Birthday Party Recap

My childhood birthday party memories are filled with images of kids, cake, balloons, presents and pinatas (my Dad would make me pinata year after year for my parties). Simple pleasures. So I put aside the idea that Oscar's birthday had to be a production, and focused on making it purely fun. And to make it purely fun, I focused on making it easy. :)

My 5th birthday party with my friends from the street.

We hosted a birthday party on the Saturday for immediate family, which is why I was baking up a storm. A simply BBQ, and family brought salads and munchies. I ordered 24 helium balloons from my neighbourhood stationery store, and they delivered them the morning of the party and they were scattered throughout the house. I used my no-sew bunting flags for the event - they can be reused every year, something I intentionally wanted, to create some tradition to birthdays. Over the years the bunting flags will get worn, but I hope that little things like these will contribute to fond memories as he gets older.

Our Living Room was filled with helium balloons for Oscar

The next day, Sunday was Oscar's real birthday. Aubrey had to work, so Oscar and I spent the day taking a little walk to Starbucks to see his favourite barristas who all wished him a Happy Birthday, and playing with some of his new toys. At night we went to my Parents to celebrate his real birthday with a celebratory dinner, and this cake by my Mom....

My Mom made this cake for Oscar
Oscar's Birthday cake is a perfect example of how my Mom made birthdays so special for us growing up (and still does).  She found this recipe online at Betty Crocker and made it for Oscar. How cute is that!? When Oscar gets older, we're adding a pinata to the mix as it was one of my favourite traditions at my birthday. Not sure if others have traditions they have carried down for their children?

So there you have it. The birthday festivities weren't themed or overly planned. We just had family, sweets, balloons, presents, and a lot of hugs and snuggles. The perfect recipe for a perfect birthday weekend.

Pass The Salt Please!

This idea brings passing the salt to a whole new level!  A transforming design that offers dining flexibility and also offers additional preparation space on the kitchen side when needed!  Great!

Birthday Party, The Cake

Oscar's Birthday weekend was great fun. There are so many different elements to the weekend that I thought I'd break them into a few posts as each element is unique and special. This is my last "Baking" post for a long, long time. ;)

Some birthday cakes are fancy, and beautiful. Themed and stylized. But I think there is something perfect about a simple, classic birthday cake. My Mom makes the most delicious cakes from scratch, and one day, I will try to recreate her famous cakes, but for Oscar's birthday his cake was courtesy of a Duncan Hines box. :) I took a chocolate cake, and a vanilla cake and did layers. The icing, being SUPER easy is home made. Simply Icing sugar, Butter, Vanilla flavour and some water.

The icing isn't perfectly put on, but that's what happens when your baby gets scared of the KitchenAid Stand Mixer and wants the cling to you as you ice the cake. It was a bit of a struggle but we did it in the end, together. The cake is 3 layers and topped off with sprinkles. I was going to put some circus toppers on it, but I just fell in love with the simplicity and stopped after the sprinkles. This may be common knowledge but if you want to know the trick to doing layers,  there is one simple step.
You need to slice that "hump" off the top of the cake off all of the inside layers. You want to make it as flat as possible, because if you start layering with the humps, your cake is going to wobble and potentially slide off one another when you ice.
Just do that with all of the "inside" pieces but leave the hump on the top one. :)

And there you have it. Our sweet classic cake, for our sweet little boy.

United Colours of Rhythmic Asymmetrical Cabinetry!

The Mogul thinks this is great!  There is relative safety in this design as it is developed around tried and tested materials and incorporates some popular 2011 design trends, like the split level worktop and asymmetry.
However the coloured units set in a rhythmic pattern on the left hand wall add warmth to the design drawing our eye towards the “Benetton Factor”.  It is almost as though the artist creating this picture had some vibrant paint accidently drip from their brush and in doing so they have created something unique!
Kitchens should be functional but they should also be fun!

Birthday Party, Sweets

Oscar's Birthday weekend was great fun. There are so many different elements to the weekend that I thought I'd break them into a few posts as each element is unique and special.

Leading up to the weekend, our house was filled with the sweet scent of lilacs from our garden, or maybe it was all of the icing sugar floating through the air as I made desserts. Although the birthday boy got little sugary treats himself, no birthday party is complete without cake. And although I made a cake (I'll do another post on that...) with the success in my kitchen of my 5 Minute Cake Pop, I decided to venture into new territory...

Honestly, I'm addicted now to these things. This time, instead of sticking lollipop sticks into the timbits, I dunked the donut holes into the icing and placed them on wax paper. Next, I put a smartie, and then sprinkled some sprinkles onto the top. Pop them into the fridge and maybe an hour later take them out. The wax paper makes them VERY easy to peel off. (See original recipe and post here)

You can see in the VERY bottom photo there was a lot of icing that had pooled around the bottom of the ball. But the pooled icing is missing from the top. To remove the pooled icing, I took scissors and gently cutting away the excess. (I worried that by using my hand, the pressure may rip the ball)

3 tiered Cake stand, William Sonoma , Photos by Lindsay Stephenson

Your Style, Your Kitchen!

