Monthly Archives

August 2011


A Toy Sailboat Kit: Flessenboot by Floris Hovers

flessenboot by floris hovers

flessenboot by floris hovers

The Dutch designer and dad Floris Hovers presented Flessenboot at this year Milan Furniture Fair. It is a sailboat toy kit that comes with a colored sail, mast and rudder. You supply the empty shampoo bottle on which you will strap the other elements.

Hovers got the idea while watching his daughters play with bottles in the bath and the memory of a toy boat he created on the spot six or seven years ago on a camping trip to entertain little boys playing by a river. I got the impression that you can purchase the kit directly from him but you are better to ask a friend fluent in Dutch to check his Web site.

+ Flessenboot by Floris Hovers
+ via Moco Loco


The Brita Slim Pitcher | Being a First-Time Mom

brita slim pitcher

brita slim pitcher

Although my baby was old enough to drink water from the faucet, I continued to boil the water to prepare his infant formula because of the poor condition of the city water pipes. Montreal is slowing replacing our water system but the process will take a long time. But I wanted to make it easier on me. This is why I bought a Brita water filter pitcher. I am happy that I did.

I selected the Slim pitcher (5-cups) since it contains more than what I need to feed my baby. What I did not expect was that my husband and I would also use it. We found that it improves the taste of our water. And the fact that it is their smaller pitcher is not a problem since it roughly takes half a minute to filter the entire pitcher. Plus, having a small pitcher leaves more room in my fridge.

+ Brita Slim Water Filter Pitcher $12.59 CAD at Canadian Tire
+ Brita Slim Water Filter Pitcher $9.54 USD at Lowe’s


What to Do this Weekend: The exhibitIKEA 2011 in Toronto

david dixon dresses exhibitikea 2011

exhibitikea 2011

I attended the opening gala of the exhibitIKEA last Wednesday night. It showed IKEA under another eyes. It is inspiring to see how four renowned artists transformed everyday products and furniture. I truly enjoyed three installations out of the four that are presented.

Bruno Billio’s Chair Columns

ikea fabrics and cushions on a bench exhibitikea 2011

As you enter the gallery space, you will notice the chair columns. Bruno Billio stacked 400 black and white identical IKEA REIDAR chairs under a big mirror to create his piece. Honestly, I only care for that piece because it created zones for the party. The nice fabric of the cushions on the long bench caught more my eye.

David Dixon’s Dressing Room

David Dixon's IKEA-inspired collection

The dresses created by fashion designer David Dixon were my favorite part. It is not surprising that he designs everything around a large dressing room.

david dixon dresses exhibitikea 2011

Dixon really demonstrates that, with a proper eye, you can take mass-market fabrics and produce a refined product. Like he does for his own collections, he selected a color palette for his installation. I never thought that they were as many fabulous grey and white fabrics at IKEA.

dress room exhibitikea 2011

It is also a nice lesson on how to match patterns to create an individual look. I might steal his fabric choices for a chair that I wish to reupholster with several fabrics. Grey and white is the palette of my living room.

art photos and dresses exhibitikea 2011

George Whiteside’s Still Life Photos

photography gallery exhibitikea 2011

Influenced by the work of Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, he layered vintage papers as his background and created soothing combinations with IKEA vases, pots and objects.

photography details exhibitikea 2011

His photographs were all framed in white IKEA ODBY frames.

Thrush Holmes Shack

rustic house exhibitikea 2011

Holmes built the outside with the nondescript IKEA flat boxes. The graffiti style exterior contrasts with the refined interior. He staged a cozy guy bedroom, that does not scream IKEA.

rustic bedroom exhibitikea 2011

There is still time to see it in person. exhibitIKEA is open to the public today until from 10am to 6pm and on Sunday,  August 21 from 12 to 6pm. It is located at 363 King Street West, Toronto.

Disclaimer: I was invited by IKEA, who paid for my flight from Montreal to Toronto and my hotel. Besides showing up at the media event, they asked nothing else from me. I wrote about the exhibit because I think that it is worth a visit.


Link by Studio Dreinmann is a Space-Saving Serving Ware

link by studio dreimann

link by studio dreimann

Here is a clever, space saving idea. Link uses your existing cutlery and transforms it into a handy pair of tongs, salad servers. It looks great for outdoor entertaining. This nifty silicone connector is also practical for a picnic since you could only carry Link and use your utensils for serving before you eat.

It is designed by Studio Dreimann, a German studio who creates and designs consumer goods, industrial goods and furniture.

