Browsing Category

URBAN Living


I want my Wii Fit Plus

wii fit plus by nintendo

wii fit plus by nintendo

Like everyone’s else at this time of the year, I want to exercise more in 2010. Going to the gym does not fit my schedule. I used to do a small wake-up my body yoga routine every morning followed 3 times a week by a longer yoga session. Then, I add a Wii Fit session to my “get in shape for ski”  routine. For the last 6 months, I stopped all that.

Living a More Balanced and Organized Life is my New Year’s resolution. To be true to my resolution, I will reintegrate a training session as an essential part of my daily activities.

I was curious to see what is new with Wii Fit. They are a few new exercises but the feature I like the most is that I can build my own training routine in Wii Fit Plus. I will get the new version. I will tell you if it is worth it. As I watched the Wii Fit Plus Info video, I felt inspired by the loft interior.

What I like about the Wii Fit is that it can be used by all members of the family.

+ photos: Wii Fit by Nintendo


Yakkay Brings Fashion to the Bicycle Helmets

fashionable bicycle helmet by yakkay

fashionable bicycle helmet by yakkay

As more and more people use their bike for their every day transportation needs, it is about time that a company provides a cute cycle helmet. Sport gears are designed for guys. They may be built for performance but they fail miserably when it comes to fashion style. Since wearing a cycle helmet became a must for our safety, I settled for the unattractive option. I will not anymore.

Yakkay is a Danish company who mixed style to safety in designing the coolest bicycle helmet ever for the urban boys and girls. They produced a naked helmet shell on which you add a cover. You can buy more cover to complement your outfits. Yakkay proposes an assortment of warm fabrics for cold weather and lighter fabrics for hot weather.

Next spring, I will check their range. I want to look fashionable when I ride my bicycle. You can order the Yakkay helmets and covers from 50cycles, a UK retailer who ships worldwide.

The helmet fully meets the European CE standard (EN 1078), which is more stringent than the CPSP that is commonly used in the USA. I based that on the fact that the snell of the EN 1078 must be validated externally while it is self-regulated by the manufacturers in the United States.

+ Yakkay helmet with cover £90 which is $145 each, extra cover £35 / $57 each
+ photos: Yakkay
+ via: Inhabitat


Volvo is Testing a Pedestrian Detection System

volvo pedestrian detection safety system

If you are a regular reader, you might remember that I believe that cities should be developed around pedestrians not cars. I walk a lot. I do own a car but I do not use it for short trips in the city. Finding a parking on busy streets generates unnecessary stress that I prefer to avoid. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I care a lot about pedestrian security on the streets. This is why I am talking about cars today.

Regardless of who is at fault, the key factor is to avoid a car-pedestrian collision. Does technology could offer us some assistance? Volvo thinks so. Volvo is working on a Pedestrian Detection system that will alert you when there is a pedestrian or a cyclist in front of you that you could hit. If you do not take proper action, emergency braking will be activated. I do not know how they factor in that there might be a car that follows you. This is complex stuff for which it is capital to see if it works in the real traffic situations. So, to refine their system, Volvo sent two safety experts on a week-long test on the roads of Copenhagen.

The fact that car makers are starting to consider pedestrian safety is a wonderful step. There are many situations were this could be useful. But as you can see from the image I selected from the video (see at the top), both pedestrians and drivers must learn to better share the roads at intersections to avoid more accidents. Technology cannot replace good judgement. Watch this video to know more about the aim behind the Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection system.


Career Success Can Be Measured in Many Ways

kim vallee on board the uss constitution

As I was reading several articles on the NY Times about the gain of women in the workplace, it reminded me how far my career goals changed over the year. I believe that it is because I grow as a person. At university, I dreamt of being the chairman of a large corporation. I am still as ambitious today except that my priorities changed. I measure success differently.

