Browsing Category

OUTDOOR entertaining


Organic Blanket and Throw by Heather Heron

hand knotted beach blanket from environment by heather heron

hand knotted beach blanket from environment by heather heron

Canadian-born, LA-based designer Heather Heron proposes exquisite blankets that will sustain a day or night at the beach. Developed with the surf culture in mind, her Environment by Heather Heron collection is luxurious in look and feel.

organic Fringe Throw :: environment by heather heron - lifestyle collection

You want to to snuggle under her organic throw and blanket. The Fringe Throw is made from organic hemp and flax woven together to create this beautiful homespun pinwheel pattern. The Hand Knotted Beach Blanket revives an age-old craft of hand knotting that is rarely done these days in the United States. They are not cheap but with proper care, they can last a lifetime.

About the Collection

She collaborated with Environment Furniture to produce her lifestyle collection. Heather described it in those words:

I designed a collection for Environment Furniture to celebrate the art of living … spirit filled, minimal + adventurous … whether it’s island living or city living …

Heather Heron stayed true to her signature materiel, hemp. She specializes in handcrafted bags and scarfs made with organic hemp textiles, reclaimed vintage U.S. Military textiles, surplus Japanese denim. The products of Environment collection are handcrafted in California.

Her lifestyle collection is available at Provide in Vancouver and at her online store.

+ Organic Fringe Throw $295
+ Hand Knotted Beach Blanket $395


How the Sweet Cake Tub Comes in Handy

sweetcake tub by beerd van stokkum

sweetcake tub by beerd van stokkum

I like the concept for a party; especially for a garden party, a baby shower or a kid birthday. It makes a festive ice bucket to keep cold the bottles of water, soda, lemonade, beer and wine. The Sweet Cake tub is a little bit pricey but you will be able to reuse it for many tasks. If you are hosting a family-friendly BBQ, use it as a sandbox for toddlers.

Beerd van Stokkum is a Dutch product designer and spatial designer. His products are often cheerful, like many design products from the Netherlands. In 2008, he got the idea to make a blown up cupcake bucket that can be used as a flower pot, a baby bath, a sandbox or a basket for your dog or cat.

multi-purpose sweet cake tub by beerd van stokkum in an array of colors

Sweet Case comes in 11 bright colors. Made of thick polyethylene, it can be used indoor and outdoor. For easier cleaning, I suggest a sponge, soap and hot water. The sponge should cover each groove in one step.

I found the US distributor, who sadly for him (and us) does not publish a list of US retailers.

+ Sweet Case Tub £149 at Beerd van Stokkum
+ List of retailers for the Sweet Cake tub – mostly from Europe


Stylish Tiffins, Bowls, Cups and Trays for your Picnics

Lolita handpainted tiffin box by Nkuku

Lolita handpainted tiffin box by Nkuku

Carrying a tiffin box for a picnic, a camping trip or to use as a lunch box adds style to a functional item. The British Indian equivalent of the Japanese bento boxes enables you to carry the food neatly. Plus, the compartments act as serving bowls. Each tiffin is made up of four compartments and includes four metal plates.

Hand-painted bowls by nkuku available in two patterns lolita and eva

This metal collection is hand painted by artisans from Kashmir who works from their own homes. I kind of prefer the look of Lolita for the tiffin boxes but both are beautiful. But I would select the Eva bowls and cups. The Lolita and Eva collections also include jars and trays.

eva hand-painted tiffin box by nkuku

Unfortunately the tiffins are out of stock at Nkuku until May 10th, 2010. If you are interested, the distributor Nkuku runs an online store that ships internationally. Nkuku is located in UK. These products are also available at selected retailers but I can’t find a list. I spot them at Not on a High Street.

lolita trays and eva cups by nkuku

+ Eva Hand-painted Tiffin by Nkuku £64.95
+ Lolita and Eva bowl £5.95
+ Eva hand-painted cup £5.95
+ Lolita Trays £22.95
+ via Poppytalk


Ideas to Steal from a Modern Rustic Napa Valley Wedding

napa valley wedding tabletop and distressed wood votive lights chandelier

napa valley wedding tabletop and distressed wood candlelight chandelier

They are plenty of details that you could recycle from this real wedding featured on Style Me Pretty. For one, I love the distressed wood candlelight chandelier. The concept will also work for an outdoor party by hanging the chandelier on a big tree. Plus, it is something that you can build yourself. Make sure to use small pillar candles instead of votive lights. You do not wish to replace them during dinner.

The Tabletop

details of a modern rustic tabletop

Take clues from the way they set the table for an Easter brunch party or a Mother’s Day chic picnic. The restricted color scheme means that you can mix and match paired down tableware. As you can see, every day tableware can create an elegant tabletop. It is all in the way you display it and how you will enhance the look with your centerpieces.

