Monthly Archives

May 2012

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake in a Mason Jar

molten chocolate cake in a mason jar

hot cakes in a mason jar

I am surprised that it took me so long to discover this fabulous ready to bake cake by chocolatier Autumn Martin of Hot Cakes. She started making them in 2008. Since then, the dessert served in a Mason jar has exploded. If a molten chocolate cake is not a novelty, why do I write about it? In a word: convenience!

molten chocolate cake in a mason jar

What I like most about her product is that you buy it ready to bake. Others will appreciate that it is organic. Personally, I simply imagine the smell in my house before serving dessert to my guests. Many people prefer to buy desserts when they have friends for dinner. I do! The reason that I buy the dessert is to have more time to cook the rest of the meal. Once in a while, I will make my own dessert.

Until now,  Hot Cakes did not have a brick and mortar shop.  They sold at farmers’ markets, at their online store and through indie shops in the state of Washington. Last weekend, they opened their first brick and mortar shop called Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery with a partial funding round on Kickstarter.

Since I doubt that Hot Cakes are shipping to Montreal, I will have to experience with my own molten chocolate recipe. Did you ever bake your own molten chocolate cake in a Mason jar? Do you have any advice for beginner bakers?

SOURCING:
Dark Decadence Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake in a Mason Jar $8 USD at Hot Cakes

 

DESIGN and style LIVING

What to Wear: At a Lifestyle Blogging Event – and a Look at BlogPodium

blogpodium may 2012 fashion

blogpodium may 2012 details

Last Saturday, I attended BlogPodium at the stylish Arcadian Loft located in the Simpson Tower in Toronto. First, I must congratulate publicly  Lindsay Stephenson of Aubrey and Lindsay’s Little House Blog and Jennifer Flores of Rambling Renovators for organizing such an amazing event. The girls put a lot of hours making it a reality and it showed when we look at their attention to details. Bravo Lindsay and Jennifer!

I tweeted a lot during the session to share the good tips from the keynote speaker Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely, who shared photos of her short stay in Toronto, and the panelists. Many attendees published their recap posts. Instead, I thought of taking this occasion to discuss what to wear when you go to a blogger conference.

For Attendees

I have a thing for patterns and it shows. A blogger conference is the perfect venue to wear your fabulous summer dress. Many of the attendees did just that.

blogpodium may 2012 fashion
Vanessa of Damask et Dentelle wears so well her Italian style tunic dress. When you know Vanessa, you know that this dress is perfectly her. I wore a yellow bird printed dress that I bought this Spring at Jacob with an orange handbad by m0851. A brown braided belt embellished with two large flowers and a pair of orange gem earrings completed my outfit.

blogpodium may 2012 fashion
I felt in love with a V-back floral dress of Sarah Gunn who writes at Yummy Mommy Club. With Sarah’s blessings, I scheduled another shopping trip to Zara.

blogpodium may 2012 fashion
Green and pink were popular! Her green dress enhances Christine’s beautiful red hair. Christine was a panelist and told us how she makes money with her blog Bijou and Boheme. Christine wore several bracelets with her watch. Very stylish! And it reinforces her brand. I provide more tips about how to dress if you are a presenter at the end of this post.

blogpodium may2012 bracelets

blogpodium may 2012 fashion
A few good examples of how patterns and solids can mix together. Update: Nicole A. Panacci of Lipstik Events wore a cream, green and purple floral dress that looks awesome on her. The colours suit this lively brunette girl. She is photographed with Krista Illies of Nook of Wellington.

blogpodium may2012 fashion

For Presenters

making it lovely

If you are a speaker, it is an excellent idea to wear the colours of your brand or blog. And this might be an occasion where I shy away from patterns. You do not wish to deter the attention of the crowd sitting in the room. This is exactly what did Nicole Balch. Her outfit represents her well.

I look forward to the next BlogPodium this fall. With so many well-dressed women, I will make sure to plan my outfit well in advance.

Update: I am missing some names. Contact me to tell me if you are on a picture.

