Every year, I feel the same when the cold weather arrives. I want to fill my home with a warmth feeling. I crave for knitted throw and wool. Add to this, the fact that my son just started to crawl and you will understand my appeal for one or two knitted poufs. They are comfy as an occasional seat or a footrest. Plus, they do not take a lot of floor space. Finally, the soft edge of poufs made them safe and fun to play with for my baby. Continue Reading
This post is about finding a use for your old office supplies. If you still have an box of CD envelopes lying around, I saw on Better Homes and Gardens a way to transform them into cute cookie packages. Instead of a printed ribbon and a Holidays adornment, you could decorate the envelopes with a beautiful string and affix a gift tag. I wish that I could insert a gold cake pad but at 6 inches, the smallest cake circles are two big for a CD envelope. This is why you need to use a scrapbook paper or gift wrap paper to add a festive backdrop. The only downside is that I would feel the need to cover the cookie with food-safe cellophane before inserting it into an old CD envelope.
If you plan to ship them, why not wrap your Christmas cookies in mailing tubes? I showed you three ways to add a Holiday touch to plain mailing tubes last year.
I like the amusing side of these Halloween decorations. They perfectly illustrated how a simple design can make an impact. It is not too late to make yours. You could have your children to pitch in to create your own front yard Halloween decorations.
It does not require extreme skills or tools to make your own tombstones using plywood. The kids will have fun writing the epitaphs. It is a good opportunity for them to use their creativity.
As for the upside down men, you simply attached a pair of old pants to two sticks and topped the legs with rubber boots. Sewing patches to the pants add to the charm of the scene. I took these pictures from a family house in NDG (Notre-Dame de Grâce neighborhood in Montreal).
My design philosophy revolves around comfort, function and aesthetics. I enjoy talking about design because I believe that good design can enhance all aspects of our life. But today, I will talk about another kind of inspiration. I will discuss how a decisive life event shaped me and the future of At Home with Kim Vallee.
I am new at writing about my personal life. So bare with me as I share with you the most important aspects of what happened to me over the last 12 months.
Since I am an entrepreneur, it is not surprising that I like to take charge of my destiny. One year ago, life threw at me a difficult situation for which I had, and still have, no control. We discovered that my baby would be born with a congenital heart defect during my 20-week ultrasound. At the time, the doctor thought that he might require a surgery in the first 12 to 24 months of his life. I accepted the situation with a relative peace of mind. The important thing was that my baby could live a normal life. I did not want to stress too much in fear to harm my baby during my pregnancy. I never anticipated that the road to recovery would take so long.
My next deception came when they told me that I would be separated from my baby right after delivery. We found out 6 weeks before my due date that my baby would be transferred right away to another hospital in preparation for an open heart surgery to be scheduled a few days later. I said bye-bye to my birth plan away. I had a C-section and stayed at the hospital for three days. Luckily, I was discharged from the hospital the night before his surgery. I rushed to his bed. I was happy and sad at the same time when I held him in my arms for the first time. Although it broke my heart when they brought him to the surgery room, I felt that it was better to have the surgery at birth since he was still unaware of his surroundings. What I did not know was that we would have to go through another surgery four months later.
I never anticipated that it would take 2 surgeries, several medical exams, a total of 40 days of hospital stays and then a cardiac catheterization to finally find a solution. At last, we received good news last Thursday. Seven months after Zack was born, my husband and I could celebrate, without fear, the birth of our son. For the occasion, we drank a Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne and ate sushi with our smiling baby sitting next to us. That felt good!
Inspired by My Son’s Courage
One thing that brought me comfort over the last 7 months is the easy going nature of my son. While he was recovering from his second surgery at the hospital, the nurses nicknamed him “Smiley baby”. He is adorable and was easy to take care of. If they did not closely monitor his condition, nobody would have guessed that he was sick.
A cardiology nurse that follows us since the beginning said something that made me proud on Friday. She mentioned that she could see that my son lives in a happy home because he is always joyful. I would add that he lives in a stylish and happy home. And it is fun that now I can embrace a new chapter of my/our life.
What I Learned Personally and for Work
Now that my son is fine, I can digest what I learned from this experience. I have even more confidence in my strength of character. Now that I have faced these events, I feel that I am better equipped to be a good mom. I realized that I have more patience that I ever imagined. This will come handy to raise him.
I also learned to let go, at least to let go a little. You totally rely on the judgements and expertise of others when you deal with a life-threatening illness. You can ask questions and seek explanations but, at the end, you have no choices but to accept the recommendations of the medical team because they are the ones with the skills and the know-how. Out of necessity, I started to delegate more than I used to, both at home and at work. This is a big deal since I am a perfectionist.
