Browsing Tag

OUTDOOR entertaining


Bought a CoolBar at Costco


It is an affordable all in one accessory for outdoor entertaining. It’s a cooler, a coffee table and party table for my patio. 42 regular cans fit inside the cooler.

It comes with two practical drainage features: a small hole at the center of the flat surface plus a drain plug inside the cooler. You can raise the flat surface to leave the cooler always open, if you want. The flat surface becomes a nice area to fill up your glass as you take out the wine bottles from the cooler.

I bought it at Costco for $69.99 CAD. I think it is a good product for the price. My husband noted that he wishes for more sturdiness when the surface is raised (party table mode). The locking mechanism stays well in place but the surface is shaky. This is often the case with a surface that rises up and down. I wanted it because I like the concept. Or it was simply because I am craving for summer. We will know by the end of the summer who was right.

I did not find it on the Web site but ask for Costco article # 177561. By the way, I bought it in Canada.

+ Find the Costco near you


A Bold Orange Theme for Eating on the Patio

orange tableware and lantern for eating on the patio

I am impatient about the return of the warmer weather when we can eat outside. The spring and summer collection are arriving in store.

I read on MoCo Loco that IKEA will carry amazing outside lighting fixtures, either solar or fit for a rechargeable battery, this summer. My favorite are the battery-operated mushroom shaped SOLIG lantern. They use a LED bulb.

Make a couple Japanese kusudama balls for your party décor. An elegant way to recycle old maps or fashion magazines. These were make by the girls behind Folding Trees, the collaborative blog of two women living miles away. There is Eve living in New Zealand and June who lives in Canada. You can plan an activity of origami with your girlfriends.

Revisiting Orla Kiely at Target

The Orla Kiely melamine collection at Target does not need more introduction. I will call my mother who lives in Florida during winter to bring me back several pieces. I gave up melamine years ago but I cannot resist the vibrant orange flower collection.

Orla kielyat mugs and tiered tray at target

I also wish for the Orla Kiely Mugs (which is currently unavailable online). I am leaning towards the Sky Abacus Flower and the Green Multi-Flowers Mugs. I also want the green Melamine 2-Tier Tray for BBQ entertaining.

March 16th, 2009 Update: Target discontinued this Orla Kiely line. No more new items.

+ mushroom shaped SOLIG lantern $2.99, same prices in Canada and the United States
+ Kusudama Ball Tutorial part 1 and part 2 by Folding Trees


More Spa Water recipes: Cucumber and Rosemary Water + Citrus and Apple Water

Last year, I gave you my recipe for cucumber water. My ingredients were cucumber, mint sprigs and half a lemon. This time I am suggesting two variations on the theme.

Cucumber and Rosemary Water recipe


  1. Cut 10 cucumber slices for one branch of fresh rosemary.
  2. Put the cucumber and rosemary in a pitch.
  3. Fill the half of the pitcher with ice cubes. Fill with water.
  4. Let it macerate in the fridge for 24 hours before serving.

Orange and Green Apple Water recipe


  1. Slice one orange.
  2. Spread some lemon juice on 2-3 slices of green apple
  3. Put the apple, the orange, and half a lemon juice in a large pitcher.
  4. Fill the half of the pitcher with ice cubes.
  5. Fill with water.
  6. Let it rest 24 hours in the fridge before serving.

Enjoy their refreshing taste!


Volute Wine Bottles are made of recycled aluminum

Earlier today I told you about aluminum water bottles with cool prints. Now, I discovered a wine company that desires to make it easy for you to enjoy a glass of wine anywhere.

volute\'s recycled aluminum wine bottle

The Wine Bottle

Volute claims this is the 21st century way to drink wine. Their bottle is made of a sturdy aluminum with a special treatment to make it compatible with wine. The single serving format and the fact the recycled aluminum bottle is lighter and safer than glass bottle assure its portability. We would not need to transfer your wine into a SIGG aluminum water bottle when you wish to bring wine to a public festival or for a picnic on the beach.

The fact that the bottle cannot break makes it ideal for a pool party or a family BBQ reunion. It is simple for you to serve since no corkscrew or wineglasses are necessary.

About the Wine

Volute’s wine bottles are all made of Bordeau wine in California. The Volute Red Bordeaux is made from 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Volute White Bordeaux is made from 85% Sauvignon and 15% Sémillon. Volute Rosé Bordeaux is made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot.

I like the principle for a party. The next question is to hold a wine tasting to see if the wine is to your liking. It is a new product. Only the Volute’s wine is sold online but only ship to the state of California. A small number of retailers, mostly located in the San Francisco area, carry the brand.

