Monthly Archives

August 2012

ORGANIZING

Tea Towel Tote Bag Tutorial

DIY tea towel tote bag

DIY tea towel tote bag
photos: tote bags made with the tea towels from The Curiosity Shoppe at Target collection

It is a fast and easy sewing project that you can do for yourself or make a provision for your hostess or housewarming gift stash. You can use a brand new tea towel or go with a vintage tea towel that you like. The Curiosity Shoppe owners Lauren Smith & Derek Fagerstrom created this craft using the tea towels from their Shops at Target collection. Their repetitive pattern works well as a tote bag.

How to Make your own Tea Towel Tote Bag

Materials:

  • 1 tea towel
  • 1.5 yards of 1” cotton webbing
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine

Instructions:

tea towel tote bag tutorial

  1. Fold tea towel in half, right sides together
  2. Using a half-inch seam allowance, stitch up the sides of the towel, back-stitching at the beginning and end of each seam. Turn bag right side out.
  3. Cut the webbing in half to make the 2 straps.
  4. Pin the ends of each strap 1” down from the top of the bag and 3” in from sides, making sure they’re not twisted.
  5. Attach the ends of each strap by stitching a square around the edges of the 1” tail of webbing, removing the pins as you go.

You are done! I fold my textile tote bag and carry it in my handbag. I bought mine on Etsy. I might start to make my own tote bag.

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

The Curiosity Shoppe at Target Collection

the curiosity shoppe at target

the curiosity shoppe at target
photo by Nikki Ritcher  for Anthology magazine at the launch party

The Shops at Target is an innovative collaboration project with small boutiques that Target launched in May 2012. The program enables small business owners to sell a collection of products created for Target but at the image of their brand stand. That provides great exposure for the selected shop owners. For the fall 2012 edition, the four small businesses are Kirna Zabete, The Curiosity Shoppe, Odin New York and Patch NYC.

frank's motel collection :: the curiosity shoppe at target
sourcing: Ceramic nesting measuring cups $15 for 4, Silicone baking utensils $9, Milk bottle $15 at Target

I adore The Curiosity Shoppe at Target collection. The dinnerware collection from this shop located in San Francisco’s Mission District is designed around an Americana road-trip. I imagine using them as a basis of an end of summer fun party or a kids birthday theme.

the curiosity shoppe at target
sourcing: America cutting board $25 (photo: Anthology) | Dinner Plate $3, Salad Plate $2.50, Canvas Placemat $4, Acrylic Glasses $2-$3, Novelty Swizzle Sticks $5 for 8

the curiosity shoppe at target serving bowl and platter

sourcing: The Curiosity Shoppe at Target ceramic platter $25  | Serving bowl $20 at Target

Write down that September 9th, 2012 is the date that their 60 products will become available in stores and online.  I did!

FAMILY LIVING with kids

Parenting Tips: How I Get My Baby to Sleep All Night

How to get my baby to sleep through the night?

My husband and I are the lucky parents of a loving baby that sleeps all night since he is 3-week old. We can’t take all the credits since Zack arrived from his 3-week hospital stay this way.

At four weeks, Zack made us understand that he didn’t want us to wake him anymore for feeding. His doctors said it was OK to let him guide us to what he needs. He drank plenty of milk during the day. He quickly moves to sleeping 6 hours, 7 hours, 8 hours and so on, without a bottle. He sleeps for 10 to 12 hours every night in his nursery since he is 3 or 4 months.

At a time where having a good night sleep is a luxury for most new parents, I felt truly blessed. So, I did some reading to make sure that my baby continues to sleep well. I learned that a few simple rules made it possible. For the ones who doubted that it applies to most babies, you should give a try to know if it works before you make a decision. I read that this method provides a high success rate.

Differencing Night and Day

The first rule for sleeping all night is that your baby must grasp the difference between night and day. Once your baby distingues nighttime, you can teach your baby that night is made for sleeping. It starts by lowering the lights and reducing the noises in the house near bedtime. The light and noise trick comes from the hospital. This is what they do at the NICU.

Short Bedtime Routine

We try to keep our bedtime routine short and simple. Ours used to take up to 45 minutes when he was a few weeks old. Now that he is 17 months old, it takes about 10 minutes. Zack understands it. In fact, he is looking forward to our bedtime ritual. Our babysitter reproduces the same ritual once a week with the same level of success than us. While my husband is prepping his last bootle feed, I change his diaper and put on his pyjama. We feed him in our living room before we move him to his room upstairs.

For about a year, we waited until he was asleep in our arms and then, gently put him in his crib. Sometimes after he reached one year old, we slowly moved away from waiting that he was completely asleep before leaving the room. Later, our son started to tell us that he did not want to be in our arms and that he prefers to go straight to his bed.