I wish to pass time with my son while I carry on a successful career. This calls for a reorganization of my work and to, possibly, redefine my role in the business in light of where I want the brand to go. To help me with this transition, I had meetings with my advisors. After reviewing the core of my business, my talents and where is my passion, we came up with a more focused business plan. Since I am in control of my destiny, my revised business plan fits my new objectives and my lifestyle.
About “Just Me” and the Other New Series
Since I gave birth, I wondered how I could integrate a more conversational and opinionated side to At Home with Kim Vallee. You could blame this desire on the social isolation that all new moms experience.
Frankly, I think that becoming a mom forced me to reevaluate what I want from life. I looked at it from a personal and a professional levels. I had plenty of time to set my goals and to make a plan to achieve them in a timely fashion. Since I believe that I got the right foundation, I built upon the core values of my brand when I devised four new series. They are:
- Just Me: conversations about finding time and doing things for myself, including how I maintain my own identity, how I deal with the work life balance, …
- 5 Minute Martha: time-saving tips around the house or for entertaining
- Happy Baby: parenting tips, experiences, family activities and must-have items
- My Place: how I make my place work as a family home, a work place, etc…
The “5 Minute Martha” series simply brands my signature topic: stylish solutions that are quick are easy to do. Rest assured that you will continue to enjoy the content that you are used to since I launched my blog. I simply wish to extend the scope of the lifestyle component to complement the design inspirations I already provide you.
Just Kim is part of a new branded “Just Me” series that will explore how I find time for myself, how I fulfill my dreams, how I deal with work life balance issues, and what makes me happy in general. Since no approach fits all, I plan to interview other women to see how they do it. I hope that you will join me and enjoy this additional side of At Home with Kim Vallee.
Illuminate to the exterior of your home by adding a lit twig gate to your porch and hanging a spider web on a window. Your trick or treat visitors will feel welcome and know where to enter. I like how they create a path by putting the crow luminary string lights on the floor instead of hanging them.
I also like the caged crow string lights, but they are not out of stock. You could try to assemble something similar to regular string lights by inserting a few plastic crows into cheap bird cages that you painted black.
+ Lit Twig Gate on sale at $89.99 USD / $114.91 CAD – only through catalog or online
+ Lit Twig Spider Web on sale at $89.99 USD / $114.91 CAD – only through catalog or online
+ Crow Luminary String Lights on sale at $26.99 USD / $34.47 CAD – only through catalog or online
At last, you can get a finger-sized hors d’oeuvres cookbook that will not require you to stay up all night or cook all day. Why do I say that? It is not obvious when you look at the stunning food presentation but the recipes proposed by Peter Callahan have shortcuts. For example, his peace of pizza contains only 4 ingredients, which includes store-bought pizza dough and marinara sauce.
Who knew that spaghetti and meatballs could become so stylish? You can save time when hosting a dinner party by preparing one type of hors d’oeuvres. You can stretch it to two hors d’oeuvre types, if they are simple to make. Select one bite as your show-stopper element, plus prepare a batch of simply tasty canapes.
For the soccer game night or your Super Bowl annual reunion, get inspired by his Pigs in a Blanket canapes.
It is really simple to serve personal vodka with caviar blinis. Individual alcohol bottles add panache to a common drink. As a bonus, you do not have to clean the glasses after the party. I love this idea!
This stylish entertaining cookbook can also help you organize your next kids party. All kids will be in awe when they see the cute doggy canapes or the tiny fudge pops.
+ via Glam
+ cookbook photos: Con Poulos and Glam
+ For Americans: Bite by Bite: 100 Stylish Little Plates You Can Make for Any Party from Peter Callahan $18.92 USD [affiliate link]
+ For Canadians: Bite by Bite: 100 Stylish Little Plates You Can Make for Any Party from Peter Callahan $25.08 CAD at Indigo
I am not into quilt bedding. I am aware that quilts are experiencing a revival thanks to more modern designs, but quilt bedding is not me. Having said that, I was seduced by the charms of this styled picture for the Anthropologie catalogue. It must be the nostalgia of seeing the last warm days summer; we just had Indian summer in Montreal.
Rebecca Rebouche, a native Louisianan working in New Orleans, designed the “Oh To Dream” line of hand-quilted voile and poplin bedding. You could reproduce her “sleep under the tent” vignette for an indoor camping pajama party. I am sure that the kids would love that idea.