+ Volute Wine Case with free shipping $25 for a case of 6, $49 for 12 bottles, $94 for 24 bottles


Dine, Dance and Lounge In Style with Emu Outdoor Furniture

take it outside with kelly deck :: emu wicker furniture :: yucca chair :: alveo chaise :: elitre lounger

If you wish to make a statement, check out the exceptional wicker collection from Emu. It is nothing like you ever seen before.

The Yucca chairs were featured on an episode of Take It Outside where they were used as dining chairs. The high back means that adds lots of impact to a garden.

The chaise longue goes hip with the Alveo chaise. The semi-covered chaise spreads in a seat and a footrest. The shapes are pretty cool. The cover protects from sunrays and creates a cozy space that can be shared by two persons.

The Elitre Chaise has a magical feels due to its shade in form of a slender leaf. A double cushion is available.

The three pieces were designed by the prolific Italian design studio Chiaramonte Marin.

Watch Online the Reruns of Take It Outside

Even if you do get at home, you can watch the episodes online. The only catch is that you have to wait a week or two before you can watch the latest episodes. It is a fair trade-off.

How to Determine Your Style?

If you are not familiar with the show hosted by Kelly Deck, the concept revolves around creating an outdoor version of the homeowner’s most loved interior room.

Kelly Deck’s method works if you really like your current home decor. But since the backyard is often the last spot you design when you renovate your house, it makes sense.

This simple method allows you to quickly gather the aesthetics and the functional goals of the outdoor space. If you are planning a room, you should try this exercise with your designer.

I enjoy watching Take It Outside. As a bonus, you can download the plan from each episode to better understand the space. Check the related links of every episode to watch the episode online.

+ Yucca Chair by Emu – price: $1525 USD
+ Alveo Semi-Covered Chaise Lounge For Two with Ottoman – price: $6575 USD
+ Elitre Lounger by Emu – price: $2829 USD


Revealing the Secrets of An Amazing Entertaining Backyard

South Beatch inspired outdoor space - canadian house and home july 2007

This white and red backyard shares the South Beach hip vibes. This is the outdoor space of a couple with young children.

The magnificent backyard of Doris and Anthony Lapico was featured in Canadian House and Home last summer.

The couple divided their huge backyard in activity zones. From the draped cabanas to the open air bar in the pool house to the ceiling fans over the dining tables, every detail contributes at making this stylish outdoor a paradise.

7 Design Tips for the Ultimate Outdoor Entertaining Space

If you are planning to redo your backyard, remember the 7 design tips for an ultimate outdoor entertaining space:

  1. Every wonderful backyard starts with great space planning. Think about the function, the circulation path and the flow when you design the areas.
  2. Instead of one huge dining table, Doris opted to line up 3 dining tables. When needed, you can split the tables between the kids and the adults.
  3. Provide the ultimate comfort by installing an awning plus a couple of wall-mounted ceiling fans over the dining area. You get more design options and can cover a larger surface if you opt for a non-retractable awning.
  4. Placing the bar inside a pool house with a full window wall extends the bar usage to rainy days or cold nights. It is also simpler and cheaper to install a bar fridge, an ice maker and a sink if your bar is inside.
  5. Do not be afraid to add glamour to your décor. Play with contrasts to surprise your guests. Here the chandelier and the ornate mirror add sophistication to modern furniture.
  6. Your backyard should look and feel amazing at daytime and nighttime. You want to fully enjoy every corner all day long. The activity that you do may change during the course of a day but all the space must stay usable.
  7. Backlighting is an amazing technique to add drama. Softly illuminate the areas where you wish to promote intimate conversations.

Photo credits: Stacey Brandford for Canadian House & Home – July 2007 issue, pages 122-127 – rights reserved

+ My 5 design tips for the perfect backyard for entertaining

FOOD + DRINK OUTDOOR entertaining RECIPES + menus

Petanque and Picnic in the City Park

picnic petanque party theme

G. from my network got a fabulous idea. He organizes weekly friendly pétanque games in the park. Everyone brings their own boules and food. He brings a portable BBQ.

Make Your Own Club

Sometimes entertaining can be as simple as planning and hosting an event around an hobby. Everyone can bring their own stuff. Still, the investigator receives the merits of organizing the event.

G. uses Facebook to inform us of the event and gather attendances. It is quick and easy to set up. We have an informal meeting but you can easily make a league and keep leader boards.

Obviously, you can devise a Provincial party theme for an annual picnic event. Most cities require a permit if you wish to host a picnic of 25 persons or more in a city park. Often the fees will guarantee you a spot with tables and a few BBQ. Ask if you are allowed to serve alcoholic beverages.

