Saturday, August 27, 2011

What's a girl to wear ...

On the streets of Paris, everyone exudes a certain elan. Women look tres chic (and svelte, I might add), so it's no wonder I begin to panic as I start packing my luggage for a vacation in the City of Light. "What's in my wardrobe that works well in Paris this year? What do I need to buy before I go?"
This year I'm taking my que from Ines de la Fressange, Karl Lagerfeld's muse at Chanel, supermodel turned fashion designer turned author of the definitive guide to Parisian style, "Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Inès de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet."


Photo of Ines de la Fressange via R du jour.

After reading the guide by this doyenne of fashion, I'm feeling a lot better about my own personal style. I've recently been tossing out the worn and dated and curating a more classic wardrobe with simple, quality pieces that reflect my new lifestyle and career. These will work perfectly on the streets of Paris!


I love the casual chic style that Fressange knows well, and as women of the same age, her insight into what makes a well-dressed woman is totally on target. Whether you live in Memphis or Milan, Portland or Portofino, her clothing and accessory suggestions are frank and a fun read.

In her book, Fressage offers another great resource for what is au courant, the online marvel Grarance Dore. I love looking at this online website for the latest fashion news and shopping recommendations. (And, yes, it is in both French and English.)

Now, I just need to save a few dollars to spend shopping in St-Germain-des-Prés! 

Glamour shots ...

I'm in need of a shot of glamour! An injection of that alluring yet elusive sophistication would do wonders for my psyche! While I can't remember the last time I needed a glitzy dress for a formal occasion, I think just owning a glamorous gown is the very shot I need!


Image via This is Glamorous.

While the beguiling nature of these killer looks would earn some serious style points at any event, I would be happy to slip into any one of the sexy numbers shown here and simply strut around the house.


Valentino gowns via Greige.

Okay, so I don't have a waif-like body, but I would be willing to purchase any of the dresses shown here and stay on the Atkins Diet for life!







Even better, I could pack the jewel encrusted formal in my Paris vacation luggage and pose in the gown on our apartment balcony. Ha, what fun! Images above via photographer Brian Doben (left) and Paris Luxe (right).


Image via The Paris Apartment.
 
Okay, skip the crystal beading. A vintage chemise with simple embroidery looks just as stunning with modest accessories and the right attitude. It's amazing how a shot of glamour can have such a transformative effect.


Photo of French style icon Renee Perle.

Set up my appointment for an injection. Just a few more weeks on the treadmill and I'll be on the lookout for something daring!

Pleasures of a pied-à-terre ...

As if you can't tell, my mind is on our upcoming visit to Paris. Every time hubby and I head to France, we rent an apartment. It is a great way to experience the lifestyle of the residents and to become more intimately acquainted with the neighborhoods.


Image via Elle Decor.

If you asked my hubby, he'd tell you that I've been longing to own a Paris pied-à-terre (a small, vacation flat) of our very own. With the conversion rate of US dollars to Euros, that probably won't happen anytime soon.

 

I love to look at photos of fabulous apartments and visualize what type of pied-à-terre I would put on my wish list. Both swoon-worthy spaces above are typical of lofty Parisian flats with floor to ceiling windows and wood chevron-patterned floors. Images via An Indian Summer (left) and from my photo collection at right (sorry, I don't have a photo credit for this one).



The formality of Coco Chanel's flat (above) is lovely, but I think I would prefer the transitional feel of designer Juan Montoya's personal pied-à-terre (below.)



On previous visits, we've always rented a 1 bedroom/1 bath apartment, but extra space for family and friends was a must this year. We've moved to a 2 bedroom/2 bath rental apartment. It isn't grand, but it's absolutely perfect for us and our family. I love its St-Germain location in the 6th arrondissment.


Photos of our rental apartment living room (above) and dining room (below) via A La Carte Paris.


Even if that day of pied-à-terre ownership never comes, I will be content to rent my little piece of Paris and feel like les habitant du quartier!

Prints charming ...

Pick up any home or decor magazine ... go ahead thumb through any one ... and you're sure to find some striking, modern rug design. I'm head over heels for these charming prints, and my ultra favs come from designer Madeline Winerib.


Every one of the rugs from the Madeline Winerib Atelier is a work of art. As a matter of fact, I've seen stylists use as many of her carpets on walls as laid on floors.

 

The patterns are delicious and the colors rich and diverse. Above, the same Tibetan design in hot pink, with its instant impact on the wall, is available in a pumpkin orange for major floor drama.



I doubt if any other rug could have made as strong of a statement as the zig zag patterned carpet in a room this bold. It not only stands its ground in a pattern-infused space, it is the pièce de résistance!


