Browsing Tag



Must-Have for a Picnic: A Table-on-the-go

eucalyptus folding picnic table

eucalyptus folding picnic table
Table in a Bag on sale at $49.95 USD at Crate and Barrel

This picture illustrates my ideal picnic at the park. I love all the details. I need a folding picnic table like this to make my picnic more stylish and comfortable. People who bought it commented that the table is the perfect height for beach chair.

Update: Because of my post, my husband included the Table in a Bag table to my birthday gifts. Having a blog makes their life easy ūüôā


Friendly Luxury When Camping

cozy camping bedroom

cozy camping bedroom
photos by Thomas J. Story for Sunset magazine – May 2012

Camping has evolved so much since my childhood. I prefer a nice hotel room to sleeping in a tent any time. I’m also aware that many young kids adore camping; maybe that I will need to adapt. Just in case, I explored how I could make a camping trip more comfortable.

REI Kingdom 4 Tent – 2012 $389 USD| REI Tech Garage $99.95 USD

I am first amazed by the new developments in tents. A freestanding design means that the tent can be assembled before being staked out which gives you freedom in position it at the site. Tents now come with vertical walls that add privacy and define the livable areas. You can add a vestibule that provides shelter to your boots and to you when you enter or exit the tent. The ultimate vestibule seems to be a tech garage; it delivers extra storage for your gears and generally has two convenient roll-on doors.

A Cozy Bedroom

cozy camping outdoor space
hotos by Thomas J. Story for Sunset magazine – May 2012

There is no need to give up your queen size bed on camping. You can have a good night sleep thanks to car camping. The trend is to bring your own pillows, cotton sheets and a throw or a comforter instead of a sleeping bag. Do not neglect the comfort of your feet. It becomes customary to place rugs indoor and outdoor. Go to your favorite decor store and select a style that you like.

Style the Outdoor Space

camping gear
SOLVINDEN¬†pendant light $29.99 CAD at IKEA |¬†KALV√Ė¬†$24.99 CAD at IKEA | Deluxe Camper’s Kitchen $127.99 USD at Cabana

Since you hope to pass as much time as possible outside, why not dress it up by a notch. Make a lounge outside with a few folding recliners or deck chairs and a couple folding side tables. KALV√Ė¬†folding table is an affordable option available at IKEA. While √ĄPPLAR√Ė served double duty as a stool or a side table.

There are more options than camping equipment to create subtle ambiant lighting. The solar panel and the wind power generator of SOLVINDEN pendant light convert sunlight and wind to energy. It can be hang from the ceiling of your tent. Complete your set up with a few SOLVINDEN ground stakes that will light the path and your camping site.

Easy to Cook

The typical¬†Camper’s Kitchen¬†comes with a pantry, heat-resistant working surfaces, food preparation zones and three-sided windscreen shelters your stove for optimal fuel performance. You save time by having access to your cookware, cooking utensils and food.

Finally, I hope that you bought a car with a voluminous trunk. Equipped with all these gears, you will need it!


Sock Slippers by Collegien

collegien slippers illustrations

Isabelle of Accro de la Mode captured the warmth that I felt when I laid my eyes on these French-made sock slippers. They seem so comfy and perfect to keep my feet warm right now. Collégien, the French maker, produces pairs made of cashmere for the colder months. I wish that we could buy here somewhere in North America. Here are some of my favorite patterns.

+ Ireland – Flake Slippers by Collegien $45.99 USD
+ illustration by Accro de la Mode


More Comfort in Economy-Class Flights

Qantas footrest

Occasionally, I browsed the Web for articles on what are the innovative ideas from airline companies around the world. While the more impressive upgrades happen in first-class, there are still cool things that are implemented for the economy class travelers. I am always sad to notice to see no Canadian or American companies. It seems that passenger comfort has been forgotten by us. But comfort is not a luxury, it reduces stress and improves our quality of life. In a tiny attempt to revive a sense of style for the average travelers, I will share the best innovations from my reading.

Today, I present you the foot hammock, a little net that act as a footrest. Elevating your legs like that will provide you better circulation, which is an important things to do when you are in the sky.

Air New Zealand economy class 3 seats bed for 2

Then, an economy row of three seats could convert to a “comfy” bed for 2 with the touch of a button. The¬†arms retract, the seat base extends and the seatbelts lengthen to buckle up when reclining. Air New Zealand says that two passengers can snuggle horizontally, leaning against the wall or lying flat. I do not know if you can pay extra to guarantee this option or if you need to be lucky to enjoy this feature.

See more innovations in economy-class flights at BBC.

+ photo: Qantas
+ photo: Air New Zealand


Cold and Cough Tea Tins at DavidsTea

davidstea cold and cough tea tins

davidstea cold and cough tea tins

I can’t tell you if it makes you feel better since I did not catch a cold this winter, but I like the concept behind the Cold and Cough Collection at DavidsTea. The cute packaging¬†grabbed¬†my attention.

Cold 911 contains sinus-clearing eucalyptus and juniper berries, plus you get a dose of vitamin C with the orange peel and orange oil. It could make a thoughtful gift to a friend or colleague who is sick.

At the heart of Throat Soother are lemongrass, lemon myrtle and lemon balm, which are known for their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and/or antiviral superpowers. They are combined with marshmallow root, slippery elm and stevia leaf to create a sweet, hot, healing, lemony tea that coats and soothes your throat. That would be an option instead of my warm milk with honey.

