Browsing Tag



Current Love: Colored Lacquers on Wood Furniture

flat table peeled

Sharing similarities to the paint-dipped mini-trend, I noticed more wood furniture that exhibit strong color accents. I love it! It feels fun yet sophisticated. This makes these pieces easy to live with which means that you can justify the investment. I highlight some of my favorite pieces. I would welcome any of these in my interior.

For Your Dining Room

flat table
photo credits: Flat Table by Jo Nagasaka for Schemata Architecture Office

My ultimate favorite is the tables by Japanese designer Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architecture Office. Which girl could resist that fluorescent pink epoxy finish? I can’t! Jo Nagasaka started to apply the epoxy coats to smooth and regulate the table tops of antique tables. I find that the effect is stunning. Continue Reading


Food Truck Lunch: Takoyaki Montreal and La Mangeoire

takoyaki montreal

takoyaki montreal

Since the Souk at Juste pour Rire is filled with gourmet food trucks, containers and fishing cabins, I decided to make the best of it by having lunch there. Today, I stopped by two food stands.

mushroom or octopus japanese balls

I started my meal with a trio of Japanese balls. My husband ordered the octopus balls while I opted for the mushroom balls. I enjoyed them both. The balls are covered with Japanese crepes topped with mayonnaise, sauce and bento flakes. Delicious!

la mangeoire cocotte sandwich

Then, I ate a sandwich from another newcomer to the food truck Montreal scene: La Mangeoire. Their menu has 4 sandwiches made on order. I ate Cocotte, which is a grilled chicken sandwich with tomato confit and a kale pesto. That was a hit with a glass of iced green tea with lemongrass.

Until July 28th, I plan to try more places for lunch. The souk at Juste pour Rire is located in front of the Complexe Desjardins on Sainte-Catherine Street ouest between Place Des Arts main entrance and Saint-Urbain Street.


Three Creative Uses of Washi Masking Tapes

washi tapes on flower vases

washi tape loot bags

Keeping a reserve of washi tapes can be a time-saver when you have to create last-minute party decorations. Washi tapes immediately transformed a basic bags or bottles into something with personality. I compiled a lit of amazing projects made by crafters and small shop owners on the blogosphere.

Loot Bags

If you are looking for a simple project, you can’t beat the kids loot bags made by Omiyage, a Canadian store. Their kids collection is composed of a range of animal and transportation themes. Recycle their loot bag idea for any occasion. You could even use it to gift wrap a present in a hurry.

The second project is by cu·te·ta·pe (pronounce: koo-teh-tah-pee), who also sells washi tapes online and other party/craft supplies.

washi paper bags

The creator of cu·te·ta·pe transformed the simple white lunch bag into a remarkable party favor bags with striped paper straws, washi tape and matchin twines.  You can write the recipient names on the tape. I love it! cu·te·ta·pe sells all the materials online except for the bags.


washi doll house

I salute this first project from Japan. They used washi tapes to decorate a doll house. What a simple way to really put your stamp on the design scheme! See more stunning pictures about mt factory tour, a Japanese washi masking tape maker at Poppytalk.

washi drawing board

You can also apply washi tapes on a foam board to create your own city block mat or on a thick drawing paper to fuel your kids imagination. Even though my son is a little bit young for those activities, I love this idea so much that I bought the transport theme tapes from Omiyage. I imagine the hours of pleasure that he will have playing together or with his buddies.

Home Accents

washi tapes on flower vases

You can tailor plain bottles, jars or flower vases to your party theme or home decor by applying washi tapes around the containers. Look at how beautiful is this project by Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint for decor8.

+ Take A Ride Washi Tape Set $15 CAD for 3 rolls at Omiyage
+ Washi masking tapes from $3.50 USD a roll to $30 for a pack at cu·te·ta·pe
+ washi doll house photo: Ros Lee of Polkaros for Poppytalk


Kokedama Tutorial

kokedama tutorial

kokedama tutorial

Kokedama is a Japanese planting technique that creates moss balls. You can hang the moss balls, put them on a plate or a bowl. I saw on design*Sponge a reference to a kokedama tutorial by the creative Dutch girl called Aura Scaringi.

I was intrigued by the technique so I dug the Web further to get more information. I found two videos produced by a Japanese blogger who demonstrated different ways to make your own kokedama. Here is the first one.