This beige and blue Mandala rug is subdued, yet adds just the right amount of color and interest.



I've fallen in love with this brown Buche wool flatweave and think it would make a great addition to my living room. The simple, two-tone geometric pattern would add the pop and texture needed in our monochromatic design scheme.

Love these!


Friday, August 26, 2011

On the Menu: Duck Confit

I am confident that there is nothing on this earth more pleasing to the palate than duck fat, and I give Duck Confit five star status among the most delectable dishes.


Last week, I purchased a prepared Confit de Canard (duck confit) from my favorite charcuterie at our local Pearl Farmer's MarketKocurek Family Charcuterie makes a drool-worthy, ready to heat and eat confit when there is little time to prepare the dish from scratch.

But, when in the spirit to cook, this recipe from Chef Craig Domville will make a perfect Confit de Canard.

DUCK CONFIT

Directions:
Trim the visible fat from one whole duck, leaving a thin layer of fat on the legs. Using an all-steel or cast iron pan, render the fat over low heat. Once liquefied, strain out any lumps and return the fat to pan. (Note: If you don’t have enough fat to completely submerge two duck legs, you may also render additional pork fat.)

Save the tender duck breasts for another dish, and add the trimmed duck legs to the fat, along with two garlic cloves, cracked black pepper corns, bay leaves and dried rosemary. (Important: Use dried herbs to minimize moisture content so the confit is properly preservative.) Submerge the legs completely and bring the pan to a simmer.

Put the whole thing in the oven and bake at 225 degrees for two to two and a half hours - or until tender. Remove the legs from fat, strain off garlic and other seasonings. Pour fat back over legs – submerging them completely. Store in a metal or glass bowl.

Your confit legs are ready to roll. They can be preserved this way for up to three months in the refrigerator. The texture is tender, the taste is rich and they can be enjoyed hot, cold, sautéed, in soups, salads. Domville likes his straight out of the bowl!

I'm particularly fond of Confit Sarlandaisa traditional way of serving the confit with sliced potatoes that have been sauteed in the fat that was used to preserve the poultry. There is nothing better than this hearty cuisine from Perigord, an area east of Bordeaux, France!

Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hung up on art ...

Sure, there are lots of walls in my casa, but sometimes it's hard to gauge where to best create a gallery wall for my hodge podge collection of art and photos.


Image via From The Right Bank.

The dilemma comes from the fact that I like to change out my artwork on a fairly regular basis. If I created a less structured display, then I could move frames around without adding additional holes in the walls.



Image via Greige.

I've also learned that the secret to a good looking gallery wall stems from the similarity of frames, matting or subject matter. So, I'm always on the lookout for antique frames that are compatible with what I already own. Even if I have no art to frame at present, I pick up any frames that will work well with my current gallery so I have a supply on hand for future works.

Image via Abigail Ahern.

Perhaps, I am one of those people who could benefit from slim profile wall shelves. If I had these in my hallways, I could change out my gallery at whim.

Sounds like a brilliant idea until I think about it being just one more thing to catch dust!


Splendor in the grass ...

I remember when grasscloth was all the rage, then dissappeared when wallpaper of any kind became passé. Guess what? Just like all home decor trends, wallpapers are back 'in' again, and grasscloth is better than ever.

 

As always, the neutral tone of natural grasses is a perfect textural background for any style of decor. Images above via DW Element (left) and Decor Pad (right).


Image via Tartan Scot.

The richly woven grasses serve as a striking backdrop for the gallery walls above and the entry below.


Image via Decor Pad.

What I like about this generation of grasscloth wallpapers are the vast color choices and contemporary prints.



A weave of seafoam blue and a gray grass conveys a glamorous personality in the wallpaper at left. Image via A Kapple A Day. At right, I adore the grasscloth's ikat pattern on the dining room walls. Image via Belle Vivir.


Berry pink grasscloth definitely defines this bedroom. Image via DW Element.


Image via Decor Pad.

Kisses! I'm finding gray and sunflower yellow to my liking. What's old is new again and better than ever. Love the texture. Adore the colors!

Wood wishes ...

I wish I had hardwood floors. No tile. No carpet. Just beautiful, warm wood parquet laid in a chevron pattern.


Photo via Dolphin Carpet.


Everytime I step into an apartment in Paris, I come down with a case of floor envy. The beauty of wood complements any design scheme, and the chevron (or herringbone) pattern exudes character and enriches the room's largest surface.


I'm quite fond of the floor layout above from Renovation Headquarters that suggests creating a border around the room's perimeter. A small inlay of darker wood separating the border from the featured pattern was a technique used in many older homes' formal parlors.

