Browsing Tag

holiday shopping


Holiday Gift Guide: For Tea Lovers and the Hostess

tea lover gift guide

I prefer drinking tea instead of coffee during the holiday season because it is easier in the stomach. In fact, it helps my digestion. I also keep a supply of herbal teas for my guests who don’t want the caffeine at night.

Here are three gift ideas for people who enjoy their cup of tea at night. First, every teapot needs its cozy. This colorful tea cozy is made of acrylic, which means that it is easy to clean.

I received free sample boxes of the winter collection by Four O’Clock from TRANS-HERBe. They come in 4 flavours: almond biscotti, banana cinnamon spice, gingerbread and truffle mint. I was delighted by the taste and became a fan of the almond biscotti. If a latte is more your style, take two bags of your favourite flavour from the winter collection and steep in 250 mL of hot milk.

As a bonus, the festive illustrations of the Four O’Clock Winter Collection given by Montréal artist Bruce Roberts will look great on your table. You can find this limited edition Winter Collection in supermarkets, gourmet food stores, natural food stores and pharmacies across Canada.

Lastly, Magisso proposes an innovative teacup for serving tea with tea leaves. I have them thanks to Magisso, who sent me a few teacups a while ago. I enjoy how they work. Each Magisso teacup comes in a nice box that makes your gift wrapping easy. The Magisso teacups are available at and might be available at David’s Tea.

BABY products FAMILY

Holiday Gift Guide: What to Give to a Two-Year-Old

holiday gift guide for toddlers

This guide is made of things that my 20-month-old son already has and plays with everyday. These educational toys are sure bet for little boys and girls.

Ok, the first item is not a toy but this Woodours melamine cup was too adorable for not include it on my guide. The Woodours collection (literally “Wood-Bear”) tells the story of a Papa and Baby Bear. Papa is strong as an oak tree, but a gentle soul. Woodours combines the best of teddy-bear cuddliness with a modern flair. I not only like the design but also the story between it. I bought his Woodours cup by Ebulobo at Faon on Saint-Denis Street.

Look for the 2+ years old version of Play-Doh. Initially, I bought him a My First Crayola Super Soft Dough Shape and Create Kit that includes 8 animal shape cutters, 3 cutting tools and a dough extruder pump. The accessories are awesome but the Crayola dough dries too quickly. The Play-Doh dough is definitely easier to manipulate. Playing with dough has become one of his favorite games. He likes to play with us or by himself.

The Puzzle Duo collection by Djeco is awesome. Each box of these two-piece puzzles are designed around a theme. They teach toddlers vocabulary and notions as they develop their fine dexterity. Zack has À table!, which is no longer available. I plan to by him the Habitat set. For 3 years old, Djeco makes Puzzle Trio. Zack has also have one. Right now, he plays more with the Duo. The puzzle comes in a nice box. My son have fun emptying and putting the pieces back in the box. Available at Renaud-Bray. I bought mine at Educa-jeux at Place Ville-Marie.

My son has several packs of First Builders by Mega Bloks. Having a kit with wheels open new creations for him. The more he plays with them, the more unique and complex his structures become. Personally, I prefer the Mega Bloks to the Lego DUPLO. Both have the same educational and fun values.

We bought him a B. Meowsic Keyboard a month ago. Zack likes to sing in the microphone that amplifies his voice and makes music with the keyboard. We bought ours at PinkiBlue in Montreal.

Lastly, I must mention again his Hippo Zoo backpack. I bought it when he started daycare. The backpack plays an important part of his daily routine. He carries it with him on our way in or out of daycare. When I forgot to put it next to the car seat, I am quickly reminded that he wants to be able to touch his backpack. I prefer that he carries outside the home a backpack than his cuddly night buddy.

You probably noticed that some items are from French companies. I have no problems finding them in Montreal. I am not sure how widely available they would be in your area. Some products might be available at Amazon. Still, I shared them because of their aesthetics. You might look for similar items that are easier to buy in your area. Happy holiday shopping!



