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Work and Life

My Beach Family Vacation Checklist

beach essentials

Whether it is for a business presentation or going on a family vacation, being organized makes your life easier and so much enjoyable. Over the years, I compiled a checklist of beach essentials filled with stuff that brings us comfort, protects from the sun and will not overload our car trunk. Whenever it is possible, I select double-duty items. I organized my checklist by purpose. Continue Reading


Why Prescholers Need Some Time Off as Much as You Do

vacation at the beach

We sometimes forget that our little ones have a busy life. They have a lot of fun at daycare but, like you, having a break from their weekly routine is beneficial for them. Why should we confine their vacation time to summer?

My husband and I are both entrepreneurs. We need time off a few times a year, not just in summer. We use that time to recharge our body and free our mind. We usually spread our vacation time over the year. I believe that our toddler boy feels the same. Continue Reading


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 | KALVÖ $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. KALVÖ folding table is an affordable option available at IKEA. While ÄPPLARÖ 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!


For the Birds: Five Stylish Bird Houses and Feeders

modern bird houses

Squirrels should not be able to eat the material of these bird houses. I selected two glazed ceramic bird houses and three made of metal available in several colours. Except for the Piep Show XXL, which is designed to feed large group of birds, these bird houses should provide good protection for the birds that move to your backyard. The Piep Show XXL transforms into a bird bath if you place inside a big bowl of water.

I am not sure if Roost is still in production since I could not see it at Hepper’s Web site. If so, this would be sad since this is one of my favorite.

If you are a fan of Jonathan Alder’s Modernist Lantern bird house but you wish for one with a smaller price tag, the fluted birdhouse at Indigo can be your answer. The fluted birdhouse is definitely more rustic but it still looks good. Plus, I feel that the smaller hole would be safer for the bird family.

For more bird feeders, revisit this post from last summer that featured the bold J Schartz Egg Bird Houses and more.

+ Fluted Birdhouse $39.50 CAD at Indigo
+ Piepshow Home designed by Sebastian Herkner for Radius Design EUR 59,90
+ Roost designed by Jed Crystal $69 USD at Generate Design
Lantern bird house by Jonathan Alder $128 USD
+ Piep Show XXL designed by Ralph Kraeuter for Radius Design EUR 149


A Last Taste of Summer

These two books caught my eye last week at Indigo. I guess that I am sad that summer is coming to an end. But there are still a few nice days left and Halloween to produce the playtime projects of Meg McElwee, where she explores indoor and outdoor activities. She will show you how to sew your own dolls, a cape, a satchel, and a tent. Growing Up Sew Liberated showcases 18 projects in total. Other sections are Homemaking and Cooking, Bedtime and basic Clothing.

Anne Bell demonstrates how you can cook tasty meals outdoor, whether you are at the park or stay at a campground. The Camping Cookbook contains 95 recipes that can be made with one-ring burner, or a Dutch oven on a tripod.

Finally, their S’mores Kit is only available at their stores. It would made a wonderful last-minute gift if you get invited to a picnic or a weekend at the cottage.

For Canadians:
+ The Camping Cookbook $12.88 CAD online at Indigo
+ Growing Up Sew Liberated $16.46 CAD online at Indigo

For Americans:
+ The Camping Cookbook $11.53 USD at [affiliate link]
+ Growing Up Sew Liberated $16.47 USD at



New Uses for Old Things: Muffin Tins

muffin tin ice cube tray cookie bowl

muffin tin ice cube tray cookie bowl

There seems to be no end to the versatility of baking tins: from container gardens to home office organizing stations. Though as useful as they may be elsewhere in your home, turns out they can be put to creative use in the kitchen too.

With its inverted moulds, Wilton’s Non-Stick Ice Cream Cookie Bowl tray makes a simple scoop of ice cream practically gourmet. The fluted edges of each “bowl” mimic vintage ice cream sundae dishes, but you can create the look (and the taste) for less by flipping over a regular muffin tin, adding a generous coat of cooking spray and forming your cookie dough around the mounds.

Lest you work up a sweat baking these sweet treats in the summer heat, keep cool by adding oversized ice cubes to your drink. Place slices of lemon and lime in muffin tins, fill with water and freeze! Try freezing cucumbers and pairing them with this recipe for Spa Cucumber Water, or use berries and plop the ice cubes in a punchbowl. If you don’t have a large freezer, remember to make room to balance the muffin tin.

We want to know: have you re-purposed kitchen tools or utensils in creative ways? Share your tip in the comments!

+ Wilton Non-Stick Ice Cream Cookie Bowl, $11.99 USD
+ Lemon-Lime Ice Cubes from Industrious Justice

HOME + GARDEN MODERN architecture

What I Like the Most from this Geometric Hamptons Guesthouse

adjacent bath

adjacent bath

This huge guest house has plenty of things going for her (in French, a house is female). It unusual shape delivered fabulous spaces beautifully filled with high-end finishes and modern furniture. My top ideas to steal from this project are:

The adjacent bath is practical as more people can use its components at the same time. The blue tiles from Ann Sacks is stunning; sadly, I could not find which model it is.

modern kitchen

The kitchen cabinets are a mix of custom made (upper cabinets) and a Bulthaup kitchen system (lower cabinets and island). It shows that you do not have to stick to one company to achieve the design you are looking for.

nurseryworks bunk beds

I rarely look at bunk beds as a design inspiration but these ones caught my eye. The Duet Bunk Beds from Nurseryworks provides storage under the bed and at the end. You have a choice of wood and colors.

cabana room

The cabana room is inviting and provides tons of storage.