After working for three awesome actuarial firms over a 7-year period, it was clear that I did not enjoy that type of work. It took me some time to have the guts to go after my true passion. But I am so happy that I did. I am proud of being my own boss, to call the shots and to make daily decisions that impact the success of my brand.

Running a small business is a lot of work. My parents were two successful business owners. Their influence may explain why I prefer working hard to build my business instead of working for someone else. If I wanted to, I could get a job at a large corporation with a big pay check. But each time I get an offer, a glance at the job description reminds me that their managerial structure is not for me. A director passes most of their time planning and administrating things. I like to create.

It is a Question of Lifestyle

I am often asked why I run my blog instead of writing for a magazine. First, there is freedom. I choose what to put on own editorial. Then, there is the timing of the story. On a blog, you write about what it is happening right now. Plus, I enjoy the direct contact with the readers, the free exchange of information.

But really, the most important factor is that being the editor on my own women magazine enables me to get the lifestyle I want. I can travel where and whenever I want to and still be working as long as I get an Internet connection. I am building my own media. Any serious blogger is. Some blogs have become major media platforms, food bloggers published cookbooks while others opened their retail shops. Blogging provides us opportunities to make a living following our passions.

We are at a time where business models are challenged. New successful models will emerge as we continue to experiment and explore new ways to do business. Maybe it is time that we update success to be more than being at the top of the corporate ladder. I know that I changed my tune when I realized that happiness has to be part of the formula.

+ The Mismeasure of Women written by Joanne Lipman in NY Times
+ When We’re Equal, We’ll be Happy written by Judith Warner – Domestic Disturbances column
+ photo was taken when visiting the USS Constitution in August 2009


Urban Nomadism Calls for Multifunctional Buildings | Blog Action Day 2009

urban digital nomadism :: climate change for blog action day 2009

I read on the book Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel how new technology will shape the way we think about building in the 21st century. It is not Mitch who made that prediction. It is an affirmation made by William Mitchell, a professor of architecture and computer science at MIT. This is how my topic for my post on Climate Change for Blog Action Day 2009 was born.

I wrote several posts over the years about the need for walking city planning. I think it is the best way to live is to not have to use the car every day. I see a glimpse of hope due to the Web and smart phones. Digital technology means that many people can work from everywhere as long as they can be connected to the Web. As we get more and more access to wireless connections, Voice Over IP and other means to be connected, we are not restricted to our desk anymore.

Inspired by the Village

The main appeal of the European cities is that they were constructed before the industrial revolution. This means that they were built with human scale in mind. Having shops, restaurants and residences nicely integrated in a neighborhood builds a sense of community. We already seen the revival of  abandoned neighborhoods built around multi-functional buildings.

Coworking spaces, which are offices to go to for consultants, developers and telecommuters that come complete with printers, high-speed internet access, conference rooms and community, flourish across North America. We have Station C in Montreal and Office Nomads in Seattle. They are hiccups like the closure of Workspace in Vancouver. This is normal since it involves a different way to do business. Still, the concept behind the community office makes a lot of sense for many people.

Looking at the Future

What do it has to do with taking about Climate Change. Everything! Sharing spaces or using them for double duty reduces our footprint in so many ways.

We have to reexamine how buildings are built in light of what the future will bring. They might not need to serve only one function: housing, work, entertaining. If we can work from everywhere, it changes our commute habits. If we share offices, it reduces the number of office buildings we need to serve everyone. I do not have the solution, but we must envision our actions with how we will live in the future instead of only considering how we live now.

I encourage you to read the last three sections of my post about Imprinting a new North American lifestyle and to check City Guides and European City Life post.

+ photos: Station C, Kim Vallee (with my iphone), Bixi


City Guides and European City Life

Sometimes I like to give me little posting challenge. This time, I wanted to showcase two blogs seen with each having two posts related to city living. It seems like a good follow-up story to my previous post about PARK(ing) Day.

