Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crowning glory ...

Now that Prince William has popped the question, we all should be dusting off our crowns in preparation for the royal wedding. Perhaps we will not reign at his parade, but we can still flaunt a few imperial touches just the same.

  

Above, vintage crown earrings (left) selling on Etsy by Jealous Cat, and the majestic bookmarks (right) are from Hot Ref.


Coasters from Miss Finnans and hand-beaded pillows from Lili Alessandra will make a home feel like a castle.


EAB Designs has stamped linen napkins (above) with a crown design fit for a king.

 
These charming Kings Road dessert plates from Rosanna are sure to impress, as will the adorable favor boxes from My Jean M.



Someday a prince may come, but until then why not enjoy our time as a Ladies in Waiting with our own dishware from Anthropologie (above).


Can't touch the floor when seated on your throne? Drag out that old ottoman and give it new life like Aimee Boschet did above. She painted the wood base and embellished some burlap with a stamped crown motif that she used to reupholster the padded top. Good thinking, Aimee. It's nice to give your royal footmen a rest!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Dozing on the daybed ...

One of my favorite things about Sunday is my afternoon nap. I love to curl up with a good book or watch a classic movie on a comfy sofa, then nod off to dream with relaxed abandon.


I'm just thinking that my weekend ritual would be even more sumptuous on a plush daybed adorned with luxurious, down-filled pillows like the Versailles shown above (sold by An Angel at my Table) or either of those below (photos from: Design Shimmer on left and Country Living on right).

Both of the daybeds below bask in natural light and invite leisurely pursuits. The Grogan family home in Pennsylvania (left) is a lovely study of casual comfort. On right, Country Living magazine showcases a beach cottage's antique daybed dressed in Provencal linens.








This daybed (image via The Lennoxx) could serve double duty in a guest room.

 

If I considered a daybed more for guest seating, and less for reclining, I would be instantly drawn to both of these shown above. Photo on left from Southern Accents, and on right is a room from designer Jayne Wunder.

I may have to stretch out and give this some more thought.




Art from rubbish ...

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but creativity is the mother of reinvention! The artists who created these amazing works below are a testament to upcycling genius.



'Album Fish' occupies the side of a building in Jacksonville, Florida. Artist unknown. Image of urban art from recycled vinyl records via Bambi Goes Green.


Artist Irene Juliet Deely shows us what can be created from upcycled, aluminum Red Bull cans. Her work, entitled 'Liberty Rising' was featured at The Art of Can Exhibition 2010 at Galleria Dallas. Deely's 'karate-kicking Lady Liberty' was one of 50 works of art contributed by artists using Red Bull cans as a medium or inspiration.


Quirky Lotus features a festive transformation for recycled junk mail. Linda Nakanishi created a pointsettia wreath just in time for the Christmas holidays using a wire frame, hot glue, printed advertising mail pieces, a few beads from a broken necklace and some paint.  It's another artistic success with recycled materials.

And, if you no longer have need for your tophats, please enlighten them with a bit of creative license ...

Chicken Scallopini ...

Phil Romano's family recipe for Chicken Scallopini is among my favorites anytime of year, but it's particularly hearty and warming when there is a chill in the air. Give it a try, you'll love it.  Bon appetito!



Chicken Scallopini

Ingredients:
4 ounces lemon juice
2 ounces white wine
4 ounces heavy cream
1 lb butter
6–8 (3 ounce) chicken breasts, pounded thin
Oil, for sauteing chicken
Butter, for sauteing chicken
1/2– 3/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging
6 ounces pancetta, cooked
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
12 ounces artichoke hearts, sliced
1 tablespoon capers
1 lb cappellini or angel hair pasta, cooked
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Directions:
To make the sauce: Heat the lemon juice and white wine in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce by one-third.
Add cream and simmer until mixture thickens (3-4 minutes).
Slowly add butter until completely incorporated.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and keep warm.

Cook pasta and drain.

Heat a small amount of oil and two tablespoons butter in a large skillet.
Dredge chicken in flour and saute in pan, turning once, until brown and cooked through.
Remove chicken from pan and add to pan remaining ingredients.
Heat until mushrooms soften and are cooked; add chicken back to pan.

Place cooked pasta on each plate.
Add half of butter sauce to chicken mixture and toss.
Taste and adjust, adding more sauce if needed.
Place chicken mixture over pasta.
Garnish with parsley.
Alternately, mix pasta and chicken mixture together.
Toss with butter sauce and serve.



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Project: Acorn wreath ...

Since we have an abundance of acorns this year, my daughter Kathryn and I created our first acorn wreath for the holidays.




It's a simple project that requires only a straw wreath, acorns, glue, the paint color of your choice and some ribbon.

Gather and Bake. Begin by gathering acorns. Bring inside and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake them in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. This will insure that any little burrowed creatures are baked to oblivion.


 
Glue. Heat up a hot glue gun. Using an inexpensive straw wreath (about $1.99) as the foundation, begin to glue the acorns to the wreath. Snugly fit the acorns in a pattern with the pointed end always headed in the same direction. Don't bother to glue acorns on the back, since no one will see it and this will allow the wreath to lie flat against the door.




