Monthly Archives

December 2012

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

A Black and White Tabletop for a New Year Dinner

tabletop ideas for new year eve

If you prefer a clean look to glitters for your New Year celebrations, this modern black and white tabletop concept is for you. Assemble a bouquet and pick a stylish, festive tablecloth to polish the look. You could replace the flowers with four numbers on a stick that read 2013.

1. Small drop vase at CB2

2. Iittala Artik Cutlery Serving Set at Greener Grass Design

3. Contemporary Ice Bucket at William Ashley

4. Tasting plate at Uncommon Goods

5. Champagne Glass and Top Hat Silver Centerpiece at Partycheap.com

6. Nero tableware collection at Arabia Finland

I hope this mood board gives you ideas on how to set up your New Year’s table. Have fun tonight! But first, don’t forget to check out my bubbly cocktail suggestions here and there.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

DIY Photobooth Ideas for New Year’s Eve

diy photobooth for new year

Nothing commemorate the passing to the New Year as a photobooth. You will see that it is not complicate to set up your own photobooth. Basically, you need to create a festive, photo-friendly backdrop and to supply your guests with a nice prop selection.

As a start, I suggest that you explore these three successfully executed photobooths. Take the time to read the articles/posts since they will supply you with all the tips you need to make your own photobooth for New Year’s Eve. Head first to HGTV. They produced a comprehensive DIY photobooth set up guide (top picture).

For years,  Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day! shared her photobooth projects. I really like her latest idea which uses a fringe garland as the backdrop.

big fringe garland photobooth
photo credits: Sarah Hebenstreit of Modern Kids Photography for Oh Happy Day

Lastly, the quality of your photos depends on the quality of your photographer and how comfortable your guests feels  in front of the camera.

new year's eve photobooth ideas
photo credits: studiOsnap

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Craving for a Romantic Bedroom

catalina quilt

Since our last renovation to make rooms in our house for our toddler, I didn’t pay attention to my master bedroom. Frankly, it lack style. I use the excuse that it is too small and that we don’t spend a lot of time there. Now that my son is almost 2 years old, I would like to take the time and redecorate our master bedroom. So I started to look at new bedding.

Although the Catalina quilt at Anthropologie will not suit my needs — we have two cats who enjoy sleeping on our quilt, this classical bedroom is lovely. It makes me think that I’m staying at a nice bed and breakfast hotel in the European countryside.

COCKTAILS + wine FOOD + DRINK

Sparkling Wine and Champagne Cocktails for Your New Year’s Eve Party

new year's eve bubbly cocktails

I believe in saying goodbye to the year with a bubbly beverage. If you wish to serve something else then a straight glass of Champagne, consider these 5 sparkling wine cocktails for your celebrations.

classic champagne cocktail
photo credits: 101 Champagne Cocktails book by Kim Haasarud – visit Epicurious for the Classic Champagne cocktail recipe

Negroni Sbagliato
photo credits: Negroni sbagliato recipe at Liquor.com

new year's eve bubbly cocktails
photo credits: Prosecco-Berry Sparkler recipe at Rachel Ray| Pink Fizz recipe by Lotte Duncan via Food Network

champagne punch
photo credits: Champagne Punch recipe at Martha Stewart

Lastly, there is the Watermelon and Mint Collins that I shared last August.

They all seem tasty. I will have a hard time making a selection. Which one would you prefer to drink on New Year’s Eve?

GIFT IDEAS HOLIDAY gifts

Holiday Gift Guide: For Tea Lovers and the Hostess

tea lover gift guide

I prefer drinking tea instead of coffee during the holiday season because it is easier in the stomach. In fact, it helps my digestion. I also keep a supply of herbal teas for my guests who don’t want the caffeine at night.

Here are three gift ideas for people who enjoy their cup of tea at night. First, every teapot needs its cozy. This colorful tea cozy is made of acrylic, which means that it is easy to clean.

