Browsing Category

URBAN Living

LIVING URBAN Living

Delightful Mondays: City Bike and a Swedish Summer House

civia loring city bikes

civia loring city bikes

Over the last couple of years, the vintage style of the Dutch (or Italian) city bike is in vogue. It’s cute and it’s true that you need a different style of bicycle to run errands and for transportation across the city. I love the aluminum racks with  bamboo panels. It used to be that we could only get these bikes from European brands. Since, a few American brands have started making vintage style utilitarian bikes.

This is the case of Civia Cycles, a Minnesota-based new comer. You can read Dottie’s review about the Civia Loring on Let’s Go Ride a Bike, a blog run by two girls.  Trisha in Nashville and Dottie in Chicago provide a women prospective in their bike reviews. They show on their blog that life on two wheels can be simple, stylish and fun. It sounds like a good match for At Home with Kim Vallee.

garden solarium in a summer house :: as seen on emmas designblog

I had to share this stylish solarium with a stunning garden view. I would like to rest, eat and on colder days, take care of my garden in that space. This is from a summer house on Gotland, Sweden’s largest island and a true summer paradise. Via Emmas designblog.

SOURCING:
+ Civia Loring from $895 – $1395 USD, photo by Let’s Go Ride a Bike
+ summer house solarium: photo by Johan Carlsson for Sköna Hem

LIVING URBAN Living

London Festival of Architecture – LFA 2010

lfa 2010 events :: love your street and open studios

event maps of the london festival of architecture 2010

If you are in London, UK from June 14th to July 4th, 2010 do not miss the London Festival of Architecture. This city-wide celebration of architecture proposes over 404 events and counting.

lfa 2010 events :: love your street and open studios

From exhibitions, installations, talks and debates, open studios, up to cycling tours and walks, including audio described tours, tours for dogs, treasure hunts and even tours on your iPhone. Love Your Street is an initiative that invite everyone to participate in cleaning and beautify the streets of London. Love Your Street brings together building and landscape professionals with local communities to pro-actively improve streets, spaces and places. I think that every city should do that.

SOURCING:
+ image of map: Abitare
+ photos: London Festival of Architecture – LFA 2010

LIVING URBAN Living

Cardigans in the City

cardigans are everywhere

cardigans are everywhere

Two things are a constant on my wardrobe: the A-line skirt and the cardigan. This year, I am lucky since they are both in vogue. I love them because they are comfy, elegant and practical. I often throw a cardigan inside my purse; ready to use when I need it.

I brought two cardigans on my trip to Japan and although I had sweaters with me, I wore my cardigans most of the time. Cardigans are lighter on your wallet than a jacket. My favorite cardigans this year come from Banana Republic, and a linen open cardigan by Naf Naf that my mother in law bought me in France.

I was inspired to share my passion for cardigans – my husband often comments than I can never go without them – after I watched Bill Cunningham’s On the Street video on the New York Times. Bill shared tips on how to wear your cardigans for spring and summer 2010. He made a nice connection with the wild irises, lilacs, buttercups, forget-me-nots and peonies that bloom in May. I love it!

SOURCING:
+ On the Street: To Button or Not on the New York Times
+ Pima cotton/cashmere classic cardigan $79.50 USD at Banana Republic

LIVING URBAN Living

Guerilla Gardening Goes Mainstream in stores and with vending machines

seed bombs available on the market

seed bombs available on the market

You could make your home made version of seed bombs, but if you are like me, you probably have no time left to do that. When I heard that Anthropologie sells seed bombs, I was pleased that at last one retailer makes it easy for every citizen to embellish their town.

DIY options

guerilla gardening guides :: make your own seed bombs

A seed bomb is basically a mixture of clay, compost, and seeds. For the do it yourself, check this video where Richard Reynolds shows how to make them at home your own seed bombs or check the tutorial on Instructables. Richard Reynolds wrote the book On Guerilla Gardening in 2008.