+ Cold 911 tin by DavidsTea $14.50 CAD
+ Throat Soother tin by DavidsTea $14.50 CAD


Bamboo Bedding and More at Maison Simons

bedding collection at maison simons

bedding collection at maison simons

I update my bedroom bedding almost every year. Therefore, I do not wish to pay a fortune for my duvet cover set. One store where I often find stylish and affordable comforter and pillow shams is Maison Simons.

Maison Simons operates stores in Quebec city, Montreal and Sherbrooke. The good news is that they now have an online store with shipping across Canada.  Maison Simons carries their own brand, La Lingère, and selects every season a few models from international brands.

roxy pop goes the polka dot comforter, pillowcases and sheets

Bamboo Rayon Bedding

A few months ago, I bought a nice green bamboo sheet set. It is made of 60% bamboo rayon and 40% cotton. The softness is absolutely divine. My husband and I even preferred it to our Egyptian cotton sheets. I wished I bought more than one set. Right now, they carry a 100% bamboo rayon sheet set in neutrals.

+ Building Block Duvet Cover Set $130 to $190 CAD at Maison Simons
+ Roxy “Pop Goes The Polkadot” Comforter Set $200 to $270 CAD


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.

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


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


A W Signature Treatment at Away Spa in Montreal

away spa at w montreal

away spa at w hotel montreal

I started this week in a soothing way. I received an email last month from Alissa Anzarut, who is manager of the travel rewards¬†at Aeroplan. Alissa¬†contacted me to inquire if I would be interested to experience a spa treatment at one of Aeroplan’s partner hotels here in Montreal. After a stressful January, I decided that it would be good for me. Plus, I like the W hotel. We met last Monday morning at the Away Spa of the W Montreal.

I am happy I did. I discovered a new spa treatment: a body wrap that does not involve mud. I usually have a massage, relax in saunas and other bathing rituals at spas. I had many body treatments at Clarins skin spas but never with a body wrap. I know the technique is not new, but it was for me.

You feel right at home when you enter the Away Spa. The decor is what you expect from the W hotels. The small spa feels cozy and relaxing. The dimmed light, the gray walls and the aromatic smell of the place all contribute to the soothing effect. Although they have no saunas and hot springs, I left happy and relaxed.

About my treatment

treatment rooms at the away spa at the w montreal

I opted for one of their signature treatments, the D-Age Body Firming. The 1-hour-and-a-half body treatment starts with a fruity peel that contains pineapple and papaya enzymes. It smelt good. In fact, I enjoyed the scent of everything they put on me. You go for a quick rinse in a nice private bathroom (top right picture).

Then, the best part begins. I felt warm for the entire session. To get you into the mood, a quick breathing session surrounded by a delightful aromatic fluid (red thyme, tangerine, lemon and orange). It is followed by applying a serum on eight articulation spots to extract the toxins. Then, your body gets a boost of Kamani oil, shea butter and jojoba oil. This is the D-age firming cream. They form an enveloping cocoon over you by neatly wrapping the plastic sheet over your body. Plus, they wrap some sort of heated blanket on top. While you are in your warn cocoon, you get a light, relaxing facial and hair massage. This part lasts 15 to 20 minutes. The treatment ends with a little massage as the spa massage therapist applies a wonderful citrus draining oil. Like I said, it was an enjoyable experience.

I do not know if it was the idea to be at the spa of a trendy hotel but their music, which was the typical style for a spa, seems more cool. If you want to know, I was served by Melanie Doiron, who is a massage therapist and an esthetician. Thank you, Melanie and Alissa for a great way to start my day.

+ Away Spa at W Montreal
+ D-Age Body Firming $195 CAD

Disclaimer: I did not pay for my spa treatment; Aeroplan Starwood, the owner of the W hotels, did. According to our editorial policy on samples, I went there without any guarantee of coverage (if, what or when). I decided to talk about it because I tried a spa treatment that was new to me and wanted to share the experience.


Home-cooked Chicken Noodle Soup, please

countryhome recipes for hearty soups

This sight brings me comfort. I got a flu or a cold since the beginning of the week. The classic chicken noodle soup brought comfort to my sore throat at more than one occasions. I am looking for a less noddle more meat recipe for this weekend. I found this Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup on Country Home. I might make a batch tomorrow afternoon. They also have a hearty Ham and Bean Soup that looks delicious.

photos: Country Home


A Book, a Magazine Box and a Blanket | Fall Essentials

Pia Wallén crux blanket :: felt box with handles :: the lost symbol by dan brown

Once the cold has arrived, I like to read a good book, browse my favorite magazines or explore the Web on the couch with a blanket on my legs. My everyday dark charcoal blanket from Caban is getting old. Therefore, I started to look for a replacement.

The black and off white Crux blanket by Pia Wall√©n is gorgeous. It is hand woven in Sweden and made of 100% wool.¬† If you are looking for more color options, head to Pia Wall√©n’s Web site. You will find there the Crux blanket in 4 colors: Redorange/offwhite, black/offwhite, potato/offwhite and green/offwhite. Sadly, this museum piece is over my budget for a blanket that I used while reading on the couch.

+ Pia Wallén Crux Wool Blanket £379 at Cloudberry Living
+ Pia Wallén Crux Wool Blanket 4400 SEK (this is price shown on the cart)
+ Box in felt with handles 1250 SEK
+ The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown $16.17 USD