+ Geometric Hamptons Guesthouse from Architecture Digest – photos: Scott Frances


Kitchen Tip: Stock-Up for Your Slow Cooker

slow cooker veggies healthy mama baby blog

slow cooker veggies healthy mama baby blog

During these dog days of summer, the prospect of a hearty, rich slow cooker meal likely couldn’t be further from your mind. After all, it’s grilling season!

But this quick – and brilliant – tip from Tara and Stephanie at Healthy Mama, Healthy Baby makes so much sense right now, when farmer’s markets are loaded with fresh, locally grown veggies.

They chop meat and veggies to pre-assemble and freeze basic slow cooker meals. All it takes is a few ingredient adjustments to create completely different meals – from barbecue chicken to Thai curry.

Your slow cooker may stay in storage for another few months (although it sure beats turning on the oven during a heat wave!), but when you’re ready for your first cozy fall meal? You can re-live summer memories with the tastes of the season.


Lemonade Stand Love

lemonade stand diy party pink green

Nothing says summer like a cold glass of lemonade, complete with childhood memories of setting up a stand in the neighbourhood. And I’m not sour about it, but I don’t recall the lemonade stands of my childhood looking quite as put together as these.

A lemonade stand may be a quintessential childhood experience, but its charm lends well to all kinds of parties – from weddings and showers (both bridal and baby) to backyard barbecues and kid’s birthday parties. Here are a few that has us thirsting for more.

One Charming Party
Ever the hostesses with the mostest, the girls at One Charming Party have created the ultimate step-by-step guide to setting up a lemonade stand that will have the neighbourhood kids (and adults too!) abuzz. The addition of lime green and turquoise to the colour palette is so fresh we can almost taste it. Don’t miss their free printable signs!

lemonade stand diy one charming party

La Belle Parties
Cookies are one thing, but the amazing lemonade-themed dessert and candy spread take this stand to a sweet new level. The bold and bright modern paper goods are balanced with a squeeze of nostalgia via the mason jar glasses, wide pitchers, wooden crates and gingham tablecloth. See more delicious details at La Belle Parties.

lemonade stand diy party pink green

diy lemonade stand pink green

Beyond the Stand

While a wonderful theme on its own, lemonade stands make a lovely addition to weddings, showers or kid’s birthday parties. Check out the sourcing section below for more ideas on how you can integrate this fresh idea at your next summer gathering.

lemonade stand theme party idea wedding

+ How to Set Up A Lemonade Stand (with FREE Printables) from One Charming Party
+ Hot Pink and Green Lemonade Stand from La Belle Parties
+ Lemonade Stand Themed 1st Birthday Party from The Burrus Family
+ Jinhee & Mark’s Wedding Lemonade Stand on 100 Layer Cake
+ Justin & Mary’s Wedding Lemonade Stand on Style Me Pretty


For The Birds: Modern Feeders

birdfeeders J Schatz egg modern outdoor decor

modern birdfeeders wood etsy outdoor decor

Rustic wooden birdfeeders are perfectly charming in a country garden, but they can ruffle the feathers of urban outdoor spaces with contemporary design leanings. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of modern, quirky feeders that are sure to have friends – both of the human and feathered variety – all a twitter. These stylish options are on the pricey side, but would make a unique gift for new homeowners feathering their nest.

Canopy Bird Feeder Series from StudioLicious

Though made-to-order in Canada, this series of feeders has more of a Scandinavian sensibility. Available in various shapes and stain colours.

J Schatz Egg Bird Feeders

birdfeeders J Schatz egg modern outdoor decor

Want to add a little pop art pizzazz to your backyard? These candy-coloured bird feeders by NYC designer J Schatz will look like jewellery amongst backyard foliage. Bonus: they’re squirrel proof! Available in 8 colours.

Glass Birdhouses from Eva Solo and aHa! Modern Living

birdfeeders glass modern outdoor decor

There’s not a chance anyone will throw stones at these sculptural glass houses. Not only will they add sparkle to the backyard, it’s easy to see when these feeders need filling.

+ Canopy Bird Feeder Series from StudioLicious, from $52
J Schatz Egg Bird Feeder, from $135
Glass bird feeder from Eva Solo
+ Roost Utopia Birdhouses from aHa! Modern Living, $75


Tiki Torch Alternatives: Keep Bugs At Bay

outdoor lantern entertaining citronella candle

outdoor lantern entertaining citronella candle

I don’t know what’s worse: spending an otherwise gorgeous summer weekend attempting (and failing) to ward off pesky mosquitoes, or doing so surrounded in retro-in-a-bad-way tiki torches.

I wish I’d made time during pre-long weekend supply shopping trips to search out a few stylish alternatives. Pottery Barn has no shortage of pretty vintage-inspired lanterns just begging to disguise citronella candles, while German design company Blomus creates gorgeous, contemporary stainless steel torches that will last for years of hot summer nights.

Of course, not every outdoor occasion calls for fireside chic. These cheery Crate & Barrel citronella candles-in-a-can have portability on their side. Just stash a couple amongst your camping gear or with your evening picnic accoutrements so you’re primed to keep bugs at bay.

And, since there’s nothing stylish about scratching the evidence of a weekend out-of-doors, you may want to keep this list of home remedies handy too.

And if you are looking for more cool outdoor inspirations, revisit Kim’s Modern Style at the Cottage that she wrote for

+ Mercury Glass Lanterns, Pottery Barn, $8.40 – $89.13 CAD
+ Blomus Stainless Steel Patio Lantern, Lekker, $60 USD
+ Citronella Candle-in-a-Can, Crate & Barrel, from $1.50 CAD
+ 9 DIY Home Remedies for Relieving Mosquito Bites from Secret Tips from the Yumiverse