SOURCING:
+ photos: Kim Vallee, Mango Studios and BlogPodium

ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR entertaining

Kim Loves: The First Summer Collection of Dwell Studio

dwell studio summer entertaining collection

dwell studio summer entertaining collection

It is no secret that I am a fan of Dwell Studio. I bought their Owl bedding for my son’s nursery. Once again, I am in awe. This time is with their first summer collection.

dwell studio summer entertaining collection

 1. Summertime Backgammon or Summertime Chess and Checker set $35 USD each | 2. Portable Hitachi $295 USD | 3. Scandinavian Etched Fish Glass and Pitcher from $12 to $46 USD | 4. Laura Windel Sea Life Plates $140 USD for set of 4 assorted plates 

Christiane Lemieux created a range of products that gets the most of summer entertaining. I can’t deicide what I want the most from portable canvas classic board games to the Scandinavian fish etched pitcher and glasses or the sea life plates designed by Vermont artist Laura Zindel.

Indulge a happy bride and groom this summer with a remarkable gift like the Dwell Studio’s table size portable Hitachi. They will be able to savour small treats while looking in each other eyes. The materials made it easy to clean. The dishwasher-safe porcelain bowl with a stainless steel grill and handle stands tall on the wood trivet. It’s gorgeous!

 

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Three Creative Uses of Washi Masking Tapes

washi tapes on flower vases

washi tape loot bags

Keeping a reserve of washi tapes can be a time-saver when you have to create last-minute party decorations. Washi tapes immediately transformed a basic bags or bottles into something with personality. I compiled a lit of amazing projects made by crafters and small shop owners on the blogosphere.

Loot Bags

If you are looking for a simple project, you can’t beat the kids loot bags made by Omiyage, a Canadian store. Their kids collection is composed of a range of animal and transportation themes. Recycle their loot bag idea for any occasion. You could even use it to gift wrap a present in a hurry.

The second project is by cu·te·ta·pe (pronounce: koo-teh-tah-pee), who also sells washi tapes online and other party/craft supplies.

washi paper bags

The creator of cu·te·ta·pe transformed the simple white lunch bag into a remarkable party favor bags with striped paper straws, washi tape and matchin twines.  You can write the recipient names on the tape. I love it! cu·te·ta·pe sells all the materials online except for the bags.

Playtime

washi doll house

I salute this first project from Japan. They used washi tapes to decorate a doll house. What a simple way to really put your stamp on the design scheme! See more stunning pictures about mt factory tour, a Japanese washi masking tape maker at Poppytalk.

washi drawing board

You can also apply washi tapes on a foam board to create your own city block mat or on a thick drawing paper to fuel your kids imagination. Even though my son is a little bit young for those activities, I love this idea so much that I bought the transport theme tapes from Omiyage. I imagine the hours of pleasure that he will have playing together or with his buddies.

Home Accents

washi tapes on flower vases

You can tailor plain bottles, jars or flower vases to your party theme or home decor by applying washi tapes around the containers. Look at how beautiful is this project by Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint for decor8.

SOURCING:
+ Take A Ride Washi Tape Set $15 CAD for 3 rolls at Omiyage
+ Washi masking tapes from $3.50 USD a roll to $30 for a pack at cu·te·ta·pe
+ washi doll house photo: Ros Lee of Polkaros for Poppytalk

FAMILY KIDS rooms

gleePEEPS collection by Polkaros

gleepeeps pouffes

gleepeeps pouffes

As soon as I laid my eyes on the totem made of gleePEEPS pouffes, I was hooked. I want the gleePEEPS pouffes and character bolster cushions to become my son’s friends. They could join him in his bedroom and be invited in my living room from time to time.

gleePEEPS are the creations of Singapore-born lifestyle product designer Ros Lee. She lives and works in Japan since 2005.

chapstick holder

Ros sells some of her creations at her online store, Polkaros. Another fun product that Ros made is her cute animal Chapstick holders. She offered free shipping worldwide! I only wish that they were clip-ons.

