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LIVING URBAN Living

Urban Living: How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

cycle path in the Netherlands

cycle path in the Netherlands

This video starts with: The Netherlands has the world’s largest number of cyclists, but it is also the safest place to cycling. It says a lot about what is possible when you want to. Even if it is just to see how another nation solved an universal problem, I invite you to watch the video (below).

The suburban lifestyle is not for me. I like too much the proximity to great shops, restaurants, and museums and the creative energy  that you get in the city to settle for less. But as a new mom, I also want to live in a safe environment for my kid. I sometimes wonder how we can raise a child in the city. I was raised in a small town. Riding a bike is part of my childhood memories. I know that my son won’t be able to enjoy the same freedom than I did. Still, most North American and Canadian cities could be more family friendly.

This short documentary called “How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths?” is the perfect example that we can make our cities more pedestrian and cyclist friendly with will, proper government support and imaginative city planners. Amongst the main reasons that triggered the huge city planning change in the Netherlands was a public outrage caused by the high number of kids under 14 who died due to a bicycle accident. The protesters wanted to stop the killing of those children. And they did!

It takes a lot of courage to limit the number of parking spaces available in a city centre or to restrict the car lanes on our road. But it can be done successfully. The transition, like any transition, would be hard and painful for some. But if the people have the gut to give it a chance, they could see that new habits will take shape. In the end, I believe that it would benefit the majority. In the Netherlands, only 14 kids died from a bicycle accident in 2010. This is the best reason to change the way we design our roads. I would welcome a system that prioritizes even more the pedestrians and cyclists over cars.

SOURCING:
+ How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths video

 

LIVING URBAN Living

Umbra Handisleeve and Dandisleeve

umbra handisleeve and dandisleeve

umbra handisleeve and dandisleeve

The Handisleeve by Umbra has an handle, which means that it is easy to hold and drink from. Some textile coffee sleeves can be slippery. It won’t happen with the rubber coated Handisleeve. I see it as a must-have for when you are driving your car. It comes in blue, red, green and black.

Alan Wisniewski designed two two models: the simple Handilsleeve and the Dandisleeve (in black or pink) which shows a flower cur pattern. Both models can fit several sized of cups. You can watch what people have to say about it.

SOURCING:
+ Handisleeve by Umbra $5
+ Dandisleeve by Umbra $5

LIVING URBAN Living

2011 Food Trend: Honey

honey spoons
honey jars

Pie may be getting all the buzz, but there’s something even sweeter on food trend lists this year: honey.

Perhaps a reflection of the local food movement, beekeeping is making its mark in urban backyards. Food and Wine magazine reports the Carmel Valley Ranch in California allows guests to check on hives located all over the property, while the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto added a hive high above the city to help pollinate its rooftop garden and keep a steady stock of the hotel’s signature honey ready for chefs to use in sauces and dressings.

honey spoons

If you don’t plan to make bees a part of your backyard oasis, look for local honey in a variety of flavours at better food stores and farmer’s market. Try swapping sugar for some of honey’s natural sweetness in your everyday meals.

For hundreds of recipe ideas, check out the U.S. National Honey Board.

SOURCING:
+ Homemade Honey article from Food and Wine
+ Urban Beekeeping from House and Home
+ U.S. National Honey Board

LIVING URBAN Living

Body Care during Pregnancy | Getting Ready for the Baby

clarins skin spa treatments

clarins skin spa treatments

I have to confess that I spend a lot of money on beauty products. I don’t usually write about it because I am faithful to the brands I use. I learned over the years which products work best for my skin. Plus, the skin on my face does not like changes.

Body and Beauty Care

Being pregnant meant that I added a few steps to my usual routine. I started to apply a cream to prevent stretch marks at the end of my first semester. I put Stretch Mark Prevention by Elancyl twice a day on my belly and hips, plus three drops of Clarins’ Bust Beauty Firming Lotion in the morning. Both are easy to apply and, so far, I show no sign on stretch marks.

Another key element of my beauty routine is to indulge with a Future Mother treatment at Clarins Skin Spa every 3 weeks. I am either too busy or too lazy to exfoliate my body. And let’s face it, it becomes harder to do it myself with my basketball belly. Therefore, I get a body exfoliation every 3 weeks as the first step of the Future Mother treatment. I leave from my treatment with softer skin that is well hydrated with creams and toning oil. It is also a period where I can relax and rest from my busy life. I take advantage of their 3 treatments for the price of 2.