+ Oh To Dream Quilt Bedding $118.00–$448.00 USD at Anthropologie
I stopped by Indigo yesterday. I could not pass on Petit Collage alphabet garlands. I like the fact that it is reusable. With 80 alphabet and animal tiles and 5 yards of ribbon, it is easy to custom made the party garland to fit the occasion. I suggest that you tailor even more the garland to your party scheme by updating the color of the ribbon.
My Favorite Baby Book
While I was there, I explored the rest of the collection. It is when I saw the best made baby book. It provides room for fun facts about mom, dad and the baby plus, photo pages for milestone events and for each monthiversary of your baby’s first year. The baby book comes with a keepsake box. It would make an awesome baby shower gift.
+ Petit Collage Garlands $19.95 CAD at Indigo
+ Deluxe Baby Box with Memory Box by Petit Collage $50 USD at Petit Collage
+ Deluxe Baby Box with Memory Box by petit Collage $60 CAD at Indigo
First, I like the minimalist design of Viola Park’s kitchen systems. I wish I could live in a house where my floor plan would allow for that type of kitchen layout. In fact, I would make it my priority if we ever move to another house.
A cool thing about these airy, open islands is that they have more in common with furniture than kitchen cabinets. It suits me since I would use an island more as a food preparation area and a buffet station. I have never been keen about including a cooking surface and to a lesser extent, a sink, into an island. What I crave is to have access to a long uninterrupted work surface.
Their optional accessories are a sweet bonus to achieve that goal. The recessed bread box could be used to store onions, garlic, potatoes and root vegetables. The pivot storage units neatly keep cooking knifes and other cooking tools at reach, without reducing your work surfaces.
Lastly, the end shelving units enables you to keep your cookbooks or your favorite serving ware close by. You could opt for a drawer unit if you need more closed storage for plates, kitchen linens or small appliances.
As you can imagine, it is an upscale American made kitchen system, manufactured by Henrybuilt. Island B is available in lengths up to 11’ and widths of 24”, 30” and 36”. Island C can go up to 12’ in lengths and widths of 24”, 36” and 42”. Viola Park also produces a mobile island with a variety of drawer conﬁgurations.
+ Viola Park’s Kitchen Islands
Being a 5-minute Martha starts by knowing where to spend your time for ultimate impact and where to use shortcuts.
Halloween Cakes: From hard to easy
Martha Stewart proposed here an awesome Haunted House cake. But let’s face it, I do not have the time, nor the patience, nor the baking talents to make something as complex. To give you an idea of the number of steps involved, I included one of the cookie templates that you will need to bake. I applaud women you can do this, but I am not ashamed to say that I am not one of them.
Having said that, I looked for another way to impress guests at a Halloween Haunted House party. If you are time crunched or if you have minimal cake decoration skills, you will appreciate the ease of this no-bake haunted house kit available at Williams-Sonoma. You simply need to glue the prebaked, precut cookie pieces with sugar icing and affix the decorations. Everything is included in the box. Now, this is something I can fit into my agenda!
Decorating Ideas for a Haunted House Halloween Party
Since I did not spent too much time on my cake, I can concentrate on decorating the room for the occasion. A must have for an haunted house party are these ragged-looking spider webs made by pinning, snipping, and tearing cheesecloth.
You can assemble, in advance, a spookycenterpiece by affixing a few vinyl bugs and a snake with basic craft supplies. Buy fresh roses a couple days before your party. I feel that the insect-infected bouquet would be more realistic if the flowers would show signs of aging. Finally, I would add artificial cobwebs to show that the bouquet has sit there for a while.
From there, it is easy to build on these craft projects and to complete the look of your party. To cut corners, head to a local department store to buy more props. Walmart carries plastic bat cutouts, Halloween cobwebs and coffin treat boxes.
+ photo: Haunted House Cake by Martha Stewart
+ No-Bake Halloween Haunted House Kit $19.95 USD at Williams-Sonoma
+ How to make cheesecloth spider webs by Martha Stewart
+ How to make an insect-infected Halloween centerpiece by Martha Stewart
The concept behind the jewelry organizer designed by Matt Carr for Umbra is cute. You will not lack space to store your earrings, necklaces and bracelets with 39 clear vinyl pockets plus 24 hook and loop closures. Hang this double-sided canvas jewelry storage on a hook attached to the back of your closet door or on a clothing rod.
I almost bought the Little Black Dress but I went instead for the icelet jewelry hanger and a mirror storage box because my closet rods are pretty full. Time will tell if I made the right decision.