underwent a major surgery that was planned before his birth. This means that I extract and store my milk until he is ready to drink it. If you ever find yourself in that situation, you will have many questions regarding how you will pump your breast milk. Let’s me tell you a few things that you won’t find in the breast pump manual.

The Rent Vs. Buy Dilemma

Pumping two breasts at once is a must. Believe me, you will not have the time to extract one breast at a time. After careful considerations, I decided to rent a professional grade milk pump. I rented a Medela Symphony, which is the same model that they lent me at the hospital. I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Regardless of the brand, you absolutely need more power when you use it 5 to 8 times a day.

Generally speaking, the Medela Symphony would enable you to pump more milk in less time than with a consumer model like the Freestyle or the In Style. I figured out that if I need a pump once the baby comes home, I could always buy one for occasional use or rent a few more months the Symphony.

Establish a Schedule

You must stay motivated to not give up. This feeling has nothing to do with your ability to produce and extract milk. It is just that every 3 hours comes often and extracting milk with a machine can be boring. Therefore, find a reason that will get you going when you feel like giving up. On the bright side, after a while it will truly become a part of your daily routine.

Here are a few tips to ease the transition. First, you can skip the night shift. When I was at the hospital, I pumped during the night. After a week of sleeping only 2-3 hours a day, I was too exhausted. With all the stress you are going through as a parent with a baby at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the medical staff encourages us to rest. The best way that parents can help their baby is to stay healthy physically and psychologically.

At the NICU, they advice mothers to extract their milk at midnight, 6:00 AM, 9:00 AM, noon, 3:00 PM, 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM. I follow more or less their schedule. I’m so tired that I also skipped the 6:00 AM session to try to get back in shape.

Setting the Mood

Being in a comfortable environment is important. I set everything up in my son’s nursery where I sit on the rocking chair and listen to music. Plus, I can admire two pictures of him. You need to feel relaxed, especially at the beginning.

Milk Storage

I either use small storage bottles that I get at the hospital or the Medela’s Pump and Save breastmilk bags. I freeze my milk after each session.

Knowing how much a baby will drink is important to reduce waste. I mostly store 2 to 3 ounces of breast milk per container. I like to freeze a little less than 5 ounces in the bag since on average, a baby will drink about 4.5 ounces per feeding once he reaches one month old. Until that, most babies drink 2.5 to 3 ounces of breast milk in a bottle, eight times a day.

Mixed Feedings

Moms should not be ashamed if they need to supplement their breastfeeding with formula milk. This will not be an issue initially since I have a good stash. I will use my own milk for the night feedings. If and when I will run out of milk for the night feedings, formula milk can come to my rescue.


Small Space Living: Moses and Roman’s Closet Bedroom

Just because they’re little people, doesn’t mean they don’t come with a lot of stuff. That’s why this two-kid room – formerly just a closet in a one-bedroom apartment – is particularly amazing. Moses and Roman’s mom, Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day, paired down their room to a stylish, colourful space that any kid would love to be in.

kids room small space closet

She used the smartest small-space design trick in the book by using vertical space to create bunk beds that work for both children.

kids room small space closet

Bright linens and well-chosen toys and decor elements make what would be an otherwise cramped space cozy and inviting. The It’s Beautiful Here Coat Rack says it all.

See more of the closet’s evolution on Oh Happy Day.

+ Photos via Oh Happy Day