Creative Hardboiled Eggs for Easter

easter eggs hardboiled shapes chicks

easter eggs hardboiled shapes chicks

With the creative work that goes into decorating eggs for Easter, it always seems a shame to crack open the colourful shells to eat the hardboiled egg inside. But it turns out you can have just as much fun decorating eggs once you’ve peeled off the shell!

  • Jenn of JustJenn Recipes tested out the Chickie Eggs from The Manga Cookbook, a popular step-by-step guide to preparing simple Japanese dishes using ingredients found in North American kitchens.
  • It takes a few tools and a bit of patience to create this carton of just-hatched chicks, but kids will love the result (it may even entice them to eat the eggs!).
  • If you’re looking for something simpler, check out Anna’s instructions for these heart-shaped eggs. They’re easier to create than you might think and a thoughtful way to show some love for your guests at Easter brunch. (You may want to stash this idea for a romantic Valentine’s Day breakfast too).

Japanese Egg Molds

easter egg molds japanese bento

Easier still are these adorable, inexpensive egg molds typically used in Japanese bento boxes. Available in a variety of shapes and characters, the bunny is particularly fitting for Easter buffets.

How do you use eggs at Easter? Are they just for decorating or are eggs part of your meal too?

+ Chickie Eggs via JustJenn Recipes
+ Chicken Egg Family How To from Eye Candy
+ Heart-Shaped Eggs from Anna the Red
Kotobuki Plastic Egg Mold,, $3.99 USD
+ Fun with Japanese Egg Molds Tutorial from Just Bento


Drinking Shochu and the Japanese Ice Ball Machine

a glass of shochu in japan

a glass of shochu in japan

Shochu used to be a second level spirit in Japan. Over the last decade, it emerges as a hip drink and they are now many premium shochu brands available across Japan.

Many things differenciate shochu from sake. First, shochu is a distilled spirit where sake is a brewed rice wine. Shochu is most commonly distilled from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice. The taste of sake is more fruity while shuchu is more nutty or earthy. Shochu typically contains 25% alcohol by volume.

One part of its appeal comes from its low calories. A typical 2-ounce serving of shochu is only 35 calories, which is may less than the 85 calories from sake or the 120 calories from vodka. Shochu is typically served on the rocks or mixed with tea or fruit juice.

japanese ice ball machine

I had mine on the rocks but not your typical ice cubes. It was pour on an ice ball. The Japanese invented the ice ball machine to water less their drinks. Part of the appeal for me was to hear the crisp sound that it produces as you pour the alcohol over it on an old-fashioned glass. It’s customary in Japan restaurants to bring the big bottle of shochu or sake at the table where the waiter will pour your drink.

I invite you to share the sound experience of the ice ball with a small video I filmed at a hip restaurant in Tokyo. As you will see, I did not practice my text.

You can buy an ice machine online but it is a true luxury (over $1,000). Beware of the 30 mm ice ball machine as it produces mini balls, which is not the idea.

+ Ice Ball Machine 55 mm $1,072 USD up to $1,782 for the 80 mm ice ball machine


The Collectible Momiji Dolls, Mugs and Key Rings

Momiji key rings and hand-painted collectible dolls

Momiji key rings and hand-painted collectible dolls

The Momiji Dolls are just for little girls. It is mostly young women who collect them. Each hand-painted Momiji highlights a personality trait and has her own look.  The collection is created by up and coming designers from around the planet. The dolls are as diverse as the designers who made it, which means that they don’t always have an Asian flair.

momiji mugs and dolls

You can find derivatives products such as key rings, mugs, notebooks, pens and bags. I would hang the key ring on a purse, a handbag and simply use it as a key chain. The doll prices range from $10 to $16 and the key rings are at $7.50 on the US online store of Momiji. They are so adorable that I might become a collector. They fit nicely in a wooden rack.

Founded in 2005, Momiji HQ is a little office in Henley in a small English village called Arden. The village is famous for its ice cream.

+ Enamel key ring: lucky $7.50 USD
+ Enamel key ring: sister $7.50
+ Enamel key ring: best friends $7.50
+ Dancing Girl Momiji doll $16
+ Dancing Girl Momiji mug $10
+ Poppet Momiji mug $10
+ Mabel in box $15


Japanese Teapots for Green Tea Lovers

japanese teapots for green tea

japanese teapots for green tea

Kyusu is a traditional Japanese teapot mainly used for brewing green tea. We used these teapots all the time when we were in Japan. They pour very well. Typical features include a side handle and a built-in strainer.

