Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Olivenhain Grove Sale

Gail Peterson & Friends are organizing a great vintage and antique sale on Friday, April 30th and Saturday, May 1st in the middle of Gail's property in Olivenhain, which is a very chic little area tucked between Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe in northern San Diego County. It is being billed as a Grove Sale, in the middle of Gail's lemon orchard. Sounds cool, doesn't it, a Sale in the Grove?

I have gotten pretty discerning about which events I go to, especially with the markets' schedules, but I called Gail after her initial email inquiry, and we had a great little chat, and then I went to her blog to check it out; see the link

That's when I saw her beautiful white garden house; peaked roof, twig chandelier, vintage door panels and the white-washed fence beyond:
And her fabulous crusty white French mirror: Sign me up! A garden house is the thing I want the most for our house now; I need space to organize my potting and extra plants; I have set aside pairs of vintage doors and leaded glass windows for the project. The garden house might come after the tool shed, which is a 1950's broken-down eyesore, but it's rising on the list. It would be easier to plan if I saw a few, but alas you don't find many.

This is a first-time event for the Grove Sale, and the first event I have done in San Diego for some time, but we will be there, in conjunction with Cargo & Company, with lots of pretty summer baskets, rolling carts with the new liners that are now in production, and European smalls from Cargo & Company. And, I have the added benefit of checking out Gail's Garden House and crusty white mirror. Should be fun.

Save the date and look forward to meeting some new friends....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chic Competition

The Chic Shopper has competition. The Chic Shopper is my client and her dog Laika, who are now the featured photo on my home page. The baskets are meant to be effortless chic, to dress up and finish off your outfit with a tote that is better looking than a reusable cotton bag, but much less expensive than a designer tote. So when I saw her standing behind my booth last fall waiting for her daugther, mango Cap Ferrat tote in hand, we had a nice conversation which included me taking two photos of her. People have such a reaction to her photo; they love it, and it's what they want to look like when they go to the market.

Yesterday at Palisades, a shopper came to the market with her two daughters and a large Eze she had recently purchased from me. Wow did she look great! Who goes to the market looking like this? Even in Paris, you see it very rarely. We get a lot of well-heeled shoppers in Palisades, but this lady really stood out. Turns out, she was on her way home from church and so that was why she was wearing a full black skirt, a sleeveless black top and strappy slingback heels, accessorized with oversized black sunglasses and my Eze tote: I asked her if I could take her photo, and she was demeure about saying she had to meet someone right now at the corner, darn! I took these shots as she walked off:
I can't use the photos on the site, but it gave me a great idea; I will ask Frederique, one of our regular French shoppers, to by my model and we'll style something similar to this. It's spring now, and the Chic Shopper is dressed for fall. Frederique will surely be game; I'll get Ronnie to help me style it and we'll have some fun coming up with a great shot. Stay tuned....

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour & Nicole's Pasadena

I have to post fast here because we are getting ready for Earth Hour 2010 and lights out from 8:30 to 9:30. I just got back from Pasadena a few minutes ago, I will explain later in the post. Earth Hour has become a global movement whereby for a single hour each year, people around the globe turn off their lights to symbolize how we can all work together to combat climate change. My take is a little different; while I fully support sustainable living and practices, I am in support of a more European style of consumption and awareness; that is, consume less. Are you aware when you leave lights on? Are you aware of the faucet running too strong or not being used? Are you aware of your landscape irrigation running down the gutter? Of the extra trips you take in the car? I try to be cognizant of these things, of waste. I hope you will too.... to read more on Earth Hour go HERE.

In Laguna, there is a parade downtown this eve, and there has been great buzz thanks to Max Isles and Transition Laguna. Way to go!

In other news, I was at Corona del Mar today for the market; one of my recent clients came back to show me her basket and thank me for a quality product, which was full of sweet peas today:
And speaking of Sweat Peas, dear Liza came by without Charlie Chan the Pug, and told me that Charlie has cancer, at 10 months of age! I am in shock, and thinking of them all day; she is strong but distressed; Charlie is the love of her life, along with her husband Donald, and Charlie and Honey have a little Saturday affair every week; I am really worried for the three of them....thinking of Liza and Charlie all day today.... My new pink Antibes baskets; I can't feel happy looking at them thinking of Charlie...And lastly, I went to Pasadena this afternoon after an intro from my client Sylvia; she is a regular at Nicole's. I was also referred by the uber-Francophile Anne Aubert. Indeed, Nicole's does not disappoint; I brought Mom along for the ride and we shared a Croque Monsieur and Salade Nicoise; close my eyes and I'd tell you I was in France. That Good. Wow!!! If I were going to the Hollywood Bowl or having a nice party, I'd go see Nicole. In the end, she took about 25 baskets; if you are in the Pasadena area, stop by; you can visit her website HERE; she has a gift shop around the corner staffed by the very capable Melanie; more later....

