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September 2012

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Spooky Forest Halloween Party Food

spooky forest halloween party theme for kids

spooky forest halloween party theme for kids

I started to think about how we will celebrate Halloween. Yesterday, I ordered online my son’s costume. You will notice the influence of my geek husband when I tell you that my son will dress up as an astronaut. He played Darth Vader last year.

Now that his costume is taken care of, I can concentrate on an Halloween party for young kids. I look for a fun twist on the eerie theme. Something that would be unusual but that will not scare the children. I also care about the ingredients. Too much sweet is not good for toddlers. And if I can put a touch of healthy that it is even better. I feel that I compiled a winner mix with this assortment of party food and drink.

For the signature drink, style your favorite kid-friendly sparkling lemonade with a gummy fish, eggs made of coloured tapioca pearls topped with a gummy worm. Get the entire Swamp juice recipe (No. 1) at Family Fun.

For the healthy part, make these cut cheese fingers (No. 3) with mozzarella string cheese. Make the fingertip by glueing a piece of green pepper, a piece of cucumber (skin up), half of a black olive or half a red grape with cream cheese .

The Apple bites (No. 5) are not more complicated to make. To create the mouth, quarter and core an apple. Then, cut a wedge from the skin side of each quarter. Slivered almonds make realistic teeth. Do not forget to sprinkle some lime juice or orange juice on the apples to keep them from browning.

For treats, you can make the awesome spooky forest sticks and orange candy apples (No. 2) from Stephen Brown of Glitterville. You will find the recipe in his book: Glitterville’s Handmade Halloween: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting!

These spider cupcakes (No. 4) are super cute! Decorating them is so easy that you can ask your kids to help out.

Add a few candy boxes, decorate the room, plan three or four fun activities and you are all set for a spooky forest Halloween party that the kids will remember.

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Three Sofas for Small Spaces

elise sofa at eq3

Here are three stylish sofas for Canadian city dwellers. These sofas look great and they will not overwhelmed your space.

Option 1: Elise Sofa

elise sofa at eq3
EQ3 just added Elise to its sofa collection. If you order this vintage style apartment sofa online, you will get a choice of 3 colours (taupe, charcoal and linen) and two leg types. Elise Sofa $1,199 CAD at EQ3

On a design note, I like the color accents brought by these simple solid cushions.

Option 2: Vaughn Apartment Sofa

vaughn apartment sofa at crate and barrel
My second option will also please fans of mid-century design that care for the environment. The Vaughn Apartment Sofa features a low extended back, slim track arms and an eco-friendly construction. $1,499 USD at Crate & Barrel. Check at your local store for the price in Canadian dollars.

Option 3: Cedric Loveseat

cedric loveseat at urban barn
Upholstered in a neutral soft grey fabric, my third suggestion features the tailored, masculine vibes that are in vogue this fall. Cedric Loveseat $849 CAD at Urban Barn. Your Union Jack pillows will fit well with this style.

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Duo Colour Icing Kits

two tone cake icing with Lakeland Duo Colour Icing Kit

two tone cake icing with Lakeland Duo Colour Icing Kit
photo: Duo Colour Icing Kit £4.99 at Lakeland

Decorating your cakes and cupcakes with two tone icing is made easy with this kit. Double pastry bags are attached to a specially designed coupler to deliver a control flow of two tone icing. The set comes with 6 nozzles. When you are selecting your flavours, simply remember that both icings should have the same consistency. At first, I advice that you fill the bag by alternating between the two sides to get a feel of how much icing can go into each compartment.

reusable double pastry bag set
photo: Reusable double pastry bag set $14 USD at Bakedeco.com

This would be a great cake decorating tool to have around Halloween and Christmas. Since the Lakeland Duo Colour Icing Kit is only available in UK, I  found an option in the United States. You will only need to add more piping tips to the double pastry bag set at Kerekes Bakery & Restaurant Equipment in Brooklyn, which also operates bakedeco.com. Their set only comes with a star pastry tube.