There is just something about approaching kitchen design from an artistic stand point that really surprises people.  Design is about creating something that is useful; inventing something that solves a problem and fulfils a need; like a paper clip!  But the discipline of design also offers a unique opportunity for an individual to shine; to make their well thought out solution more personal, there is room for self expression and artistic flare. 
For years the idea of artistic design has been recognised and encouraged in furniture design and architecture but this idea has only become more main stream for kitchen design in recent years.  Why has it taken so long?  Have artistically minded and talented people been reluctant to get involved in the field of kitchen design due to the systematic under valuation of kitchen designers?
Is it because the people using kitchens couldn’t see past their basic function, or has the idea of the artistically defined kitchen design been seen as elitist?  Has the advancement of more cost effective manufacturing techniques and new technology made the creation of bespoke, artistic installations easier to achieve?  The Mogul cannot be sure, but would suspect that it is a combination of all of these things.
No matter how you see things you will have to accept that the humble kitchen has seen a change in fortune in recent years becoming an extension of personal image...a must have fashion accessory that can promote affluence and style.  As important as the car you drive! 
Whatever type of kitchen you choose to own you will find that the artistic element involved will be personal to you.  Your style, your kitchen!

Happy Birthday

 My sweet little boy turns one today. I'm going back to snuggle with the napping birthday boy but I had to document this special occasion on our blog, for it is a very, very happy day in our house. :) Pssst - To see a year of Oscar posts, click here. :)

The Pragmatic Culinary Artist

When considering these concept stainless steel islands it is easy to appreciate that they are the physical manifestation of an artistic mind.  Obviously a kitchen designer would include an additional, equally impressive sculpture on which to prepare gastronomic surprises and culinary treats.
Kitchen designers can be described as frustrated artists with a pragmatic approach to culinary function.  Please appreciate yours!

Some weekend links...

It has been a busy week over here. I leave you for the weekend with the following fun links to visit.  My newest post for Style at Home Magazine on Reformed-Art is up. Work wise, I've been busy on launching Personalized Stamps in my shop + have a promo on them right now. Personally, we're gearing up for Oscar's first birthday that is this Sunday, that I'm getting a little teary over that. I can't believe it has almost been a full blown year since Oscar joined our family. We're celebrating with a family party on Saturday, keeping it pretty low key but Oscar will have his buddy Hudson over for a playdate on Sunday. See ya' next week! xo Lindsay (Mom to the almost one year old baby/man)

Are you having a Mid-Life Crisis?

If you decide that you want a new kitchen you can be undertaking a journey of personal self discovery and unwittingly shouldering a social mantle, placing yourself before your piers to be judged and scrutinised.  So why not decide to encourage some whispers at the local women’s institute coffee morning buy revisiting your youth and indulging in a kitchen design that challenges expectation.
This kitchen is not a mid life crisis, it is an expression of the artist within you, the forward thinking design guru that you always knew you were and the person who will be admired for being different! 
Kitchen design is now a multi-layered discipline that has the ability to define not only the surrounding architecture but also the people who bring life to the space!

Framing Project: Oscar's Bow Tie

I'm on a roll now that we have a Mat Cutter in our house. I'm finally adding things to the frames. Some frames, like this one, have been sitting unused for years. Here is a piece I did for the basement.

I framed Oscar's first bow tie! I now smile whenever I pass by this frame. For this frame I didn't want to glue the bow tie to the matting, as there is also a lot of material, and I also didn't want to ruin the bow tie. Here is what I did.

1. I took the old matting that came with the frame, and traced it's dimensions onto a NEW piece of mat.
2. I cut a piece of white mat to the same size as the old matting dimensions
3. I drew on the back of the matting 2 lines where I wanted to create "slits". These slits were going to be where I fed through the bow tie.
4. I used my slicer tool (the same one that I used to cut the mat to size) and sliced 2 small lines in the middle of the mat where I had decided and marked out prior
5. I fed through the bow tie and tied it on the opposite side, replaced the matting and was done.

