Posted by Cobi on Monday February 22, 2010 at 07:00 AM
I’m way too glued to the tv this week to write a blog, and I imagine you’re way too glued to read one.
And so, in the interest of saving time and paying homage to our great country, I found some inspirational images of decorating with with red and white.
My first apartment in the ‘80’s had a red and white theme and I still love the stack of quilts that I collected through that time.
I guess I love decorating with one colour plus white, and red and white is definitely right up there with blue and white, black and white, yellow and white, green and white…you just can’t go wrong.
Our family cottage has red and white linoleum tiles in the kitchen and invariably that’s the first thing on which visitors comment - they’re so fresh and classic. Just like Canada!!
Now cue Nikki Yanofsky…
RED AND WHITE FOREVER! GOOOO CANADA!!
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 15, 2010 at 06:58 AM
Happy Family Day!
One of the best ways to personalize your home is with family photos. It takes a bit of effort to turn family pictures into art, but done right, the payback is well worth it.
Maybe this is a good day to get out those photo boxes and start thinking about the possibilities?
For Christmas, I gave my daughter Charlotte a framed 8x10 black and white photo of each of her grandparents ‘cutting the cake’ on their wedding day. It’s nice to have them side by side in her room. I matted them in wide white and the frame is white too, so they make a fresh statement.
With family photos, it’s all about how you display them. Have a look at some ways I found while surfing….
I love this idea of just butting simple frames together to make a montage.
Or creating a montage without bothering with frames…these would be fun at a cottage…
Or how about this creative use of an old frame, turned bulletin board….
If you’re the framed-picture type, you just need to find places and ways to display them.
Look at what my friend Cameron MacNeil at H&H, did in a small hallway nook and kitchen.
And everyone’s always wondering what to put on that long, blank wall in the livingroom….
I’ve always liked the idea of running family photos up a stairwell - it’s such dead space otherwise.
One colour of frame unifies disparate pictures, as shown here by Pottery Barn.
But sometimes all that matters is that you can see those cute mugs.
If nothing else, be sure to take a few good shots of your family today and don’t forget to Smile !
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 08, 2010 at 07:00 AM
This weekend coming up is an amazing time to throw a party. I can’t believe we’re not having one, but the family cottage beckons thanks to the long weekend.
If we were going to be home, I would definitely be doing a combined Chinese New Year/Valentine’s Party. Just think of all the decorating possibilities with that tomatoey Chinese New Year red clashing up against the pinky reds of Valentines. Yikes!!
Bob and I have a lot of fun planning dinner parties for friends - especially in the winter when life isn’t as busy. Last year we had a Valentine’s party since it was on a Saturday night. I just pulled out everything I own that’s red and/or pink to decorate the table and had lots of sinfully rich foods along with champagne and chocolate of course. We seated the women on one side of the table and the men on the other and had a lot of good laughs as Bob played Bob Eubanks and commandeered a personalized version of the “Oldie-wed game”.
I didn’t take pictures of the table or I would show them to you. I do remember, instead of place cards we put a pink lei on each chair for the ladies, and a red lei on each chair for the men - everyone likes to get lei-ed on Valentines!
A great place to get inspiration for a Valentine’s party is to rent the movie Julie & Julia. Meryl Streep/Julia Child throws a wonderful old fashioned Valentine’s dinner party - I love the idea of red roses and red felt hearts on everyone’s lapel - so classic and french!
Here are a few shots from a Chinese New Year party we threw the year before… I got right into it as you can see from the decorating. One guest asked me where I was going to keep all the stuff afterward, “in your Chinese room?”. I wish I had one! Right now it’s all in plastic boxes under our pool table. But I always find ways to reuse (you already saw my paper lanterns in use again last summer at an outdoor party).
I picked up Chinese newspapers when I went to Chinatown to buy the bbq duck we served, and lined the table with it. I also bought some cute plastic Chinese food containers and did little crocus’ down the table. I looked all over for colourful chopsticks but only found red and green - they worked fine with the colourful glazed bowls I bought and paper napkins and lanterns. Cheap and cheerful!