You can find across America Pétanque clubs with actual pétanque courts. But it is not a must to play; you can play on grass if you have to. It is better to play on a hard dirk surface. Remember that the boules must be able to roll. If you like the game, here are so clues on how to build your own pétanque court.

Food and Drink Menu

Go with south of France cuisine for a petanque and picnic party. You can let go the typical BBQ menu. Instead baguette sandwiches, nicoise salad, ratatouille and cheese platters.

The signature drink has to be pastis. Typically put 1 part of pastis to 2 parts of cold water. Put between 3 to 7 parts of water per part of pastis. Most people prefer 5 parts of water for 1 part of pastis, like suggested by Petanque America. Purists do not  put ice. If you do, add the ice at the end to preserve the flavour of the drink. Pastis is an anise-flavored liqueur. Ricard and Pernod are the most known brand. This drink is meant to be sipped slowly which is why it is perfect for the game of pétanque.

Learn the basic rules of pétanque here.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Ricard
Recipe: Nicoise Salad by Simply Recipes
Learn more: Newcomers in Sonama on Petanque America
Learn more: Building a Court on Petanque America
Photo credit: mon.2vue on Flickr – some rights reserved


Modern Style Pools Fit For Entertaining

cool mdern style pools :: vanishing edge pools

I have a thing for square modern pools that are more on the Zen minimalist side. As you can see by looking at these pictures, you can create an elaborate pools with clean lines.

The first pool (1) is an ad from House of Lavande, the vintage jewelry shop. The pool is so hip! If you like fashion and jewelry, you must check their site.

The other pools are from the portfolio of two Canadian pool makers: Poolscape from Burlington, Ontario and Valley Pool & Spa from Kelowna, British Columbia.


The Altantic Edge (2) is the cliché vanishing edge pool done at the cottage. That pool features 12 foot tiled step and a natural style catch basin (viewable from the lake).

Orchard Beach (3) is a concrete pool with a tile interior. This pool has steps at three extremities. It shows that you can integrate a modern shape pool with a traditional house. Both styles get harmonized through the materials and finishes. This pool built in Oakville featured a Riverflow swim jet for swimming against the currents.

The raised desk is in fact the roof of the pool equipment bunker. I think it is a clever use of space. The raised pool wall creates an ideal spot for the two glass-walled waterfalls.

Valley Pool & Spa

This company built an impressive number of custom concrete pools. Many of their pools integrate one or many vanishing edges. Valley Pool & Spa used a cast-in-place-concrete process to create the pools of your dreams.

I do not dream of a huge pool. Picture # 5 represents the perfect size for me. I like the chic simplicity of that pool. But I prefer the glamour of pool # 4.

Features that are great for entertaining are in-pool bar stools (6), spas, and beach entrances. Placing the outdoor kitchen close to the pool (6) lets the cook mingle with the guests. Do not underestimate the power of lighting (4) to create a fabulous entertaining spot at night.

>>> Sourcing:
Learn more: Gallery Album of Poolscape
Learn more: Gallery of Concrete Pools by Valley Pool & Spa
Read more: Pool Design Trends for Summer 2008 [Guest Blogging on Style Sheet]

ALL occasions GIFT IDEAS

Follow-up story | My search for retailers of Koziol


To answer a reader request, I searched for more sources of Koziol. This time I searched in Canada.

I told you this week that was harder to find retailers in North America for Koziol.  A sad thing!

A Confirmed Retailer in Montreal

I am happy to report that a small retailer in Montreal carries many Koziol products. Chez Farfelu Maison just received a new shipment of cool kitchen and bathroom accessories.

Missing Opportunities

As many small retailers in Quebec, Chez Farfelu Maison does not have a Web site. Specialized independent retailers often carry unique stuff but the lack of a well documented Web site makes the task of finding them a lot harder. I made 7 phone calls to dig one retailer that carries Koziol.

I think that retailers are missing on a great opportunity. With the current trend towards fun and colorful housewares and interior design, this should create a demand for Koziol products. A design that might not have exists in the past. Moreover, Koziol products are affordable for the masses.

I just sent an email to the Canadian distributor. I hope to get news soon It was quick (15 minutes in a Sunday afternoon, I should have checked back my email before posting). Diana Arn suggested Chez Farfelu Maison and Crash.

Update: Paulla Maxey of Crash contacted me. She told that they carry a fairly extensive inventory in Koziol and review the line continually for updates.