SOURCING:
+ photos: Works by Polkaros
+ Chapstick holder $15 USD at Polkaros

 

DESIGN and style LIVING

What to Wear: At the Park

mom and toddler fashion at the park

mom and toddler fashion at the park

Multicoloured Striped Polo Shirt $19.90 CAD at Zara | Denim Bermudas $17.90 CAD at Zara | Sandal Paco Boy $55 USD at Geox | Linen t-shirt with print $29.99 CAD at Zara | Rose Leaf 1969 raw-edge denim shorts $49.95 USD at Gap | Fuchsia Vidalez mocassin $26.24 on sale at Aldo

I continue my “mom and a toddler fashion” column with a trip to the park. My son reached an age where he always want to play at the park. I want to look good when I go there but naturally, I need to look casual. Last week, I bought this printed linen t-shirt at Zara. The fabric and its A-line shape (sorry, that you can’t see the shape from the picture) help cool down my body under the sun. I am sure about that since I wore it when the thermometer reached 30 degrees Celsius (86 F). I wore my linen t-shirt with a pair of khaki shorts that I bought last year at Banana Republic.

Whatever is your style, look for clothes that are machine wash. Since we started to go at the park, my son wears two outfits a day. That reason alone justified my purchase of a new HE top load washer and dryer.

 

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Ideas to Steal: Carpaccio Served on a Clothesline

Food plating on a table clothesline

Food plating on a table clothesline

I always keep an eye open for easy show stopper food plating that I could use at a party. The carpaccio served on a clothesline today at restaurant Europea in Montreal tops my list this summer.

If you build your own table clothesline ahead of time, you could reuse the concept many times. They did it with big nails and a piece of 2×4 lumber. For an outdoor party, you could assemble a taller and longer clothesline by planting two poles on the ground. A strong fishing line could be used instead of the standard clothesline. With the bigger clothesline version, you could not only hang carpaccio but also small plastic containers or chinese take out boxes.

SOURCING:
+ photo by Pierre Bellerose via Twitter – thanks Pierre for this find.

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

Two Tartine Recipes by La Tartine Gourmande

savory tartines by beatrice peltre

savory tartines by beatrice peltre

Last Friday, food blogger Beatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande  was at “The Martha Stewart Show”.  Bea prepared two savory tartines from her first cookbook. Everything looks tasty!

Tartines, which are open sandwiches, make great lunch.  I love these two recipes because there are filled with colorful food. Plan ahead of time if you wish to serve them to your friends.  Rest assured that the techniques are easy to follow and the ingredients are easy to find. She made:

If you plan to serve both tartines for a stylish lunch with your girl friends this summer, start by roasting the cherry tomatoes. While the cherries are in your oven, prepare the basil oil,  blanch the green vegetables and make the ricotta spread. Toast your favorite bread; select a loaf with a nice crust. You will find on Martha Stewart’s recipe the recipes with videos where Beatrice shared more tips on how to make her tasty tartines.

Beatrice talked about her experiences at the Martha Stewart Show on her blog. If you are looking for more deliciously healthy recipes, do not forget to grab your copy of her cookbook the next time you shop at a bookstore.

la tartine gourmande cookbook

+ For Americans: La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life $19.59 USD at Amazon.com
+ For Canadians:  La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life $21.95 CAD at Amazon.ca

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

What To Drink: Go Pink for Mother’s Day

pink drinks for mother's day

pink drinks for mother's day
Mom-tini recipe from NUVO Sparkling LiqueurPomtini recipe  from POM  | Pink Blossom recipe  from SAQ | Nude Nuvo recipe  from NUVO

Here are four feminine cocktails that you could serve your mom this Mother’s Day.  Personally, I look forward to sip my Pink Blossom.

Mom-tini recipe

  • 2 oz POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 oz Vodka
  • Splash of fresh lime juice
  • Top with 1oz of chilled NUVO Sparkling Liqueur
  • Garnish with an orange peel and serve in a martini glass

If you live in a place where the NUVO Sparkling Liqueur is not available, you could prepare a Pomtini instead.