Haus Maus

life in hanover on haus maus

As you may know, Holly  of Decor8 writes a second blog where she talks about her new life in Hanover. In Haus Maus, she chronicles little differences like this communal bookcase. People donate the books. If you take one, you need to replace it by another book. I like this idea.

On another post, Holly talked about the fact that people often travel in bicycle instead of taking the car. Sure that the narrow streets of Europe make driving cumbersome, but it is more than that. I envy them.


city guides on design*sponge

In fact, the idea of this post starts when I saw the Arbour Wall picture in Brisbane earlier today. You will find 72 city guides on Design*Sponge. The pictures are from the:

If you plan a visit to one of the covered cities, they are a must to read since each guide is written by a resident.


PARK(ing) Day is September 18th, 2009

photos of previous PARK(ing) day events

PARK(ing) Day is an annual, one-day global event where artists, activists and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into public parks or installations.

The idea started in 2005 when REBAR, a San Francisco art and design studio, challenges people to rethink the way streets are used. They wish to reinforce the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure.

As someone who walks everywhere I can instead of taking my car, I share their feeling. Urban planners and developers should put priority on pedestrians and imagine cities where we can walk more instead of driving. Walking is good for your mind and your body. You feel more relaxed when you walk than when you drive in traffic.

Popularity of PARK(ing) Day

PARK(ing) day :: installations done in previous editions

PARK(ing) Day happened in several cities across the globe. In 2008, 500 PARK installations were done in 100 cities spread in 4 continents. People created picnic places, meeting places, gardening exhibits, kid pool areas, temporary library up to a free health clinic.

All installations must be a non-commercial plus the organizers of every local event must respect a set of rules. If you see the above poster Friday, you will know what it stands for.

park(ing) day poster

Transforming a PARK(ing) spot for a day is not risk-free

Organizing an event like that can be tricky due to parking laws. It is best to obtain a permit from the city first if you wish to participate. Read what happened last year when a Forest Hill gallery put Muskoka chairs on a grassy floor and serve free lemonade on a parking spot on Spadina Street, Toronto.

+ Photos via the PARK(ing) Day community


Commute in Style with a Wood Bike by Renovo

Renovo Bamboo Commuter bike

These wood bikes are absolutely gorgeous. They are pieces of craftsmanship that you should enjoy riding for the long time. They have panache.

The Pandurban is a fully equipped, four season commuter. It will make the envy of your co-workers with these features:

  • Shift the 9 speed SRAM hub with a simple twist of the wrist, even when stopped.
  • All-weather disc brakes and fenders
  • The lights works with a generator. This means that you won’t change the batteries. Both front and rear lights remain on several minutes after you stop.
  • Heavy duty, powder-coated steel fork laughs at nasty urban pot-holes.
  • A super sturdy rack carries the gear you need for a day or a week.
  • Michelin 700-32c puncture-resistant City tires with reflector sidewall.

If you wish for a simpler bike. The Bambooter Commuter is a 3 speed bike that offers the same smooth ride as the Pandurban.

Why Would You Want a Wood Frame?

Besides their beauty, there are other reasons to select a wood frame bike. First, producing a wood bike frame creates less damage to the environment than building a carbon, an aluminum or a steel bike frame.

Renovo R4 Pursuit Road Bike

Now with the advance of technology, they are able to create a durable wood frame. The Renovo wood frame has much greater impact resistance than butted metal or carbon bike frames. Plus:

  • Wood absorbs vibration better than steel, aluminum or carbon, producing a smoother ride
  • The fatigue life of wood exceeds steel or aluminum, and approaches carbon

Renovo will custom built your bike. You can select between 15 hardwoods and softwoods. The laminated bamboo is the greener option. They produce several models of commuter bikes and road bikes. They cost about the same as a carbon frame bike.