And there you had it, a fun little piece of art. (I'll show you how to use the mat cutter in more depth in an upcoming post) xo Lindsay

Metallic Vortex

This design from the Contempora range by Aster Cucine is just beautiful; conjuring up an air of sophistication that inspires the viewer to get tactile with the finishes. 
The semi recessed, polished metal finish presents you with a visual experience that could be likened to a futuristic aquatic gateway into another dimension.  This shimmering, almost fantasy material invites the viewer to reach beyond the current realms of kitchen design and imagine what can be achieved when new materials and finishes are used.  This metal finish also invites the light making the experience versatile and interactive, giving the design a new and powerful edge.
However, The Mogul has to question the layout here..!  The seated area reaches into the centre of the room obstructing access to the ovens from the main cooking zone and creating a challenging if not useless space between the back wall and the hob. 
You can never forget that a kitchen needs to be functional first and beautiful second....but in this instance The Mogul must make an exception!  Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to this scene every morning!

New Tool: The Mat Cutter

As I've mentioned before I love Ikea frames. However, I hate to knock Ikea because I think they rock, but I find their matting yellow. It may be because my walls are uber white, so I notice it more, but the matting isn't as "bright" as I would like. Another element is, that I've also wanted to start experimenting with store bought frames by adding new window mat sizes to them to create visual interest. The look of custom framing, at a fraction of the cost. :)

So the solution to the yellow matting, and to create new window sizes is to get new mats cut to fit in store bought frames. But, going to get mats cut at a art store is surprisingly expensive, and not to mention time consuming. Fast forward to now....You're going to start seeing me do a lot of "frame" hacks, because we have the Logan 450-1 Artist Elite that I got c/o Logan Graphics. 
The mat cutter unopened, waiting for me to get the courage to open

I'm getting the hang of it I have been experimenting with cuts, getting used to this new tool. So far I'm getting used to cutting matting to size (super easy) like for my Flamingo print where I just cut a new mat board to size and rested the print on top of the matting. I'm kind of in love with this mat cutter as it has opened a whole new world of creativity.

It is big, but I slide it under my studio couch, so it is out of the way. And because of baby Oscar, we put all of the blades away somewhere out of his reach/find. So this is the lovely tool that is allowing me to do some fun things with my graveyard of unused frames in the basement.

A big tool like this isn't for everyone, but if you're like me and crafty, and kind of want to find ways to creatively use frames in your own home, this mat cutter is kind of a huge deal! Anyhow, I wanted to show you this tool to understand all of the fun framing projects coming up.

Antique hunting outside of the city

I popped into the Argyle Blacksmith Shop/ Antique Store this weekend, a tradition on most trips up to my cottage. (Click here to visit last years post) The visit normally goes like this: We park the car, Aubrey runs into the General Store to buy us coffees and 1 butter tart to share, and I run into the Antique Store to see if I spot anything small that I can fit in our little car. Here were some things that caught my eye.

This inflatable stool  [2] caught my eye immediately as it was just shown on Design Sponge, when they picked one up at Brimfield. I still find it kind of wonky, but hilarious. ($30 each) [3] This rocking chair is uber cute, and would be perfect painted, and some re upholstery. [4] I've always loved vintage cash registers and one day will likely pick one up for Oscar to play with [5] If this were a few years down the line and we were looking for a new bed for a spare room I would 100% have bought this bed and painted it pink, green or some awesome colour [6] This old payphone would be awesome in a kitchen for some kitsch.

Argyle Antiques, Open Fridays, Weekends and Holidays but also by appointment

Corner of Glenarm & Hwy 46

Break a Leg!

This island is certainly different; curved functionality placing the gastronomic conductor right in the middle of the orchestra pit. 
The Mogul loves the quirky step in the island! The designers have resisted the urge to plug the gap and this unusual feature really makes the design shine...But you can almost imagine the kids crawling through this “tunnel”, just as the gastronomic conductor reaches the climax of a sweaty and passionate symphony of cooking!  Just be careful you don’t “Break a leg”!

Recycled coat of many colours!

This design is unusual, presenting a text book approach to contemporary kitchen design and yet giving us an unusual if not unsettling design contradiction.  The kitchen itself is dominated by a sleek, monolithic island that has been anchored to a recessed plinth giving it a free hung appearance. 
The modern look has been enhanced by using smooth finishes and integrating the handles into the design; this popular combination of features gives this kitchen a clean and un-interrupted look!   What makes this design different though is that it has been dressed in a recycled coat of many colours!
From a simply aesthetical point of view The Mogul feels that the chequered pattern used to define the design is deliberate and un-natural, making the clean, linear lines of the design too busy and over dramatic; confusing the picture for the viewer!
However, could it be that this is in-fact an emerging trend?  The Mogul has noticed several designs surfacing of late that feature a tiled or mosaic pattern built upon a contemporary format!  Cynically though it could be seen as over design!
But amid this aesthetic argument is one fact that supersedes everything!....This design has been manufactured from recycled paper (Paperstone)!  There is a real opportunity here to awaken the eco warrior within, and wallow in the satisfaction that comes from knowing that the kitchen you own is having no impact on the environment! 
For that fact alone we must salute the designers!  Aesthetically!  Argue amongst yourselves!