Pomtini recipe

  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed pomegranate juice* or POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. sour mix, or 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup (equal parts sugar and cold water dissolved together)
  • Ice cubes

Assemble all ingredients in bar or mixing glass. Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish with spiraled orange rind.

Pink Blossom recipe

  • 45 ml (1 1/2 oz) dry gin
  • 15 ml (1/2 oz) lemon liqueur (Limoncello or other)
  • 90 ml (3 oz) pink‐grapefruit juice
  • 3 ice cubes

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice cubes.
Shake vigorously for 8 to 10 seconds.
Strain into a martini glass using an ice strainer.
Garnish with two raspberries or small strawberries.

Nude Nuvo recipe

The last one can’t be easier then this.

  • Chilled NUVO sparkling liqueur
  • Served over ice in a champagne flute

Although its color is a faded pink, I enjoy the taste of the grapefruit mimosa at Griffintown Café. This is where we will go for brunch this Sunday.

How do you plan to treat your mom this Sunday? Start by telling me which cocktail (it doesn’t have to be those) that you or your mom will be delighted to drink?

ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR entertaining

Must-Have for a Picnic: A Table-on-the-go

eucalyptus folding picnic table

eucalyptus folding picnic table
Table in a Bag on sale at $49.95 USD at Crate and Barrel

This picture illustrates my ideal picnic at the park. I love all the details. I need a folding picnic table like this to make my picnic more stylish and comfortable. People who bought it commented that the table is the perfect height for beach chair.

Update: Because of my post, my husband included the Table in a Bag table to my birthday gifts. Having a blog makes their life easy 🙂

LIVING TRAVEL

Friendly Luxury When Camping

cozy camping bedroom

cozy camping bedroom
photos by Thomas J. Story for Sunset magazine – May 2012

Camping has evolved so much since my childhood. I prefer a nice hotel room to sleeping in a tent any time. I’m also aware that many young kids adore camping; maybe that I will need to adapt. Just in case, I explored how I could make a camping trip more comfortable.

tent
REI Kingdom 4 Tent – 2012 $389 USD| REI Tech Garage $99.95 USD

I am first amazed by the new developments in tents. A freestanding design means that the tent can be assembled before being staked out which gives you freedom in position it at the site. Tents now come with vertical walls that add privacy and define the livable areas. You can add a vestibule that provides shelter to your boots and to you when you enter or exit the tent. The ultimate vestibule seems to be a tech garage; it delivers extra storage for your gears and generally has two convenient roll-on doors.

A Cozy Bedroom

cozy camping outdoor space
hotos by Thomas J. Story for Sunset magazine – May 2012

There is no need to give up your queen size bed on camping. You can have a good night sleep thanks to car camping. The trend is to bring your own pillows, cotton sheets and a throw or a comforter instead of a sleeping bag. Do not neglect the comfort of your feet. It becomes customary to place rugs indoor and outdoor. Go to your favorite decor store and select a style that you like.

Style the Outdoor Space

camping gear
SOLVINDEN pendant light $29.99 CAD at IKEA | KALVÖ $24.99 CAD at IKEA | Deluxe Camper’s Kitchen $127.99 USD at Cabana

Since you hope to pass as much time as possible outside, why not dress it up by a notch. Make a lounge outside with a few folding recliners or deck chairs and a couple folding side tables. KALVÖ folding table is an affordable option available at IKEA. While ÄPPLARÖ served double duty as a stool or a side table.

There are more options than camping equipment to create subtle ambiant lighting. The solar panel and the wind power generator of SOLVINDEN pendant light convert sunlight and wind to energy. It can be hang from the ceiling of your tent. Complete your set up with a few SOLVINDEN ground stakes that will light the path and your camping site.

Easy to Cook

The typical Camper’s Kitchen comes with a pantry, heat-resistant working surfaces, food preparation zones and three-sided windscreen shelters your stove for optimal fuel performance. You save time by having access to your cookware, cooking utensils and food.

Finally, I hope that you bought a car with a voluminous trunk. Equipped with all these gears, you will need it!