Vending Machine for Seed Bombs

greenaid vending machines :: repurposed candy selling machines filled with seed bombs

Then, it is funny that while I am visiting a country full of vending machines (Japan), I spotted a neat way to repurpose the old-fashioned candy selling machines. Designers Daniel Phillips and Kim Karlsrud of Common Studio imagined Greenaid as a way to educate the public and to make it easy for all of us to participate in the guerilla gardening movement. Greenaid sells these candy selling machines and the seedbombs. They will work with you to supply seeds that are suitable to your climate.

Their hope is that we will have access to the Greenaid vending machines at our local shops, at parks, at schools or other urban places. What a fun way to finance an urban garden or to raise money for a cause. I hope that Greenaid will be successful. Watch this report done by ABC where we met the designers and hear the reactions of citizens that use their machines.

SOURCING:
+ Greenaid by Common Studio
+ Seed Bombs $6 USD / $8 CAD at Anthropologie
+ On Guerilla Gardening by Richard Reynolds $17.15 USD at Amazon.com – affiliate link
+ photo (diy tutorial recipe): Lush
+ via Springwise

LIVING URBAN Living

Smoking and societies

a bar car on the New Haven line in 1968

a bar car on the New Haven line in 1968

As I read the story on the International Herald Tribute yesterday about the probable end of the bar cars on the Metro-North Railroad line that connects Manhattan to the suburbs of Connecticut, I am amazed to see the contrast with how we approach smoking in public places today. I am so glad that our attitude changed. I cannot imagine what it must have been like in 1968 riding one of those trains.

Smoking Outside is Prohibited in Japan

smoking shed at narita airport

It is interesting to see the position of Japan towards smoking. Smoking in restaurants is allowed. Many restaurants have a “no smoking” zone, like we used to have. But in many restaurants, you can smoke at any tables. To smoke outside in most of Japan, you will need to find a designated area. Most of the time, they assign an outside spot far far away from the doors as the smoking area. The most drastic way that I saw was the outside smoking shed, not bigger than a container, that sits outside the Narita airport building in Tokyo. Ten to twelve people easily fit in those. I am glad to be a non-smoker.

Returning to the bar cars, the newspaper article written by Michael M. Grynbaum talked about the design of the bar cars over the years.

MORE:
+ bar car photo: Barton Silverman for The New York Times

LIVING URBAN Living

Clever Japanese Idea: The Umbrella Cover Dispenser

umbrella locker in japan

umbrella locker in japan

They are a part of the Japanese urban landscape. I saw the umbrella cover dispenser everywhere, outside restaurants, cafes, shops and hotels. Today was a rainy, cold day, which means that I was able to see them in action. A small number of Japanese people even kept the cover and reused them when they take the train.

I do not know why we never thought about implementing a similar concept. It really comes handy for everyone: you, the shop owner and the other patrons since your clothes and the interior of the place stay dry.

Eco-Friendly Options

Another popular option is the umbrella locker where you leave your umbrella outside on a special rack. Some versions have locks to secure your umbrella while you go inside. The locked rack is frequently used by hotels to distinguish between the ones that they can borrow from the hotel and the umbrellas that belong to someone.

Watch my short video to see what it looks like.

I concluded after experiencing my first day of rain in Japan that a clear umbrella is a must in Japan. They are so many people that the transparency helps you to not bump to anyone.

Note: I share more videos and photos about my adventures in Japan on my Facebook page.

LIVING URBAN Living

Throw a Dinner Party on Earth Hour

switch off your lights on march 27 2010 at 8:30 PM for earth hour

switch off your lights on march 27 2010 at 8:30 PM for earth hour

Turn your lights off on March 27th, 2010 at 8:30 PM to show that you care about the environment. Earth Hour was created in 2007 by WWF in Australia. It did not took long for the idea to spread and to become a worldwide event.

A fun way to participate is to ask friends that live close by (so they can come by foot) to join you for a dinner made with local ingredients. Remind your friends to close their lights before they go out. Naturally, you will host a candlelight dinner. You could build a menu that does not require a lot of cooking time. For example, you could serve a local sustainable fish with a salad instead of cooked vegetables.