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Four Ramekins with a Dash of Color

modernize your ramekins

modernize your ramekins

Lately, I have been tired of my classic white ramekins. They work well but the style feels a little bit dated. Therefore, I start a search for more modern options. So far, I found four colourful ramekins that caught my attention. My short list reads like this:

No. 1 – My favorite is a part of the House by John Lewis collection. I love the steel color of this uncluttered ceramic ramekin. Safe up to 200°C (392°F) £3 each

No. 2 – The Rachael Ray Round Ramekins are top rated at Cooking.com. I like that they are oven safe to 500°F. They are available in many colours: orange, indigo blue, green, yellow, chocolate brown. $24.95 USD /$25.30 CAD for 4 at Cooking.com

No. 3 – Another popular model are the Bakeware Ramekins by Chantal. It looks great in lime. It also comes in apple red, indigo blue, vanilla (beige) and plain white. $19.95 USD / $20.15 CAD for 4 at Cooking.com

No. 4 – My last choice might not be as modern but it earns its place for convenience. Like the ramekins by Rachel Ray, the two-tone stoneware ramekins by Trudeau are oven safe to 500°F. $4.95 CAD at Linen Chest

I am still undecided. Therefore, I welcome your input.

FAMILY LIVING with kids

What to Do this Fall: Apple Picking

apple picking jerome

Part of my childhood memories is to go apple picking with my parents. I love apples! So for me, that was always a treat to grab it from the tree. I want to continue the tradition with my son. So, yesterday we went with a bunch of friends. We couldn’t had a better weather for an outdoor activity.

zack eats an apple
photo: my son shares my love of apples (and Apple…)

Zack was delighted by his day. He is a typical boy that loves being outside. My son enjoyed the tractor ride to get to the orchards, he was able to run between the trees, he ate apples that he picked himself and he played with the other children.

apple picking zack

We even spent some time at the nice play area for toddlers that is one of the activities for kids at Vergers Petit et Fils, located in Saint-Hilaire. I recommend the place if you have kids because there is a lot of free, fun activities for them to do.

apple tree

I brought home 4 apple varieties. Some to eat fresh, others to cook. Tonight, I plan to bake the apple crumble recipe from Jamie Oliver in ramekins.

I’m looking for more ways to cook with apples. What is you favorite apple recipe?

+ top photo: my husband harvested the apples at the top of the trees

FAMILY KIDS products

Day Care Essentials

day care essentials

Besides the obvious diapers, wipes, clothes and sunscreen tube, these are items that you may need to bring at your toddler’s day care or nursery school. A playful backpack is not really required — since I usually carry it for my 18 months old son — but I think that it adds a cute touch. In my book, the classic Croc shoes work the best for wearing inside all year long since they can be wore with or without socks.

I was glad that the day care asks for a toothbrush and toothpaste. They will teach my son how to use it. Some day cares supply the sheets for nap time while others ask that you bring your own. Both options have their pros and cons. More importantly for me is the fact to bring them a doudou. Zack likes to hold his muslin blanket while he sleeps. His must have plush is Mr. Tsé Tsé. I bought him a new one to bring at the day care because I don’t want to risk the chance of forgetting it one day. My husband called the second one, Yé Yé. So far, he doesn’t care for it. I still want to hope that he will develop some attachment towards Yé Yé.

Here are the specific items that I brought at the day care:
day care essentials

Something New: 1.  Hippo zoo backpack by Skip Hop $20 USD, 2. Kids’ Crocband II.5 $36.99 CAD, 3. Stage 1 toothbrush by Oral-B and Colgate toothpaste, 4. VITAMINER RAND 4-piece crib bedding set $14.99 CAD

Something Old: 5. Mr. Tsé Tsé beginner doll by Raplapla $44 CAD, 6. Aden + Anais Star-bright swaddle set $49.95 for pack of 4

Next week, I will tell you about labelling your toddler’s things.

EDUCATION

My Son Started Day Care This Week

ready for daycare

Almost one year ago, I pondered whether my baby should attend day care or hire a nanny. I went with the nanny for several months. He was the right call at the time. After seeing Zack played at the park all summer, I realized that Zack would benefit more by being with kids of his age. So, two weeks ago I started my search for the perfect day care / nursery school for him.