If you want to get yours, you can find them at Lucipia, a Japanese tea shop which operates a few stores in the USA plus an online store. Typically, a kyusu is small. I like the black Komarukyusu.

Sencha tea lovers can opt for the elegant Sawa teapot. This modern version of a Japanese sencha tea pot with an ergonomic handle and thumbprint lid allowing for easy one-handed pouring. Add 4 to 6 Sawa cups and saucers to create a wedding gift that the couple will be happy to use for many years.

Oct. 2nd, 2010 Update: My husband brought me back from San Francisco the stylishly modern SAWA teapot. I love it! It comes with two strainers: a built-in porcelain strainer on the inner edge of spout and a removable strainer for tea leaves. The one-handed pouring system works like a charm.

+ Komarukyusu black $22 USD
+ SAWA Teapot with Strainer $49
+ SAWA Sencha Cup $11
+ SAWA Saucer $13


Matcha Sablés, Chiffon Cake and Other Japanese Treats

matcha sables as seen on evan's kitchen ramblings

matcha sables as seen on evan's kitchen ramblings

I still have a craving for the fabulous matcha bakery treats I ate in Japan. One thing I like about Japanese desserts is that they are not as sweet as here. They mix traditional French patisserie with Japanese techniques and ingredients to create cakes and pastries that taste fresh and new.

Therefore, it will come to no surprise that I felt in love with the photography of Evangeline who runs the blog Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings and a bakery shop in Singapore called Patisserie dessert couture. She specializes in macarons, petits fours secs, tartlets and cookies.

I love sablés. The most memorable I ate lately were the sakura sablés and the matcha sablés we bought at a fancy bakery shop in Kyoto. Evangeline shared a Matcha sablés recipe from the Okashi treats cookbook written by Keiko Ishida. But do not search for the cookbook, it is out of print.

mini matcha chiffon cake by evan's kitchen ramblings

Another treat that brought back nice memories is the Matcha chiffon cake. Chiffon cakes are popular in Japan. I still have to publish a cool video I filmed about the making of these tasty cakes.

matcha treats :: matcha financiers and madeleines

Finally,  a Japanese version of  two French classic cakes. First, her homemade matcha financiers decorated with black and white sesame seeds. For a twist, why not bake your own matcha madeleines.

+ photography: Evangeline Teo of Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings


Miso Udon Noodle Soup

miso udon noodle soup by jaden hair of steamy kitchen

miso udon noodle soup by jaden hair of steamy kitchen

Looking at this Japanese style soup made by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen brings back nice memories. We tasted so many miso soups on our trip. The great thing is that they were always different.

And who can resist the view of fresh vegetables? I just need to find a place in Montreal that sells shimeji mushrooms, or white beech mushrooms to be ready to make this soup.  If you have the ingredients on hands, it will only take you 15 minute to prepare it. The shimeji mushrooms lose their bitterness when you cook them and take a nutty flavor. They maintain a slightly crunchy texture.

+ photo: Udon Miso Noodle Soup recipe at Steamy Kitchen


Souvenirs from Japan

apica notebook with my furoshiki cloths bought in japan

apica notebook with my furoshiki cloths bought in japan

I needed new books to manage my projects when I remembered the index of the Apica notebook. I saw people using them on my trip to Japan.

Luckily for me, I can find them in Montreal at Papeterie Nota Bene, a fine stationery store. It is my place for notebooks. I opted for the Apica 6B5, a 50-sheet notebook. I will use it to keep track on what happens at meetings. There is a spot on the right corner of every page designed to write the date.

apica notebook index

The index page enables you to quickly find what inside your notebook. I love the Japanese efficiency.

The small Apica 5B4 is perfect to carry on my purse. I always keep a small notebook with me to write ideas while I’m on the go. I also use my iPhone to take notes but nothing beats the fast pace of a pen and paper.

Japanese Paper and Textiles

I styled the picture with my collection of furoshiki cloths. I loved them. Some were gifts that I received from a Japanese guy that we met. One was used by the shop Aritsugu to wrap my kitchen knifes. And I bought the rest at a textile shop. I wish I bought the modern pattern furoshiki cloths I saw at the Edo-Tokyo museum.