I received free sample boxes of the winter collection by Four O’Clock from TRANS-HERBe. They come in 4 flavours: almond biscotti, banana cinnamon spice, gingerbread and truffle mint. I was delighted by the taste and became a fan of the almond biscotti. If a latte is more your style, take two bags of your favourite flavour from the winter collection and steep in 250 mL of hot milk.

As a bonus, the festive illustrations of the Four O’Clock Winter Collection given by Montréal artist Bruce Roberts will look great on your table. You can find this limited edition Winter Collection in supermarkets, gourmet food stores, natural food stores and pharmacies across Canada.

Lastly, Magisso proposes an innovative teacup for serving tea with tea leaves. I have them thanks to Magisso, who sent me a few teacups a while ago. I enjoy how they work. Each Magisso teacup comes in a nice box that makes your gift wrapping easy. The Magisso teacups are available at Amazon.com and might be available at David’s Tea.

SPONSORED POST

My Hot Cocoa and Cookie Exchange Party for Non Bakers (with free printables)

holiday hot cocoa bar

For my second holiday printable post for HP, I was inspired by the cookie exchange party set of Catch My Party. But I skipped the baking part. Instead, I integrated the concept of winter sports and the promotion of local bakers. The idea came to me because we always practice winter sports during the holiday season. It helps to be active during the day and go outside between the night feasts. For me, the beverage of choice after a winter activity is a tasty hot chocolate.

Last weekend, my husband and I went shopping for snowshoeing equipments for us, including our toddler son. Since Zack is too young for skiing or skating, snowshoeing will be our winter activity this year.  I can’t wait for his first time.

With our busy life, I did not find the time to bake cookies this year. I saw many small local bakers who sell cookie mix in a jar or ready-to-eat holiday cookies. Therefore, I devised a cocoa and cookie party where you supply the cocoa bar and your friends bring their exquisite store-bought cookies. We can then exchange what are the best places in town to buy delicious cookies.

The Making of a Hot Cocoa Bar

hot cocoa bar for a snowshoeing party
I printed the the party sign, the paper sheets, the straw flags and the party circles

You will recognize elements of my style in the way I set up my hot cocoa bar for this post. I prefer that people makes their own hot chocolate from scratch instead of making a large batch of hot chocolate. I do this because hot chocolate separates easily. My guests have access to an assortment of hot cocoa powders and chocolate chips from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. To suit all taste buds, I also give them the choice between warm milk only, hot water only or a mix of hot water and milk. It is fun because we can share or experience other hot cocoa recipes.

My favorite hot chocolate fixings are spices (cinnamon, chili, ginger, nutmeg), flavoured sugars. For the adults, I supply mint liquor and orange liquor.

Free Holiday Printables for Your Cookies and Cocoa Party

catch my party holiday cookies and cocoa printables

The Catch My Party Cookies and Cocoa and printable set includes an editable invite to an exchange cookie party, editable tented cards, straw flags, water bottle labels, party circles, party signs, patterned papers, a mini banner, a full-size banner, gift tags, recipe cards, and thank you cards. CLICK HERE to download the entire printable collection.

sponsored by HPAbout our Sponsor

This holiday season, let loved ones know how much you care. Use your favorite photos to create something personalized and unique for everyone on your list. Make it memorable. Make it meaningful. Make it matter. Go to hp.com/holiday for inspiration and ideas.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by HP via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of HP.

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Living in the Dark: Black, Grey and Brown Rooms

rugged chalet bedroom

It seems that black is back. So many black or charcoal grey wall caught my eye in UK home decor magazines over the last two months that it can not be a coincidence. Frankly, I felt in love with this amalgame of rustic, dramatic and character pieces.

If you examine them carefully, you could spot that these rooms share common design elements. For one thing, they all play on several shades of black. Browns, tans and beiges have a supporting role. Finally, they all mix lustre finishes with matte finishes. This is for the theory. Let’s have a look at successful black rooms.