I found little ‘laughing buddas’ for each of the men and pretty paper fans for the women. Can you tell how much I love getting lost in Chinatown? I think sometimes the shopkeepers wonder who this strange 6’ redheaded lady is who keeps showing up.
I used fishing line to hang little paper lanterns between our ceiling lamps and from the curtain rods.
For decoration I bought extra oranges in Chinatown too. At this time of year they pack them with some leaves, which are so pretty in a simple glass pedestal.
I bought 12 restaurant style little plates for dessert (they were something like $1.00 each) and I already had the tea sets.
For dessert, I made an almond cake with an orange glaze - simple but at least it was homemade.
And did a second platter of traditional cookies, oranges and lychees.
We had a ball. I can only imagine how good it would be if we combined Bob Eubanks with my laughing buddas this year….maybe we should talk to the kids and re-think this whole cottage thing…
Posted by Cobi on Monday February 01, 2010 at 07:00 AM
It’s February 1st today and I’ve got mini marshmallows on my mind….
I own 3 hot chocolate makers, and to all of my loved ones who gave them to me - don’t worry - they ALL make me very happy!!
My kids love hot chocolate in the evening, but not only that, I like to serve it as dessert at dinner parties in the winter.
I actually find that many people don’t eat dessert any more, and we’ve all had the disappointment of working hard on a homemade dessert, to have only a few people eat it, and even the ones that do, say “just a sliver!”, which means there’s a great big ‘ol chocolate cake for ‘guess who’ to nibble on in the days to follow.
I also find that many people don’t drink coffee after dinner - or maybe that’s just a “getting old thing”. Whatever it is, I’m not big on going to the trouble of making things that don’t get eaten or drunk. Drank?
And so I have decided, the solution to all the world’s problems is Hot Chocolate!! (Or at least a few of mine )
Hot Chocolate brings back heartwarming memories to anyone who grew up in Canada. How can you skate on a river, build a snow fort after the plow goes by, or toboggan down an icy hill, without coming home to a warm, milky cup of hot cocoa?
To serve it to adults, I like to make it in a pot on the stove - it’s easy to have ready beforehand so all you have to do is warm it up when dinner is done. Then pour it into one or two of my lovely jugs to ‘froth’ at the table. A bowl of mini marshmallows to pass is a must, or even better, homemade ones! (I’ve never made marshmallows and would love to hear if anyone has, or has a good recipe.) I have tried homemade ones from Whole Foods and they are amazing and really add an ‘elegant’ touch to the table.
My bodum insulated cups are wonderful - simple, classic and really work - I like this size (although they come in many) because they have room for some foam and marshmallows on top.
Here are some leads on my 3 pots if you’re interested….the glass one is also made by Bodum and has a plunger built into the lid that swirls the cocoa.
The ceramic one is made by a company called Bonjour and comes with a battery powered frother that sits nicely on a plastic lid.
And the beautiful, more old fashioned looking one, with removable wood handle and manual frother is really made for the thick and rich chocolat chaud, served in every good restaurant in France….. My dearest friend got it for me from my favourite store in Montreal, Arthur Quentin.
And on that note, I thought I’d leave you with a recipe for the best Hot Chocolate in the world. (For the real thing, you have to jump on the next plane to Paris and tell the taxi driver to drive directly to Laduree. Heaven is closer than you think….)
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Ladurée
Serves 4 people.
Use any bittersweet chocolate but keep in mind that it should be one you love, since its flavor takes center stage.
3 cups whole milk
5 Tbsp. water
5 Tbsp. granulated sugar
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, and sugar. Place over medium heat and whisk occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. At this point, blend the mixture. If you have an immersion blender, you can do this directly in the saucepan; or if you have a fancy jug like mine, you can awe your guests at the table while you froth. Either way, blend for 1 minute on high speed - and take care, as hot liquids expand when blended. The finished mixture should be very smooth and frothy.
Serve tout de suite!