+  Link by Studio Dreinmann £9.90 at Theo



Tools at Schools Taught Eight Graders about Good Design

tools for school desk chair locker

tools for school desk chair locker

I believe that design should be a part of every step of our daily life. Therefore, I can only applaud this initiative by Design studio aruliden and Bernhardt Design. They conceived Tools at Schools to teach the eighth graders at The School at Columbia University the value of design as a problem-solving tool.

tools for school study desk

The project involved designing a student locker, chair and desk. I think that they did a brilliant job. They addressed the needs of the different classes through a set of accessories. This is a cost-effective and practical solution since the core of the desk stays the same for all classes.

tools for school art desk

Each locker is identified with the kid’s name. The inside of the locker contains multiple storage units for books and school supplies, a message board, hooks for clothes and a large bottom drawer.

tools for school lockers

The students have been taught what is design but most importantly, they experienced the process on a concrete manner. Good design enhances our life at many levels. It provides comfort since it is fitted for a task and it should be aesthetically pleasing. We are never too young to appreciate good design.

If you wish to learn more about this fabulously inspiring project, watch the 6 videos that cover the processes.

+ Tools for School


Festival International des Jardins at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire

jardins chaumont sur loire

jardins chaumont sur loire

This year is the 20th edition of Festival International des Jardins at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire in France. These special gardens are more vegetal art installation than a typical garden.

2010 Edition

I noticed a common denominator on some of the photos of last year edition. They all have details suitable for entertaining. I thought that you might enjoy seeing them.

bon thé bon genre

This teacup display could be something that you reproduce on a smaller scale for a tea party. It is pretty simple to build your own stand or to find a wall shelf unit at a store or at the flea market.

Birdy Place Card Holder Ideas


For a big outdoor event, you could transform basic wood bird houses into place card holders or to identify the tables.

jardin qui chante

+ Les Bulles Fertiles from the 2011 edition – photo from Maison Française (Juillet-Août 2011)
Festival International des Jardins – photos of 2010 edition by Eric Sander

BABY products FAMILY

My Must-Have Baby Gear List | Being a First-Time Mom

must have for a baby

must have for a baby

My son is 5 months today. I am taking this occasion to share what are the baby items that we really used over the last 5 months since it could help moms-to-be with their shopping list. Besides the car seat and the stroller, I think that you should get:

A lounger or bouncer: I have the mamaRoo. We use it to let my baby rest after a feeding. He also sits in the mamaRoo for watching his favorite movies or TV shows, when I read him a book or simply to be near to us when we eat dinner or when I cook. We used the movements and the sounds for the first 3 months. Lately, the mamRoo acts as a low chair where we know that he sits safely.

A play yard: We bought the Graco’s Pack ‘n Play Chadwick Playard at Babies R Us when my son was a few weeks ago. We bought it because we were invited to a brunch at the home of a single guy. This is why we selected a model with a removable bassinet and diaper changer. What we did not anticipate was how much we would use it at home. I use the bassinet for when my baby takes a nap. His nursery is on the second floor. The diaper changer comes handy when we have a babysitter. It is easier for them to not go upstairs and we feel better knowing that they do not carry our baby up and down our long staircase.

An activity mat: I suggested that you buy an activity mat that will look good in your living room since it will be on the floor all the time. At first, I stored our activity mat after each usage but I quickly give up. Providing enough tummy time is very important to build muscles. Since most babies do not like to be on their tummy, you end up doing mini sessions several times a day. It is wise to avoid tummy time immediately after a feeding. I bought the Treetop Friends Activity Gym from Skip Hop.

A musical mobile: Contrary to my initial belief, a mobile is not to make your kid sleepy unless it is by exhaustion. Our son becomes excited when we put the mobile on. A mobile distracts and entertains your baby while you are doing something else. We bought the Tiny Love Sweet Island Dreams Mobile. The sound quality of the Tiny Love is way better than the Fisher-Price Rainforest Peek-a-Boo Leaves Musical Mobile, which is a similar model.

Fun Educational Toys: It is important to stimulate the senses of our baby as soon as possible. We bought and received from friends many toys. The ones my son enjoy the most are his Tug & Play Activity Knot and his Musical Inchworm, both from Lamaze, Sophie The Giraffe plus his T’es fou louloup hand puppet from Ebulobo. The puppet enables me to interact and communicates with him.

Books: At the Montreal Children’s Hospital, they told us to read books from day 1. It will help you create a lasting connection with your baby. Your baby will learn to recognize the sound of your voice. Zack already have a huge collection of books. I buy board books suitable for children aged 1 to 3 years old. Now that Zack is able to manipulate objects with his both hands, the books become a tool to further develop his motor skills.

+ Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym $74.99 USD at [affiliate link]
+ Tapis de jeu Treehop $81.99 CAD at Rose ou Bleu
+ Graco Pack ‘n Play Portable Playard – Chadwick $199.99 CAD at Babies R Us
T’es fou louloup hand puppet from Ebulobo
+ I Love You Through And Throughby Bernadette Rossetti Shustak $8.95 USD at [affiliate link]
Tug & Play Activity Knot $11.99 USD from Lamaze


Colorful Y-Peelers

colorful y-peelers

colorful y-peelers

I am a huge fan of Y peelers. It’s probably because that was the favorite potato peeler of my mother. Still to these days, I use the straight peeler once in the blue moon. Brands have made them more cheerful. Here is a round-up of what is available if you are in the market for a colorful y-peeler.

Since I think that every kitchen needs two y-peelers, the set of 3 Swiss Classics by Kuhn Rihon (1) will enable every family member to participate in the preparation of dinner. This 20-year old product is proven and tested. It includes the handy potato eye remover on one side. Beware that you must hand wash them.

Karim Rashid designed a curvy ceramic blade y-peeler for Slice (2). The advantages of a ceramic blade is that it supposed to last longer than a steel blade, plus it won’t brown food, transfer smells, or leave a metallic taste. The built-in potato eye is located at the top center.

If you are looking for a cheaper option, you can for the $2 STÄM Peeler (3) from Ikea. It goes in the dishwasher but it lacks the potato eye.

Speciality Blades

Swissmar Y-peelers with three edge types

Swissmar produces peelers with three edge types. The scalpel is what we all know. The serrated edge is made to handle the skins of delicate fruits and vegetables while you can easily create julienne sticks with the julienne edge. They are dishwasher safe.

+ Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peelers $11.95 USD for set of 3 at
STÄM Peeler $2 CAD at Ikea
+ The slice Y-Peeler $14.99 USD at Slice
+ Swissmar Y-peelers $14.72 USD for set of 3 (scalpel, serrated, julienne)  [affiliate link]


New Heights for a Picnic in the Park

picnic in the park

picnic in the park

Planning a picnic in the middle of a bike ride is a great way to spend an afternoon. This was the idea behind this picnic in the park. The remarkable Carrie bicycle basket by Design House Stockholm, used as a picnic basket, set the tone.

ice cream sandwiches for a stylish picnic

Other ideas to steal is how you can assemble on site your ice cream sandwiches. Keep your ice cream carton in ice bucket and make sure to secure the lid. You can bake your own cookies or buy some at a local shop. Bring a signature drink marks that this is a special occasion. I collect these glass bottles for occasions like this. You will find all the recipes in the magazine.

+ Style at Home (Sept. 2011)  – photos by Edward Pond
+ Carrie bicycle basket $83 CAD at Designhouse
Carrie bicycle basket $79 USD at Design House Stockholm


New Uses for Old Things: Muffin Tins

muffin tin ice cube tray cookie bowl

muffin tin ice cube tray cookie bowl

There seems to be no end to the versatility of baking tins: from container gardens to home office organizing stations. Though as useful as they may be elsewhere in your home, turns out they can be put to creative use in the kitchen too.

With its inverted moulds, Wilton’s Non-Stick Ice Cream Cookie Bowl tray makes a simple scoop of ice cream practically gourmet. The fluted edges of each “bowl” mimic vintage ice cream sundae dishes, but you can create the look (and the taste) for less by flipping over a regular muffin tin, adding a generous coat of cooking spray and forming your cookie dough around the mounds.

Lest you work up a sweat baking these sweet treats in the summer heat, keep cool by adding oversized ice cubes to your drink. Place slices of lemon and lime in muffin tins, fill with water and freeze! Try freezing cucumbers and pairing them with this recipe for Spa Cucumber Water, or use berries and plop the ice cubes in a punchbowl. If you don’t have a large freezer, remember to make room to balance the muffin tin.

We want to know: have you re-purposed kitchen tools or utensils in creative ways? Share your tip in the comments!

+ Wilton Non-Stick Ice Cream Cookie Bowl, $11.99 USD
+ Lemon-Lime Ice Cubes from Industrious Justice

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

What I Like the Most from this Geometric Hamptons Guesthouse

adjacent bath

adjacent bath

This huge guest house has plenty of things going for her (in French, a house is female). It unusual shape delivered fabulous spaces beautifully filled with high-end finishes and modern furniture. My top ideas to steal from this project are:

The adjacent bath is practical as more people can use its components at the same time. The blue tiles from Ann Sacks is stunning; sadly, I could not find which model it is.

modern kitchen

The kitchen cabinets are a mix of custom made (upper cabinets) and a Bulthaup kitchen system (lower cabinets and island). It shows that you do not have to stick to one company to achieve the design you are looking for.

nurseryworks bunk beds

I rarely look at bunk beds as a design inspiration but these ones caught my eye. The Duet Bunk Beds from Nurseryworks provides storage under the bed and at the end. You have a choice of wood and colors.

cabana room

The cabana room is inviting and provides tons of storage.

+ Geometric Hamptons Guesthouse from Architecture Digest – photos: Scott Frances