If you like to tweet about it, the hashtag is #EarthHour.

+ Learn how you take action for Earth Hour

LIVING URBAN Living

The Knitted Hat Campaign

knitted hat on top of a round billboard :: le lait contes reconfortants campaign

knitted hat on top of a round billboard :: le lait contes reconfortants campaign

If you visited Montreal lately, you probably noticed those cute knitted hat on top of billboards across the city. They really convey the message that milk is comforting. I like the concept. It is part of a campaign for Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec (Quebec Milk producers association)  built around knitting and storytelling.

Two night events, one in Montreal and the other in Quebec City, promise us fun activities for all the family. It will include music and storytelling in a splendid scenery.

+ photos: Kim Vallee, Le Lait Contes Reconfortants

LIVING URBAN Living

What will be Jamie Oliver’s TED Prize Wish?

jamie oliver is 2010 ted prize winner

jamie oliver is 2010 ted prize winner

I am looking forward what will be the wish of Jamie Oliver as the winner of the 2010 TED Prize. It will be revealed tonight. We will know tonight. TED partners with CNN.com to deliver a live-stream of Jamie Oliver’s speech at TED 2010. Check for it at 8:50 pm ET tonight on CNN.com.

To know more about what the TED Prize and how the wishes they granted in the past improved the world, watch this video.

+ TED Prize

LIVING URBAN Living

Zurbaines Event at Vic Park

zurbaines event at vic park westmount

zurbaines event at vic park westmount

Last Wednesday, I went to a fun event organized by Les Zurbaines in collaboration with Vic Park (also called spa Victoria Park), a zen-like, upscale gym and spa located in Westmount, Quebec. I got the pleasures to chat with my fellow bloggers and journalists in the lifestyle and fashion market.

manicure and makeup :: zurbaines event at vic park

They set up sessions for us to try the spa and salon services. They went for a make-up and a manicure. I love both. As you can see from my picture, the make up was a success. And I learned a few makeup tricks to enhance the features of my face. It was the first time I dare to go for a dark grey nail polish. I know that it has been the crave for a while but I never seem to find the time to get a manicure.

martini at the zurbaines\' vic park event

They served two signature martinis, smoothies and wine. No girl event would be completed without a Cosmopolitan. I did not taste it but I heard that the green tea martini was delicious according to my friend Line Atallah. It contains green tea, ginger, vodka, gin, green olives.

Our goodies bag include products and a 10-day trial at the gym for two. The gym is beautiful. I like the vibes of the place. I will tell you more about the gym once I experienced it.

I had so much fun mingling and participating in the activities that I forgot to take my own pictures, except for a few of the gym. This is what happen when you take the habit of bringing your own photographer at events. I selected pictures from Line Attalah and from Carrie MacPherson of Zurbaines.com to give you a peak at the night.

CREDITS:
+ photo: green tea martini by Line Atallah
+ other photos: Zurbaines

LIVING URBAN Living

Take More Time for Yourself

kim on top of ski mountain

kim on top of ski mountain

My New Year’s resolution is about living a more balanced life without diminishing my professional success. One of the advantages of being your own boss is that you can decide to modify your work schedule to fit your lifestyle. And this is exactly what my husband and I decided to do this winter.

skiing on friday

We both enjoy skiing. For years, my mother in law told us that the best ski often happens on Fridays. There is no wait at the chair lifts and the slope conditions are awesome because they are prepared for the weekend. This year, we took the plunge and bought a Friday ski pass. We will work on Sunday afternoons instead.

plenty of snow on the slopes

With all the snow that felt lately, we would be crazy not to take advantage of the natural snow. Adding luxury to your life is not only about buying expensive things. It is also about taking the time to enjoy life at its fullest. Try to take more time to do the things you love the most in 2010. With creative planning, you may be able to do it without neglecting your work and other obligations.