Continue Reading

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Symbol Audio’s Retro Modern, All-in-one Record Console

modern retro console symbol audio

modern retro console symbol audio
photo: Modern Record Console  

If the man in your life loves music, here is something that will please your design style and give him all the bells and whistles that he is craving for. New-York based Symbol Audio handcrafts modern audio HIFI consoles and vinyl LP storage cabinets in the tradition of fine furniture. If you like its 1950s look, start to save for his Christmas gift because I read on Core 77 that the Modern Record Console will run you about $15,000.

Symbol Audio produces three products, all designed by Blake Tovin and Matt Richmond. The Modern Record Console is an all-in-one American walnut unit that mixes the old technology with the new. You can play vinyl records or switch the selector from turntable to WiFi and stream from any digital source through the built-in wireless router and control music selections from your iPhone, iPod, iPad or computer.

lp storage cabinet by symbol audio

For LP collectors, the LP storage cabinet is available in 2 sizes storing either 320 or 640 LPs. The top can hold your turnable and audio components. Price ranges from $2,750 to $5,250.

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Hold On Egg Cup by Doreen Westphal

hold on egg cup by Doreen Westphal

hold on egg cup by Doreen Westphal

Every party benefits from a conversation piece. And you are sure to get many “Wow” with Doreen Westphal‘s Hold On Egg Cup. The egg cup is made of concrete. The shape was inspired by an egg cut in half. The most striking feature is a strategically placed magnet where to rest the spoon. Awesome!

I have no news on where you can buy it. What I know is that Hold On Egg Cup is presented at Maison & Objet in Paris this week. Hopefully, it will hit a few stores soon.

+ via MoCo Loco

ORGANIZING

How the iPhone (and other Smartphones) Keeps Bringing More Technology at Home

garage door smartphone

garage door smartphone
credits: ad by Liftmaster

Our smartphone touches more and more aspect of our life. Manufacturers use the technology to help us control appliances in our house. I already told you about how everyone in my home use their iPhone or iPad to control the music playing from our Sonos music system across my home.

We are all familiar with the connected home. A simpler idea is for the garage door. Liftmaster — which desperately needs to bring his Web site to this century — lets you open or close your garage door from anywhere with your smartphone.

Home Appliances

Samsung is not the first company you play with the idea of Internet for your fridge. Now, they are bringing the idea to the laundry room. Samsung launched the WF457 washer and dryer series that is equipped with smartphone control. What it means for me is more freedom. When you are playing in the yard with your kids and you are not sure if you select the right water temperature or you want to know if you have time to go for an ice cream cone before the end of a cycle you can check/do it from your iPhone instead of running to your laundry room. Where I see the most value is that Smart Care detects and diagnoses errors and sends an immediate alert to your smartphone. No time is wasted. I would like that my dishwasher alerts me on my smartphone when one item blocks a spray arm.

Alarm Clock Apps

winter wake-up app
credits: Winter Wake-up

There is also the alarm clock. When mine broke a few years ago, I did not replace it. Instead, I switched to the embedded alarm clock. App developers tried to improve on it. Most of them do it by integrating the weather report. Alam Clock Pro is one of the most like apps in that category.

But I want an app that can do more that tells what is the weather today. I wish for more innovative ideas. I found one with Winter Wake-up. Living in a cold climate, I plan to use it this winter. For days where the roads are icy or when it snowed all night, this alarm clock app will wake you earlier than usual to give you time to defrost your car windows or showel the snow.

I see many ways where smartphone apps can make our life easier. What about you? Have you seen a cool home tech app lately? Which apps do you use to simplify your daily chores? Which one do you wish for?

HOME + GARDEN OUTDOOR space

Sand Box by Day, Fire Pit by Night

sand box around the fire pit

sand box around the fire pit
photo: Tongue & Groove via Houzz

I have a thing for clever use of space. And since space will only continue to be at premium, I feel that the future of the entire interior design industry passes by making better use of smaller spaces.

It is more common to show a double-duty room inside a home which is why I please to have found an example done in a backyard. It feels right to use sand instead of a stone floor around the fire pit at this property next to water. Young kids can play near their parents during the day, while the parents are comfortably relaxing in the Adirondack chairs.