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baby Biscuit

I woke up yesterday morning feeling exhausted. I could hardly get up and out of bed: my feet were still tired, I was still tired, of all the work and activity that had taken place in the previous week, not to mention the cosmopolitans that had been consumed the night before. They were made with less sugar and lots of fresh blood orange and Meyer's lemon juice, but they still kicked my butt! I called in to the Palisades market manager and told her I would not be there today; "calling in exhausted" I said.

I spent the day cleaning up, but also had time to spend with little Honey; escorting her around the yard while she smelled everything. She's a total pet in the house; I am starting to wonder if she's a dog...she's more like our little rag doll Bear. But out in the yard, she's a terrier, nose to the ground.

This week I have confirmed a little sister for Honey; her name is Fox Island Biscuit, or just "Biscuit." Here she is, at 6 weeks: She is a Russell Terrier, which is basically a line of Jack Russells that were developed in Australia over the last 40 or so years. They are part of the AKC under the Miscellaneous group. She will be a little girl, about 11 or 12" tall at the shoulder; with the same rough coat as Honey. Her coloring will lighten from the puppy coat she has here to white with tan and brown, with her white blaze down the forehead.

I thank Dan Grimmel of Fox Island Kennels for allowing me to have this little girl; she is "the sweet one" of the litter, very calm, loving to be held. Nothing aggressive or barky or psycho about this dog! The Australians did a fabulous job breeding out the worst of the JRT traits, which I love because I can't have a hyper-Jack or an aggressive dog.

This week I happened to be at my sister's house and I noticed an etching that I bought about three years ago, that my sister insisted she had to buy from me; does this puppy look familiar?~

A shorter legged, rough coat white dog with tan head must have been in my mind's eye, and my sister's too, as she asked this weekend if I wouldn't please please let her have Biscuit. Nope, it's going to be Honey 'n' Biscuit at this house; I will find a new puppy for my sister soon. Biscuit will be here early April.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Erin's Birthday

My sister enlisted me to throw a birthday party for her daughter, Erin. Sometimes when I look at Erin I think back to her early years, when I used to come over and ask her "Who's your favorite auntie?" and without hesitation, she would say enthusiastically, "YOU ARE!" That cute little kid has grown into a lovely young woman who is a student at George Washington University in DC, and I was so happy to have a little dinner for her. Most of the guests were family, just a few friends, so it was a nice little affair, which means about 15 of us.

I had a little cosmopolitan bar on the patio, but the sweet Meyer's lemons presented like this in the kitchen as I sliced them; it reminded me of a Dutch still life, on an English Ironstone platter: then the blood oranges, again with that ray of sun, which we get for only a few minutes every afternoon:
Here is part of the bar as it was set up; lemon and blood orange juice in the carafes, raspberry-infused vodka, a few mixers; it was a pretty setup in front of the pond:
Here is one of the salad platters, baby lettuce and golden beets from Johnny Suede; everyone at all of it;
Erin (l) and her friend Paige; Paige is a cancer survivor and a dear dear young woman; I had them light all those little tealights for me:

Erin at the table, caught offguard and a little blurry....

I added votives on the table tonight. Unfortunately I had no time and got the cheap ones in the silver metal; they made a mess of the table and one guest set a napkin on fire. Next time I will get the glass ones from Shinoda. But, no mind, tonight was perfect! I was also happy that everyone tonight knew which plate was for salad and which plate was for the main course (filet mignon and salmon en croute). Yeah!
I look at this photo and I feel a sense of accomplishment. Lessons: glue gun the tablecloth, keep napkins away from tea lights if possible.....:)

One last shot:
Did I mentioned I am exhausted? Going to bed now!

Cook, Clean Up, Repeat

I am taking a breather from the day's work. I set up for Corona del Mar market, then went to Kristin's wedding, which I'll post on soon. Now I am getting ready for tonight's dinner, for another niece, who is turning 20.