Nutrition

Besides that, I make sure that I eat well during my pregnancy. The best way to make sure to meet your needs for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients is to eat aliments four food groups every day. I weigh myself between my monthly doctor appointments to see if I am on the right track. The hardest part was to make sure I drink 3 to 4 glasses of milk every day. But now, I am used to it. I usually keep 2 glasses of milk for just before going to sleep. This way, I am not as hungry when I woke up.

Exercises

Pregnant women are encouraged to exercise. Walking and swimming remain the best activities but frankly, you can continue to practice your favorite sport as long as it is not an extreme sport. Simply be careful that your heart rate does not rise over 140, since you baby heart rate is higher than yours. I started to exercise with the Kinect for the Xbox and love it. I felt that my body works more with Your Shape Fitness Evolved than with the Wii Fit. Once our house is back to normal, I will try to make it a part of my daily routine.

Except for the last 3-4 weeks, I sleep a lot more than usual. Getting enough sleep helps you stay healthy and calm. All these elements contribute to my well-being. It is important to take care of yourself, whether you are pregnant or not. As the New Year is less than a month away, think about how you can improve your body care.

SOURCING:
+ Clarins Skin Spa Ambiance in Montreal

LIVING URBAN Living

Recognizing the Need for Urban Garden Centers

city garden center :: urban green in amsterdam

city garden center :: urban green in amsterdam

It’s about time that retailers start to meet the needs of urban gardeners. Most city dwellers have access to a small backyard or just a terrace. The presence of taller buildings means that shades is more common in the front yard or back yard. You get the wind factor and pollution to take into account. If you add that many urban residents do not own a car, driving miles to go to a large garden center can be complicated.

dark terrace :: urban green

Urban Green launched a garden center right at the center of Amsterdam, near the famous Vondelpark. It carries a vast collection of light containers, small bushes and plants adapted to urban living.

Having easy access to retail places should encourage people to plant in their garden other things than the flowers they can buy at the city Farmer’s markets. Let’s hope this initiative will reach this side of the Atlantic in a near future. Diversity must also be integrated in our city gardens.

SOURCING:
+ Urban Green – in Dutch only

LIVING URBAN Living

Opera de Montreal at the Farmers’ Market

opera de montreal at jean-talon market

opera de montreal at jean-talon market

Opéra de Montréal found a great way to reach ordinary people this weekend. Four singers from Opéra de Montréal and the Atelier lyrique were placed amid the merchants and stalls at Jean-Talon Market. By being incognito, they surprised patrons as they cheerfully began singing popular opera excerpts. It seems fun.

The crowd participated when they sang the Brindisi (often referred as the drinking song) from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi. Another magical moment is at the end of the video when Étienne Dupuis sang the Toreador song from Carmen by Bizet. Selecting popular opera songs made the promotional event really accessible and enjoyable for everyone. I wish I had been there. Get a feel of the mood by watching this video.

Also during Les Journées de la Culture, you will be able to see the sets of costumes of the Opéra de Montréal Saturday, September 25th, 2010. The next day, singers of the Atelier lyrique will sing Borduas at the Musée d’Art Contemporain.

SOURCING:
+ Opéra de Montréal

LIVING URBAN Living

The Cutest Dog and Cat Tags Can Help You Find Your Lost Pet

blanket ID tags for dogs and cats

blanket ID tags for dogs and cats

Losing a pet is devastating for all members of a family. This is why it’s important to provide a way to find your pet if he gets lost.

Blanket Online ID probably made the cutest animal tags I ever saw. But this BC-based company does more than that. Each tag identities your pet with a unique ID code. And with their networks in Canada and the United States, they can help you find or reunite a lost pet. Amongst the services offered by blanketID is the possibility to print a a ‘Lost Pet’ poster directly from your member account.

blanketID tag in Butterfly green pattern

Not Just a Tag

A year membership comes with every purchase of a tag. You register your tag and fill out your contact information, including multiple phone numbers, and the description of your pet. You can even write down any medical conditions and allergies.

In the event your pet gets lost, you simply report your pet missing via their Web site and blanketID.com automatically sends a broadcast email to local SPCA, animal hospitals, shelters, other local blanketID members. The email links to your online information so that everybody has 24/7 access to a full description and photos to help identify your lost pet.

blanket ID dog and cat tag collection

What is handy is that you do not need to replace the tag when you move since you keep your contact information online. I only wish that you can write down the name of your pet on the tag.

One more thing

If your pet goes outside, make sure to affix the proof of rage vaccination tag that your veterinarian gives you annually when you go for their routine checkup. It can save you troubles in certain situations.