Family Living Room in a Dutch Country House

Black panelling, whether it is applied vertically or horizontally, is popular. It looks right in this inviting country house. Have you noticed the double-sided sofa?

black and tan living room
photo credits: Renée Frinking for Living etc, December 2012

Rugged Chalet

This impressive one in the kind four-storey ski chalet in Val d’Isère is built from 100-year-old wood and reclaimed stone. But when you look at it, you don’t imagine that it is a new construction. The ski chalet is decorated in a simple, monochromatic scheme. The result is far from boring. It has a soothing effect that is comforting. And it must be gorgeous against the snow landscape.

rugged chalet dining room
photo credits: Wichmann + Bendtsen for Elle Decoration UK, December 2012

The white sofa brightens and brings contrast to the living room  but it doesn’t break the color palette.

rugged chalet kitchen and living room

rugged chalet bedroom

You can see that a lot of efforts have been put to decorate this house in a cohesive way. This is a case where uniformity was a good call.

Dining Room with Japanese Panelling

This dining room represents a mix of Scandinavian style with modern Japanese design. When we visited Japan in 2010, the Scandinavian influence was clear on furniture. I adored it then, and I still do.

japanese style panelling dining room
photo credits: House and Home, January 2013

Glamour Meets Industrial in a Dark Apartment

The next rooms are from the apartment of a guy. The floor plan has been reinvented to fit the owner’s lifestyle. The living room is impressive and make honour to the arched windows.

glamourous black living room
photo credits: Helenio Barbetta/Photofoyer for Elle Decoration UK, December 2012 

industrial chic black bedroom

As you can see there are many ways to invite the blacks, greys and browns into your decor. After seeing that it can be applied to any style, what do you think about these rooms? More importantly, would you dare to live in black?

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Mini Sandwich Cake Ideas

victoria sponge cakes and mini sandwich cakes

For the hostess, serving individual cakes reduces the amount of work during a party. Plus, I feel that there is an elegance to miniature cakes that is hard to beat. Apparently, there is a tin that can help you with these creations. The key factor are the straight edges of a loose base mini sandwich cake tin. It is designed to create perfectly-formed miniature Victoria sponge cakes.

A baker shared a simple trick to avoid the mushroom effect. She suggests that you make a slight dent in the centre of each mixture with a teaspoon. I’m curious to see it in action.

miniature victoria sponge cakes

Whether it is for a tea party or for your holiday baking, you will find many miniature sandwich cake recipes at Lakeland.co.uk.

photo credits: Lakeland

SPONSORED POST

The Santa Milk & Cookies Tradition at My House and Free Holiday Printables

santa milk and cookies table

Santa Claus is a holiday tradition that I cherish. It brings back sweet childhood memories that I wish to transmit to my son. My husband and I can’t wait that our son embrace Santa Claus. Like most babies, our son was scared last year when he sat on Santa’s lap. We have high hopes that our son will come to love the jolly old man in the red suit this year.

Beside reading Santa Claus stories to my son, I want to start a Santa milk and cookies tradition just for him. I can’t wait to hear him laugh as we’ll create new family memories. With all the big celebrations happening during the holiday season, it is important for me to allow some quality time with my husband and my son.

For now, I gave you a head up about the design of my Santa Milk & Cookies table on Christmas eve. The “Santa Treats” printables designed by Hostess with the Mostess were a good starting point. They inspired me to design a playful set up where lovely animals mix with old fashioned winter activities. Displaying a few toys makes that corner more inviting for Santa and for my son.

santa milk and cookies table with toys

On Christmas Eve, I will hang a small carrot bunch on one handle of his red rocking moose. Instead of reading him a book that night, we will tell him how Santa and his reindeers will enjoy our treats. He will be thrilled to help us bring the cookies, especially if he can eat one. I look forward to that night. We won’t forget to capture these precious family moments in photos.