Paint. The decision here is 'to paint, or not to paint.' The wreath can be left natural (as Kathryn is showing above right) or spray-painted, as we ultimately did. Our wreath received a few spray coats of a champagne-colored metallic (as shown below) to complement our terra cotta colored door.



But, I have seen really cute samples in a variety of colors, like these below from Dana Made It.

 

Ribbon. Select a ribbon to complement the wreath's color scheme. Add a bow if you like and drape over a door.

A la carte Paris ...

Because I have traveled a great deal due to client work, I am often asked for recommendations in a variety of cities. "What hotel do you recommend in Rome?" "What are the best restaurants in San Francisco?" "When is the best time to go to Buenos Aires?" "Where is the best place to host a meeting in Warsaw?"

This is a photo I took at one of my favorite spots to relax, enjoy the sunshine and people watch at the Jardin des Tuileries.

But, the question I hear most often is, "Where do you stay when you go to Paris?" Well, there are two answers. When I've had to stay onsite for a conference, my accommodations are generally at a hotel, like the Paris Hilton. I've also stayed in sweet, little boutique hotels with a dozen rooms or less that have been adequate for sleeping.

But, when I visit Paris for personal pleasure, I rent an apartment.




While there are dozens of Paris apartment rental companies on the internet, I now only book through A la Carte Paris. They came highly recommended to me several years ago by a respected client, and I have not been disappointed. The company manages some of the very best apartments in the city center, with professionally decorated interiors that provide an authentic experience of daily life in Paris.


My husband and I try to make an annual trip to the City of Light, and I'm rather picky about comfortable accommodations.

The 'tres chic' A la Carte Paris apartments are always a delightful mix of antiques and contemporary furnishings and accessories.
This is a photo of one of the two-bedroom apartments (in the 6 arr.) we've rented previously.

All of the A la Carte Paris apartments are in the prime, central Paris neighborhoods or border the first 8 arrondissements (the only locations I select for my visits) - very upscale, safe areas filled with great restaurants, shops, monuments and museums, with convenient access to the Metro. I personally prefer the Right Bank, but there are absolutely fabulous pied-à-terre properties on the Left Bank as well.



Every apartment is fully-equipped and comes stocked with housewares and linens along with a tailored guidebook that provides a wealth of local information for quick familiarity with everything needed during your stay.


Owner Alex Wagner and his English-speaking staff are friendly and efficient during the booking process and throughout the stay. I'm always pleased with their hospitality and find comfort in the knowledge that I can reach them day or night if the need arises.


I've often thought that when it's time to retire, I would like to own an investment property in Paris that I could call home for 6 months each year and rent during my absence.




If that comes to pass, A la Carte Paris owns a sister company A la Carte Invest that can handle every detail on my behalf.


I love the way they can provide everything needed to locate, negotiate purchases, remodel, decorate and manage investment properties on behalf of their apartment owners.  All I can say is, "Sign me up!"

Polish the silver ...

While many of us will be polishing the silver for holiday placesettings, a lucky few will be dining UNDER their silver service. I only wish I were one of them.


The Hungry Chandelier above sets the tone for the sleek industrial look fans of designer Ali Siavoshi have come to expect. Photo via 30 Elm.


These two brilliant gems are among my favorites, not only for their style, but their humor as well. At left above, this chandelier appears to incorporate some dear grandmother's tablespoons and her custard mold as well. A similarly lighthearted approach is taken (above right) with the use of sections from a vegetable steamer, gelatin molds, and sherry glasses. Clever, very clever! Photo via Daily Poetics.



Wondering what to do with those mismatched china teacups and silver spoons bequeathed to you by dear Aunt Mildred? Follow the lead of this ingenious craftsman, and turn them into a one-of-a-kind light fixture. Image from Small Studio.

 



I can't decide if I prefer my recycled cutlery straight or curled. Both images above are moody and utterly appealing. Images via Poetic Home (left) and Mistletoe Lamp from Mothology (right).

Then, there is the amazing work from Canadian lighting designer Francois Legault, some of which is shown below. Beautiful!


Dancing on water ...

I would certainly agree with America's most famous humorist and writer, Samuel Clements (also known by his pen name of Mark Twain), who once said that there are only four unique cities in America: Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco and San Antonio.



With over 26 million visitors each year, San Antonio is a favorite destination for tourists who are drawn to the city's well-preserved, historic architecture and spectacular River Walk.  The slow, meadering river winds its way through downtown and is a major attraction year-round.  But, it is especially enchanting during the Christmas holidays when thousands of twinkling lights, draped from the centuries-old Cypress trees, are dancing on the water.


On Friday following the Thanksgiving holiday, the lights are turned on during the River Walk Lighting Ceremony, and the annual Christmas celebration begins with decorated holiday barges cruising the waters during the Holiday River Parade. Throughout the season, this spectacularly festive scene - unique to America's seventh largest city - draws tourists from around the globe.

 


Aboard river barges and river taxis, and perched along the water's edge at sidewalk cafes (above left), visitors get a true sense of the holiday season that extends to plazas and historical sites, including Alamo Plaza (above right) and the beautifully illuminated San Fernando Cathedral in Plaza de las Islas (below).


Feliz Navidad, mi amigos!

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