SOURCING:
+ Dog and Cat tag $24.99 CAD

LIVING URBAN Living

Delightful Mondays | Sunflowers at the Farmers Market

sunflowers at the farmers market

sunflowers at the farmers market

Last Friday, I had lunch at the Copley Square Farmers Market in Boston. It’s a great place for an impromptu picnic. Gorgeous sunflowers were everywhere.

sunflowers

It was fun to see the diversity of the species. I wish that I carried with me my good camera to make better pictures.

sunflowers

At home, you can display them in tall glass flower vase. Neatly gather them with a Silver Aluminum Florist Wire to bring a modern flair to your simple arrangements.

sunflowers in tall glass vases

LIVING URBAN Living

Health Benefits of Living with Cats and Dogs

living with cats and dogs

living with cats and dogs

I read on WebMB, 27 reasons why, on average, pet owners are more healthy and live longer. There are the obvious health benefit of walking the dog every day. In general, the calming effect of interacting with your pets play a major role in lowering your blood pressure and improving your mood. I can vouched for the sense of well-being that comes from observing our pets since I live with two lovely cats.

Pets and Young Children

Many new parents are afraid to live with a cat or dog when their child is born. I believe that this is a mistake. Many pediatricians will confirm that a baby raises in a house with two cats and a dog will develop a stronger immune system. It’s during our early years that our body learns to distinguish between good versus bad bacteria. Being exposed to cats and dogs teaches the body that these bacteria are not harmful. As long as you select pets that are kid friendly, I think that living with pets is safe for babies and young kids.

One health benefit is that kids who live with pets tend to have less allergies. Other researches where done on young children at risk of developing asthma. They found that, except for kids from mothers who are allergic to cats, children were significantly less likely to develop asthma as they got older if they live with a cat.

Dogs Help in Many Ways

Dogs are trained to perform many tasks to ease the life and improve the health conditions of patients. This sounds strange but apparently one in three dogs living with people with diabetes will alert them when the person experience a sudden drop in the level of blood glucose. What they think happens is that certain dogs can detect the chemical changes in the body through a scent that gives off when we have a drop of blood glucose. If that is true, you can really say that dogs are man’s best friend. But I still prefer living with cats.

You can read the rest and get more details at WebMD. Do you live with pets? Do you think they improve your life?

+ photo: WebMD

LIVING URBAN Living

Delightful Mondays | Pictures from the Farmers Market

yellow carrots at the farmers market

yellow carrots at the farmers market

Today for my Delightful Mondays I simply wish to share some pictures I took this weekend at the Farmers market. It is such a treat to eat fresh, local produce. I hope that you are taking the time to visit your Farmers market at least once a week.

radish at the farmers market

Another advantage of the Farmers Market is that you find fruit and vegetable varieties that you cannot find at the grocery store.

french breakfast radish at the farmers market

I discovered the French Breakfast radish, an elongated radish with a white splash at the root end. They are milder than the regular radishes. I like it! You have to eat them quickly since they won’t stay fresh as long as the regular kind. When I arrive home, I cut their ends, put them in a jar of cold water, and store them in the fridge.

tomato varieties at the farmers market

I made a tasty tomato, cucumber, green onion, radish, and buffalo mozzarella salad tonight. The dressing was simply 1.5 tablespoons of white vinegar, 4 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I seasoned the dressing with parsley, fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper. The taste was refreshing. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture.

LIVING URBAN Living

Not Far from a Tree Harvests Fruits in Toronto

nor far from a tree fruit picking in Toronto

nor far from a tree fruit picking in Toronto

Not Far from a Tree is a worthy initiative that is in operation for the third summer in Toronto. Founder and director Laura Reinsborough was tired to walk by fruit trees filled with unpicked fruits that have been left to rot on the tree or to look at rotten fruits below the tree. She decided to do something about it and founded Not Far from a Tree to eliminate that waste.

Let’s face it many homeowners are too busy or may be too old to pick the fruits themselves. Others may just harvest what they eat. She created a residential fruit-picking program where volunteers harvest the crop of fruit trees across the city. There are a lot more fruit trees that we can think. In 2009, they harvested 8,135 pounds of fruits!

How the crop is distributed?

One third goes to the fruit tree owners, another third goes to the volunteers for their labour, and the last third is given to local community organizations. It’s a win win situation for everyone. This is a brilliant idea than could lead to many franchises.

SOURCING:
+ photo: Not Far from a Tree