10 Stunning Christmas Stockings

Scandi Stripe Stocking

After the tree and the wreath, Christmas stockings top  my holiday essentials. These 10 of my favorite stockings explore a variety of designs. From a Scandinavian design, to a rustic take up to richly embroidered holiday stockings, make your pick.

What I like about this first composition is the fact that you can mix and match stockings. But I might put them as close to an open fire.

fair isle christmas stockings
Velvet Cuff with Faux-fur stocking and Chunky Cable Knitted Stocking $39.50 USD each at Pottery Barn

There are more to nordic stockings than the knitted stockings. Here is a stylish interpretation of nordic design.

Scandi Stripe Stocking
Scandi Stripe Stockings
£ 22 at

loomed and looped stocking
Red Loomed & Looped Stocking
$48 USD at Anthropologie

These simple white dove stockings with seasonal greens and shapes feel right at home in a family room.

caroline stockings
Caroline stocking
$19.95 USD at Crate & Barrel

Sometimes all that you need is a simple statement.

personalized burlap stockings
Personalized Burlap Holiday Stocking
$22 USD by DesignbyNancyT on Etsy

I prefer the mix and match option for these stripe holiday stockings.

red or green stripe holiday stockings
Red or Green Stripe Holiday Stockings
$72 for 4 by DesignbyNancyT on Etsy

The next stockings are way more than I would be willing to pay for a Christmas stocking, but I couldn’t resist the Swarovski crystals.

luxurious velvet Christmas stockings
Hand-Painted Velvet Christmas Stockings
 By Jay Strongwater $595 USD at Neiman Marcus

Since every family member needs a stocking, do not forget to pick stockings for your pets.

holiday stockings for cats and dogs
Fishbone Christmas Stocking
and Dog Bone Christmas Stocking $7.99 each at World Market

If money was no object, which one is your favorite Christmas stocking?


The Making Of the Store Window of Lorena Rossi

christmas window of lorena rossi store

christmas window of lorena rossi store

Two weeks ago, I passed a few hours with Lorena Rossi making her store front window of her nice gift store. This was the first time I designed a store front window. It was fun to display products in an unusual way to create something that, hopefully will catch the eye of pedestrians. For example, I used body spray boxes, bracelets, bows and gift tags as Christmas ornaments.

making a christmas store front window

The color palette emerged from the first product I selected: the beautiful Holiday cup and saucer set. It’s a funny thing that I created a red and green scheme since I am not a fan of the traditional Christmas palette. So, we can never say never since I pleased of the results. I feel that the lighter green gives it a modern twist.

making a christmas store window

It was a lot a fun to work with Lorena Rossi. She is an inspiring woman. I needed her help with my growing belly. In fact, I took this opportunity to share pictures where you see me pregnant.

lorena rossi (right ) with kim vallee

If you live in Montreal, I encourage you to stop by Lorena Rossi boutique in Little Italy. She carries a nice selection of gifts for kids and adults. Plus if you host a kid birthday or a baby shower, know that she sells the cute and so practical Meri Meri cupcake decorating kits.

+ Lorena Rossi gift store
+ Photos by Julia C Vona


Christmastime Block Puzzle | Etsy finds

Christmastime Block Puzzle tree and owls

Christmastime Block Puzzle tree and owls

Last night, I had to refrain myself from buying these awesome Christmastime Block Puzzle by Tiny Giraffe for my baby to-be. The tree and owl theme goes well with the nursery bedding I bought this weekend. But since we will be in the middle of our renovations, there will be no Christmas decorations for us this year. My husband suggested that I wait until next year. Although it breaks my heart, I know that he is right.

Christmastime Block Puzzle :: christmas tree and rudoph

It’s something to put on your Holiday shopping list if you need a cute educational and inexpensive toy for toddlers. The 4 blocks will produce 6 bright, festive images. The set arrives inside a ready-to-give packaging. For $4 more, add a personalized drawstring bag to store the block puzzles.

