What I need: Alife Design

From my experience, being based in Europe means the amount of travel you do increases tenfold.  It means you can cover quite a bit of territory when it comes to short visits and vacations and you are able to do so more often.  In one hour you can land in 50 different cities (an understatement and an exaggeration)- in reality, you would be in more than 50 cities.   The increase in travel certainly puts some extra strain on luggage- I am starting to see this first hand.  Zippers seem to be the first to go followed by warn luggage corners and then bent frames.  I guess what I am saying is that my Toronto luggage has seen better days.

I also look at a lot of luggage while waiting for my own.  I never understand why some people plastic wrap their entire suitcase, only to have it cut open after (what a waste).  Then there are those people who think by putting a ribbon on their suitcase, will help theirs stand out from all the other suitcases with ribbons.  I am not sure that this strategy works but maybe offers peace of mind to the owner.

I am not investing in new luggage yet- that is a whole other beast of a topic that I have no patience to sift through but I did find an adorable design company called Alife based in Seoul that makes great travel accessories.

What a great name right?- Alife Design– This is the only time where you can say something cheesy like, I need “Alife.”  I couldn’t resist.

Some of Alife’s items that I love:

Lamb411 ALife Design Accessories Blog Photos10 alifedesign 2 alifedesign 6

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


Any favourite luggage brands out there with a bit of style and design?  Feel free to send me your tips as I embark on the task of “how to find better luggage and cute accessories” this summer.


Love This: Five Fabulous Things for Friday

It’s Friday!  What does that mean?  For some, it means recovering from a Thanksgiving turkey hangover, for others it means getting up super early to take part in Black Friday deals.  For some it means prepping for a day of cooking for a weekend full of entertaining or finally, for some today is just another day to simply go to work.

For me, it means making my way through a massive pile of assignment to grade, a quick drive to Dresden to find some lights for our new apartment in Copenhagen and a thanksgiving late lunch/early dinner on Sunday afternoon with friends.

Regardless of what today means to you, here are five things that I found earlier this week that I wanted to share.  I hope your Friday just got a bit more fabulous.

01: Great package design for Deli Bros Fine Foods by Hamburg based designer, Sven Hoffmann (love his work- he also did some neat stuff for the 25 Hours hotel group if you are familiar with them.)


Photo Source: Sven Hoffmann

02 Sous Chef- a website devoted to sourcing hard(er) to find ingredients, cookbooks and cookware for seriously ambitious home chefs. (They ship across Europe).

Photo Source: Design Week

03 This recipe for Spiced and Salted Pumpkin Pie Minis from My New Roots

04 Vintage furniture and home accessories from Eyecatcher in Dresden, Germany (Rothenburger Str. 11)

Photo Source: Eyecatcher

05 This “Kitchen for Living” from German design/living magazine Schoener-Wohnen

Food for Living

Photo Source: Schoener-Wohnen

By the way, if you haven’t checked out the second issue of Countlan magazine, I invite you to do so! I’m really happy with the way the second issue turned out and there are lots of neat articles related to entertaining that you might enjoy and a great cookbook giveaway on the Countlan Facebook page.


The Belated Birthday Cake

There are a lot of Libras and Virgos in mine and my husband’s families.  Between September 10th and October 21st there are seven birthdays that I can think of off the top of my head.  That is a lot of birthday cake to eat in the span of five weeks.  Could you imagine eating seven birthday cakes in less than one month? That is at least a cake a week and sometimes two per week.

Since moving abroad, we only get to eat “virtual” cake with our family members who celebrate in September and October- not a bad thing on the waist line- but of course it doesn’t beat the real thing!

This year, it turns out that my husband and I were out of the city travelling over both of our birthdays so no one got to bake or eat a “proper” birthday cake.  To rectify this birthday “injustice”, we made a belated birthday cake and celebrated with a few friends in Prague.

I set out to make a chocolate buttercream.  I went to the grocery store to find the appropriate baking chocolate but whatever I purchased was not what I thought it was and when I tried to make the chocolate buttercream the day before, it did not taste right, so I threw it out and started again.

Fortunately I had a bag of white chocolate chips sitting in my baking drawer on hand from an earlier out-of-Prague adventure that I’ve been meaning to use up.  I consulted my trusty “More from Magnolia” cookbook and decided to try Magnolia Bakery’s white chocolate buttercream frosting recipe which I paired with the vanilla butter cake recipe in Amy Atlas‘ “Sweet Designs” book.

Mix-mix-the Amy Atlas vanilla butter cake was simple, quick and a delight to work with. Love this cake, it is my new go to vanilla cake recipe!

30 minutes later, I had two beautiful 8″ cakes cooling on the wire rack making my kitchen smell amazing.

Next, the white chocolate buttercream.  I ran out of vanilla (liquid form) so I used vanilla bean paste instead which worked out quite well.  The bottle in the picture below is my LAST bottle of vanilla in Prague, so I have to reserve it for extra special baking going forward, or find a way to order Neilsen Massey online!

My white chocolate chips from Jane Asher, melt nicely in a double boiler on the stove top.

And poof! It magically turns into a double layer sprinkle covered belated vanilla birthday cake 🙂

We sliced into it after dinner and it was pretty sweet (tasting and deliciousness).

While I was assembling the cake, I thought to make four layers and perhaps put a layer of lemon curd or jam in between to cut down on the overly sweet white chocolate buttercream, but I was having trouble evenly cutting my layers so I nixed that idea and left it as a sweet, sweet cake.