We currently feed him a bottle, brush his teeth, mommy quickly gives him a kiss and he goes straight to his crib. After putting my baby in his crib, we turn his pendant light off, we strategically place two OXO nightlights around his room and illuminate his ceiling with stars and a moon. We tell them the story about how the sun went down and the dark sky gets brighter. We only provide him with a dark sleeping environment at nighttime. We have a little play session with a plush toy or we sing him a few songs before we tell him good night. A baby can easily relate to these steps and understand what is coming next.

Everyone, including my baby, is happier since my baby falls asleep by himself, at naptime and at bedtime. I feel that you must do that step when your baby is ready for it.

Give Your Baby Time to Learn How to Sleep

Babies must learn how to stay asleep when they are transitioning from one sleep stage to another stage. This is one of the reasons why they cry. Waking them when they are transitioning from one sleep stage to the next only makes it harder for them to learn that most important skill when it comes to sleep. When this happened, your baby can still be asleep. Give your baby the few minutes he/she needs to make the transition. So wait a few minutes — my limit is 5 minutes —before you rush by the crib. It will be a lot easier to do this if you must get up in the middle of the night and walk to their nursery than if your baby sleeps next to your bed.

Comfort only when Needed

From what I read, the earliest a baby can learn how to sleep on his/her own, the easiest it will be to acquire the skill. I can bring comfort to my baby in my arms if he woke up in tears (arrived a lot when he does his teeth), but he will return to sleep in his crib after that. I often found that he only wants a fresh diaper. Like I said earlier, we quickly reached a point I didn’t need to feed him during the night.

Keep the Noise Down at Night

To further help your baby distingues between night and day, it is best that they sleep with no noises at night and that they can nap hearing your day activities.

What about Naptime?

To not confuse them, rely on a different routine at naptime. Your baby needs to know that we only expect a short sleep.This is why when he was younger, he slept in his room only at night. He napped in the crib of his playard in a corner of my living room during the day.

As he grows older, I tried several napping techniques.  To tell you the truth, I had more problems with establishing a regular naptime than sleeping at night. My boy used to fight me even when he was tired. For the past few months, we found a way that suits him. I tell my son that I will see him soon and that we will play after he sleeps. I often leave him with a book in his crib. He decided when to fall asleep; which is usually a few minutes after I left his room. One important visual cue remains: I partially close his blinds so he sees that their is still light outside.

I know that every parent and baby is different. My technique might not suit your parenting style. My goal is simply to provide food for thoughts. Any comments, any tips to add? How did you teach your infants to sleep at night?

FOOD + DRINK RESTAURANTS

On The Road iPhone/iPad App from Food Network

food network on the road app

food network on the road app

US Fans of in Food Network will be glad to know about this new free iPhone and iPad app. There are roughly 3,000 U.S. restaurants, food trucks and hot spots that you can search by chef, TV show, city, type of food from Food Network On The Road app.

food network on the road app search by chef

The app can help you decide where to eat next in your home town or to plan a road trip. As you would expect from that type of app, there is a badge system, a la Foursquare.

At first glimpse, Food Network have decided to tap into their huge content database to bring added value to its audience. You can download the app at the Apple store.

Have you tried Food Network On The Road, yet? Will you download the app? Does it appeal to you?

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Kim Loves: Permafrost Wooden Toys

permafrost wooden toys for the nordic identity exhibition

permafrost wooden toys for the nordic identity exhibition
photography by Johan Holmquist

These toys caught my eye the moment I spotted them at MoCo Loco. I love the shapes and how you can assemble the various elements of this industrial platform. The colours even matched my son’s bedroom. I wish that I could buy these superbly modern wooden toys for my little boy.

I also wish that they were more toys like these on the market. Young kids need to be surrounded with beautifully designed, eye-pleasing products. I strongly believe that good design should be a part of their education.

permafrost wooden toys

They are the contribution that Norwegian design studio Permafrost for the New Nordic – Architecture and Identity exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Danemark. The exhibition explores if they is still a Nordic identity today. Learn more about this fabulous project on Permafrost blog.

BABY care FAMILY

Baby Food: Essentiels to Make Your Own Baby Purees

baby food

baby food
photo of my son at 7 months after a meal

Introducing a baby to solids can be challenging for new moms. After trying several brands of store-bought vegetable purees, it became clear that if I wanted my son to develop appetite and to stimulate his taste buds, I must cook my own vegetable purees. It is fun and if you do in batch, it will not require a lot of your time.

Before I gave birth, I wanted one of these fancy baby food machines. Let me tell you that you don’t need one. I bought a Beaba Babycook, read the manual and return it. My method is simpler, uses what you already have in your kitchen and would not become useless 6 or 7 months later. Talking to a few moms convinced me that a baby food machine didn’t worth the trouble, the cash and the extra counter space. Instead, I upgraded my 20-year old immersion blender for a sturdy model with a chopper attachment with lid. I never looked back.

Batch Cooking and Freezing

If I was making mashed potato and carrot for our dinner, I doubled the recipe. I froze the rest in ice cube trays. I use standard ice cubes (because I had them), the trays from KidCo and the PLASTIS ice cube trays from IKEA. If you need to equip yourself, buy two standard size silicone trays — it is easier to remove the food from them — and a few PLASTIS trays. The smaller size of the PLASTIS trays is practical for adjusting how much food you serve to your baby.