It seems that the most beautiful rooms feature aged French oak hardwoods, with an antique gray cast. But, I have to say that the stained pecan finish with waxed lustre appeals to me, too. Images above via Trouvais (left) and Elle Decor (right).


Yummy floor and wainscoting ... bellissimo! Image via Turquois Shed.



If wood flooring is already in place, why not stain it to create your own pattern? Here, Alicia B. Designs has taken worn planks and added stunning drama to an entry. Brilliant idea!

Table dressing ...

I love to see tables dressed for dinner. And, while nothing beats white linen for formality, there are so many other textiles at our fingertips to drape over a dining table. Why not complement a mood or menu with something out of the ordinary?



Embroidered sarees or Indian wedding blankets create unparalleled drama when draped over a table. Kudos to the stylist who paired the coral sari with the stunning gray walls. Beautiful!  Image above via Simple Everyday Glamour.

 

Linen, flax and burlap are among my favorite natural textiles for their casual, welcoming feel. The French striped linen (left) takes the formality of the table and chairs down a notch, while the dyed burlap runner (right) dresses up a farmhouse table setting.

Above images via El Mueble magazine (left) and Uniquely Austin Events (right).


Homespun quilts are an unexpected pleasure on the table. I doubt there's anything that could add more cottage charm.

I love the simplicity of these tablesettings. Images via Woman's Day magazine (left) and 100 Percent Cottam (above).

On the menu: Mini Snickers Cheesecake

I am wondering what wonderful dessert to make once I reach my diet goal. I'm pretty sure this recipe for scrumptous Mini Snickers Cheesecake will be among the finalists!


Photo and recipe from Six Sisters Stuff.


MINI SNICKERS CARMEL CHEESECAKES

Ingredients:
2 c. chopped Snickers Bars
2 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbl. granulated sugar
5 Tbl. melted butter
2 8oz packages softened cream cheese
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbl. pure vanilla
3 Tbl. caramel sauce

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chopped Snickers Bars into a bowl, set aside for now. Place graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter into a mixing bowl to combine. Spoon a couple spoonfuls of crumbs into each section of the muffin pan and press down and up the sides. Bake for 5-6 minutes or just until browned. Remove from oven.

In a stand or electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined, scraping sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in caramel sauce until well combined.

Pour about 1/4 c. of cheesecake mixture over each baked crust then top evenly with chopped Snickers. Bake for 23-26 minutes or until cheesecake edges are just starting to brown and centers are nearly set. Remove and let cool completely. While still warm, loosen all edges with a plastic knife to make for easier removal from pan. Refrigerate once cooled then top with caramel sauce and whipped cream to serve!

Makes 12 individual cheesecakes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Alamodeus!

It's the first anniversary of the Alamodeus blog, so it's time for us to put on our party hats and thank you for visiting!


I'm so happy to share little bits of creative inspiration with you. From the first post 52 weeks ago, readership has climbed from nine readers that first week to over 10,000 a month.

It is so gratifying to have made many new friends across continents. While half of our blog audience is in the United States, Alamodeus has many fans in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Philippines, Ukraine, France, India, Germany and the Netherlands (listed in order of majority readership percentage). I know there are readers across the globe, so if your country isn't listed, invite your friends to our site so we can count you among our biggest fans.

I always love reading your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions. If you ever wish to contribute a story idea or photos of a project or room, please send it along for consideration. After 251 posts, I am always on the lookout for new ideas.

Thank you for making this a great anniversary!

This is your life ...

This photo has been floating around the internet recently, and I thought it was worthy of sharing.


Original image source unknown.



Chalk it up ...

Chalkboard art is gaining serious momentum in home decor and commercial graphics, and chalk artists are earning some well-deserved respect. Native Texan Dana Tanamachi has created a buzz in New York where she is in high demand for her vintage chalk art style.

Now residing and working in Brooklyn, Tanamachi poses in front of her Wes Anderson chalkboard sketch (left) and the finished work (right). Below, her chalk logo graphics for the New York manufacturer of Kings County Jerky.



A guestroom at New York's Ace Hotel shows its hip vibe on a chalkboard-painted accent wall decorated with Tanamachi's work. Commissions for event signage keep the artist in demand.


Tanamachi has designed numerous labels, including these below for the handcrafted Nagging Doubt wines.


As soon as wedding and event planners discovered Tanamachi's work, her talents began to grace menu boards and invitations for socialites in the Big Apple.


Hey, when Gwyneth Paltrow asked Tanamachi to design the menu board for a dinner celebrating the release of her new cookbook, it is pretty much a given than the artist is at the top of her game!
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