Christmastime Block Puzzle :: bird by tiny giraffe

You may recall that I introduced two adorable block sets by Tiny Giraffe earlier. I still plan to order mine once the renovations are completed. Especially now that a reader, who received the two sets of Zoo blocs that she ordered, told me that the blocks are super cute.

+ Christmastime Block Puzzle by Tiny Giraffe $14 USD on Etsy


Gift Wrapping Ideas from Martha

typewritten gift tags and photo gift toppers as seen on martha stewart

This is a great idea if you do not have a beautiful handwriting. Start with one of the small address label templates available on Microsoft Word to create your own custom-made typewritten gift tags. Mixing font sizes and styles produces a chic tag. But make sure to select a serif font if you wish to write in capital letters. You can also find a print your typed gift tag template on Martha Stewart.

Another idea is to affix a festive photo of the giver instead of putting the typical bow or gift ornaments. You write on the bottom of the gift the recipient on a stock card that is narrower than the ribbon.

+ Typewritten Gift Tags on Martha Stewart
+ Photo Gift Toppers on Martha Stewart


Stylish Christmas Crackers

Gold Berry Crackers at Cox and Cox

A tradition in my family is to put Christmas crackers on the dinner table. But lately, the challenge has been to find ones with gifts that will not be thrown away immediately after the dinner. It seems that even the upscale North-American stores gave up on producing worthwhile versions. I am sad about that fact. We inherited this tradition from Britain.

Therefore, I looked across the Atlantic to see if we can still find chic and wonderful Christmas crackers in UK. I found lots of options down there. Maybe next year, I would see if I can order online mine from UK. Let’s look at my favorites.

Cox and Cox

musical crackers at cox and cox

This UK catalog store continues to impress me. Their Christmas crackers concentrate on providing entertaining for your guests. Cox and Cox sells 3 models of Christmas crackers this year, including the Musical Crackers. Each handmade Gold Berry Cracker contains a chocolate and charade to be played as a party game.

Fortnum & Mason

luxury christmas crackers by fortnum and mason

Founded in 1707, this upscale retailer is the specialist of luxury Christmas crackers. At £100 for a pack of 6, their Classic Christmas Crackers package contains the traditional paper hat, an entertaining scroll, a satisfying snap and silver-plated gifts such as a coffee scoop, wine pourer, wine stopper, salt & pepper shakers, magnifier with chain and mirror compact.

It is not only for the rich and famous. You can find more affordable options at Fortnum & Mason, like the Saucer Crackers at £8.50 for a box of 6.


christmas crackers by highgrove

This a shop of the Prince’s Charities of which The Prince of Wales is President. Profits goes to the foundation. They sell individual luxury Christmas crackers presented in a nice gift box. Each luxury Christmas cracker contains 10 Organic Champagne Truffles, a joke, an inspiring comment and a traditional Christmas hat. For a party, opt for the 6-pack where each cracker  contains a hand embroidered mini decoration, one Organic Champagne Truffle, a joke, an inspiring comment and a traditional Christmas hat. This is what I call a treat. Unfortunately, they will not ship outside the EU.

Fill Your Own Christmas Crackers

fill your own christmas crackers by classic crackers

The most sensible idea is definitively the Fill your Own Crackers from Classic Crackers. They handmade the crackers for you. All you need to do is to buy gifts that fits in to the tube. They leave one end open for you to drop in your gifts. Close the end with the ribbon that comes with the Fill Your Own Christmas cracker.

Know that if you wish to make your own crackers from scratch, you need cracker snaps to get the bang. Classic Crackers sell them but at this time, they are out of stock.

A Montreal Maker

christmas crackers by walpert industries

Jane Van der Voort, who set up the live chat that I gave yesterday on The Toronto Star, wrote an excellent article on Christmas crackers. From her, I discovered that Walpert Industries, here in Montreal has been making Christmas crackers since the 1960s. You will find the 2009 collection on Walpert’s Web site. But sadly, their site does not elaborate on what is inside their Christmas crackers and it fails to give us a list of retailers. At least, thanks to Jane’s article, I discovered that the Rudolph their Red-Nosed Reindeer Crackers (not shown) are available at Walmart.