Season the Baby Food

My goal was that Zack could easily transition to what we eat for dinner. I developed recipes that fit my cooking style. For me, that means seasoning the food. Right from the start, I use butter, olive oil, onions, freshly ground pepper, ginger, fennel, and herbs to provide an array of flavour to my baby.

The Basis of my Recipes

I boiled the  vegetables in a marguerite. I tried roasting in the stove one or twice without success. I cut the vegetables in small pieces to reduce the boiling time. Each puree includes two or three vegetables that complement each other in taste and texture. I cooked them together.

I experimented a lot. Don’t hesitate to look at what inside your fridge or on your counter before you start. One of my yummiest recipe was a batch of caramelized onions that I mixed with boiled carrots. For inspirations, I looked at soup recipes. The list of ingredients triggered delightful mixes that became my signature purees.

Zack adored these recipes:

  • Ginger flavoured sweet potato and zucchini puree. I added a small potato to absorb the water of the zucchini.
  • Ginger flavoured carrot and red onion puree.
  • Mashed cauliflower and potatoes with a touch of fennel.

Have you cook any tasty purees lately? What is your secret?

Zack now eats like us. No more purees for him; in his mind, he is a big boy. He looks forward to lunch and dinner. He eats by himself and likes everything, except for eggs that he never cared for. We will never know if making his purees played a role in that but I am sure that it didn’t hurt. I encourage any mother to make their own baby purees. All you need is your pots and pans, a handblender, good ingredients and a little bit of imagination.

 

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Cute Aprons for the Stylish Cook, Baker or Hostess

aprons for the hostess at anthropologie

aprons by ladelle
Mix, Cook and Serve apron | Bright Kitchen apron – both by Ladelle

I was overdue for an apron showcase. I usually opt for a modern design when I buy an apron that I will wear everyday. I own several since I like to vary my look. Maison Simons (in Montreal and Quebec City) carries some kitchen linens by the Australian brand Ladelle but I did not see these models. The Mix, Cook and Serve is my favorite due to the darker color and large pocket. Simons still sells the Geisha apron by Ladelle that I bought several months ago.

When I host a party, I want to look fabulous in the kitchen. I keep a selection of feminine, vintage style aprons for when I entertain. For those aprons, Anthropologie is my place to shop. Anthropologie always carries a vast selection of fabulous aprons. These three are on my short list to be added to my collection.

aprons for the hostess at anthropologie
Fiammetta Apron $32 | Cuisine Couture Apron $32 | Tea and Crumpets Apron $32 at Anthropologie

What is your favorite apron of the moment?

COCKTAILS + wine FOOD + DRINK

Celebrate London 2012 with Girlie Gin Cocktails

girlie gin cocktails

girlie gin cocktails
photos: Maxime Juneau for At Home with Kim Vallee

Add style to your closing ceremony get together by serving a bronze, silver and gold metal cocktails. Or be the judge and pick one as your signature drink.

The recipes are from Bombay ambassador, the master mixologist Raj Nagra who made the cocktails for me at the Bombay Sapphire event in Montreal two weeks ago. I already shared the recipe for the Bronze medal cocktail. Now, it is time to share the silver and the gold medal cocktail recipes.

Silver medal: Watermelon and Mint Collins

  • 2 parts (60 ml) Bombay Sapphire
  • 4 Chunks of ripe watermelon chunks
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • 2 parts (60 ml) Processo

Glass: Wine glass

Method: Muddle, mint and sugar in your shaker. Add other ingredients and shake with ice. Pour in wine glass and top with the Processo.
Garnish: Long mint tip

Gold medal: Citrus Splash

  • 1 heaped tsp Citrus marmalade
  • 1 part Spiced syrup
  • 1 part Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 parts Bombay Sapphire
  • Fresh Sage
  • 1 Egg white
  • Nutmeg

Glass: Cocktail coup

Method: Shake all ingredients (except nutmeg). Shake again with ice. Strain into cocktail couple.
Garnish: Fresh nutmeg and grapefruit wheel

All three drinks were delicious. If I have to pick a favorite it would be the Watermelon and Mint Collins. To my surprise, I was delighted when I took a sip by the Citrus Splash; I was unsure that I would like it when I saw some of the ingredients. But I did!!! The ingredients remind me of a late late brunch.

Are you planning something special for the Olympics closing ceremony?

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Asplund Cookie Tray

Asplund Cookie Tray

Asplund Cookie Tray
Asplund Cookie Tray $185 USD at Huset

With the big Holiday season that is only a few months away, it’s best to start sooner than later. This unique design cookie tray designed by Stina Sandwall would be perfect to serve your Holiday treats. The Asplund Cookie Tray comes in red and in white. I would like both on my Christmas table, except that at that price, it would become an indulgence.