Think about the Comfort of Your Guests

making seats on the lawn

Whenever you do an outdoor party, think about ways to let your guests sit comfortably on the lawn. Put a futon mattress on the lawn with plenty of pillows for the guest(s) of honor. Transform little kid stools into side tables or use trays to get a place to set down your glass of wine. You could use big square blankets, towels or sheets. Select a place big enough for people to gather in smaller groups, if they wish to. Close proximity encourages the flow of conversation.

+ See all of the wedding images on Style Me Pretty


Weekend Picnic Inspired by Roland Bello

picnic in the forest pictures by roland bello

It is unusual to bring flea market furniture and old TV sets in a wild forest for a picnic. This is part of the charm. Do not be afraid to put objects in an unexpected context. It can be as simple as that to spice up a party theme. These fabulous pictures were taken by photographer Roland Bello. You can see more inspiring food and lifestyle pictures on his Web site.

+ photos by Roland Bello
+ via English Muse


Outdoor Entertaining Ideas by Martha Stewart

martha stewart\'s outdoor entertaining ideas

I succumbed to the charms of these photos. It is a fact that the team of stylists at Martha Stewart often make us dream. Here why these photos are my favorite ideas of the moment.

+ Eating s’mores around a campfire is a treat. In case you were not aware of this tradition, the basic campfire s’mores recipe has been popularized by the Girl Scouts. It called for two pieces of chocolate bars sandwiched between two graham crackers. You toast the marshmallows and place it on the chocolate in order for the chocolate to melt. I find that it is simpler to spread Nutella and its adds the hazelnut taste. Martha found a way to make the process more stylish by making Star-topped s’more sticks.

+ I like the simplicity of the wild flower centerpieces. Plus learn how to make these Message-in-a-Bottle Place Cards. Go for flat surface bottles since they safer than using round glass bottles. Square bottles are not too hard to find.

+ How to illuminate your outdoor table can be challenge. The LED lights do not always works and they require batteries. Instead, you can built on the look of a chandelier by hanging a dozen heat resistant glass jars and votive holders from your umbrella. Be careful to position them so that your guests will not hit them with their head. Create a sense of movement by alternating the heights of each do-it-yourself lanterns. You will need chains and S hooks to create this project.

+ The Origami Picnic Basket is a space saver. Through a clever folding technique you will transform a five-foot square of oilcloth into a basket strong enough to carry your food and drinks from the car to the picnic spot. Make sure to use an oilcloth, not a regular fabric.


Menu for an End of Summer Party

end-of-summer get together easy menu

This menu is so quick to make that you still have time to serve this meal tonight to your family. To get the full effect of the charming sight created by this old table, you can postpone it for the closing party at the cottage.  When I saw this delightful scene, it reminded me of the South of France.

Because the temperature is colder and let’s face it, closing the cottage requires time, planning a simpler menu seem to be in order. I selected dishes that required minimum cooking and preparation.

Anyone can cook an assortment of sausages on the barbecue. Devise a meal on a theme by assembling a platter of cured meats and salami for appetizers. Pay attention to the condiments to make it more special. Get several types of mustard. To play on textures, it is important to add crush with salads and pickled vegetables. Drinks are straight-forward since this menu called for European beers and red wines. Also provide one non alcoholic drink besides water.

You can made little bouquet with an assortment of fresh herbs from your own garden or wild flowers from your land. Tie each bouquet in with a simple string. Insert the end in a small plastic bag filled with a little bit of water and tie at the top. Then, you put the bouquet is a tall Mason jar with a gift tag. Voilà!

+ Salami Sampler at Dean & DeLuca $40 USD
+ Grilling Sausage Set $25 for 12
+ Dean and DeLuca Chile Dijon Mustard $6 USD
+ Dean and DeLuca Sweet Cucumber Pickles $9 USD
+ Walnut Harvest dinner scene by Cooking Light – photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner


Silk Lanterns Elevate the Garden Party

silk lanterns for garden weddings by flite

Inspired by the fabulous work of LA-based event design Flite, I examined how to best use silk lanterns in a garden party to get a stunning effect. It starts with the superb Vietnamese silk lanterns, which are a lot more sophisticated than Chinese paper lanterns.

silk lanterns garden wedding in violets by flite

When you are hanging lanterns, mix the shapes and alternate colors. Pumpkin, diamond, teardrop, balloon, cocoon shapes work well together. I encourage you to mix solids and patterns within a hue family. A two-color palette is more elegant. For the garden wedding in violets, you can broaden the scheme by adding a few pink lanterns. I think this installation was really successful.