+ Musical Crackers £12 for pack of 8
+ Gold Berry Crackers £12 for pack of 6
+ Christmas Crackers at Fortnum & Mason £8.50 to £500
+ Luxury Silver Cracker by Highgrove on sale at £14.95
+ Luxury Christmas Crackers on sale at £39.95 for pack of 6
+ Fill Your Own Christmas Cracker £2 each
+ Walpert Industries


DIY Christmas Ornament Wreath by CB2

diy holiday tree ornament wreath by cb2

The sight of the jewel tone Christmas tree ornaments at CB2 is awesome. Their DIY ornament wreath reminds me of the front door decorations I made two years ago. The CB2 stylists made a big wreath. As you know, modern big ornaments are trendy. One advantage with CB2’s holiday ornament wreath is that you do not need to be crafty to make your own.

I wish CB2 had a store in Canada. I really love the non-traditional colors and the classic shapes of these Christmas tree ornaments.

+ photos and tutorial: In the loop by CB2
+ via


souk @ sat is next weekend

souk @ sat

Next week-end, from December 11 to December 13, see you at the SAT for the annual craft fair the souk @ sat. This annual event offers Montreal artists, creators and designers a marketplace to showcase their recent work to the public. The place is organized in sections: living-room, kitchen, bedroom, walk-in, bathroom, etc. For the exhibitor line up, it seems that there is less things for the home but I will probably stop by.

photo: souk @ sat

GIFT IDEAS Gifts for the COOK

My New Fun Breakfast Tableware

breakfast tableware :: ritzenhoff teacup eipott by koziol salt and peeper by fred

When I went to cash, Lucie, the owner of Kokoon, told me Wow! you made a kit. This is what I like to do whether it is for me or for a gift. I like to match things from different brands. Since they are not from the same designers, it creates a unique look.

This is the basic rules of good design whether you are decorating your home, setting a tabletop or planning a party. You start with a piece that inspires you. The Ritzenhoff bone china teacups were my starting point. I wanted those for a while. Seeing them on the shelf convinced me to get one teacup for my husband and another for me. The orange Asian girl was to adorable to pass on. Plus, we are going to Japan next Spring. Then, I selected a coordinating teacup for my husband.

fun breakfast tableware :: ritzenhoff teacups :: koziol\'s eiPott :: fred salt and peeper

As we look at the cute Salt and Peeper by Fred, we spot on another shelf the eiPott from Koziol. These are two of my all time favorite housewares brands. I put two and two together. The best finds happen when you do not start with a preset idea. Creativity emerges by freeing your mind. It just flows. I cannot wait to make breakfast this weekend.

The square screen section of the eiPott can be used to deposit the egg shelf. This design has an advantage over the classic egg cups.

How Salt and Peeper works?

salt and peeper by fred

Thosaphol Suppamtheekulwat designed an all-in-one salt and pepper. It is also practical for when you go on picnic. Their is 3 positions. When it is closed the bird has blue eyes. Turn his head to the right and when his eyes change from blue to white, you are ready to dispense salt.  Turn it left to see his black eyes and of course his beak pours the pepper. I do not plan to use it everyday but I think it would be a hit when I host a brunch.

A little Gift Store in Montreal

I bought those items at Kokoon, a small gift store located at 1061 Bernard avenue in Outremont. There is more to come about this retailer with fun gift ideas. I am pleased to report that I paid less for my Ritzenhoff My Lian teacups at Kokoon than the ones I found on Amazon. It is so rare than we pay less in Canada than in the United States for something. Sadly for my out-of-town readers, Kokoon does not have a Web site.

+ Salt and Peeper by Fred $9.95 USD at, $12.95 CAD at Kokoon
+ Designer Dieter Braun’s 2007 My Lian Tea Bowl, Asian Girl Orange $34 USD at Amazon, $29.95 CAD at Kokoon