I was up late last night cleaning up after the party, when my sister called at midnight and advised that I drink lots of water, take a multivitamin, and be sure I have lots of food and drink for the party (it's for her daughter). We are wondering if this was such a good idea, back to back parties. I have never had to clean everything up for such a fast turnaround; wash the napkins, the plates, the silver, the glasses, and put them out for use again immediately. The good thing is that I will rearrange a little for tonight. It was nice though to get up this morning and see everything clean....the Limoges: My assorted glasses....
And pile of silver....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sweet 21

Normally, before a party, I get up at 3 or 4 am to get to work on baking or table settings or linens or something. Today? Forget it! I have been going so non-stop all week, I "slept in" until 6am. But at 6, coffee in hand, I set to work on the table for tonight's dinner; all 18 ft of it. The eve before I had abandoned the idea of pleats; but instead of my original vision of knife pleats, I went for a modified version; I made this out of burlap with muslin lining ($65 total):
Instead of sewing it, I used spray glue; great idea! Look how the corner fits here; the trick was that I ironed the pieces first; the whole thing took me 2 hours, for an 18ft table (made of 3 6ft tables). I hate to brag, but I thought I did a great job, and it was all by myself. Until 3pm when my niece Nicole called to say "the heat of the sun was melting the table". A little spray at 4pm fixed things. I will leave these tables up for Easter, and for the puppy brunch; After that, who knows? Can anyone use an 18th long cloth? Maybe I will cut it down for the markets....
I had placed an order with Johnny Suede for the produce for this weekend; he called yesterday and said he lost the list, but would fill what I need and send his foreman Joe to meet me. Joe reminds me of many Italians; weathered by the sun, tanned and lined. But if you look in his eyes, you see a many who knows the Earth and you see Life; I don't know him, but I immediately appreciated his work: the chard was delivered crisp and everything was freshly cut. Here is a man who knows and takes pride in his work. This can be said for most of the farmers; it's a life and a passion and they do it well. Why should I grow chard, which btw I can't do well here in Laguna (I've tried), when I can buy it from Johnny Suede? Here is the baby lettuce:

And the "butt kicking" baby Arugula:

And the Swiss Chard, which I steamed and served with anchovies; more on the anchovies later;

I sauteed fresh garlic from Johnny Suede with mushrooms from Dirk last Sunday; also fresh dill from John:
I used the fragments from Cargo & Company/Aidan Gray on the table; they looked fabulous; tomorrow I will add in votives, for Erin's party; everyone was confused by the two plates at each setting; one was for salad and one for entree, but everyone seemed to be eating dinner on an 8" salad plate; it looked great, but no one got it and I was in the kitchen so to busy to explain. sigh.....
The overall effect was SO pretty; I love it!

This is a good panorama; Nicole was so thrilled to see this, though she helped me quite a bit on the setup of the first lanterns; my Mom and I got to hang all of these:
Tomorrow we will have a 20th birthday for Erin; more photos then, more variations.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Crossroads School Santa Monica

A few weeks ago I got talking with Nancy, one of the regulars at the Palisades market. She was thrilled to discover that the baskets are made in Madagascar, because she happens to teach 6th grade at an excellent school and they were studying about Madagascar and Fair Trade. Would I like to come speak to the kids? Sure! We agreed on a date and time after a few emails, and then the group went from one class to three. So today I presented to about 100 6th graders at Crossroads School in Santa Monica.

This was a sharp bunch of kids! I arrived right at 8 after a two hour drive; even in the carpool lame. Traffic just keeps getting worse! I gave my intro and told them to ask questions at any time. After about 6 slides, we decided to abandon most of the rest of the presentation (though I've used it before and it's very effective) and just go the Q&A. The kids asked a range of questions, from how much time it takes to make a basket, to my marketing strategy, to what I think about having employees and what my plans are for expansion. I have to tell you kids and your parents, you asked better questions than most adults and clients have ever asked!!

The crazy fun part of the event was the end; I brought a bunch of non-branded reusable bags, produce bags, and t-shirts with either French Basketeer or Plastic Bags are So Passe screened on them. These are from the launch and this is about the end of them, but holy smokes did those kids snatch up those freebies! The teachers were trying to say let's round it up and give them out later, but it quickly became a small frenzy!

I hope to see some of the kids at the market; we didn't really have time to talk about the farmers in the detail I had wanted, though we talked about it briefly; but these kids definitely understand Fair Trade and Sustainability, among other topics.

I was impressed, they even had a parking spot reserved for me!

Tonight, I strung up 100 ft of lights under the loggia for the dinner tomorrow; this is the prelim, for the lights only;

That's burlap on the table, which will become an 18ft cloth when I get to it. Crap I am tired this week: board meeting, puppy school, work x7, French classes, Crossroads lecture, two birthday parties to host, 2 farmers markets and a wedding. I'm starting to fatique tonight but a good night sleep and a cup of coffee will fix that! Here is another view; I'll be up at 6am to finish the tablecloth, set the table and finish the flowers. I had wanted to do a pleated tablecloth, but because the guest list has expanded, I have an 18ft table and so no pleats; the lanterns are so pretty, with the tails, and by the time I get the table set and flowers done, no one will care about the pleats....