+ Renovo Bikes
+ Via Inhabitat and Core77


A Bus Became a Store for the 37th Festival du nouveau cinema

festival du nouveau cinema bus in front of ex-centris

You can convert any space into a fun party space. All you need is a little bit of imagination. Take this bus for example. I am all for it because it is about repurposed and reused items.

A two-seat section was transformed into a swing using car safety belts. I saw that kids love the swing. The handrails are ideal for hanging tee-shirts. The decor is simple yet fun.

The Festival du nouveau cinema installed this old public transportation bus in front of the Ex-Centris complex. The Festival uses the bus from STM as a retail space and an information center.

Converting old bus makes sense for temporary installations. The inside can fit a good amount of people. You use the same shelf over and over. The exhibitor simply needs to customize the decor, as any event planner will do for any party or event room.

About The Festival du nouveau cinema

The Festival explores the most innovative trends in cinema and new media. It will start this Wednesday, October 8, 2008 and will run until the 19th. Movie presentations occur in 5 venues.

p 514.847.2206 – 3536 Boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2X 2V1


Rosler British Grocery Carts Are Now Available in North America

2-wheel Mountain Grocery Cart by rolser :: british grocery cart

I bought the Hook and Go Smart Cart a few weeks ago. It comes handy when I shop at the farmer’s market.

The Hook & Go works great but my quest for the perfect grocery cart is still on. This is why I am glad that the cute British grocery carts made by Rolser have found a North American distributor.

Better still for Canadians, the distributor is located in Vancouver, British Columbia. They have a Web site but you must call to place your order. Visit for more information. I do not know yet if I should try the 2-wheel Mountain Grocery Cart.

Features of all Rosler Grocery Carts

From the reviews I read so far, the 2 wheel model seems to work well going up and down the stairs. The Rosler Mountain cart gains a plus when I compared with my Hook and Go cart.

You can wash the weather-resistant, removable durable nylon bags. The Mountain model comes with an additional zippered pocket in the flap.

Rosler produces pretty cool patterns which make their bags a lot more attractive than the Hook & Go cart. This is an important concern for a stylish girl.

But I worry about the extra steps needed to avoid the crushing of the light produces. What do you think? If you own a similar grocery cart, how does it work for you?

foldable hook and go shopping trolley

My Experience with the Hook & Go

I am pleased that your produce cannot be squeezed by the weight of the other bags. I enjoyed my shopping experience.

I found 3 things that you must be aware but none is a showstopper. I can live with the fact that:

  1. You need to wrap the reusable bag handles a few times if you do not want your bags to touch the ground – on the other hand, this method secures your bags
  2. They are kind of wide; so you must be aware of that when you move around people or the aisles.
  3. Finally, I shop at Atwater Market in Montreal, a farmer’s market where the bakery and the meat shops are upstairs. I am afraid that the bags will bang on the stairs. So I store my purchases in the car before completing my grocery list upstairs, without the Hook & Go.

Which one, if any, do you prefer?

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Mountain and Saquet Grocery Cart at – price: $90 CAD
Americans: Hook and Go Smart Cart – price: $59.95 USD
Canadians: Hook and Go Shopping Trolley – price: $59.95 CAD
Via: City Wheels [Dwell blog]


Commercial Drive in Vancouver Recycles their Street Banners

commercial drive banners recycled as reusable shopping bags

If you ever visited Vancouver, you noticed that their residents love sports and outdoor living. Therefore, you would not be surprised that helping the environment is popular down there.

I applauded this initiative by the Commercial Drive Business Society. As advertisers, they are taking their responsibilities. Rather that sending the old banners to the landfills they are recycling them into reusable shopping bags.

The proceeds from the sales of the recycled banner shopping bags go toward the development of new green spaces in the neighborhood. The recycled Banner Shopping Bags are available in 2 sizes and 10 colors at participating retailers in Vancouver.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Banner Shopping Bags by Commercial Drive Business Society – price: $9.95 for small, $14.95
Via: Shopping district turns its own ad banners into bags [Springwise]