Vanilla Butter Cake (from Amy Atlas’s book: Sweet Designs)

NOTE: I doubled her recipe and used two 8″ cake pans for taller cakes.  Her recipe indicates it makes enough for one 9-inch cake or 12 cupcakes.

1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups of all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
1/2 tsp of salt (I omitted salt because I hate the salt I currently have- it makes things taste too salty)
3/4 cup whole milk (I used whatever milk I had in the fridge)

Heat oven to 350F.   Line your cake pan with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides and continue beating while you add one egg at a time and then the vanilla. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two parts alternating with the milk.  Beat for 1-2 minutes until the batter is smooth.  Transfer to your cake pan.

Bake for approximately 17-20 minutes (mine took longer because of my small oven and the need to cook a double recipe for longer)- Watch your cakes and test to make sure the centre comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

What type of icing do you like to pair with a simple vanilla cake?  Do you have the Amy Atlas book? Have you tried making this cake recipe before?  I wish there was a chocolate version.


Love This!: P-Vine Travel Guide Books + Welcome Beyond

I am getting set to do a bit of travelling in the next couple weeks and in my research, I stumbled across these lovely travel guide books from Japanese publisher, P-Vine Books.

"Good time" Nordic Yuriko Mori


"Brooklyn Neighborhood" Mayumi Akagi

Photo Source: P-Vine Books

Even though I cannot understand Japanese, these look like cool books to have on a coffee table.  The illustrations and photography are beautiful and would still be helpful, no doubt.

On a separate travel related note-  has anyone used or seen this travel site for booking unique apartments and boutique hotels?  I just found it yesterday and I am in loveeeeee. It’s called Welcome Beyond “Hand Picked Paradise.”  Had I found it earlier, I may have used it to book some of my honeymoon stops.  The properties on this site are unbelievable.  Most are apartments/houses to rent but I did see a handful of smaller, unique hotels on the site as well.

It is interesting to think about why we find things when we find them.  Welcome Beyond is not a new site, but I only learned about it yesterday.  I wonder what led me to it.

If I could re-book the hotels on my upcoming route using Welcome Beyond, I would look at saying at:

L’ancienne Post in Provence

42 Rue Victor Hugo in Languedoc-Roussillon

Alemanys 5 in Girona, Spain

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks that Welcome Beyond is neat:

1. Yatzer: Welcome Beyond + interview

2. Flodeau: Welcome Beyond Hand Picked Paradise

3. Happiness Is: Welcome Beyond

4. Miss Moss: Welcome Beyond


Enjoy travel dreaming, dear readers! I hope this has provided some inspiration.






Love This: Homako

Believe it or not, the flight that I was supposed to take to kick off my honeymoon was cancelled.  Can you believe it?  We get an email from Edreams (FYI- never, EVER book a flight on Edreams) alerting us that our flight has been cancelled to Nice and we should call them to figure things out.

After fighting with two CSRs and no one willing to transfer us to a manager (a rather simple request), we are now rebooking with a new airline/website and re-routing our plans, hotels, car rentals and plans entirely.

So bye-bye to Nice, and hello to Lyon.  My fiance wanted us to to our trip off in Nice so he could say “It’s nice in Nice,” cheesy, yes, but it’s the simple things in life that bring a smile to one’s face. Oh well. I hear that Lyon is a delicious gastronomy city, so I am happy to have the opportunity to explore France’s second largest.

On another topic, I wanted to share another great Etsy find that I found a while back while reading Freakdelafashion’s blog.

Homako is a jewelry designer who is originally from Japan who now lives in Los Angeles. I love her jewelry designs.  She uses wood, fabric and other materials to make her geometric looking pieces and they are all available on her Etsy shop.  Soo cute!

Wood Jewel Necklace-Gold

Ami Rope Smile Necklace - Natural

Kuro Sankaku Necklace

Origami Hana Rope Necklace -  Light Brown

Photo Source: Homako Etsy Shop

 I have never experienced travel hassle to this extent.  I hope you are having a less frustrating evening than I am having.



Leon and Khoo

As someone who has had the opportunity to live in different countries, I can assure you that it pays to have friends all over the world.  I mean c’mon, how else are you supposed to grow your cookbook collection if don’t have people’s bookshelves to browse?  Yes, I suppose blogs and Amazon recommendations will suffice, but sometimes browsing a REAL bookshelf is more fun than a virtual one.

A friend of mine in Prague, who shares my interest in cooking/baking, has a great cookbook shelf.  The other evening while my fiance and her were discussing her new website/editorial/writing services that she is launching in London, I decided to occupy myself by browsing her cookbook collection.

The Leon mini restaurant empire (they have multiple locations in London) is premised on buying and cooking with local ingredients, good, wholesome, high quality ingredients, low GI foods, and food to statisfy a range of dietary preferences from vegan and vegetarian to omnivore and carnivore!  I am totally going to a Leon restaurant next time I am in London (hopefully before the end of 2012).

#1 Leon: Naturally Fast Food (Two cookbooks – book 1 (Amazon.co.uk has it, Amazon.com is currently sold out) + book 2 can be pre-ordered for September 2012)


Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

#2 La Petite Cuisine A Paris by Rachel Khoo.   Rachel Khoo, the English born chef and writer who now lives and cooks in Paris.  Her cookbook, highlights her cooking, and experiences of moving to Paris, enrolling in a program at Le Cordon Bleu and cooking/showing how simple it is to make French food in her tiny kitchen.

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,


I am always interested in new cookbook recommendations.  If you have any, send them over by sending me a note in the comment section below.







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