Gorgeous storage

I have a thing for baskets. I have to hold back the urge to buy more whenever I'm at HomeSense. I spotted these online at Serena and Lily. How fun would these be a playroom? Fun and colourful, and a great way to quickly tidy a room. I'm wondering if a DIY project could be done...has anyone painted woven material before? I smell a project brewing....:) Available here.

Biological interpretation of light

Chromatics is the science of colour which tries to understand the subjective interpretation of visible light.  The ability of the human eye to distinguish colors is based upon the varying sensitivity of different cells in the retina to light of different wavelengths.  It can therefore be said that colour preferences are not based solely on acquired taste but that these personal inclinations are influenced by genetics!

The modern kitchen has become an influential melting pot of ideas that encompass cultural attitudes to art and design.  The kitchen has become a functional mannequin that can be dressed in cheap, colourful or expensive clothes fitting the client preferences perfectly and influencing architecture and interior design!

How do you see your kitchen?  Functional workspace, or a biological, socially influenced interpretation of light?

Artist Profile; Gavin Slate

As you know, I highly respect those who choose art as a profession. I've profiled painters, and illustrators, and now I'd like to introduce another style of artist, musicians. Having dabbled in visual arts, I am comfortable explaining why I adore a piece of visual art, but diving into music is a bit intimidating. Simply put, I love music. From classical to pop it has all been played in our house, a love that was inherited from my Dad.

On that note, I'd like introduce you to Gavin Slate. I came across his music as I'm dear friends with his sister.  And, when his EP release party was approaching she posted this video and I was hooked. There is a sweet melody, a calmness to his voice that is soothing. I hope you enjoy the song. Gavins music is available on iTunes.
GAVIN SLATE - Life As A Salesman Music Video from Stedfast Media on Vimeo.

Website,, Buy Online

an Ikea frame hack, inspired by Sarah Richardson

When I visited the 2011 Interior Design Show I fell in love for the pink flamingo print in a bright yellow frame in Sarah and Theo Richardson's booth. It combined two colours, Honeysuckle which is the colour of the year, but also with Yellow, the colour of the Summer. :) The print, purchased at Chair Table Lamp wasn't available for purchase but the inspiration was ignited and I set out to find a way to have the print.

I found the print online at and sprayed the IKEA Ribba (40 x 50cm) frame yellow with Valspar Gloss Yellow Paint from Lowes.

Because I'm particular, I replaced the matting that the IKEA frame came with, with a new white mat that I cut on my mat cutter, choosing to rest the print ontop of the mat, instead of behind it. I love, love it.

Goes to show you how you can hack a simple IKEA frame with a can of spray paint.

TIP: Choosing the Print High vs. Low The 30 x 41 size print is from at $39.95. There are a number of John Audubon Flamingo Prints to choose from, ranging from $12.99 and up, but I'm really in love with the print I have, the print colours are stunning, and the paper quality is a gorgeous watercolour paper. The one I chose was item #6269792  Edit: Since buying the print, the price went up from $39.95 to $49.95 (not sure why) but they often have sales.

Downing Street Kitchen

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country!  These words may have been from an iconic American President who was struck down before his time but they could also be used as a patriotic call to all British kitchen designers to step up to the plate and create a masterpiece of functional craftsmanship that is deemed worthy of resting in the hallowed architecture of 10 Downing Street!
So David and Sam wanted a new kitchen!  Well in Monday’s Daily Telegraph Christopher Hope reports of an official row over the installation of a new kitchen in the Prime Minister’s residence!  Apparently officials have refused to reveal the cost of the installation which was described as “large and modern” and also exceeded Downing Street’s annual maintenance allowance!  Well the Mogul is guessing that if this kitchen has been described as being modern it is probably not British?!!!  German?  Italian....oh... but sold by a British company!
So who is worthy of answering the call for a truly British kitchen, are there any British kitchen designers or manufacturers fit for the Job?  In a country that excels in the fields of architecture, fashion and design and that is innately proud of its design would imagine that the choices would be many!  But with so many British kitchen designers becoming indoctrinated by the products, ideas and design principles from other parts of Europe, choosing to “Buy in” instead of manufacturing, you might find it difficult to find a designer or company who is capable of creating a truly British kitchen.  Would this kitchen of Britishness have Austrian drawer runners concealed beneath the English Oak dovetails?!  The Mogul wonders!  It could also be argued that only the best products from all over the world should be sanctioned by the chosen British designer to be worthy of this particular installation!
The Mogul doesn’t know who installed the kitchen or where it came from...but after undertaking the job of your life the company or designer in question may have been sworn to the official secrets act! 
Watch out for the New Years honours list for further information!
Here is The Moguls Suggestion for contemporary living Mr C!