I dug so far three Canadian retailers:

Farfelu Maison (Chez)
p 514.528.8842 – 838 Avenue Du Mont-Royal Est, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2J 1X1

p 604.684.9922 – Unit 7 at 1551 Johnston Street, Vancouver, Canada, V6H 3R9
open daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m

  • I found a store on eBay Canada Your New Gift with a few items. Unfortunately the coolest products I presented to you are not in the inventory except for the Pic Up.

I keep you posted on as I discover new sources.

April 29th, 2008 Update: Diana Arn also sent me retailers for Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

+ Bring Happiness in Your Kitchen with Koziol


Add a Touch of Summer with Far Afield Dinnerware from Anthropologie

far afield dinnerware and table linens at anthropologie

The romantic feeling that you get when you visit an Anthropologie shop appeals even to a modernist like me. Once again, I felt under the charms of their lively dinnerware.

Fresh Floral Dinnerware

This Far Afield dinnerware pattern screams summer on the good way. It  is perfect for hosting a brunch and for casual family events. 

The plates, bowls and mugs are sold individually to suit your taste and budget. You can easily mix this bold floral pattern with solid color dinnerware than you already own.

Table Linens

If you prefer white china, go for the table linens. Bright, vintage-style floral patterns bedeck white poplin, trimmed with red stitching and dotted ruffles with the Rondelet table linens. Two sets of napkins complete the Rondelet collection.

You can also check out the Pavot Tablecloth with sunny yellow piping.  The crochet and crimson pompom border Scarlet Marigold Table Linens has a fresh Spanish vibe.

International shopping

I am also glad that Anthropologie is one of the friendly US retailers that ships to Canada. Their latest ecommerce system has been up for some time now. People from 34 countries can now shop in their currencies and received at home the marvelous products at Anthropologie.

I went to Anthropologie a couple of times with my husband and he does not get that vibe. Me, I enjoyed it! Anthropologie is definitely a girl thing.

Buy online: Far Afield Dinnerware at Anthropologie – price: $10-$14 USD
Buy online: Rondelet Tablecloth at Anthropologie – price: $32-$98 USD
Buy online: Pavot Tablecloth at Anthropologie – price: $24-$108 USD
buy online: Scarlet Marigold Table Linens at Anthropologie – price: $32-$108 USD


Festive Glassware for Spring and Summer by BodaNova


Things can be bold, cheerful and playful and still convey a mature look. Fun tableware goes hand in hand with spring and summer entertaining. I went on a lookout for festive glasses to decorate in a flash your table settings.

I started my search with the Scandinavian designers since designing lively and fun patterns is one of their strength. I found what I was looking for at BodaNova. Founded in 1971 in Boda, Sweden, BodaNova is now part of Iittala Group.

One Tube – Four Glasses

The tube package is really neat. With pattern names like Joy Smile, Joy Fun, Joy Happy, Joy Play, One Tube – Four Glasses conveys Glad to Be Here when you give it to the hostess. Handy to carry around, you can buy a set or two for when you go to picnic.

With its retro vibe, One Tube – Four Glasses is the perfect gift for people who like to chill in a cocktail lounge atmosphere. The glassware design would also be perfect for a kid party.

Fun-Filled Nature Inspired Glassware

One year ago, the Season concept was launched (middle right picture). Designer Barbro Wesslander for BodaNova played with her sense of color, style and fantasy. Season comes in green, yellow, red and black. The series includes a glass, a small plate, a serving plate, a tray, tablemats and serviettes.

For spring 2008, Barbro Wesslander has created the Blossom series (top right picture). The patterns are clearly more organic. You can serve all sorts of coffee, chocolate drinks and beer in the Blossom’s Blue Flowers and Brown Flowers. In fact, the Brown design includes three round metal canisters that are ideal for storing tea, coffee, cocoa and sugar.

For an alfresco dinner or Mother’s Day, go with the Green Plants or Pink Plants. This year pink and green is a hot color combination, so you can mix both. It is easy to imagine yourself sipping a fresh juice or a glass of rosé in the Plants design. Three rectangular canisters for serving crisp breads, crackers, biscuits and sweets complete the Green Plants family.

Crisp Breads

I am a fan of crisp breads. I stopped eating crackers and replaced then by crisp breads about five years ago. I typically buy two kinds: the Light Rye and the Dark Rye by Ryvita. These are made in England. To inspire you to eat more crisp bread, I took a tasty photo from Wasa Web site, they are the world’s largest producer of crisp bread.

Stock several crisp bread bags on your pantry. You will be ready to make canapés for improvised parties. Why not borrow the Insalata Caprese on crisp bread idea from a Ryvita advertising campaign?

Buy online: BodaNova One Tube – Four Glasses Joy Tumbler at GreenerGrassDesign – price: $32 USD for 4
Learn more: Blossom Collection by BodaNova