Since you will need a large number of lanterns to make a statement, it is often best to rent them. Plus, they will do the installation for you, including doing the wiring if your party continues after dark. An event design studio with a remarkable portfolio is Flite located in Los Angeles, California. Looking at their portfolio is a treat.

complementing shapes and tones lanterns

If you wish to do it yourself, you can find sources online. Vi Gallery sells 4 shapes of Hoi An Silk Lanterns in two sizes (medium $20 USD large $30 USD) in an array of colors. For a larger selection, check Asia2you, a retailer based in Wisconsin that ships everywhere. This is where I found these beautiful parasol lanterns.

hoi silk lanterns

+ Silk Lanterns by Flite – Photo credits for my first collage: top left photo by Cat Gwynn and Ben Hoffman, top right photo by Louis Felix, second row photos by Mark Carolin
+ Orange pattern prosperity lantern on sale at $33.95 USD
+ Solid Orange prosperity lantern on sale at $31.15 USD


Elegant Dîner en Blanc Party in Montreal

montreal\'s white dinner 2009

On August 20th, 2009, there was an outstanding picnic party in Montreal. The Dîner en blanc (White Dinner) was imagined by François Pasquier 20 years ago. He ran 20 editions so far in Paris. His son Aymeric, who now lives in Montreal, organized the first edition in Montreal. A bid crowd invaded a large place in the city that is kept secret until the last minute. The goal is simply to pass a good time around a good meal in an unusual urban place.

For this chic affair, guests bring their picnic with a or two bottles of wine. In France, many people bring Champagne. Everyone must wear white clothes and people should dress up. If you own a gorgeous white hat, you should wear it. Besides the guests, the tables and chairs are all white.

montreal\'s white dinner 2009 :: Dîner en Blanc

Dîner en blanc encourages people to bring white china and to carry their food and drinks in a white basket or bag. Do not forget to bring your wine glasses, white linen napkins and a few tea votive candles for candlelight dining.

I love the concept because it is an elegant party where everybody pitched in. This is a true experience. Everyone that went was thrilled. As I discovered how they organized this large-scale picnic, I thought you could recycle the concept for a big outdoor reunion.

Set Up the Tables and Chairs

A bus brought the guests to the location. This process ensures a steady flow of people, which is key to the set up of the tables and chairs. In France, people bring their own chairs and tables. In Montreal, they were supplied.

The guests reserved as a twosome formed by a man and a woman. This is because the event design implies that you need to be accompanied by someone from the other gender.

Every pair/couple gets a specific place (row and number in the row). Each twosome received an overall floor plan to locate their row and a detailed plan of their section. Then, an orchestrated ballet started. Men picked their folding table and 2 chairs. Women grabbed the white tablecloth. You eyeball the location of your table in the row and as your table neighbors arrive you move to the right or to the left until the long communal table is built. It sounds complicated but it is not. 1200 guests were ready to sit down in less than 20 minutes last week.

All the men sit on one side while the women sit on the other side. The event design is based on symmetry. It is beautiful to see the alternating rows of people all dressed in white.

Fancy Food

The food that people bring is fancier than at a typical park picnic. If you do not wish to make it yourself, you can always ask a caterer to prepare the food for you. This way, it is already package to be carried around. With picnic basket on wheels, you can go the extra miles. I saw a Parisian couple who brought their cast-iron fondue pot to eat a cheese fondue.

Like I said, everyone that went to Montreal 2009 White Dinner had a fabulous time. I think that recycling their concept for your party in a park would be a hit. Watch this TV report from Radio-Canada about the first Dîner en blanc that happened in Montreal. Even if it is in French, just watching the images would give you a good idea of the event.

+ Images from the Facebook group of the Montreal’s Dîner en blanc
+ Montreal’s Dîner en blanc


Cool Ideas for a Summer Party on Design*Sponge

cool ideas for summer party :: diy tiki torch :: rhubard and strawberry compote :: cucumber snacks

Montreal, like the rest of the North East region, is in a heat wave right now. We welcome the chance to eat outside at night. I started a search for cool ideas to enjoy the summertime. I found on design*sponge a few ideas to make your party a success.

+ To hang out outside all night, you can make your own lantern. Erik Anderson taught us how to turn a wine bottle into a modern backyard tiki torch.

+ Brooklyn-based photographer Tara Donne made a Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote that she served with Aged Balsamic and Ricotta. It looks delicious.

+ From Buenos Aires, Eliza Jane Curtis prepared fresh appetizers by replacing the typical bread or biscuits by a cucumber. Get her recipes of Boursin filling, hummus and more tasty combinations. Eliza created height on her buffet simply by raising a plate with a cafe au lait bowl.


Summer and Fall Tablescapes at Lexington

lexington fall dinnerware and tablescapes

Two classic looks to celebrate the end of summer. Get inspired by these tables dressed by Lexington for the last weekends by the lake at the summer cottage. The fall living table is a mix and match of formal and casual tableware. It is OK to bend the rules to create something unexpected. For an outdoor dinner, do like the French people do all the time and ignore the bread plate, even on a formal dinner table.

lexington summer dinnerware

If you cannot go of the summer,  you can still use items from the summer catalog. I like the thermal vacuum bottle but I do not know where to find it. Beware that, as far as I know, many of the items are props used by the stylist.

+ Lexington