Free Holiday Printables

The HWTM Santa Treats printable set includes party flags, party circles, 5×7″ signs, patterned papers, a “DELICIOUS” garland banner, and blank tent cards. CLICK HERE to download the entire printable set.

santa treats printables set overview

For my Santa treats table, I used one 5×7″ sign, two patterned papers, one party flag and three party circles. I printed the party circles and the party sign on cardboard and the rest is printed on a semi-glossy, high brillance 32 lbs paper. For a holiday party, I like the slight contrast in colors that you get when you mix paper types. I played the matte versus glossy angle with the baubles on the small Christmas tree.

santa milk and cookies table

Do you follow the milk and cookies for Santa tradition at your house? If yes, how do you make it special for your kids?

sponsored by HPAbout our Sponsor

This holiday season, let loved ones know how much you care. Use your favorite photos to create something personalized and unique for everyone on your list. Make it memorable. Make it meaningful. Make it matter. Go to hp.com/holiday for inspiration and ideas.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by HP via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of HP.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Holiday Baking: From Snowflake Donuts to Snowman Cake Pops

snowflake donuts

Holiday baking is as much as decorating than the actual baking. These three desserts have the look and taste to impress your guests or your kids this holiday season.

Let’s start with my favorite one. Turning the regular round donuts into a snowflake is not complicated at all. To create the pattern, make 6 shallow cuts from the edge to the center of each round with a sharp paring knife.

candy-cane marshmallows
photo credits: Lisa Hubbard for Martha Stewart

An old recipe from Martha Stewart won my heart. Her Candy-Cane Marshmallows are peppermint marshmallows that get their red swirl from a quick marbleizing technique. People who tried the recipes reported excellent results.

snowman cake pops
photo credits: Lucia Puiggros via Amy Atlas blog

Lastly, if you are still into cake pops, you may to bake these cute snowman cake pops made by Laura and Maia from All You Need is Cupcake.

+ photo credits: Chris Court for Living etc. December 2012

BABY products FAMILY

Holiday Gift Guide: What to Give to a Two-Year-Old

holiday gift guide for toddlers

This guide is made of things that my 20-month-old son already has and plays with everyday. These educational toys are sure bet for little boys and girls.

Ok, the first item is not a toy but this Woodours melamine cup was too adorable for not include it on my guide. The Woodours collection (literally “Wood-Bear”) tells the story of a Papa and Baby Bear. Papa is strong as an oak tree, but a gentle soul. Woodours combines the best of teddy-bear cuddliness with a modern flair. I not only like the design but also the story between it. I bought his Woodours cup by Ebulobo at Faon on Saint-Denis Street.

Look for the 2+ years old version of Play-Doh. Initially, I bought him a My First Crayola Super Soft Dough Shape and Create Kit that includes 8 animal shape cutters, 3 cutting tools and a dough extruder pump. The accessories are awesome but the Crayola dough dries too quickly. The Play-Doh dough is definitely easier to manipulate. Playing with dough has become one of his favorite games. He likes to play with us or by himself.

The Puzzle Duo collection by Djeco is awesome. Each box of these two-piece puzzles are designed around a theme. They teach toddlers vocabulary and notions as they develop their fine dexterity. Zack has À table!, which is no longer available. I plan to by him the Habitat set. For 3 years old, Djeco makes Puzzle Trio. Zack has also have one. Right now, he plays more with the Duo. The puzzle comes in a nice box. My son have fun emptying and putting the pieces back in the box. Available at Renaud-Bray. I bought mine at Educa-jeux at Place Ville-Marie.

My son has several packs of First Builders by Mega Bloks. Having a kit with wheels open new creations for him. The more he plays with them, the more unique and complex his structures become. Personally, I prefer the Mega Bloks to the Lego DUPLO. Both have the same educational and fun values.

We bought him a B. Meowsic Keyboard a month ago. Zack likes to sing in the microphone that amplifies his voice and makes music with the keyboard. We bought ours at PinkiBlue in Montreal.

Lastly, I must mention again his Hippo Zoo backpack. I bought it when he started daycare. The backpack plays an important part of his daily routine. He carries it with him on our way in or out of daycare. When I forgot to put it next to the car seat, I am quickly reminded that he wants to be able to touch his backpack. I prefer that he carries outside the home a backpack than his cuddly night buddy.

You probably noticed that some items are from French companies. I have no problems finding them in Montreal. I am not sure how widely available they would be in your area. Some products might be available at Amazon. Still, I shared them because of their aesthetics. You might look for similar items that are easier to buy in your area. Happy holiday shopping!