Yours, un peu fatiguee, Andrea

French You Can Use

The French Basketeer is officially teaching French classes! Well, sort of... In partnership with Cargo & Company, we are having a night of French You Can Use, a discussion of various aspects of life in France and speaking French. Last night we covered my tips for how to get by on a limited vocabulary, and how to build your vocabulary and tune your ear without traveling to France. We also discussed the do's and don'ts of greeting people, and what the salesperson is actually saying when you enter a French shop. We covered some other fun topics that will also be of great use to you when you travel to France...insider tips and facts.

We got everyone's jaw loosened up with a little wine and cheese soufle and salad; I wasn't sure if I was going to be on the mark since this was the first class, but all the ladies thought it was fantastic, especially Sue, who is going to Paris next week for her anniversary trip; lucky gal!

We will be doing this once a month for the next 6 months; stay tuned for future topics...anyone in southern California can join the classes; there is still one open space.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Party x2

Well, the family/birthday party that I was going to have on Saturday has multiplied now, into a 21st birthday party for my niece Nicole on Friday night and a 20th birthday for my niece Erin on Saturday. Nicole decided to come down from San Francisco to celebrate with us, but she has to leave Saturday so we will party twice this week!

I had already decided to use the paper lanterns I got at my neighbor Yvette's garage sale. Yesterday I found a string of Christmas lights and sprayed the cord and sockets white. I hung it up over the French doors that go from the living room to the patio, and then had Nicole and Chris help me assemble the lanterns; this is how it looked last night:
That puts me in the mood for a party! Notice the pretty little silk ribbons that Yvette had added to each one:
Everyone thought it looked great; and then I counted them: guess what, 21 lanterns for a 21st birthday! We had a nice dinner on the table next to the door; when I turned around, this was the view:
Here is how it looks this morning; it will be pretty for Easter, but I'm not done yet, I still have to add the strands under the loggia; that will be about 80 more lanterns;

Before dinner, Nicole and I tied the napkins; they look really fresh and match the color theme:
It's a beautiful warm day today, and the sun came streaming in the dining room onto the flowers, which will be perfect for the weekend:

Enjoy your day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Service Complete

If you haven't guessed, I am a consumer of French silver. I gave up on most of the American stuff a long time ago, though I still have some nice American silver. Call me a snob, or a snot, I love French silver!!

I wanted to share this set that I was watching this week; it is a COMPLETE service set; you don't see this often: asparagus, meat, lamb, salad, appetizers, salad, fish. You find these singly but hard to find the whole pattern of pieces together; this one on ebay and circa 1900; sold for around $500.

Such pretty pieces from the French silversmiths!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Music Sets the Stage

We have a variety of musicians for the Sunday Palisades market; honkey tonk banjo team (favorite with the kids!), steel drum, classical Spanish guitar. Music helps set the scene and make a family environment. Today we had a quartet; they were lovely to listen to all day; they best call the manager in advance, though they don't have to. Good live music makes for a GREAT market. I took their photo today then threw a buck into the guitar case.

I started the day shopping for the dinner party next weekend and for dinner tonight: fresh garlic, yes: here it is, stuffed in a wooden crate, waiting to be sold by Johnny Suede:

He also sells fresh dandelion; back in my NYC memory I want to saute this with a little lemon and put in a salad, but I have to ask John; wow does it look FRESH:

His wife is Japanese; they sell bok choy; the tips are nice and white, freshly cut:

I first noticed the farm for their lettuces: look at these fresh bunches, ready to go; you will buy them if you see them in person, they are SO fresh and pretty!

A regular of mine told me today John is retired military; no wonder he has this sign:

I bought a bunch of swiss chard and other greens from John today; also this fresh chamomille, which I will dry for tea; doesn't it look great in a yellow basket with swiss chard???:

finer detail of the chamomille flowers:

On to today's flowers, the selection was awesome for March, considering the rest of the country and the weather; I lived in NYC for 13 years and Mum is from Canada; we love fresh in March!!
Spray roses from Cho's in Oxnard, one of my favorites:

I bought a bunch of these white roses for next weekend, grown by Cho's, always fabulous:

We have all sorts of cut and potted orchids at the market:

See Skyline from Oxnard for tulips in colors that are amazing; I bought the peach ones here:
Skyline also has pretty cut branches; it's not NYC and forschythia and cherry blossoms, but it's what is grown here:

Tulips in orange shades were fabulous:

Roses from Bill; I love his roses; best deal/best quality; I got sorbet-orange and hot pink from him today to match my paper lanterns:

We have sunflowers in the market in March; why: I don't know!

Here is the bucket I came home with: Bill, Cho's, Skyline:
And here it is in about 6 vases; I will add greens from the garden and fluff it all up: see them later this week....